If you’ve been around here for a while, you may already know that in recent years, my husband and I built a new house, including moving my piano studio into the basement and out of commercial space.
My husband did a lot of the work while still working a 40-hour workweek, so the bulk of the build took around three years.
Since cooking is my other mojo, I’ve wanted to share photos of the kitchen and pantry for a good two years, but it kept getting put off.
After finally capturing some good photos for our cabinet builders to display, I had no more excuses. It’s finally time for a tour!
Sharing photos of the empty “before” construction space isn’t much fun considering it was new construction. What is interesting, though, is to see what we went through leading up to completion.
Since our deadline to move out of our rental house was six months before our kitchen cabinets were ready (or the upstairs being complete), we lived in an unfinished basement (my future studio space) with no carpet or kitchen.
Here’s my makeshift kitchen.
We ate a lot of pre-made bag salads in those years to the point that I couldn’t stand eating them for at least an entire year after. LOL
Even for a cook like me, there were a lot of frozen pizzas.
Going through that made us extra thankful when the kitchen was finally installed! I am not a fan of upper cabinets or corner cabinets and love lots of light. It’s my dream kitchen, for sure.
This is my happy space, 100%.
I was also pretty adamant that I wanted as many drawers as possible. Why people didn’t think of using more drawers in kitchen cabinets sooner, I don’t know. They are so much easier for storage and retrieval than bottom cupboards.
The Thermador range has a griddle top which is fabulous for things like pancakes or bacon The smaller oven can be used as a regular convection oven or steam oven and has a warming drawer below. We use the smaller oven three times as much as the large oven.
I forgot to take a photo, but the downdraft is behind the oven and raises up. We wanted to avoid a big overhead vent, so it didn’t break the space visually between the open-concept kitchen and living room area.
Favorite Custom Elements
We took advantage of the “custom” part of the custom cabinets big time. Some of my favorite drawers we designed include this vertical storage space drawer. I knew exactly how many items I wanted to fit into that drawer, which influenced the design.
I laid out all of my utensils in a row next to a tape measure, so I knew exactly how much space we needed going into the design process. There are two utensil drawers in the island. This one houses utensils and knives I use on an almost daily basis.
The second drawer holds those used less regularly. I really do use all of them!
My final favorite custom design is the trash and recycling center. The two-drawer front face is deceiving but looks nice. We use one bin for trash, one for glass and aluminum, one for paper and cardboard, and the fourth for plastics.
Once our kitchen cabinets were finally installed, it was time to move out of the basement but it would be another 18 months until we invested in custom cabinets in the pantry. Here’s the make-shift setup.
Originally, the plan was to install white particle board cabinets, but we ultimately decided since the pantry space was open to the kitchen, we wanted it to flow and match.
Here’s the final result.
To keep the kitchen countertops free of as much clutter as possible, I wanted countertop space in the pantry. It’s a great place for the microwave, toaster, food processor, blender, instant pot, stand mixer, and produce like lemons, onions, potatoes, and garlic.
The upper shelving is roughly organized into the following segments: canned and dry food goods, beverages, salad toppings, honey/jam/peanut butter, and snacks.
The cabinets below house slow cookers, large pots, and pantry stock such as paper towels, drink pitchers, etc.
The drawers below hold a bunch of miscellaneous stuff. We love having the drawers below the cabinets because it makes it easier not to have to bend as far down to lift out pots and pans. Thinking outside the box!
The 7″ shelving on the right side was something I had dreamed of for years.
Avoiding deep cabinets where pantry items could easily get lost was an important element, as I wanted to see everything front-facing (or at least not have to go more than two items deep).
The left cabinet from top down is organized with:
- Baking items/sugars
- Grains and flours
The right cabinet from top-down is organized with:
- Spices for baked goods (Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, etc.)
- Savory spices (everything else)
- Seasoning mixes
As you can see from the photos, I haven’t gotten into the trend of unloading everything into expensive containers to make everything look pretty. I like to be organized but I also like to keep things simple. Plus, all those containers can get expensive!
If laid out in an organized manner, I think the items themselves can still be visually appealing in their original state.
As a person deprived of height, yes, I need a little help reaching items up top.
I love this little ladder. Purchased from Menards (at the time of this post, I couldn’t find the exact one but here’s one that’s similar). It’s made of aluminum which makes it super lightweight. It has three steps which help get me a little higher than a lot of the two-step stools and stores happily right inside the entrance.
I try to keep the upper shelves as storage for items we use less often to minimize ladder use.
While it was frustrating taking so long to complete the house in general, it gave us the margin to plan and think through every element. We took the time to layout and think things through so specifically and intentionally, I honestly can’t think of one thing I would do differently – and yes, that’s a wonderful feeling! The struggles were worth it in the end.
That is my biggest tip if you’re planning a remodel or a new kitchen build. Think through what you want to put where. Don’t make what you have fit into a pre-defined space; design your space to fit what you have and the way you move in your space.
When we were planning the pantry, we pulled everything out of the make-shift pantry onto our kitchen countertops and measured how much space we would need for things like spices and flours This not only helped us determine how many shelves we would need on the shallow shelf wall but the best depth to hold both a container of flour and two levels of spices (7″).
Thanks for taking the tour. If you’re working on your kitchen or pantry project, I hope this gave you some good ideas! 🙂