I’ve been getting lots of inspiration from organizing blogs lately. Two of my favorites are I heart organizing and organizing made fun. And there are eleventy-billion others out there if you’re in search of organization inspiration.
Reading organizing blogs inspired me to finally do something about our kitchen and bathroom drawers, and I’m loving the dividers I made. I also bought some drawer organizers at the thrift store last month and used those in drawers that didn’t get custom-made dividers. The drawers are so much better than they were before!
But after a couple months of reading organizing blogs, I’ve also noticed an increasing desire to change things about our house that don’t really need to be changed. I recently had to remind myself that we don’t need to be “improving” things around the house all the time. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t fix things – if they are broken, we do need to make improvements. But improvements just for the sake of keeping up with trends might not be the best use our time or money. So my thoughts of painting all of the cabinets and trim in our house have been banished. Someday, when the finish on our cabinets and trim is actually worn out, maybe we’ll paint instead of staining and varnishing. But I’m not going to sand off perfectly good, neutral cabinet finish to start over with white paint. That’s just not what I would consider a good use of my time right now. And even though I know that, I will admit that the beautiful rooms I saw on organizing blogs made me start to think that maybe I should be doing more stuff like that. So I cut my “organizing blog inspiration time” down to about two minutes a day, and resolved to spend my time only working on areas of our house that actually need work, rather than creating extra work for myself.
I knew – without any help from an organizing blog – that our pantry was in need of some organizing. Here’s the before:
I love having this pantry. It was a storage closet in our laundry room (which is right next to the kitchen) and my husband made shelves in it out of wood that I found in a dumpster. My parents scored the sweet door rack at a thrift store. Since we live in a small town and have at least a 20 minute drive to get to the grocery store (and more like 45 minutes to Costco), we tend to stock up. So we have a lot of stuff in the pantry. In almost all of my other organizing projects, getting rid of stuff has generally been a better solution than trying to organize all the stuff. But the pantry is a different story. We eat almost all of our meals at home, almost all cooked from scratch. So we do use the stuff in our pantry. But the “before” organizing left a bit to be desired.
The organizing blogs I had been reading had tons and tons of pantry make-overs. But in my browsing around, I noticed that a lot of them were spending quite a bit of time and/or money on their pantry re-dos. Things like painting the interior, putting down fancy paper liners, buying lots of matching storage containers… no thanks. There’s nothing wrong with doing all that stuff if you’re into it (and can afford it), but I can think of a lot of things that I’d rather be doing. I’ve never been to IKEA – which seems to be a favorite destination for people who are into organizing – because the round trip would require three hours in the car. And I always prefer to repurpose things I have or find second-hand solutions instead of buying something new.
So I set out to see what I could do with my pantry in under thirty minutes, and without buying anything new. There wasn’t any expired stuff in there, since I purged all that earlier this year. But there wasn’t much in the way of organization either. The first thing I did was get rid of bulky storage boxes. I also moved a few duplicate items to our downstairs pantry (where we store bulk items), and cleaned all of the shelves and the pantry floor. I transferred dry goods from bags to glass jars that I already had, and grouped similar items together. Here’s the after:
You can’t see the floor in the before picture, but it was pretty bad. Here is is now:
I got these gallon glass jars at a garage sale a couple years ago, and they’re perfect for holding dry beans and rice and my raspberry leaf tea:
But they only work if I actually transfer the bulk good into them and then store them so that I can find them! I have a couple more glass jars on other shelves that are holding split peas and lentils.
This project took me just over half an hour and didn’t cost anything at all. I recycled lots of cardboard boxes, threw away a dustpan full of onion skins and dust bunnies, and all is much better. Opening the pantry makes me smile, so I’d call that a success.