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    Hey there! I'm Amanda and I'll be your co-pilot today. Along with my handy husband, Ben, we're remodeling our second house. We're avid DIY-ers, tackling large and small projects while raising two rambunctious boys. Thanks for following along on this wild journey!
    Photo by Jana Graham Photography

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    Sorting white marble tile by color. So far I have four distinct colors. Yes, I'm only a few steps away from being committed. #ohakitchenreno Couldn't resist French burnt peanuts for today's mid afternoon pick me up. Who has new drawer fronts? This girl! More on the blog right now. #ohakitchenreno

Pantry Party

Before remodeling the kitchen, the cabinet arrangement had a lot of wasted space.

Kitchen-Floor-Plans-Current

Either too specific for a use, like a full bay of vertical dividers.

Divider-Cabinet-in-Kitchen

Or the polar opposite with a big, blank cabinet.

Corner-Cabinet-in-Kitchen

At any rate, we knew lower drawers would help most problems.  But corners are especially awkward and usually wasted.  Knowing we wanted to remove the wall between the kitchen and dining room, we’d need to move the pantry.  Living with every non-perishable item on the opposite side of the cook/prep area got old very quickly.

Kitchen-Floor-Plans-New-Details

With that in mind, keeping the pantry on the business side of the kitchen was a must.  Hence the corner pantry.  At 52 inches wide by 8 feet tall, we should have plenty of space to store dry goods.  As listed in the original floor plan, we opted for a sliding door to eliminate an awkward door swing.  After talking to several people, we decided not to use a pocket door kit.  If the door comes off the track or needs to be replaced, it’s impossible.  Instead, we went a similar, more user-friendly route with a bypass sliding door kit.

Unfinished-Pantry-Door-System-Inside

Often used in closets, the track has two sides and roller wheels.  Ben built a standard header, secured the track and covered the front with an MDF panel.  Above, as seen from inside, without the door.  Below, from the outside.

Unfinished-Pantry-Sliding-Door-System

In our case, the door opening is wider than the oven cabinet leaving the last few inches of door visible when completely open.  I worried the 24 inch opening would be too small, but it allows easy access to everyday items.

Unfinished-Pantry-Shelves-Added

Shelves are 18 inches deep, extending into the corner.  We plan to keep extra supplies here, to grab when we need to refill.

Unfinished-Pantry-Shelves-in-Back

Also, we’ve decided to keep the microwave in the pantry.  This allows easier access and a shorter distance of carrying hot items.

Unfinished-Pantry-Door-Open

Which also frees up space in the smaller cabinet, allowing a full drawer set.  I still plan to keep coffee supplies and extra serving platters over here.

Kitchen-to-Dining-Blank-Wall-Cabinet-Sizing

Now that everything has been cut and fits, we can take everything back out to paint.  I’m oddly liking the wood door though.  I’m undecided if I should paint or seal it.  Thoughts?

Unfinished-Pantry-Door-Closed

Open:

Unfinished-Pantry-Door-Open-Toward-Ovens

Closed.

Unfinished-Pantry-Door-Closed-Toward-Ovens

Once I’ve painted the inside of the pantry, we’ll set the shelves again and add trim to the fronts to cover the braces.

Unfinished-Pantry-Shelves

It’ll also give us a lip to hide under cabinet light behind to help illuminate the shelves.

Update:  Due to a few emails and comments, here’s a shot of the far end of the pantry:

Unfinished-Pantry-Shelf-Space-Between-Door

The overall depth of the pantry is 25.5 inches from the back wall to the inside of the door.  With 18 inch deep shelves, that leaves 7.5 inches between the shelf front and the inside of the door.  By making the shelves narrower than the full depth, we won’t have to worry about things getting in the way of the door slide.  It’ll also make reaching in the back area easier.  We’ll probably keep a broom in here too.

While I’m updating, I thought I’d include a shot of the closed door against the fridge.  

Unfinished-Pantry-Set-Back-from-Fridge

After settling on a sliding door, we agreed we didn’t want the header flush with the front of the fridge cabinet.  Mostly to add some interest to the wall, but also because the door itself would sit 3/4 of an inch back from the front. 

Once that’s done, we can start organizing.  We shop at Costco, which means we have produce for days.  Getting bowls off the counter would be really nice.

I love the function of roll out wire baskets, which can allow ventilation and easy access.  I’ve yet to pin down exactly which ones, but here are a few I’m considering.

 

This one is actually a hamper, but the depth would maximize space.  Perfect for storing bags of cereal and chips.

Putting the corner to use and not having to walk around the island for everything is a game changer.  Time for me to start painting so we can load it up!

Lego My Legos

How about a riddle?  What is small, has sharp edges, hurts when stepped on, but kids love to play with?  I suppose many toys fall into this category, but around our house, the answer is Legos.  Always Legos.  In the past year or so, both boys have jumped on the Lego train, much like the Dauntless from Divergent.  Can’t say I blame them.  Legos encourage creativity and keep kids entertained for hours.  Now that we’ve established a storage and organization system, we’re all happy.

A quick internet search will show hundreds of Lego storage systems: sorted by color, size, etc., but this is what works for us.  It’s super involved and highly advanced.  Be warned.

One drawer in the entertainment center holds all things Lego.  Four shoe sized plastic bins hold extra pieces as well as built kits.

Lego-Organization-in-DrawerSeparating smaller pieces and minifigs into clear lidded plastic containers has saved us all much hassle.  I found these in the Target dollar spot last year.  More often than not, the big bin of Legos got dumped and spread all over the floor to find a specific piece.  For the boys, this was annoying to have to dig through the pile.  I was sick of having a mess on my floor, stepping on tiny daggers.

Lego-Organization-Clear-Containers

Want Kai, he’s right there, with the rest of the Nijago crew.  Probably battling neighboring Nindroids while we’re asleep.

Lego-Organization-Minifig-Detail

Need a connector piece?  Check in the connector compartment.  To further organize small pieces, I separated into four groups.  Connectors, single small pieces, single and special double bricks, and minifig accessories.

Lego-Organization-Parts-Detail

Instruction booklets are kept in reach in a metal tin.  Close by, but not in with the rest to get lost or pages pulled out.

Lego-Organization-Instruction-Books

I think it would be cute to get one larger clear container to display stored guys, standing upright.

They can keep it in their room, but when they’re not playing, they can see their collection.  If (more likely, when) their collection grows, further organizing smaller parts in a hinged divider box could work really well, too.

Along with the large coffee table for building, this simple system has made Lego life more enjoyable.  Most importantly, this sorting makes sense to the boys.

Scrap Pile Creations

When I get the urge to create something, usually my first step is to raid my supplies.  Be it fabric, paint, or in today’s case, our scrap lumber bin.  It starts with a specific need, but finding ways to use left over materials is a slight way to push myself creatively.  Much like my cedar tub shelf.  And both pieces I made add function to spaces.  For our living room, I built a large square tray to corral everything on the coffee table.

Square-Tray-On-Coffee-Table-Room

I started with a piece of 1/2 inch MDF that was 22 by 30 inches and an 8 foot strip of 1 1/2 inch wide 1/2 inch MDF.  I cut the 1/2 inch piece to 22 inches square and then four strips for the sides.  All trays are assembled the same way.  Thin base material with side material attached on top.  I used 1 inch staples in our air stapler to secure everything; undersides first, then corners.

Square-Tray-Edge-Detail

Due to the nature of MDF, it bulged out and cracked along the edges.  I wasn’t concerned because I knew I’d fill it with putty and caulk.  After filling the cracks and staple holes with wood filler, I caulked the inside corners.

Square-Tray-Assembly-Detail

 

Sanding everything smooth was quick and evened out the bumps.

Square-Tray-Top-Detail

For durability, I used some white exterior paint.  After three coats, I took it outside to spray with clear gloss.  Two light coats in I noticed how the gloss had yellowed the finish.  Great.  I lightly sanded it again and did two more coats of white paint and called it a day.  Good enough, I can always repaint down the road.  To spare the table from damage, I added small rectangles of felt to the underside.  Clearly I didn’t care about the staples or paint drips on the bottom.

Square-Tray-Assembly-Detail-Underside

And now I’ve got a simple tray to keep magazines, remotes, and other crap (like the boys’ mini foods) organized.

Square-Tray-On-Coffee-Table-Corner

Because their minis are so adorable, I used a wooden drawer organizer (it was actually a tiny shelf) to display the collection.

Square-Tray-On-Coffee-Table

In other scrap pile happenings, I used a small chunk of left over cedar to make a shelf for our shower cubby.

Cedar-Shower-Shelf-Overall

Before assembly, I sanded all sides with 220 grit paper and drilled two pilot holes in each end of the top board.  Obviously this shelf is exposed to water, so I used stainless steel screws so it wouldn’t rust.  Once assembled, I coated it with teak oil for a protective layer.

Cedar-Shower-Shelf

The shelf holds a razor and bar soap, leaving more room on the bottom for bottles.  There, two quick and easy scrap projects that don’t cost a dime.

Art Vs. Clutter

Perhaps Spring cleaning has gotten into me, but I want to declutter.  Nothing is safe.  I’ve looked around and realized I accumulate a lot of stuff. Of course, I like it when I buy it.  Then it serves a purpose, I get bored, and change things up.  I went on a house wide rampage, putting everything I didn’t like, have a use for, or questioned keeping in a box.  The basement is now a hoarders paradise or the makings of a garage sale.

Clutter-Collection-in-Basement

I’ve found this allows me to really focus on the stuff I do like and not feel buried by or in things.  While I love cute little things and art, they often group together to look like junk.  So I’m making myself a promise not to buy things I don’t absolutely love or need.  Including, but not limited to decorative accessories, pillows, art, and kitchen ware.  Now I can focus on the things I do love.  Like these map art pieces.  They’ve floated around here, but I like them stacked together in this nook best.

Map-Art-by-Window-in-Living-Room-with-Fig

Eventually, we plan to add benches beneath the window to make a long, wall to wall seat.

Map-Art-by-Window-in-Living-Room-Overall

I’m not sure why, but I love how it feels to have art closer to the floor.  It feels cozier.  The fig covers part of the lower, but it’s just a nice layerd effect.

Map-Art-by-Window-in-Living-Room-Detail

On the sides of the entertainment center, I’d love to create large art on these two foot by three foot canvases.

Two-by-Three-Canvas-by-Entertainment-Center-Right

Neutrals, but light enough to balance the dark cabinetry.

Two-by-Three-Canvas-by-Entertainment-Center

For another simple art piece, I’ve found the perfect spot for this rusted saw.

Large-Rusted-Saw

My father in law gave it to us.  He’s had it for 30 plus years, since he found it in the garage of the first house he bought.  It’s meant to be a two person saw; the handle on the bottom is completely missing along with the wood for the top piece.  I’d love to make a stand for it to rest in to set on the shelf above the television.  Something simple like the driftwood pedestal.

Driftwood-Sculpture-on-Shelf-Detail

Of course, this will be much heavier to prevent tipping.  It’ll be a nice swap from the art and accessories I’ve had up there.  One more rustic thing for the house, too.  FIL is happy about this change.

The Shoe Shack

For the past, oh, nearly two years, our entry closet has been in pitiful shape.  With the standard single shelf and rod set up.  Basically looking like this:

Entry-Closet-After-Move-In-April-30

In an attempt to sort shoes, I hung an Ikea sorter from the rod, but it took up a lot of space.  And we still had piles of shoes on the floor.  Well, I’d finally had enough.  And Ben must have had enough of my complaining about the shoe mess, because he added simple shelves and new trim while I painted the door.

Entry-Closet-Door-Painted-with-New-Trim

Obviously, you can see I have yet to paint the walls, but we do have baseboard.  Just keeping it real; nothing is finished over night here.  Especially when drywall dust is involved.  Sanding the ceiling and matching the knockdown wall texture has to happen first.  Then the new crown, and finally painted walls.  Glorious, solid colored walls!

Entry-Landing-Door-and-Finishing-Touches

I’ll be so happy when I don’t have to look at patchy walls.  Working up the nerve/strength to deal with all the dust isn’t easy for me, especially in this open of a space.  Anyway, how about a look at the much improved storage function closet?  Okay, here we are today:

Entry-Closet-Inside-Changes

Before putting in shelves, I painted the closet Dragonfly (because I had half a gallon on hand).  Ben built three shelves from melamine sided particle board, which is highly wipe-able and holds up to water better than paint.  A low double hook holds the boys’ coats, and a higher hook keeps my purse (and usually scarf) handy.  The previous owner left a small shoe rack, which works better at the top of the closet to hold bins of hats, gloves, reusable shopping bags, and out of season shoes.

Entry-Closet-Shoe-Shelves-Detail

The bottom shelves were so quick to make I wish we had done it sooner.  Simple cleats along the back and sides hold the shelves in place, while still giving us the option of removal.  To maximize space, the bottom shelf sits 10 inches off the floor (where Ben’s work boots stay).  Two more shelves are 5 inches tall, so shorter shoes tuck in without wasting height.   Tall boots and bags rest on the top shelf.  After seeing an amazing entry closet in the March Martha Stewart, I’d really love to take ours to the next level with pretty bins and baskets.

Martha-Stewart-Organized-Entry-Closet

Maybe I should repaint the inside of the closet a light gray instead of the dark greeny blue?  That shoe cubby is awesome, too.  What’s your favorite entry organization tip?  I love those hanging baskets to corral gloves, hats, and small items, but we don’t have room on our single door.  Would the work as well on the inside of the closet?

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