Produce Cart

In addition to the new knife block, I’ve been working on organizing the rest of the kitchen.  It’s a great way to keep busy, while indulging my crazy.  Initially, I planned to have an under shelf mounted basket in the pantry, to store potatoes and extra fruit.  Because, well, Costco quantities.  Something similar to the baskets in the pantry below.

The problem with that is two-fold.  Finding the right mounting system is tricky.  Secondly, a secured basket would block the inside corner, making it useless.  Due to stubbornness, I didn’t let the issue go and searched for a better solution.  One night, as I couldn’t fall asleep, the perfect idea came to me.  Lightbulb-a wooden crate on casters!  I dug around our scrap bin, but didn’t see enough of any one thing.  Michael’s carries wooden crates, and the measurements were perfect.  Even easier than building a custom box.  For easier moving, I bought four fixed casters at Home Depot to attach to the base.

The base material is about 3/8 inch thick, so I used a combo of screws.  On the outer edge, along the 3/4 inch front piece, I used 1 inch screws.  Along the inside, shorter 1/2 inch screws to avoid going through the base.  Adding a quarter-inch thick block would also fix the problem, but I didn’t want to add height.


Swivel casters could work just as well, but fixed wheels made it easier to pull out and push in without hitting the sides.  Instead, the box smoothly slides straight in and out.


Inside, we store potatoes, oranges, and other room temperature produce.  Having gaps between strips allows adequate ventilation, keeping the contents fresh longer.


This system would work well for other heavy items, keeping contained, but easily accessible.  Not only in a pantry, but think of closets for shoes, toys, or sports gear.  Endless options, but super easy to get done.

Pantry Party

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


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


Or the polar opposite with a big, blank cabinet.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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?






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.


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:


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.  


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



Sanding everything smooth was quick and evened out the bumps.


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.


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


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


Neutrals, but light enough to balance the dark cabinetry.


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


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.