Can I be honest with you? Cleaning out and organizing my pantry was not something I was looking forward to. I knew it would be a big job and, to do it justice, would require a lot of work. But, it had gotten out of hand and I really have to stay on top of it since our pantry does double duty- storing our dry food and canned goods as well as decor and entertaining pieces and big cleaning tools like the vacuum and broom.
Although I’d actually like to “decorate” this room, and by that I mean paint the shelves/walls or buy ALL of the same kind of organizing bins, I’m holding off on buying anything new and all decor projects until must wait until after I’m done with all of the TOP 10 Organizing Challenges I’ve set for myself this month. After a few days of cleaning out, tossing, donating and organizing this pantry, I’m happy to have this one checked off the list!
Let’s start with the scary before photos. As you can see below, we have a nice large room for a pantry, specifically designed for lots of storage. To the immediate left is a space for an extra refrigerator with hook ups, but we don’t have the need for that now, so it’s been full of cleaning tools and faux branches. On the floor are our two blue recycling bins that are always overflowing, bins of seasonal decor, and extra paper towels. The bottom two shelves are for food and the top three shelves have been used for decor such as large vases, entertaining pieces like cake stands/displays, and cookbooks/magazines.
Of course, cleaning out the pantry is no glamorous job. I pulled everything out of the bottom floor so I could sort, toss, donate and organize and so I could clean the floor. I wiped down the shelves and also sorted, tossed and donated lots of things there so that I could end up with a pantry full of things I use, love, and um, eat.
I took a “middle” shot because, after I was “done” I still felt challenged to let more things go, things I’ve kept but haven’t used in years. I think this is where the rubber meets the road so to speak and where you can really make a positive impact in getting your house decluttered and organized. Even though I’d done a decent job or letting go of lots of things in the pantry, I still felt like I had too much and knew there was more I could eliminate. I wanted to feel a fresh start and it’s wasn’t quite there yet.
For example, most of those cooking magazines have been collecting dust and taking up space since I put them there months ago. I donated them, keeping only my Cooks Illustrated (because they are so useful) and my BHG Special Editions that I do flip through from time to time.
Vases and candleholders that I haven’t used were also donated, along with a very beautiful set of wooden salad bowls from Pottery Barn that we registered for at our wedding, but have only used a couple times. It’s hard the mental/emotional process you go though during a job like this because you’re forced to really evaluate what’s important to you.
And, if I’m really being honest with myself, a few of those seasonal decorating bins could still use a second run through.
After that final run-through, I had lots of empty spaces on the upper shelves, so I started to declutter another area of our house, the wet bar. The cabinets in the wet bar hold smaller candleholders and vases that I can now have all together in one place here. That’s how organizing projects tend to go. You start in one area, and if you’re thorough, you end up moving and organizing other areas.
Now that I can clearly see the candleholders, I’m much more likely to use them. And see how clearing out those old magazines freed up more space.
For the “Baking” and “Coffee & Tea” bins (old from World Market), I made tags with my craft punch and used white ink to write in the words. Chalk labels are used on my baking supplies.
I didn’t label the pasta as it tends to get moved from time to time as we empty it, but maybe I could add labels in the future. The OXO containers have been collected over time. They are great at keeping things fresh and the different sizes are perfect.
I happened to have five of these brown woven bins scattered throughout the house, so I brought them in to hold things like sweets, crackers, juice boxes and granola bars. I used my chalk gift tags as labels.
Going through the seasonal decor bins was very much needed! I keep everything Christmas related in the attic, but Fall, Easter/Spring, and Summer is stored in four clear bins in the pantry.
I ran out of labels, but I want to label these bins.
I organized the cake stands/displays, vases, lanterns by color and they look so much better now!
And I finally weeded through all my faux flowers, and put the shorter stems in a separate woven basket.
The larger branches are still in the large basket to the left.
Getting this pantry cleaned and organized does feel good, but it’s caused me to realize how much time, effort and energy I spend just dealing with my stuff. Not everything I ended up tossing or giving away was necessarily a mistake, it might just no longer fit our life, but I am aiming to be MUCH more careful and intentional about what I spend my money on and what comes into our house from now on. I’d rather spend my weekend doing something with my family, being creative, cooking, playing, reading instead of just cleaning and organizing my stuff. That’s why I made a second attempt at letting more things go. I don’t want to just be moving things from one pile to the next, one room to the next.
This project has really set the tone for the rest of the organizing projects ahead. I want to be ruthless in my editing and mindful of what stays and what goes. I’m going a bit out of order because next up on my list is the . . . . TOYS!
Update: You can see the organizing challenges I completed here: