When we left our four bedroom/two bathroom rancher home in Oklahoma for our new pad in Buffalo (a three bedroom/two-and-a-half bath townhouse), I knew there would be some places where we would lose space — but wasn’t expecting one of those places to be the pantry.

Though I am not a trained chef — or someone you’ll see competing to be the next Food Network star in this lifetime — I know my way around the kitchen and know the difference between cumin and coriander. I guess I was kinda shocked to go from a somewhat walk-through pantry to a multi-shelf mini closet with barely enough space to fit a mop or broom, let alone spices.

And, as you can imagine, things started to pile up very quickly that made the inner Virgo in me (you know, overachiever and crazed organizer?) go bonkers.

Pantry makeover: beforeComing to terms that it’s not my time to have that perfect pantry — that has a farmhouse door with a frosted glass insert that says “Pantry” that unlocks a heaven of ample square footage, bins, baskets, and space for enough accessories to fill a culinary enthusiast’s heart — I left the door to my newfound pantry mini closet space open that forced me to come up with a solution that would make my current life and space more manageable.

Pantry makeover: afterThe first decision I made was to free my shelves of as many boxes and packaging as possible. I picked up two of the Anchor Hocking 4-Piece Ceramic Canister Sets at Walmart that would become a future home to my flours, sugars, bread crumbs (oh yes, mama has a place for her bread crumbs!), and other dry baking and cooking items I find myself using. I looked to the Etsy shop FreeSpiritsATX for my canister decal labels because, quite frankly, I don’t have time to do them myself and would likely screw them up anyway. This detail alone gave my little Walmart canisters extra life.

Pantry makeover: after

Once I was able to organize my baking and cooking ingredients, I looked to find a place for my dry foods and children’s snacks. I’ve always wanted to use clear containers to place my cereal and rice in, but never found a set that didn’t cost a kidney on the black market. (Seriously, why does plastic have to be that expensive?) Thankfully, Better Homes & Gardens has a collection of flip-tite containers at Walmart that are pretty darn affordable and get the job done.

Pantry makeover: after

My biggest expense, however, was a series of sink caddy pantry storage wire caddy bins I found on Target.com given I needed a few for each shelf. These awesome accessories help keep random and everyday pantry items (soups, oils, etc.) organized and in their own place so they don’t turn into a developing mess that I need to tackle down the road. (They’re pretty awesome.)

Using old place mats as shelf liners, I began laying out the flow of my pantry — placing baking items on one shelf, cooking needs on another, and household supplies like air fresheners and trash bags on another — so it could all make sense.

And so far, it’s worked.

Who knows if the small tornadic force known as my children will find a way to mess it up tomorrow or not. All I know is that I enjoy my little pantry space and feel it’s more functional now than when it was just a bare space with hidden potential.

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