Pondering the pantry

We got the 1st floor ready enough just in time to throw a Christmas party. Cathy prepared a fabulous ham which delighted our guests.

One thing we noticed right away was that our cooking and food supplies were rather disorganized – because I had not yet finished the pantry. Needless to say, the pantry made it to the top of the priority list in a heart beat.

What has become the pantry was once the staircase into the basement. I reframed the floor structure, effectively closing up the staircase, installed floor tile and got everything painted. But we still needed shelves.


A couple of year ago I read on the Rebuilding Exchange blog how someone used salvaged hardwood flooring to build pantry shelves. I thought that was a very cool idea, so I went to the Rebuilding Exchange and got myself some short oak and douglas fir floor board scraps.

pantry-14 pantry-15

The scraps were easily converted into three 15 inch deep shelves, which I mounted on the track and brackets system at the back wall.


I also purchased some longer oak and douglas fir boards at the Rebuilding Exchange.

 pantry-17 pantry-16

These pieces were repurposed into long, four inch narrow shelves.

The advantage of using the salvaged flooring was that they came already with a floor finish on one side. I just touched it up with some fine sandpaper, sanded down the bottom of the boards and that was it.


I mounted the shelves along the side walls of the pantry.

The idea for these shelves came from our friend Drew. While I was contemplating how to install salvaged 12 inch deep wire shelves and make it spatially work, Drew floated the idea of the narrow, four inch wide shelves for single line shelving of canned and packaged goods.

 pantry-11 pantry-12

It didn’t take much convincing. The narrow shelves don’t protrude beyond the door opening and make maneuvering through the pantry easy, while maximizing the storage capacity.

At the end, I gathered all cut-offs and leftover scraps and put them together into a counter top for the cabinet at the back wall.


I have to say that the narrow shelves are a hit! Everything on them is visually accessible the moment you step into the pantry. And because items are organized in a single file, you don’t have things in the back that get forgotten.


Thank you Drew!

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About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

One thought on “Pondering the pantry

  1. Great concept indeed. You always know what you have on stock and avoid to “discover” stuff past “best before once upon a time”, saves money and is pretty sustainable.

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