I am rather fond of a pantry. The shelving, the storage options, the opportunity to line up, label and organise items! We lost out on a house that had an amazing under-stairs pantry, it was the one thing that initially disappointed me about this house because the other one was so perfect! Luckily however we have been able to find a place for one here, so today I thought I would share how we did it.

When we first moved in, the original boiler and airing cupboard were both located in the kitchen, the boiler was attached to the wall in an awkward position and, several inches to the left, there was an airing cupboard {with a proper door} with hot water cylinder inside. Although this meant we had a lovely warm place to store sheets and towels - albeit in the kitchen, it felt like a huge waste of space. A new kitchen is not in the budget at the moment, but we did want to upgrade the boiler and heating system so finally ripped it all out last winter, freeing up a nice utility area for the washer, dryer and yes – a pantry in that dingy little cupboard!

Here it is before we started the work.


Now you'll have to excuse my somewhat grainy murky set of photos accompanying this post, this corner of the kitchen is very dark, there is no natural light down this end.

So the first stage of turning the cupboard into a pantry was to dismantle the old wooden shelves so that the plumbers could get to the hot water cylinder and remove everything. I didn't take a photo at this point, probably because the kitchen was a hell hole for about a week with the plumbers in moving the boiler into the attic and laying lots of new pipework. It was at this time they decided to leave a hole the size of a football in the outer wall for a few days where the old boiler flue had been, letting all the seriously chilly December air into the room/house. Not that it mattered much, all the heating was off with the work being done, and we didn't have any hot water either! I can't believe this now but I went ahead and hosted a Christmas drinks party with all my girlfriends that week, we had four electric heaters blasting out on in the lounge to keep warm. To be honest it didn't matter at all, we had a lovely time. I wasn't going to let some stupid plumbing project ruin my festive fun but every time we nipped into the kitchen, oh my life it was freezing!

I digress.

The cupboard was clear and empty, ready for us to prep and paint.

Here it is with the base coat applied. Much better already!

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We used Dulux Trade emulsion in pure brilliant white on the walls. If you want a large quantity of quality white paint that works in any space this is one of the better ones. The thing I really love about a crisp white paint is that clean and fresh look afterwards – it helps you start somewhere, even if you decide to add some colour later on {our approach so far for the whole house}.

You can see in the photo that we had to leave some of the old pipes in the ceiling, we simply painted these with a white metal paint also to help them blend into the background. I'm not sure of the reason but Adam didn't paint the very tip of the longer bit of pipe - why?!


Shelving wise, we researched a number of options but ended up choosing simple MDF window boards, these are good as they have a rounded profile on one side and can easily be cut to size.

Adam has a far more mathematical brain than I so he measured up the walls to plan the ideal shelving arrangement, we agreed on a set of deeper shelves for the left side of the door and a skinnier set of shelves to the right. I wanted space for a peg board and some hooks, so we kept the back wall free for those. 

In terms of fixing the boards to the wall, we went for an adjustable twin-slot shelving system which means if we ever want to change the height of the shelves it will simply be a case of unscrewing the supports. You can buy these in places like B&Q, but they are much cheaper online. 

We primed and painted the boards with two coats and then set about fixing them in place. The shelves run all the way up the walls, I can't reach the top shelf and I'm 5"8! I assume this is where Adam will stash any chocolate he doesn't want me to scoff whilst he is at work.

This is it taking shape, shelves up!  


Our peg board is from IKEA, you can then buy an assortment of accompanying things to hang on these including hooks, clips and these canvas pockets which are quite handy for storing smaller items/draping a napkin artistically over the side like my husband in the previous photo…

The flooring in the cupboard is original, it is cork which was of course tres trendy back in the 70’s and is actually quite trendy now in terms of boho modern throwback mid century vibes?! There were a few patches that were a bit mangled by years of airing cupboard use – we cut and lifted these out with a stanley knife and scraper and replaced with cork tiles, which are widely available and inexpensive. 

As for lighting, there was no power actually inside the cupboard but of course there are plenty of non-mains lighting options these days. The next best thing to draping festoon lights all over the shelves like the basic millennial that I am was some slightly more discreet camping LED strip lights. We tucked these behind the door frame edge so that you can't actually see them when you enter, they create a soft glow which is plenty enough to see which cous cous jar you desire. These are plugged into a large USB power bank which basically means we'll need to recharge it sometime next year based on the fact I am mostly in the pantry for two seconds grabbing the marmite and can't be arsed to flip the lights on anyway.


I think one of the most exciting aspects of planning your pantry is the storage! At our old house I had a lovely tall slide-out shelf that Adam made for me, it lived between the countertop and the fridge and we stored all of my favourite Kilner jars in it. I was really sad when we moved and there was no where in this house for it to go!

The jars have therefore had to be factored in to measurements for the new pantry and now have a neat new home on the right hand side of the cupboard. We have acquired some other storage vessels including these zinc tins from my favourite shop in Leicester, Harriman & Co which contrast quite nicely with all the glass. Generally however I think I prefer to have ingredients in jars because it's good to be able to see what you need quickly.


Sorry for awfully grainy photos!


We are very much enjoying having some more space in the kitchen cupboards now it is finished, and I really love popping in here to organise the shelves like the slightly OCD home faffer that I am.

Ceels x