A Teeny Tiny Pantry Closet

Just off our kitchen (or living room, or dining room, depending on where you’re standing) we have a tiny pantry closet. It’s about 2x2 square—just big enough to hold bins for recycling and a few deep, but narrow shelves. We never intended to have a big pantry closet, though in hindsight, one that’s a little bigger would have been nice, but here we are. At least this one will keep us from amassing too many cans and cartons or assorted kitchen do-dads.

It’s been sitting shelf-less since we moved in and we’ve been contemplating shelves since then, too. After declaring at least every couple of weeks that we really should get that pantry closet finished, we finally set about to doing it one day. Well, John did. I deep cleaned the house and nodded or shook my head as he brought up test shelves from the basement.

Before then, though, we debated some sort of pre-made shelving system but decided something wood would be nice. We thought about making our own wood shelves that could be attached to a Closetmaid type system so the shelves could be adjusted, but ultimately decided that the likelihood of us ever adjusting the shelves was slim to none so why bother. In the end, we decide to use a bunch of leftover oak hardwood flooring that was sitting around. There wasn’t enough of it left to actually put down on a floor, so shelves seemed like a good way to use up the rest of it.

To build these, we decided that two boards sandwiched together was a nice height, versus just one board. This way, too, we could put the undersides together making it look like one solid piece of wood. Knowing we’d need four boards to get the depth we wanted, times two to double the thickness, times five shelves total, John set about cutting each board to length. We actually wound up with one extra shelf once I calculated the space between the shelves, but oh well. We'll find a home for it.

Cut to a few months later (ugh, why does this always happen??), I started gluing everything together. Because wood glue doesn’t set instantly, I was able to glue up one entire shelf at a time, first gluing the underside together, then slathering some glue onto the inside part (what is actually the bottom of the flooring), then gluing the top together and lining it up with the bottom section, and finally, giving everything a good clamping. After the shelves were all glued up, I ripped the tongues off the front with our trusty table saw so that I could glue a finished piece along the edge, giving everything a nice clean look. For extra hold, I added some finish nails to keep the front piece in place so it’s less likely to break off from constantly pulling things in and out of the pantry. To finish them, I gave everything a good sanding and then put on a couple coats of tung oil. I didn’t go too crazy. These are pantry shelves after all, and they really just need a little oil to seal them.

Since shelves can’t just float in thin air, we needed to put up some sort of ledger for them to sit on. For this we used some scrap boards that were just laying around. I gave them a quick coat of white paint to blend in with the wall and once I determined the shelf heights, I screwed these to the studs and set the shelves in place.

The last tricky thing we did was add an outlet inside the closet. You see, as convenient as it is, I don’t like how much space our microwave takes up on the counter. Plus, it makes things look cluttered and disorderly, so we’re putting the microwave in the closet. It’s not that far away from the kitchen (it’s literally adjacent to it), and we don’t use our microwave all that much anyway, so into the closet it goes. Maybe it’ll be back on the counter in 6 months if it turns out to be obnoxious, but for now it’s in the closet.

(Sorry I don't have any photos of each step, but you can check out the highlight on my Instagram here, which shows some of the process.)

Anyway! Here's what the closet looks like all set up:

I'm already loving getting all of these bulky things out of the cabinets. And the open space on the counter where the microwave was already feels so much better. Now we just need a door so we can actually store food in there without fear of a rogue dog eating all the snacks.


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