The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Tuesday 24 February 2015

Building up your pantry. Making the most of your space.

I have been really encouraged along in my pantry challenge. Partly by my own progress, just seeing my cellar evolve into an actual pantry, and partly from hearing what everyone is doing! I am not the only one to have noticed that like ants we are all out and about working on building up our supplies!

This week Patsi from A Working Pantry is talking about how to make room for storage and make the most of the space we have. There is a conversation you can join on facebook and I love this as every person has a unique home and set of circumstances. And while we have had heat and cyclones the American ladies have had snow and ice like you would not believe!

If you want some inspiration also read Anut Ruthies latest blog post on Sugar Pie Farmhouse . It is just lovely. Reading this made me feel like yes! I am on the right track! Her blog is always encouraging and sets me straight on things.

Last week I did a lot of re arranging and creating space. Patsi got me started on this with the trunk she uses to store gifts. This made me review the giant trunk I had on the veranda that I had found. Being huge it had a lot of storage potential! This has become my blanket and pillow storage and it means my overcrowded linen cupboard is now spacious and I can make that over. You know how one thing leads to another, now re doing my linen cupboard is next...
To do this first the trunk needed a huge clean. Then I rubbed oil into it to bring it back to life. I know exactly where all the filth went s it was all over me!

I added a big old padlock I had.  (it still reminds me of a pirates chest) Next I lined it with pretty paper. Then I scented it so as I open ii up the scent is lovely. To keep that I added cakes of floral soap to the bottom. (More soap supplies and left like this soap gets so hard it lasts a long time if you ever use it).

This is so big I have four blankets in there so far in this picture and it looks empty...

In my kitchen pantry everything changed as I moved long term storage into my cellar. Space! This continued. I went through every item and a few things were thrown out (not too many) and other things I wondered why were they even in my pantry when I wanted more space? I had spare drink bottles, thermos, water filters and all kinds of things that if only I could re home I would have lots more room for actual food.  And so began a lot of moving things and looking at spaces I have or could use.

I started to eye a laundry cupboard that is full of "stuff" and the space above my fridge and the gap I have between the fridge and the end cupboard....

Helen had created space by de cluttering, adding shelves and getting a metal storage unit. She created a lot of space! Having a re assess, a re arrange and clean out can produce space we never dreamed of!

Here we have IKEA and Howard's Storage World. Both are great for ideas on maximising space! You don't necessarily have to buy their products to benefit from brilliant ideas which have come from top designers and experts on the subject. Study what they have done! You can do this online, in storage stores, pinterest etc. If you go to IKEA look in all the cupboards. IKEA is like DIsneyland.. all the good stuff is below the surface! The ideas are fantastic. I had a lot of light bulb moments in there. I just snap a photo on my phone so I don't forget it!

Some ideas I have loved to add space or create space have been...

To turn a spare room, closet or linen press into a pantry.  Yes, the whole thing becomes a pantry! The addition of shelves can turn many spaces into a wonderful storage space. Even a whole wall along a passageway can become a pantry if it is lined with shelves.

The area under the bed can be a huge storage space. Remember how old fashioned beds were high off the ground and you had to climb up onto them? This looks and feels romantic to me. Well, any bed can be placed on something to make it sit up high. Then you can have a whole storage space under the bed! Laine used to use under the bed space.  It could be something simple like suitcases for storage or drawers but that is a whole lot of space.

Gaps. Most homes have odd spaces that seem unusable. Mine has a gap between the fridge and end bench. A gap between the pantry cupboards and the wall. A gap between the laundry sink and the wall. Each of these is about 6 inches wide or so.  You can slide in there a basket and fill it with your baking trays. Or buy a skinny set of shelves on wheels (they are made for such gaps!) or how about something like this...

This is from Classy Clutter blog and they have full instructions to built this! (I have never used any other persons picture on my blog before but this is such a good idea and I have no hope of building it in time to show you!) This gets you thinking about the gap spaces in your home!

Adding a shelf. Adding shelves on blank walls, above doorways, into existing cupboards...

The space above your fridge or cupboards. This doesn't have to look messy. Lovely baskets that fit nicely look great and can store heaps of less often used items. It is a fine place for seldom used things. The top of my fridge now stores trays, stacked, plus I had this really rustic old bread bin.  It is big. I added transfers and lined the inside with lovely paper...

It is Shabby Chic in the extreme... but now it houses all those spare drink bottles, thermos' and water filters and my pantry has more space!

Slide out trays or baskets that fit under cupboards, the bed etc. they are like an extra shelf.

Hanging things. If you have shelves run a row of hooks underneath where you can hang utensils, pots and pans or other items.

A pots and pans hanger. Saucepans and fry pans take up a lot of room! Hanging them from a hanger can free up so much kitchen space. In my last house I had an old ladder suspended from my kitchen ceiling. I hung all my pots and pans from there plus baskets, dried herbs and all kinds of things. It was fabulous and saved so much space. It looked really good too.

Do you have things inside that could be in the shed if stored properly? I did. Wrapped, covered and some things in tubs, they have gone into the shed freeing up cupboard space.

Do you have clutter that is really useless stuff and if cleaned out you would have pantry space? A lot of things build up. A garage sale might clear a room or a cupboard, free up the space and fund starting stocking up your pantry at the same time. In a crisis a tennis racquet from the 80's is probably not going to be much help! But a stockpile of food, water and first aid will be.

Convert a bookcase, trunk, stack of suitcases, wardrobe.

Fill a shelf or ledge with baskets. In our hallway I keep baskets of things that are ready to go out the door... gifts, things for the girls, books to take back to the library and so on... These are really handy.

Some of these things do not directly create pantry space. But I am finding as I create space things can be re homed that have been stored in my pantry that really don't belong there. Others can become pantry space. I now have a free top shelf in the laundry and much more kitchen cupboard space than I had before. The difference is amazing.

So my week was mainly about re arranging and creating space. And now I have all this space to fill in my kitchen pantry cupboards. I did add some things but it is going to take me weeks to stock this up. I added polenta, couscous, tuna and vanilla paste.

I want to end with something lovely from Sharon at The Shepherd's House Blog.  Loving pantries and loving jars I think her mason jar gift tags are just beautiful! Yesterday was Helen's birthday and I had to include something for her pantry in her present! I wish I had made these tags. Mason Jar Love. A future project!

It feels good to make progress! Helen and I were talking about how it was with the cyclone coming in and imagining how it is for the girls with so much snow. I had realised things I had never thought of (as we are just not used to anything like it...) that peoples water pipes freeze so they have no water, that the chickens water freezers so they have no water! That people can die just if their car breaks down in the freezing conditions! Both of us felt there are so many reasons we are working on this project.

Thank you for joining in. The comments, conversation and friendship is just wonderful. I appreciate your thoughts and ideas so much.

How have you built up your pantry and preparedness this week and how have you managed through the cyclone or the snow if you are in those areas?

Every little step is progress. Some weeks will be bigger and some smaller but over the year we will be amazed! xxx


  1. Excellent ... Excellent ... Excellent Annabel! So many good ideas!

    1. Thank you Patsi. Im working on it today too... its all progress!xxx

  2. Annabel, I was just looking (drooling over) an IKEA catalogue this morning! They have so many useful and inexpensive storage ideas. I love footstools that have a space in them. More like a big box with a cushioned top, they double as extra seating as well as footstools, and can hold anything from blankets to canned food or dried goods. Shelves in the garage are great too, as are shelves or baskets or sealed tubs in a stairwell or under the stairs. Great list and fab ideas from you as always. It's just so motivating to read ideas that align with your own, but that you'd hadn't thought of yet. Thankyou! Mimi xxx

    1. What?! there is a new IKEA catalogue? I will go check!
      Countries that less space is the norm have ideas that are just amazing. IKEA room sets ups... where it is a whole unit in one room or a multi purpose room etc have ideas I never would have thought of. I am in there studying like I am going for a test. Taking photos and notes...
      Changing around has made a big difference. Im still on it, I re homed my big crockpot today (plus its full of quinces) But my pantry is shaping up much better! Hope you are having a good

  3. You certainly are full of good ideas, Annabel. Lots of helpful links there to check out as well. Thanks heaps.

    1. Thanks Nanna Chel. I love finding new blogs and websites that are helpful or just lovely. I have found a few through you! xxx

  4. Hello, I'm one of those American girls living in the cold and snow. I found your blog through Coffee Tea Books and Me, it is delightful! I have been reading it at the end of my day, when I have put my children to bed and am just finishing nursing the baby. Such a treat!!

    It is too cold for the children to be out, so we have been working hard at our homeschool things. The public schools are closed due to the freezing cold temperatures. I'm thankful and blessed to have a husband who cares so much for us that he decided that he will run all errands this winter. Thankfully, we live in a home that has no heating issues or freezing pipes. My sister, on the other hand, lives in the country in a home that has poor insulation in one of her bathrooms. Last week the glass shower door burst when the hot water from the shower got on it, and this week she has an icicle in the shower! a few weeks ago our van broke down on the highway, it was very cold out, and unfortunately we forgot our cell phone so we could not call for help. Nobody stops to help these days either. We had all three children in the car, our older children and our baby. Thankfully help did come, and it wasn't as cold as it has been lately (today it was -11), but it was quite scary for this mama, realizing all the could be's and might have been's.

    We recently decided to start buying some "home" products, such as toilet paper and other bathroom and cleaning supplies in bulk. We have never had a pantry like that, but oh how wonderful it is! We aren't running to the store as often, we are saving time and money, and it gives a wonderful sense of security to open the closet and see that we aren't out of necessities. I hope to learn how to do this with my food supplies as well.

    1. Welcome! And thank you for posting... I dont know your first name so I am sorry I cant call you by your name. (let me know next time)
      I could learn so much from you. I know we are used to what we grow up with and I have never lived in snow or the really cold. So your sisters shower story or you breaking down on the road... I think oh my goodness! I can relate to when the children cant go outside as many times we have extreme heat and they had to stay inside. This would take lots of quiet activities!
      I really agree that supplies of basics mean we dont run out and we have less trips where we rush to the store. That alone saves time and money.
      We have just begun here with the building up food and supplies. I am trying to make it that I have many whole meals I can make from the pantry plus spares of everything, as a starting point. It is a journey! But little steps each week make a huge amount of progress.
      I hope the weather improves for you soon. Thank you so much for commenting.xx

  5. Dear Annabel,
    I love what you did with the trunk! Just beautiful, and so roomy :). So many great storage solutions and space-creation with what you already have! Clever.
    You have many wonderful ideas. Anyone scratching their head for more space should be full of ideas after this post. I am very fortunate to have a large walk-in pantry as well as a large cabinet with pull-out drawer-type shelves. My problem is like you said, re-homing things that don't belong so as to better utilize my space. About a year ago I pulled every last item out and started with a clean slate. I think that may be my solution so I can see it with fresh eyes. Also, I need to rearrange things to make my kitchen flow more smoothly due to bending/back issues. This post has me grabbing my notebook! Keep the comments coming ladies :). As always Annabel, thank you for the time you put into this! Xxx

    1. Thanks Colette! I love that you have a walk in pantry! What an asset that is.
      A couple of years ago I did a challenge on A Bowl Full of Lemons where I did what you did... removed everything from the kitchen and started again! It helped heaps. I had some things in the dumbest places lol
      Today I have been moving some more things plus I have the crock pot full of quinces stewing. Its a day just at home getting things done which I love.
      I hope you are having a good week. Thanks for knowing my posts take me a ton of time sometimes! xxx

  6. So much terrific information Annabel. Thank you. I loved what you did to the trunk, the paper you lined it with is so pretty.

    1. Thanks Sherri. I love opening the trunk as it is pretty and smells good. A big transformation from before. And extra storage space is wonderful. I hope your pantry is going well! xxx

  7. We recently moved from a home we had built and lived in for 35 years. We had two dedicated rooms, in the finished basement, full of shelves that held food, paper, supplies, medical supplies, etc. When we moved to the new location, I utilized the steel shelving, we had in those two rooms,for all the closets, walk in pantry closets, and garage storage at the new location.

    I drew out the dimensions of each closet, what was to go in it, and had the shelving shelves spaced accordingly. That way each closet has no wasted space and holds much more than a closet with a rod and a few shelves.

    The shelving is from Seville (we purchased it at Sam's Club and through Amazon prime - saves shipping cost) holds 500 lbs per shelf, and is nice looking. Liners can be purchased for each shelf to add to the stability for canned goods, glass containers, or softer items. The versatility of the shelving units is very handy. As many shelves as you desire can be used. Frequently we have spaced the shelves seven inches apart for pint canning jars. By purchasing two units we have plenty of shelves to use and leftover poles to use elsewhere. Oh, my, we must have around thirty of these units by now.

    They come in various widths and depths, so by graphing out the space available the units can be bought by size to maximize the storage. We felt it was worth the initial investment as they can be moved around, reused indefinitely, made any height, shelves spaced according to desired distance, and easily disassembled for moving or storage.

    We have used this shelving mainly inside of closets, pantries, in the sunroom for starting seeds, and in the garage for nicer looking storage. I, also, used it in my previous sewing room to store the material I have purchased on sale. In order to soften the steel look in the room, I purchased some pretty, feminine looking fabric shower curtains and hooked them ruffled around the top of the shelving. They hung to the floor and added another dimension of depth and warmth to the room.

    I am so happy I found your blog and just love your pantry posts.

    1. Thank you so much Glenda and for your helpful comment. You will be a big help as I am new at this!
      I love your shelving system. It is exactly true that shelves spaced to suit what you have is a massive space saver. So often it is not and we stack and space just gets wasted.
      Now I LOVE the idea of the pretty curtain to hang in the front of shelves. I am going to include this idea in a blog post. If at any time you feel inclined to send me pictures please do!
      Your storage is amazing. I am inspired! Thank you for sharing

  8. Hello ~ Yes.yes ~ "Every little step is progress"! Your progress is so wonderful and encouraging! I have been thinking about my linen closet too. I am thinking of making a little fabric basket and storing soap in it, just like you are doing in your trunk. It should keep things smelling so good! I am trying to give things away that I am not using or don't love and that maybe someone else can love and enjoy. That frees up space and feels so good. Thank you for linking up to my mason jar post ~ it was so kind of you!


    1. Thanks Sharon! I am hoping to work on some mason jar tags inspired by you. The stashes of soap are lovely. Things do smell good and I think maybe they keep moths out since I have never had moths in anything and nor has Mum and she is the one who got me started putting soaps in with linen. And you will always have soaps to fall back on.
      Keep at little steps with your space, it does feel really good! xxx

  9. Hi Annabel; How busy you are!! But if your like me, you love doing things like this. Such an organized kitchen you have! I have never had a quince. I don't even know if our stores carry them, I will have to check next time I'm out. What do you do with them? And I love, love, love your trunk, it turned out just beautiful! I have an old trunk that I redid years and years ago, it turned out beautiful. I keep blankets etc. in them during the summer. My granddaughter happened to spot it and wants it. All I can say is Ha!! Have a great week. Love your posts, I think we are kindred spirits!! Hugs, Nana

    1. Nana quinces are related to apples and pears I think... They are yellow and hard as rocks. You have to know what to do with them. If you wait for them to ripen ie soften it never happens! The flesh is hard and white/lemon. BUT once cooked slowly for a few hours this turns ruby pink! With the most lovely scent. It is a very old fashioned thing it seems to me. I have quince paste on now..which is reducing it down to a thick paste to go with cheese platters etc.
      I love the sound of your trunk! What a useful thing they are. My favourite idea ever for a trunk is a glory box. I always had a glory box and my girls had them too.
      It is beautiful to find kindred spirits. That makes my day thank you! xxx

  10. I just adore everything you do Annabel! You have the knack for creating beautiful out of ordinary. xo

    Now you have all given me so many ideas! I'm going to store soap in my linen cupboard! It will free up bathroom storage space and make the linen smell wonderful as well. Storing items in unexpected spaces is just so creative. I am thinking of all kinds of possibilities now.

    Hope you have had a wonderful birthday Helen. xoxo

    1. Kaye yes that would free up heaps of space! Truly any linen cupboard is the perfect place. A fabric stash, underwear drawer, clothes in storage... all good spots to store soaps and benefit from the nice scent. Im pretty sure it protects against moths as I never have had any.
      Lots of love and

  11. Hi Annabel,
    My first comment on your blog. I found some plastic tiered shelving for the pantry at KMart. They have been a fabulous addition as I can see all of the cans and don't have to hunt. The cyclone gave us some much needed rain in Hervey Bay and a couple of windy days. We were so lucky. My hearts go out to those further north.

    1. Thank you Jane and welcome! Comments are what keep me going and I appreciate hearing from you very much.
      It sounds like I had better investigate Kmart!
      I am very happy you are ok and just got useful rain as a result of the cyclone. I have seen some very sad footage of homes that are just ruined and terrible things.
      This is all a reminder about being prepared and what needs doing thats for sure.
      I am going to go into Kmart and have a look, thank you for

  12. The government department our daughter works for has sent all of the tradies up to the cyclone affected areas - she wasn't asked to go but when we were talking about it yesterday we believe it is because of the accomodation aspects.

    Our yard has no more puddles (lakes) for which I am greatful. Both the front and backyards were flooded. I just kept looking down from the closed window at the bottom step out the back and the water never made it up to it.

    We have an 'L' shaped veranda which meant that even when we had the heaviest rain we could still go outside and get some fresh air.

    Preparation consisted of being up to date with the washing - I had visions of having to put towels everywhere because the rain had found a way in. Buying a loaf of bread and some new matches. The rest we had here. We didn't have any power outages so no need to worry about that.

    The 2 roads into our township were closed for a couple of days but we were fine, we had enough in our pantry and DH was happy because we had eggs.

    My plan is to work out extra storage.

    As for your trunk, well I am in love. Our daughter is returning a trunk to me - a family heirloom of sorts (one of my great great grandfather's 3rd wife's trunk) - we are from the second wife and the third wife was needed to look after the young family that he was left with when the second wife died.

    It will not end up as pretty as your trunk because it is one of the old metal travelling trunks. It will be a project for after we do the extension - it will take me that long to work out where to put it.


    1. Dear Lynette,
      I am so glad you were ok and also well prepared. Being cut off could have been bad but you did well.
      I think the fact that your trunk has family history is lovely! There is something beautiful about rustic on the outside then when you open it feminine and pretty inside as well as smelling good. It is a bit magical. Im sure you will find a great use for it. SOmewhere inside you should stick a piece of paper with its history written down, for future generations.
      Also I have read a few times that if you have warning of a disaster or whatever to use the time to be up to date on washing, cook raw meat etc you may have and all the things that later might just be really difficult. Good ideas. Many thanks for this and glad all is well. love

  13. Dearest Annabel and friends, I saw this post come know how it is, there are some things in life that are such a treat, that you save them for sitting and thinking over. So here I am, so blessed by all the comments. We are going to add two more shelves to the top of my pantry and we had thought to make the spacing just closer together so we can store more. Also reading about the soap has me thinking that I'm sure I can fit a small shelving unit in the bathroom and store extra bathroom supplies in there. Soaps lining anything like your sock draw or under ware draw will make everything smell nice and we then can store more. Thanks for the beautiful post Annabel and all the wonderful ideas. You are a treasure! Love Helen

  14. Hello Annabel,

    I love what you have done with the trunk, you just have the knack for making things pretty.

    I have soaps in all my drawers and they keep my bedroom smelling divine. I buy organic soaps from a quaint little soap shop in Laura and boy do they smell nice. I also have a couple of baskets on top of my fridge that I keep bread in. I purchased the baskets from Cheap As Chips or somewhere like that. They are white and are lined. and just the right size for a loaf of bread :)

    I have been watching a few clips on you tube over the past couple of days and there are some great storage, cleaning and organisation ideas on there. My house is looking so much better since watching these, my motivation has re-surfaced lol!


    1. Tania I think it will be hot for you tomorrow but its only for one day then better again, hopefully.
      Let me know any really good you tube videos and Ill watch them but I will have a look too.
      I think soaps have been forgotten about for their lovely scents in the home... I am adding some as I find "flavours" I like.
      I am so glad your motivation has had a boost. We all need that! xxx


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