I Gave My Pantry a Home Edit-Inspired Makeover — Here’s How It Went
Flipping incessantly through Netflix (as one does), I came across the popular Get Organized with The Home Edit. I’d been following The Home Edit on Instagram for quite a while because, well, who doesn’t love an occasional glance at organizational smut? Seeing things organized by color just takes it to the next level (even though it didn’t quite make sense to me in the kitchen). My own pantry looked like something out of Hoarders (another favorite show), so I thought it would be a fun watch. But I only made it through the first 15 minutes of the first episode.
I was totally on board for all those gorgeous color-coded closets and pantries of organizational bliss, but I got REAL jealous, real quick. Here’s why.
- Time: I have none. Like so many others right now, I work from home and our babysitters are no longer accessible. When my husband comes home at night I immediately crumble into a little pile of dust and he sweeps me up and puts me to bed. There was absolutely no way I could complete this massive undertaking with my child at home.
- Space: Our apartment pantry is pretty blah. Yeah, it’s big, but it has an ugly red floor and was built with toothpicks and scratch paper. The shelves sag, the lighting’s terrible — it’s definitely not something you would see on any design show. “Pretty” organization would be pretty pointless.
- Money: I didn’t want to invest money into my pantry because I didn’t care about it — it was an ugly mess, and let’s face it — no one besides my immediate family was going to be snooping around in there anytime soon.
Wah-wah. Those were the feelings I experienced while watching the show unfold. I was jealous with a big fat J. I obviously wanted very badly to have a beautifully organized pantry. And I wanted to hang out with Joanna so I could ask where she finds all her cute sweaters, but I didn’t think I’d see how it would ever be a possibility. So, you can imagine my pure and utter delight (and also Midwestern guilt for thinking jealous, jerk-thoughts about the show) when my editor at Kitchn asked me to give my pantry a makeover à la The Home Edit!
I replied to her email with an enthusiastic “YES!” even though I didn’t think it was possible. After a quick call with my mom/life coach, I had almost everything figured out: My husband had a weekend freed up because of a canceled trip, so she and my father would take our daughter so we could go into serious organization mode. I figured the space would look so much better emptied out, and it was for work so I would just do it and cross my fingers that it would look nice enough, and be considered “relatable content.” Last up: budget. Fortunately there are some truly wonderful perks to this job, like having The Container Store send along everything I needed to get the pantry whipped into shape. It was all happening. I had to pinch myself, no, I didn’t have time for that! I had to watch all the pantry makeover episodes of “Get Organized” and start planning ASAP!
If you’re still with me, this is where it gets good. Here is what my pantry looked like before.
All the food was off to the left side, somewhat organized but mostly just crammed on the shelves. Sugar and flour shared a shelf with household items like light bulbs and the steamer, and there were about six gallons of paint stashed in there. Also extra dishes, bleach wipes … you name it, it was in there!
When the weekend finally came and our daughter was happily in a bubble 100 miles away, my husband and I got to work removing the four years of junk that had accumulated in the pantry. As we took out the food we checked the expiration date, and then separated everything into zones.
I tried putting everything I was keeping directly into the new bins, but that quickly proved to be a dumb idea. Look how much junk was packed onto those shelves! I donated quite a bit, and ended up filling two trash bags with random other things. Our entire kitchen was covered with pantry junk.
What I needed to do was just get it emptied out and scrub it down, and then I could start positioning the bins on the shelves in a way that made sense and could work with my zones. I was excited to start but instead spent a good hunk of the evening removing donut decals from the refrigerator with Goo Gone. Once they were off it looked so much better — I actually allowed myself to think that I might actually get the pantry looking pretty.
Before even starting the makeover, I’d done my research. I’d learned from watching the show that I needed to come up with specific zones and get everything down on paper before I ordered the bins and baskets. The zones I finally decided on were the following:
- Canned goods
- Produce (potatoes + onions)
- Grab-and-go kid snacks
- Grab-and-go adult snacks
- Grains + nuts
- Pasta + oils
- International flavors
- Boxed goods
- Household items
- Extra dishes
With my zones in mind, I got started playing around with the configuration of the bins on the shelves. I’d measured everything ahead of time and had a good idea where I wanted each to be, so I started at the top and worked my way down. I’d ordered three large Hyacinth storage cubes to hold items we rarely use, like my soup terrine and bowls, random household items like water filters, lightbulbs, and a back stock of paper products that wouldn’t fit in the hanging organizer.
The small Hyacinth bins were perfect for storing bread, back stock of canned goods, and lunch bags. I used the extra-small size bins on top of the refrigerator as grab-and-go snack bins with more adult-friendly snacks/things we don’t want to share with our kid! In one episode of Get Organized I saw the team create a s’mores basket for a family that frequently had friends over for campfires and thought it was so smart. I recreated that idea for our family movie nights and filled a basket with popcorn and gummy bears and a few of the other snacks our daughter often requests. It’s now easier than ever to just grab the basket and take what we need.
Now, this wouldn’t truly be a Home Edit-style makeover if you didn’t see something organized into the ROYGBIV rainbow, so I decided to do that with my boxed goods (mac and cheese, crackers, cake mixes, etc!).
Thanks to a hot tip from my neighbor (thanks, Dr. Sarah!) I added even more rainbow goodness on the other side with my Ina Garten cookbooks! Just remove the dust jacket and voila! Instant rainbow.
Clearly, The Home Edit Team loves some organizers. Here’s a list of what I got and how I used it. As much as I wanted to fight it, these things were game-changers.
1. Divided Lazy Susan
I have to admit that I really didn’t see the need for these, but the Home Edit team uses them everywhere so I thought I’d give them a try. They really are great for snacks; they make it easy for my 4-year-old to rotate/pillage, but they’re not ideal if you’re short on space. My favorite ended up being the 9-Inch Lazy Susan, which I used for oils on one shelf, and for baking spices on another shelf. The best thing about the trays is that if you spill something, it’s contained — just remove the tray and wash it. It’s amazing how much better things look when they’re placed in or on a tray. This might seem trivial (I’ve been getting texts from friends saying “Who are you even?” in response to my many photos of pantry details like this), but keeping even the smallest things in your pantry organized helps promote overall organization in the rest of the space.
Buy: Divided Lazy Susan, $29.99 at The Container Store
2. Narrow Pantry Bin
For a little more than $100 you can get an eight-pack of these — and if that is all you can do for now, I highly recommend it as the best way to get started. I tried putting lots of different things in these bins and was pleasantly surprised each time something fit. Six canned goods fit with a little room for something small in the back; skinny beverage cans fit two-by-two, as well as kids’ juice boxes. They are the perfect size. I ended up using them to store small bags of grains on the other side of the pantry, too.
Buy: Narrow Pantry Bin, $12.99
3. Scala Stackable Steel Wire Baskets
These are super easy to fill, compact, and fit perfectly on small shelves. I didn’t have an area large enough to be able to stack mine, but am more than happy to have them sitting side by side. I ended up using my third basket on a different shelf for chip/large bag storage because that always seems to be an item in our pantry that floats around in need of a home. The baskets keep them perfectly contained.
Buy: Scala Stackable Steel Wire Basket, $20.99
4. Hanging Shoe Organizer
This one was a wildcard. I think I saw the idea somewhere online and I’m not sure The Home Edit ladies would approve, but we are short on storage space and my paper products have to live in the pantry so this just made sense. I’d been using it before and brought it back for the makeover. Each cubby fits two rolls of toilet paper (or one roll of paper towels), and we unbox the trash bags and keep them in the bottom cubby. (And yes, I got cute toilet paper because I know how to commit to a happy/rainbow theme.) Not only is this the perfect way to avoid the paper product avalanche that happens once you remove a roll from the cube, but it’s also a good way to keep track if your supply is running low.
Buy: Hanging Shoe Organizer, $16.99
5. Large Pantry Canister
I ordered a few large canisters for my different grains, and considered using them for cereal, but quickly found out I’m not an empty-the-cereal-into-another-bin-because-it-looks-prettier kind of gal. We fly through cereal and I don’t have time for that, so I ended up using all the large containers for grains and pasta. They definitely look better on the shelf and are easier to get in and out of than bags (less spillage, too!). I’ve labeled each one on the side, so if someone else is baking they’re able to find what they need.
Buy: Large Pantry Canister, $12.99
My Final Thoughts on The Home Edit Method
All in, it took my husband and I the full two-day, child-free weekend to get everything pulled out, cleaned, organized in bins, and put back together. I spent the next week making small changes, swapping out a few things here and there, and I’m not gonna lie: There’s still some residual crap hanging out in our kitchen that I just don’t know what to do with. Overall, I was extremely surprised at how amazing it feels to have to have such organization happening in our kitchen. It’s made grocery shopping much easier because I can actually see what I have — so hopefully I won’t end up with 12 cans of black beans again!
My final thought on this extreme pantry makeover: Do you really need to fork out a ton of cash for pretty baskets and bins? Certainly not. You can get organized all on your own using your own bins — you just have to get creative. But speaking as someone who’s had to “get creative” her entire life, I’m going to say that this is a project you should just save up for if you really want to do it right. Buy a few pieces at a time when you see things on sale, or happen to bring in additional income. The key is getting a cohesive look. Try buying all the same bins and all the same baskets. Whatever you do, just do something! This has been the most satisfying cleaning adventure I’ve ever embarked on, and there’s never been a better time to do it than now, while we’re all home and cooking more than ever.
Have you re-organized your pantry lately? Tell us in the comments below!