Eyesore to Storage: Hall Closet Converted Into a Pantry

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

During this week of the Kitchen Cure we are encouraging all the Cure-takers to restock their kitchens, but also to take on one small kitchen project. From hanging a shelf to painting a wall, this is just a project that will beautify and improve your kitchen. So I am sharing a few projects I did in my own kitchen this past year. The first: Converting a dingy, shallow hall closet into a bright and useful pantry.

What I Had

I live in a hundred-year-old house, and it has its charm. But it also has layers of dust that seem to settle just as fast as I clean them, as well as its share of dark and slightly scary nooks and crannies. This hall closet next to the kitchen was one of those. It was covered in two layers of ancient wallpaper, and several layers of peeling paint. There were some hooks that looked ancient and rusty, and just one rickety shelf. It was shallow and nearly useless, even for storage and coats. (Sadly, I have no photos of the BEFORE closet! A major oversight on my part! Just trust me — it was dark and icky.)

I don’t know why it took me so long, but I suddenly realized that this coat closet really, really didn’t work. And I didn’t need to avoid it — I could change it! And what better use for it but more kitchen storage?? There was another area next to it with open shelving, and I already used this for storing grains and rice in glass jars. But the closet itself could also be a great pantry.

I was finding that I really didn’t have much room for food storage; I have a very shallow, small cupboard in the kitchen that was crammed with canned tomatoes and party crackers. Now, I realize that my modest kitchen with its storage space is much larger than most city kitchens, and I am not complaining about the amount of cupboard space I have! But I do cook and write about it for a living, and I have, um, perhaps more than the usual amount of dishes. So any little bit helps. I don’t keep a lot of pantry supplies around, but when I needed to stock up on flour or sugar, the extra bags would sit on top of the refrigerator or on the table. Not optimal, from my point of view.

What I Did

So I took one weekend and cleaned out this closet for a pantry. I vacuumed the closet out thoroughly, and sanded down the back of the door. I removed the one shelf and hooks, and took down the wallpaper. We have plaster walls in our house, so all I had to do was squirt the paper with a steady stream of warm water, and use a paint scraper to peel the stuff off. (It was gross, but incredibly satisfying.)

Then I primed the walls and door. I also did the same for the shelving area outside the closet; I wanted them to match. When all that was dry, I painted it a bright yellow, inspired by this color line at Pigeon Toe Ceramics.

Paint color: Cliveden Camelback Sofa from Valspar

After the painting was done, my (lovely!) husband bought some simple pine boards and cut them to fit the closet. There were already several shelf supports inside, so he didn’t have to do too much work. I opted not to paint the shelves; I liked the simplicity of the wood, and honestly, I was ready to be done at that point.


A cheery yellow pantry closet that stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It is the perfect place to stash my Crock-Pot and ice cream maker. It has plenty of room for extra baking supplies, and it stays dark and cool for my onions and potatoes.

Now, not everyone has a handy hall closet just waiting to be converted to a pantry. But you may have a poorly-utilized shelf in a closet or cupboard in the kitchen. You may have a space that you’ve never considered for a pantry. It really doesn’t take much energy or money to fix it up; and you can do it in a couple evenings or a weekend.

What about you? Are you planning any pantry projects like this for your Cure special project?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

(Images: Faith Durand)

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