Pantry Done!

modfrugal pantry reno

This has been one of our more embarrassing renovations time-wise. It’s taken over 5 years to get this done, but it’s FINALLY off the list. To see all posts related to the pantry, click here.

To recap in brief, we gutted and rebuilt our kitchen when we closed on the house 5 years ago, but left the other side of the kitchen like this, thinking we’d get to it within a year. That didn’t happen.

modfrugal pantry reno

Over Spring break 2013, we finally got it going and were making great time to finish within a couple of weeks, BUT…we ran into a snag with the countertop, the overhead lighting had to be changed around, and there needed to be yet another trip to Atlanta for some finishing strips, and eventually, a slab of butcher block. So we got to this point, it functioned, and we came to a screeching halt.

modfrugal pantryUntil we could figure out what we wanted to do, we used the Corian counter top that was in the original kitchen. We had saved it, and had been using it in the basement workshop the past few years. The photo above doesn’t look bad, I have to say, but this one below better shows the color situation.

modfrugal pantry renovationCompared to the crisp white Abstrakt cabinets, the Corian was yellowish. We could have sanded down the Corian, but if we were going with something other than the quartz from the main kitchen, wood seemed the most appealing and least expensive choice. We discussed our options, Summer came and went, and life rolled along with nothing happening in the kitchen for the next 5-6 months.

Over Fall break, the CC tackled the beast of the lighting situation himself, which was not an easy task. We still had 3 of the original square recessed lights left in the kitchen and 3 new cans from the main kitchen renovation. I never felt we had enough light over the island/table for prep, and it looked bad to boot. I had always planned to move the sputnik over the island as it is too big to hang in a walkway, but there it was, bumping the heads of our over six foot high friends as they walked in from the back deck. On top of that, we had never finished painting the ceiling in the kitchen because we were going to be tearing it up again any day…5 years later. Of course it wasn’t just a simple swap of fixtures, the depths were different between the 2 styles of recessed lights, so it took awhile and a lot of sheetrock dust.

modfrugal pantry renovation

I can’t even begin to tell you what a difference changing the lighting has made in this kitchen. Lighting is like paint – often underestimated, transforming a space to such a degree you can’t understand why you didn’t do it earlier. We had to repaint the whole kitchen ceiling afterwards, but that’s the price you pay for waiting so long!

But it was worth the wait. We have it on a dimmer, and every time I’m chopping at the table, I am grateful for how much better I can see.

Modfrugal Kitchen Sptutnik

So, now the kitchen is almost done!

Pantry cabinets and counters are in, lights changed. All that’s left is a bit of caulking and some more trim around the desk area. I’ll re-shoot the whole kitchen once that is done….and when all that glassware on the brass etagère gets dusted…gulp.


modfrugal pantry reno

modfrugal pantry renovation kitchenWe left the fridge sides exposed so we could use it as a bulletin board for our conversion charts, important phone numbers, etc… This counter is now toast, tea and lunch making central. It has really helped the flow in the main “U” to have these stations moved over.


Since we moved the wine rack over, the tiny area to the right of the fridge is now a mini-bar kind of set up.


So here’s the progression…..previous homeowner to today.

IMG_0569.JPGmodfrugal kitchen reno

modfrugal pantry reno IMG_0976 modfrugal pantry reno

modfrugal pantry reno

Thanks for your patience! Off to boil some water for a piping hot beverage because Nashvillians can’t hack 12 degrees for a high. Brrrrr…

Pantry Update: Roadblock

Wellllll, I was hoping to have a finished space to show you by now, but we are a bit hung up. Things were going SO well, ahead of schedule, we were killing it! Now? Notsomuch.

Ah, such fools we are. I would think we’d have become bitter and jaded after the number of snags and bumps we have hit over the years of renovating together, but we get this blinding surge of optimism and excitement that a new project inevitably brings….such that makes the memory of all previous disappointments somehow fade away into the land of the forgotten. Deep down, we KNOW there will be a problem, but it doesn’t deter our giddy renovation fueled endorphin rush.

The latest version of said rush was in full swing last weekend when I posted our progress on Instagram…

pantry progress

Cabinets up, with some cardboard thrown on for countertops to hold a few light tools. SO CLOSE. We need the matching quartz counter, some filler strips and a backsplash. Easy, right?

WRONG. Both the quartz (Silestone Blanco Maple) and the backsplash, Porcelanosa Stick Wenge have been discontinued. We thought we had enough tiles left for the backsplash, but we don’t.

This is what you get for procrastinating 4 years to finish your kitchen. We are now searching ebay and stone dealers for offcuts and leftovers. When we demoed the original kitchen, we saved the white Corian countertop to use down in the workshop. For the moment, that will be our counter, so thankfully, we are able to use this space while we search,  but our completion date is now in limbo.

kitchen temporary counter

The Corian and the cabinets are very different tones of white, so it can’t stay, but we need to formulate a plan B in case we can’t find our matches. Dark stained butcher block is emerging as a logical second material, but we’ll see. Learn from us people, and don’t procrastinate if you plan to match materials, because even the safest, most popular style can disappear on you while you blink.

We’ve had house guests for the past week, continuing through this week, so we are grateful just to have it functioning and the messy chaos gone. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more!

Pantry Update

I know this has been incredibly slow going, but the un-fun prep stuff takes awhile with little to nothing to show for it. BUT, that said, starting this weekend, things should start moving a little more quickly. We can’t install cabinets until the wall is up to code, with an outlet for every 4 feet of counter space. Plus outlets for under cabinet lighting…oh, and we have a switch hanging from the ceiling that needs to be dealt with.

We decided after taking out the wall last weekend that it was worth the splurge to get an electrician in. The CC is pretty good with electrics, but he’s one guy with a day job, and for what we need done, a team of 2 guys is going to get us ready to roll in about 4-6 hours. They come early Friday morning, which means Friday night, we can start busting out some progress. We have one lot of cabinets sitting in the garage waiting for assembly. I’ll probably drive to Atlanta sometime next week to get the second lot and the other bits like handles etc…

As a reminder of what we had on this wall of the kitchen…this is as it was the day we looked at the house….

fridge pantry before

…and this is how we’ve been living with it.

pantry wall

We eliminated all the wasted space behind those tiny bi-fold doors, but never quite finished.

pantry wall coming down


It’s a project, so that means only one thing….OTTOBOMB.

kitchen/pantry ottobomb

This is our highly scientific way of showing the electrician where we generally want the outlets.

kitchen/pantry electric sketch

kitchen/pantry hanging electrical

pantry cabinets

More later….I HOPE!

Pantry Update

We’ve made some changes to the pantry plan.

Because I am very lucky to have talented and sensible friends, we have been saved from creating a “stuffed mastodon/hummer” in our kitchen. BEST ANALOGY EVER BTW.

Angie Keesee-thank you!

If you remember, the previous plan looked like this below. The empty end would be filled with cabinets we already own…this is a mock up via IKEA that works with your shopping cart, so you don’t build in what you are not buying. The main reason we had decided to put the high cabs around the fridge was because of the door opening. We had originally wanted to have them on the opposite end of the fridge, but thought moving them was a fair work around at the time….wrong.

Screen Shot 2013-01-02 at 8.39.01 AM

It is just too heavy to have it this way, and she drew up this for us.


AKK Revised Pantry Plan


Much better, right?  She reaffirmed all my doubts and reservations about the current plan, and I love her plan. This is how we will roll.  To solve the door problem, we will either remove the door altogether, or perhaps put in tiny solid french doors. We can’t switch the opening to the left side because there’s a lot going on with the mudroom corner on that left side. We can’t do a pocket or barn door either. Quite the persnickety situation. The cabinets to the right of the fridge are the wine rack and the bottom cab we already have.

Now to get our trip to IKEA coordinated…things have come up, and it’s looking like late February before we can go.  Thanks again to dear Angie and studio aka! Onward!


Yes. I have an unfinished kitchen. Only looongtime readers will remember my first admission of this problem. I’ll summarize for the rest of you.

We gutted and redid the kitchen ourselves. For a detailed before and after of the kitchen, click here and here. We moved in just as the new hardwoods had been laid throughout the main areas, replacing carpet, linoleum and parquet. It was the the second week of new schools, in a new city for the kids, and we moved into a kitchen-less house. I could see the look of concern on the teachers faces as I picked up the kids.

“So, (Thing Two) tells me you don’t have a kitchen right now! How’s it going?”

“Yes, that’s right, we’re managing, but I think it unsettles him a bit, (he was only 4) we’re just trying to sell it as an adventure!”

They stopped asking after a month. We really did manage pretty well out of the dining room, with camping tables set up as counters and a microwave, toaster and electric kettle. It was late summer so we had the grill as well. Without a downstairs bathtub, the washing up was much more difficult than the preparation of meals.

All that to say, when we finally got the kitchen fully functioning around 6-7 weeks later, we were exhausted and we looked over at the pantry wall and said..we’ll get to it in the Spring. Little did we know that actually meant in the Spring FOUR YEARS LATER.

pantry wall

We don’t have the cabinets, and the wall between the fridge and the shelving/makeshift pantry has to come out. It was a horrible realization that we have to undo some previous work. We had opened up this wall and reinforced it/shortened it because we had thought it was load bearing at the time. It used to extend further into the room and we brought it back flush with the fridge….we had it halfway down already! Arrrrgghhh!!!! We all make mistakes in these kinds of endeavors now and then, but it doesn’t make them sting any less.

wall to come out in kitchen

As much as we would LOVE to tackle the master bath, it is a much bigger job labor-wise and with the dog out of his crate the last few months, we figure it’s only a matter of time before he decides to get curious about the contents of these shelves while we’re out.

Also, I absolutely CRINGE having these open shelves for our pantry. Especially when people come over, it feels so exposed. Maybe not as bad as having an open medicine cabinet, but I have struggled with it and threatened to hang curtains over it and all sorts ever since it went up.

Ikea finally got with it and enabled the kitchen planner for Macs, which was not the case when we first did the kitchen, so we got to planning, and this is what we’ll have in its most basic form.

Screen Shot 2013-01-02 at 8.39.01 AM

The visuals on the new planner aren’t as good as the old ones! It’s really hard to tell what you’re looking at here. The bottom cabs are pull-out recycling and drawers. The space on the end is open because we have 2 cabinets already for those spaces that didn’t work in the main kitchen.

Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 10.54.16 AM

The microwave will move out of the main kitchen to this area of upper cabinets as will the wine rack from above my desk. The fridge will move over to the left a bit to be surrounded by floor to ceiling cabinets.You don’t see handles either since we have several already, so it makes it hard to see the full picture as we cobble together leftovers.

Now to get our schedules sorted for a trip to Ikea…we think we can just do a day trip this time without spending the night in Atlanta. We haven’t measured the car yet, but I think our tallest cabinet will be just a few inches too tall to fit in the SUV and we’ll have to rent a truck or van. The shipping cost with Modernash will be too expensive.

We’ll have to move some electrics as well, so we’ll have to get that started before we install anything. Sheetrock dust and chaos, here we come.

Tour Chapter 3

I’m finally back on the tour and have added the kitchen…you’ll get to see the new shelf all in place!  For new readers, we did the entire kitchen ourselves with the exception of tiling the back splashes.  At that point we were over it.

The kitchen is actually not finished, but it’s been good enough for the past year and a half while we tackled other, more interesting projects.  We really need to get on that.

To see the kitchen before and now, go here.

Now to update the living room…