Mouse Odyssey Update

So far it looks like the mice are gone from the car. I do believe we had another one (in addition to the one we caught and released), because the trap was triggered on at least two more occasions along with missing peanut butter and mouse droppings. But the last four days have not shown any new droppings. We did take the car on the road quite a bit the last few days, so there’s hopefully a good chance the mouse got “lost” along the way.  I now do not think we’ll have to sell / trade in the RAV4 to any unsuspecting car dealer or buyer in order to offload the mouse occupant.  This is good, because while this is not beneath us to do, it is kind of dishonorable; at least amongst people who have never lived with a mouse in their car. To the rest of us, it is a completely viable option for mouse removal.

 

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Mouse Odyssey

The last few days have been rather crummy. This is the part of winter in Northeast Ohio that holds no reasonable value except to make one want to off themselves or move to the tropics. Things are slow leaving idle days.

Fate intervened, distracting me with an intriguing little problem. About a week or so ago we notice mouse droppings in the RAV4. So as you may or may not remember, we got the car detailed. Turns out that two guys vacuuming out the car for three hours didn’t dissuade, or evacuate, the mouse that took up residence somewhere inside. About a day later we had mouse droppings in cup holders and the glove box again.

I decided I had to do something so I googled “humane mouse trap“. With no time to order anything I keyed in on instructions to make a home made trap. I scrounged around and found an ice tea bottle in the fridge. I poured the tea into a glass and took the bottle to my studio. Utility knife in hand I cut the top off then cut it about a third of the way down. I then flipped it over and had a trap. I even cut little serrated triangles in the opening; presumably these would dissuade the mouse from jumping or climbing back out once he was inside. Okay, whatever…who am I to pass on cutting little teeth like triangles into my “invention“. With eagerness I placed some peanut butter in the bottom of the bottle. The bottle was all set. I set on the floor mat in the passenger foot well, closed the car door and waited back inside our house. I checked periodically all night before we went to bed.

After about three check-ins I noticed the bait was gone but no mouse. “Darn it,” the mouse had taken the peanut butter and seemingly had no problem getting back out. The height must’ve been too short. Back inside for version two. This time I used a cranberry juice bottle. Cut. Tape. Little evil looking triangles. Taller funnel placement. Check. I was all set. Repeat – put bottle in foot well, check every hour or so.

An early trap made from a cranberry juice bottle. I cut the top, flipped it to make a funnel top that presumably would hinder mouse escape.  It did no such thing.

An early trap made from a cranberry juice bottle. I cut the top, flipped it to make a funnel top that presumably would hinder mouse escape. It did no such thing.

Juice bottle trap in place with peanut butter bait.

Juice bottle trap in place with peanut butter bait.

Inverted cone and teeth.

Inverted cone and teeth.

Nothing.

Alright well I just left it overnight. Maybe the mouse was sleeping.

Next morning hop out of bed, put shoes on, coat. Flashlight, camera, gloves….check, all set to see if we caught a mouse. As I shined the flashlight into the cab (the sun wasn’t really up yet – mouse trapping is a craft executed in the dark), I noticed movement!

It was our mouse.

And he was IN my trap!

Awesome!

He was awfully cute. Small, brown and white with big beady eyes. Reaching for my camera, after all I wanted pictures for the blog, I fumbled and dropped my flashlight. In the time it took to pick up the LED flashlight out of the gravel at my feet and return my gaze to the foot well, he was gone. “Damn it!” I exclaimed. He must’ve jumped out; menacing cut out teeth be damned.

Back to the drawing board. This time some grape juice found its way into a random glass on the countertop and I had another bottle in my studio going under the knife. This time I made the distance from bottom of bottle to opening as tall as I could. I dropped the peanut butter in and checked again all night.

Nothing.

To bed I went and once again awoke the next morning. Shoes, flashlight, coat, camera….check.

Looking into the RAV4, through the driver’s side glass to get as much space between me and the mouse, I pointed my flashlight.

Movement!

Ugh,” the bottle was on its side. Squint. There was my mouse next to the bottle. I watched as he darted under the passenger’s seat and then I jumped to the back window just in time to see him scurry under the rear bench. Inside I found a peanut butter-less bottle with a bevy of mouse droppings inside of it. He had knocked over the bottle, presumably moments before.

Somewhat defeated I went to church and reflected. I prayed for some sort of enlightenment and all I came up with was a glass flower vase. In between sung responses I texted home that I needed the curvy vase from under the laundry room sink. Once home I fashioned a cardboard top for the vase and dropped in the bait. No mouse could topple a glass vase. I didn’t even line the sides with a thin layer of Crisco like I had on a previous version. I figured the hourglass shaped vase walls would be plenty slick. Unless the mouse jumped a foot and a half straight up, he’d be stuck. I even used a marker to draw a random pattern on the underside of the cardboard to confuse the mouse when looked up at the hole.

Later that evening I found the peanut butter to all be gone. For whatever reason there was a ring of peanut butter debris about two-thirds up the bottle. Who the hell knows what he did but he didn’t get trapped. He was probably gaining a lot of weight with all the peanut butter I was feeding him. I should have been feeding him cheese burgers and Mountain Dew. He’d have had a heart attack by now.

Mouse: 4

Chris: 0

I really didn’t want to have to kill the mouse. It was pretty much unanimous on social media that I needed to poison him or by some other means kill the rodent who to this point had eluded capture, and must’ve weighed and extra ounce or two by now.

Killing a mouse doesn’t seem very elegant or sophisticated. Laying out poison seems easy to me….it seems boring. I needed a distraction from life.

That mouse was my distraction. Capturing him was my mid-January Everest. I’m a designer. I solve problems. I am not easily defeated. I lose most of the time, but rarely do I go quietly. My wife wanted a mouse out of her car. I was going to do that. At the very least I could do that. Right?

Monday morning found us at Lowe’s. I bought the last humane trap on the shelf. There were a lot of options for poison or mechanically lethal traps, but only one for humane. I guess that says something.

Humane trap at Lowe's for less than $5.

Humane trap at Lowe’s for less than $5.

Five bucks later we were on our way home. I opened the teeter totter trap and put a dab of peanut butter inside. It’s pretty simple – mouse goes in, trap bottom shifts under his weight, trap door closes.

I set up the trap in the foot well. I put it on the owner’s manual to give it a smooth surface to be on; I didn’t want the weather mat’s tread pattern to block the trap door from closing.

The trap is set.

The trap is set.

As night descended I stepped outside. Once again: coat, flashlight, camera, gloves (this time)…check. Peering inside the driver’s door…

The trap was off the owner’s manual. Trap door shut. We had a mouse.

I ran into the house. “I think we have a mouse,” I proclaimed. Our oldest quickly announced that he wanted to see the mouse. He put his coat and shoes on and we went outside.

I scrambled over and opened the passenger’s side door and picked up the trap. It didn’t feel any heavier. I rotated it back and forth….I didn’t feel anything shift or move. I set it down and stared. Waiting for something to move. A teeter. A totter.

Nothing.

I thought what next. I can’t open it here. IF there is a mouse in there I can’t exactly open it up, have him jump back inside the car or scamper off to the wood pile. He’d just get back in the car after I left. So I buckled my kid in the back seat and we took the mouse for a ride to the ski resort up the street. Pulling under a metal halide light in the lot I put it in park.

Here, you hold the camera and take a picture for the blog when the mouse jumps out,” I handed the camera to a bundled up toddler as we stood on a sheet of parking lot ice.

Stretching my arms out, with great anticipation, I looked at him and then the trap. Slowly I reached for the trap door with my gloved hand. In one quick motion I lifted the door and pivoted the trap to the earth.

Nothing.

Shake, shake.

Nothing.

Peering inside, there was the peanut butter intact. No mouse inside. Disappointed, we drove back home. My little guy reporting back to his mother that we struck out, upon our arrival home. I set the trap up again and retired inside.

I found that it usually only takes an hour to catch a mouse…or at least feed a mouse. So as the clock winded around to 7:30pm I decided to check again, small blond kid following my shadow from the porch light. I trained my flashlight through the driver’s window to the spot where the trap was set.

There the trap set, on the owner’s manual where I left it an hour before. Only now the trap door was closed.

Door closed means there's a mouse in there.

Door closed means there’s a mouse in there.

We ran around and opened the door. My son started crawling in…I had no idea what he was going to do but he was eager to get his hands on that trap. “Hold on bud,” visions of a scampering mouse launching onto my face and down into my shirt flashed through my head. “Stand back.

I reached into the car and picked up the trap. “Hmmm.” It didn’t feel any different.

Shake.

Shake.

Teeter.

Totter.

I don’t think there’s anything in here bud.” I said to a very disappointed boy. “I’ll just run it down the street and open it to make sure.

No dad, we should take it to the ski resort and open it there.

A few exchanges and he’d snookered his way into coming with me to the ski resort to open the trap. “Ok, but I don’t think there’s anything in here.” Hell, I was going to open it there to check, but he really wanted to go for a drive.

Repeat – drive, park, walk on ice, (“stand there on the gravel where there’s no ice…..there on the gravel…”), hand camera over (“point it towards where I’m opening the trap and take a picture of the mouse”). People skiing in the background. A light rain coming down on a balmy forty degree evening. I grabbed the trap. “Ready?

Ready.

Not expecting much I pulled open the trap door.

Out shot a grey bullet into the wet winter night. In a flash it landed on the ice parking lot gravel. And turned right.

Holy crap, we caught a mouse!” I thought in amazement. All I could do was let out a laugh. I watched the grey bullet circle around, not sure of where to go. This was not the inside of the Toyota. Out of the corner of my eye I could catch my boy trying to catch the mouse in his camera view screen. As the mouse circled around I paced towards the car, keeping halfway between mouse and car. No way was he coming back in. “Did I leave the door open?” I envisioned him jumping right back into the car and darting under the warm seat to his nest. Not going to happen. I stepped again and that was enough to send the him running toward a snow mound and pine tree. The mouse slipped on trying to go up the snow mound and decided the more prudent route was around.

In less than five seconds, from when he left the trap, he was gone into the shadows of that pine tree.

Dad, I didn’t get a picture.

That’s alright bud, we caught a mouse,” I smiled.

He was so cute,” my little guy smiled in excitement as we walked around the car. I put the trap back inside and buckled him in for the return trip. Upon our return home, I let him give mom the play-by-play. Mission accomplished.

Just to be safe, the trap is set again in the car as I write. I’ll check it in the morning on the off-chance there’s another mouse in there. I pray we’re done though. We shall see.

You know, I could have just poisoned the thing. Heck, I thought about, and some people suggested, I put our cats in the car and let them take care of it. That may or may not have worked for various reasons I won’t go into. In the end though I think the only option I had was to play catch and release with our little furry guest. From an environmental, psychological and emotional standpoint it was the only choice. Kill a mouse and that’s all you’ve done. You’ve killed something. Had I done so I would have missed out on the fun, and frustration of making traps, trying to improve upon them and going back to the drawing board. It’s not that I was trying to outwit the mouse, rather just trying to catch a mouse. It was a worthwhile distraction, when I really needed it.

Most importantly though, with all the trap making, trap setting and trap checking, I got to spend a blink or two of time with my little guy. I guess I’m sentimental to a fault. Shows I’m weak or got a screw or two (or twelve dozen) loose or something: chasing a mouse that any sane person would have just whacked, and got on with the important things in life such as paying bills.

I don’t know if he’ll remember the night his old man and him caught a mouse and let it go in some ski resort parking lot.

But I know I will for the rest of my life.

Studio Entry Bench and Coat Rack

You don’t need me to tell you today was freezing cold outside. I awoke early to take the car in to get the inside cleaned…detailed I guess is the fancy term. See, we noticed mouse droppings in the RAV4 the other day and that’s all it took for us to decide to hire a professional. The car was filthy and the guys at Wheely Clean did a great job restoring it to like new condition.  With all the cold I guess the mice had enough of living in the cold garage and ventured into friendly confines, replete with old french fries under the seats and a half drunk juice box in the door.  I pray that they are gone now though.

Anyway, it was a pain getting up and going outside in -8 degree weather.  There, that’s my complaint for today. Otherwise it was a decent day. Got to spend some time working on a new home dec design project for my brother. If you ever need a cabinet-maker, he’s the guy to call. I’ve been fortunate to work alongside him on a few projects at our house and we even wrapped up a fireplace surround at a friend’s house. I’m even learning a few tricks of the trade which is always good.

Speaking of projects around our place, I wrapped up a fun, quick project in the studio.  I installed the coat hooks, reinstalled the switch and out plate plates and put hinges on the bench. Now we can enter the house on frozen days like today, through my studio and kick off wet boots and hang up heavy winter coats, and avoid trashing the front hall entry. Remember, you always want to try to have just one entry to your house for various reasons, but if you have two make sure they’re delightful or at least there’s a good reason. I like the studio entry for the above reasons. The cement floor and abundant space in the studio means we can shed snow laden clothing and let it drip dry with no worries or fuss.

It took me three tries before I found coat hooks I liked.  I went to, and bought hooks from, Hartville Hardware, Home Depot and Lowe’s before I found the perfect ones.

Here are the three styles I bought:

Third time is the charm. Here are the three styles of coat hooks I bought.

Third time is the charm. Here are the three styles of coat hooks I bought.

I like the one’s I ended up using (far left in the photo) because they match the drawer pulls and look contemporary and old-fashioned at the same time. Below the hooks we have an entry bench. The bench is designed, by yours truly, to fold up so that the second entry door can be opened up all the way. I attached two oil rubbed bronze door hinges to the bench and a drop down latch to retain the bench panel in the raised position. I kept everything quick and easy by simply surface mounting the hinges and latch. I could have over thought it but for once I decided just do the simplest, easiest thing and that’s what I did. Everything functions and looks great. It all adds a bit of rustic charm and detail to my studio space.  I like it very much.

Here are the coat hooks I went with, Gate House hooks from Lowe's in oil rubbed bronze.

Here are the coat hooks I went with, Gate House hooks from Lowe’s in oil rubbed bronze.

Here is a bench hinge installed, I just surface mounted the hinge. It looks and works fine.

Here is a bench hinge installed, I just surface mounted the hinge. It looks and works fine.

Image of the finished studio entrance bench and coat hooks.

Image of the finished studio entrance bench and coat hooks.

This latch holds up the bench when I need to open both doors.

This latch holds up the bench when I need to open both doors.

latch in the "holding" position.

latch in the “holding” position.

Here you can see the bench in the "up" position. On another note, I wish we didn't have a vent in the floor right below the bench. Takes up shoe space.

Here you can see the bench in the “up” position. On another note, I wish we didn’t have a vent in the floor right below the bench. Takes up shoe space.

Hardware for the hinge included one really long screw. I'm not sure why but I used it in the top center hole to fasten the hinge to the back wall of the bench area.

Hardware for the hinge included one really long screw. I’m not sure why but I used it in the top center hole to fasten the hinge to the back wall of the bench area.

One other fun thing today, Christine made me a Scrapimal (TM) of Dixon for above my studio sink. I love it; and I hung it up already.  To help pay for all these projects of mine, you should check out her Etsy store and buy yourself, or a loved one, an original Scrapimal (TM) as well. They’ll make your day as they did mine.

Dixon is a Scrapimal!  Weee!

Dixon is a Scrapimal! Weee!

One bit of housekeeping, I went ahead and purchased http://www.nineappletrees.com for eighteen bucks so from now on that’s where you’ll find the blog. The old address should redirect there anyway, but just in case. That makes the blog a little more official (and I think more appealing to advertisers….not that’s why we do it but hey, if I can someday earn a penny that’d be good….homeless home projects would be much less compelling I suspect.)

Trip to Hartville Hardware

Today is Saturday. I picked up a paying project on Friday so I spent a few hours working on that. When I reached a point where I needed feedback I stopped.  It’ll wait until Monday when the rest of the world hops back into the office. For me, well that meant I kinda had Saturday to myself. We’re expecting the bottom to fall off the thermometer here by Tuesday, when the project high will be -1 F. The sun was shining so I checked with the boss of this household, my wife, to find out what plans if any we had today.

Nothing planned.

“Cool, how about a trip to Hartville Hardware?” I proposed and she was agreeable to that suggestion.

Up until a few months ago I had no idea what Hartville Hardware was. But I picked up a design project that required me to go visit the store located in Hartville, Ohio which is about a half hour south of us. I found it to be a really cool store. All I can liken it to, is like what Cabela’s is to outdoor gear, Hartville Hardware is to home supplies. Though as far as I know Hartville is a one of a kind store, not a chain. The place is huge and has a wide variety of products for your home. Not really raw materials per se, but more like housewares, but also tools, clothing and fittings such as light fixtures and plumbing fixtures.

Our trip today was not completely random, I did have a need. When I was down there last I noticed they had a totally awesome collection of cabinet hardware in store, much more than you’d find in Lowe’s or Home Depot. And since that trip I installed the cabinets in my studio. The drawers needed pulls. Also the sink stand in the half bath needed some unique decorative pulls as well. I thought taking the family down there would make for a nice Saturday trip. The store has so much for everyone, of every age to look at, I was certain it’d be a hit and it was. I wish I’d known about the store when we were building. And by no means does its country location mean it only carries cheap off brands. We say vacuum cleaners that cost $750, as well as high end faucets and appliances. Their tool selection is beyond anything you’ve ever seen. They have demo houses built right inside the store and there is even a John Deere dealer up front.

We ended up spending more time than we thought we would (but not more money), and didn’t even get through the whole place. We did discover lots of goodies for the house. Grumbling stomachs decided we were about done with our visit. Instead of heading home for leftovers, we decided to make our trek more of a “trip” and we visited Hartville Kitchen next door for a nice family lunch. The restaurant is part of a huge building that also has a bakery, gift shop and candy store. Lunch was simple fare; I had a chicken salad sandwich which was very good. Of course we stopped for some candy after lunch.

If you find yourself in the area, do plan on stopping in Hartville and enjoy a visit to one or both places I mentioned. You won’t be disappointed.

Back home we unpacked our goodies. We looked at the coat hooks we got for my studio and the crystal knobs we purchased for the half bath cabinet.  I didn’t take a photo, but suffice to say we didn’t like either of our selections so I’ll take them back. Surprisingly the coat hook selection was lacking at Hartville, I will say. I may shop elsewhere for those, or at least get double (one over the other) style hooks instead of the meal looking single hooks.

The drawer pulls for my studio drawers were perfect though. I selected simple Amerock pulls in a oil-rubbed bronze finish. They cost around $4 apiece. My drawer faces are 1.5″ thick so I scrounged up some leftover hardware screws from another project and install the pulls easily. Love them.

Amerock drawer pulls in oil rubbed bronze finish. They hole spacing is 3-3/4".

Amerock drawer pulls in oil rubbed bronze finish. They hole spacing is 3-3/4″. BP29202ORB Conrad is the pull part and name.

The installed drawer pulls look great in my studio, and I don't think they cost a whole lot.

The installed drawer pulls look great in my studio, and I don’t think they cost a whole lot.

Next up I installed a towel bar over my sink in the studio. The part I bought is actually a paper towel holder from Interdesign but for my purposes I’m using it as a towel bar above my sink. The folks at Interdesign do a nice job with the design of their products. The cantilever design of the towel holder is simple and easy to install.

Chrome towel rack. In hindsight I should have mounted it a couple inches lower in case I ever want to put paper towels on it but it'll be fine for a washable towel at this height.

Chrome towel rack. In hindsight I should have mounted it a couple inches lower in case I ever want to put paper towels on it but it’ll be fine for a washable towel at this height.

More interesting though is the dish drying pad we purchased, also from Interdesign. It’s a simple fabric pad that I convinced the wife could replace the bulky, ugly, metal rack she’d been using for the last 14 years. Interdesign is a smaller, local design company and they really thought out of the box with this product. Instead of designing yet another drying rack they analyzed the real problem and solved for that. The result is a machine washable pad that looks great in our modern kitchen and can be easily folded and put in a drawer when company comes over.

Goodbye yucky dish drying rack....

Goodbye yucky dish drying rack….

 

Hello sexy machine washable drying mat, in a grey color that matches our Silestone counter.

Hello sexy machine washable drying mat, in a grey color that matches our Silestone counter.

Hot on the heels of our pantry clean up, we picked up a 24-pack of Rubbermaid food storage containers. The “Easy Find Lids” kit is reasonably priced at $25, which compared to $15 for just one Tupperware piece, seems like a pretty good deal. The thought is, If you have a family of four, you only need about 12 food storage containers of various sizes. These new containers allowed us to get rid of the old ones – some of which were not BPA free, and others that were over 15 years old. Most of the old ones no longer held their lids very well, and that’s if you could find the lid.  The “lid basket” was a real mess. Hopefully now with the new ones we’ll be better organized, food will stay fresher. We definitely gained some more space in the pantry.

The new containers, and some old ones that we're keeping.  We did gain some space and organization with the new set. Notice how the lids store right under the stackable containers for easy finding.

The new containers, and some old ones that we’re keeping. We did gain some space and organization with the new set. Notice how the lids store right under the stackable containers for easy finding.

 

This mess of old lids and containers is going in a box in the basement until we figure out what to do with them.

This mess of old lids and containers is going in a box in the basement until we figure out what to do with them. Some of them are being used by our oldest son as “toys”…I can only imagine.

In the laundry room I install an 18″ Delta towel bar near the utility sink; I want to say it was like $24 (though the Delta site shows it costing more than that). Christine washes her hair  in the laundry room and needed a spot to hang a towel.  I installed the bar at 41″ off the ground. I was leery of the design of the mounting brackets. They are simply prongs that you screw to the wall and them slide the bar posts over them. But sure enough they seem to be secure after installation. Not sure if they come off easy, like when we go to paint the room, so we’ll have to wait and see.

I was skeptical of the prong design of the towel bar mount.

I was skeptical of the prong design of the towel bar mount.

 

The prongs fit into these pockets on the back of the bar posts.

The prongs fit into these pockets on the back of the bar posts.

 

The towel bar seems secure though.  The grey line is my thought for something down the road...maybe a fabricated "L" shaped metal rod that would allow a variety of towels and accessories to be hung around the utility sink.  "She" doesn't like the sponge just sitting on the sink, and I can't find the box in the basement with the sponge hanger we had in the old house.

The towel bar seems secure though. The grey line is my thought for something down the road…maybe a fabricated “L” shaped metal rod that would allow a variety of towels and accessories to be hung around the utility sink. “She” doesn’t like the sponge just sitting on the sink, and I can’t find the box in the basement with the sponge hanger we had in the old house.

That’s about it, I got everything installed that we bought, including some suet for the birds, on sale for $0.98 a square – I put it out in the feeder along with birdseed in preparation for the big freeze coming up next week. In my studio I installed a couple of pads at the bottom of the Therma-Tru doors, hoping to keep some of the warm air inside the house. I can still see daylight in the center so maybe I’ll stuff a sock in the door for now. We lowered our thermostat to 69 degrees to hopefully cut down on our electric bill. December’s bill was a whopping $308, our largest yet. I wish we had a programmable thermostat that would lower the temp at night while we sleep. I know Nest has one that supposedly works with hybrid furnaces like ours. Or maybe there’s a more economical programmable thermostat out there.  We need to get our electric bills to be lower this time of year.

One other thing, I doubt very much our bees will survive Tuesday if it only gets up to -1 F.  We’ll see but I’m not optimistic.  Fingers crossed.

Alright peeps, stay warm. Let me know if you have any questions on any of the products I’ve been installing or any of the projects I’ve been working on around the house. Until next time, be happy and healthy.

 

-Chris

Basic Home Pantry Design

The holidays have complete;y thrown our internal calendar out of whack. Which is surprising because it’s not like we go to work or anything. Every day is like Groundhog Day in our house: a mixture of work, eating, being lazy, playing with cats. But with Christmas and New Years falling on Wednesday, we’ve been thrown off kilter. Also work has been extremely slow, as in non-existent with the holidays. Things better pick up soon or we’ll be shopping for real estate agents before the snow falls. So with all the random mid-week holidays and free time, we were able to take advantage of the situation.

Wednesday we took the opportunity to start off the new year by organizing the pantry in the kitchen. Actually it started out as a quick task to clean out the two bins we keep for candy. We got a lot of candy for Christmas and the bins were already full of old candy. Often times we’d hold onto candy because it was “cute” or whatever and then never eat it; it would go “bad” basically. Well for the new year our goal was to throw out all the old candy, put the new candy in the bins and actively eat the stuff. We will only have candy we like from now on, and we will eat it.

As I said, cleaning the candy bins turned into organize the pantry; it desperately needed re-organization. Organization is always a good new year’s resolution, to boot, right? So I figured I’d take the opportunity to talk about our pantry. Maybe you already have a pantry or are thinking of putting one in, here are my thoughts and advice.

Pantries are one of the best assets of any house. Some may think a pantry is a luxury but it really isn’t. They can be as simple as small as a large cabinet or closet, or as large as a small room with multiple doors. Regardless, I believe every house would benefit from having a pantry. They are a great place to unload groceries, store supplies, and help organize the kitchen and beyond. Nearly every house I’ve lived in has had a pantry in one form or another.

Location

When we were planning our current home we carved a pantry out of a central run of space between the Kitchen and front hall.  The first sketches had the pantry located towards the front door. We then moved the pantry into the Kitchen space for a couple of reasons. The design of the kitchen we were emulating had a spot perfect for the pantry, fitting perfectly into our floor plan. The other reason for this location was easy access from the kitchen itself. We have very little storage in our kitchen, so we needed a  “working” pantry.

In our last house we had a large (6′ x 4′) walk in pantry right in the mud room off the garage. It was perfect for unloading groceries, but drove me insane when I was cooking because of all the back and forth from Kitchen to pantry. The pantry location in the new house is wonderful. It’s a little further away from the driveway and front door, so it’s a longer haul to bring in groceries, but on the plus side we can set bags on the counters and unload them into the pantry, freezer and refrigerator while standing in basically one place.

Location of pantry is important. Consider placing the pantry in the heart of the Kitchen as in this example.

Location of pantry is important. Consider placing the pantry in the heart of the Kitchen as in this example.

Size

How big your pantry is depends on a lot of factors. My preference is to carve out an actual “room”. If you can’t do that then use an existing cabinet or install a pantry cabinet. In that case size is determined for you. So assuming you can craft a small pantry room, size is up to your personal taste and space available. The nice thing is, you’re going to maximize all of the space for storage, so even if yours is a small pantry, do not fret. The rule here is, think about what you’re going to store the pantry, where you want it to be, and how much space are you willing to carve out.  As long as you have at least a few feet in each direction, enough that you can step inside, you’ll likely be satisfied.

At the other end of the spectrum, you can go as large as you want. The benefit here is that the pantry can start to take on more tasks such as storing dinnerware, counter appliances and even have some integrated goodies such as a wine refrigerator, or a baking station. Your imagination, and wallet, are the only limits.  Go for it, if you got it, I say.

Our pantry is relatively tiny at about 3′ x 3-1/2′.  Having lived with our space for some time now, I can say we’ve been happy making this it work for our busy family of four. Here is a diagram of the pantry:

PANTRY-DRAFT

Design

When it comes to a successful pantry it goes without saying that you’re going to need shelves of some kind to store all of your supplies. If you have the space you can even consider installing cabinets and countertops. For our room we had enough space for built-in shelves, made from 3/4″ plywood. Another option is you can use stock wire shelves, we had them in our old house for example. If you do that, plan on cutting some 1/4″ plywood to rest on top of some of the shelves that will hold items that could fall through the “cracks” in the wire shelves.

For vertical spacing, I just measured the set we had in the old house, which worked well for us for a nearly a decade. Take a look at the diagram, you may want more or fewer shelves.

The overarching priority in the design of your space should be maximizing every square….cubic…inch you have available to you. In our case I designed the shelves to be “L” shaped, with a deeper section as you are facing the pantry, and shallower sections off to the right side. Thinking three dimensional-ly I went a step further and made the bottom two shelves even deeper in the front facing sections. Beyond the shelves we used the 3″ of space to the left for shallow items: spices above, a broom, dustpan, and rack for food wrap below.

The key is to use ALL the space.

Locating the pantry near cooking areas and even the refrigerator or freezer is a good idea.

Locating the pantry near cooking areas and even the refrigerator or freezer is a good idea.

If you have a door to your pantry, make sure you leave a little reveal space to each side of the door. In our case the 3″ to the left is perfect for small stuff, and the 10″ is great for cans and bottles. Vary the dimensions and locations of shelves and organizers. The items you are storing in the pantry are varied in shape, size and quantity so your shelving should be as well. One note of annoyance, if you have “L” shaped shelves like we do, you’ll have a “dead” corner on each shelf. It’s difficult to figure out what to store there, and even more difficult to access it. Not a deal breaker but be aware.  Maybe even stagger your shelves to avoid this in some instances.

For our door, we chose a handy pocket door. It’s open pretty much all of the time, but we can slide it close when we want to impress company. A swing door would be in the way all of the time when it was open.

Even 3" on the side can be used for little spice shelves. Use every inch of space.

Even 3″ on the side can be used for little spice shelves. Use every inch of space.

 

Organizing

Great, so you’ve got your pantry. Now you need to organize it. Depending on what you’re using the space for, or what you’re storing in there, how you organize it will vary. For our family, this is how I like to organize it:

Organizing the pantry.

Organizing the pantry.

We try to keep the items we use every day towards the middle. Not surprisingly, the lesser used items or items that are surplus reside way at the top or bottom. Keep in mind, little hands become deft at gaining access to things they shouldn’t in a well-organized pantry, so keep unhealthy snacks, alcohol, hazardous items and candy (if you want) away from where children can access them. Even with the smaller size of our pantry, we can store a few weeks of supplies in there. Items such as appliances, garbage bags and cleaning supplies are stored elsewhere in the Kitchen and house.

There may be a side that is too shallow for shelves, this is a good spot for brooms or stock organizers purchased from a local home supply store.

There may be a side that is too shallow for shelves, this is a good spot for brooms or stock organizers purchased from a local home supply store.

Storing supplies in labeled bins is a great way to use every inch of your pantry. Items like rice, flour, sugar and other “commodity” are fine in see through, stack-able containers. Pull out what you need then put them back for tidy storage. We also use bins for candy and even have a “snack” bin for loose bags of crackers and cookies. This way we don’t have a ton of half empty boxes taking up space and creating visual clutter. If you’re worried about spoilage, print the expiration date and place that on the container, along with a label denoting the contents.

See-through, stack-able bins are great for your pantry.

See-through, stack-able bins are great for your pantry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once everything is in its place, enjoy! You’ll rearrange things as necessary and maybe even add a few shelves or organizers here and there. In our case I mounted some little shelves we had lying around from IKEA to set spices on. I’d like to get a little wire organizer for cat treats in fact and mount it to the wall above the food wrap. So, like anything it’s never really done. But you’ll never regret having a pantry, no matter how large or small.

We’ve been hit with a lot of snow and cold this week. Here are some pictures for your enjoyment.  Stay warm and safe people.

-Chris

The south meadow covered in snow.

The south meadow covered in snow.

The front yard calm and covered in snow.

The front yard calm and covered in snow.

I was struck by how beautiful the yard looks covered in snow, and how lucky we are to have this view from our dining table.

I was struck by how beautiful the yard looks covered in snow, and how lucky we are to have this view from our dining table.