One Room Challenge, Week 1: The Pantry Plan

Y’all, I’m doing it! I decided to finally do a One Room Challenge as a guest participant. After years of following the other participants, making an afternoon of admiring all of the reveals each season, and wishing I had the nerve to participate, I’ve finally decided to do it.

Since I have two areas in my home that I’d like to finish before the end of the year, it was perfect timing. And as much as I’d like to finish my studio, I knew that was WAY too big of a project to finish in five weeks.

But the pantry? Well, the pantry feels doable in five weeks. It’ll still be challenging since it’s nothing but a blank room right now, I’m building the cabinets myself, and as usual, I’ll be doing everything by myself. But it’s doable.

To refresh your memory, the pantry is an area that I carved out of the big room that the previous owners called the den, which was at one time a covered, open air breezeway type of thing that connected the original kitchen to the garage. Then at some point, someone closed it in, but they didn’t do a great job. This is what the back of the den looked like when we bought the house…

So during the breakfast room remodel, my brother and I completely rebuilt the back wall of this room, removed the two windows, and installed one new (and much smaller) window.

Then I built a wall to separate the large room into two rooms — a breakfast room and a pantry. I finished the breakfast room almost a year-and-a-half ago (you can see before and after of that room here), but ever since then, the pantry has just been sitting there, waiting for attention, but being ignored and avoided.

For some reason, I’ve been terrified of moving forward on the pantry — terrified of making a wrong decision on how to build and organize that room. I have no idea why, exactly. I’m generally a “jump in with both feet” kind of person, but this pantry… *sigh*.

So for well over a year, I’ve just closed the doors, kept the lights off, and pretended like the pantry doesn’t exist (unless I want to pile random stuff in there to get it out of the way.)

But y’all, it’s now time to open the doors and turn the lights on, because I feel motivated and I have a plan!

The room right now is just a shell. It has electrical, flooring and drywall. It’s a great start, but there’s quite a way to go to turn this into a usable pantry.

The room is twelve feet wide and seven feet deep. The only thing I have to work around is my new freezer that was delivered on Friday, which will sit in the front left corner of the room where you see it in the photo below.

The ceiling is slanted, which is a real pain. It’s eight feet high on the door side, but only seven feet high on the window wall.

I wish there was a way to raise the ceiling so that the room has an eight-foot ceiling throughout (like the change we made to the back entry of the studio), but unfortunately, this ceiling has to stay like this. It’s not ideal, but I can work with it.

I’ll also need to move the HVAC vent because its current placement interferes with my plan. Fortunately, the wall is still open on the other side (which is the still-unfinished half bathroom at the back of the studio) so I can easily move it without much effort.

So that’s what I’m looking at. It’s a big (for a pantry) blank box waiting to be filled.

And since I put French doors on it, and it’s open to the breakfast room, it needs to be pretty — somewhere between a functional food pantry and a butler’s pantry.

So after procrastinating and wrestling with a plan for this room for about 16 months, I finally have vision for it. Not only do I have vision for it, but I actually drew it and have it on paper. Here’s the plan…

On the back wall with the window, I’ll be doing lower built-in cabinets that have drawers in the middle under the window with cabinets on either side that have pull-out shelves. I’ll be making my own colorful marbled resin tiles for a bold backsplash that will cover the 18 inches from the countertop to the bottom of the first open upper shelf. And I’ll have two open shelves along the back wall.

As far as the roll-out corner storage goes, I’ll explain that in a bit.

The countertops, lower cabinets, and upper open shelves will wrap around on both side walls. Here’s how the left wall will look with the freezer…

And because of my incessant need for symmetry (yes, I realize it’s ridiculous, but I need it 😀 ), I’m going to try to balance out the other side with a full-height open shelf storage cabinet.

So here’s the plan for the corners, which is the biggest thing I’ve wrestled with on this pantry design for the last 16 months. Even though there are several options and designs available to make the most of lower cabinet corners so they don’t become some dark pit where things go to be forgotten, it’s still difficult to know what would work best.

So the option I’ve come up with is to create carts on casters with false drawer fronts on both sides. Those will pull out completely and allow full access to the corners. I’m still considering carts on casters for the corners as well, but that plan could change if I find they’re not necessary.

Now about those colorful backsplash tiles — my absolute favorite part. I’ve been testing out different color combinations, and I finally decided to go with teal/turquoise, green, purple, white and gold. I tried leaving one of them out so that it doesn’t become too busy, but I just can’t bring myself to leave one out. I love lots of color, so I’m going to embrace it. 🙂

I wish y’all could see these in person, because pictures just don’t do the gold justice. You can see it better in this short video I posted on Instagram yesterday.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Kristi Linauer (@addicted2decorating) on

Two other big detail decisions I’ve made are the cabinet color and the countertop material. I know that white is the go-to color for pantries, but I’m pretty sure y’all know better than to expect that from me, right? I don’t do white cabinets. 🙂 I don’t do much white at all.

My lower cabinets are going to be purple. Dark purple. As in, a Benjamin Moore Shadow-type of purple.

I  might not choose that one exactly. I’ll have to get a few tiles done first so that I can take those with me to choose a color, but that particular purple is very similar to the color of my buffet in the breakfast room, which I love. So that’s the plan for now, but as y’all know, that could change at any time. Until the cabinets are actually painted, the color is subject to change. And even then, it’s not guaranteed. Heck, I could end up with green cabinets. 😀

As far as the countertop goes, I have weighed so many options — concrete to match my kitchen countertops, DIY butcherblock-type countertop like the hallway bathroom, actual butcherblock like in the condo kitchen, etc.

I’ve finally decided to make a countertop out of red oak tongue-and-groove flooring — the same hardwood flooring I have throughout my house. But the countertop won’t be stained. I’m going to keep it natural and seal it. I think it’s going to look beautiful, so fingers crossed that it’ll actually look like the picture I have in my mind. 🙂

And that’s it! If things go well and I don’t start second-guessing myself and making excuses for delays, I just might have a finished pantry in a few short weeks.

Be sure to check out all of the other participants in the One Room Challenge!


My pantry is finished! Want to see the entire project from start to finish? You can find every single post about the pantry build right here…

Or you can skip to the end and see how it turned out. Here’s a peek of the finished pantry…

Butler's pantry remodel with dark teal lower cabinets, floating corner shelves, and whitewashed wood countertop

You can see more pictures on the before and after post right here…

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  1. This is exciting! I don’t have a blog, but maybe I’ll participate along with the one-room challenge on my Instagram page or something. I bought a new house in June and it’s a blank slate and I have LOTS of ideas 🙂 And this is a great way to set personal deadlines!

    What number guest participant are you? I keep looking at the list but haven’t seen you, although I may have overlooked because there are so many!

    I can already tell that your project will definitely be a “stand-out” project. I can’t wait to see the final reveal! 🙂

      1. There you are! I can’t wait to see the tile back splash. The most recent ones with all the colors make my heart sing!

  2. Do you follow Sawdust Girl?! About a year or 2 ago she redid her pantry and tried a few different options for her corner cabinets. I think one of them was a roll out cart type thing like you’re planning! She’s a lot like you and does a lot of trial and error, so I bet you could get some good ideas if you go through her old posts!

    Those tiles are gorgeous! I’m not as bold with colors, but I could picture them being very pretty with something more subtle as well. I may have to try it myself!

    This layout seems most like “you” and I can’t wait to see it all come together.

    1. Oh, yes. I’ve read all about her attempts to make her corner storage usable and easily accessible. I think she ended up ripping out all of that fancy stuff and just closing off the corners, right? I remember her fancy pull-out thing didn’t end up working out how she had planned. That’s actually why I decided not to try any kind of built-in pull-out system. I figure rolling carts will be easier.

  3. Ooh exciting! I love how the tiles look. I think the plan is solid too. Oh to have such a big pantry. Heck, I’d even go for a small closet-size one. But alas, my 1950s New England Dutch Cape is tight on storage space and definitely has no room for a pantry unless I got rid of my downstairs coat closet which is a much used must-have. Well, my two sets of pantry cabinets on each side of my kitchen will have to do.

  4. I love the symmetry of the room and I’m sure you’ll love the tall open storage cabinet opposite the freezer. Looks like you have plenty of storage space, lovely color tiles and the sound of your countertop stained natural should be perfect. Go get ’em!

  5. So so so glad you are participating in the ORC. Your pantry will rock. Totally rock. Looking forward to following along. ~~ Susie from The Chelsea Project

  6. The plan looks great! I’m eager to see it come to life.

    One question: Where will you be storing your brooms and mops?

      1. That makes sense! The reason I asked is that at some point in the pantry-planning process you had (I think) considered including a broom cabinet and I wondered what had happened with that idea.

  7. I’m so excited along with you!
    I would love to see the dark purple from the tiles on your cabinets,at least the ones that you see through the doors. In my eyes the super dark purple looks muddy. That’s my two cents,but I know whatever you decide will be gorgeous!

    1. Generally a solid five hours a night. But last night, it was about three. :-/ It doesn’t happen often, but some nights my mind just won’t shut off. It didn’t help that I did those pantry drawings right before going to bed, and I just couldn’t turn my mind off.

      1. A curse of artistic people. It’s so hard to shut our brains off! I try not to do things at night or I’ll just keep going all nigh an unfortunately end up with a migraine. But if it weren’t for that…

  8. You have really motivated me to get going on my kitchen.. I started getting ideas when I saw your pantry. My kitchen is not doable right now in 6 weeks, (because, life), so I won’t be doing the ORC, but it got me thinking

    My whole thing with my kitchen is the installation of the upper cabinets, because I would be doing it myself. I just didn’t think it was possible.

    I looked at refacing, building just the doors and full cabinet replacement.

    Then I remembered you installed your kitchen cabinets yourself, SO I had to search your blog archives for that…back in 2014 when I started following you!

    I found how you installed the uppers. My configuration is different, so it may not work, but honestly, saving $2,000 to $3,000 on cabinet installs really excites me. For the one corner cabinet that will be the problem child, I can hopefully call in reinforcements.

    Thanks for the kick in the pants. we are going to rock this!

  9. Matt, for the less technical among Kristi’s followers, will you post the details on how to follow her and the other participants on One Room Challenge? Thank you.

    1. Matt would have to ask me, so I thought it easier I answer myself. 😀 You can follow the most recent posts about the One Room Challenge at this link –>

      The two most recent posts on that page are for the current One Room Challenge (Fall 2018). Each week, there will be two posts. On Wednesday, the links are for the “official” participants (there are 20). And then on Thursday, there will be a post where the guest participants (like myself) link our posts sharing our progress. The sixth week is when we will all (hopefully) share our finished rooms.

  10. I can’t wait to see this!!! What made you think of using flooring for countertops?! That’s brilliant – durable, not to mention gorgeous!!!

    1. I really wanted butcherblock, but it’s just so expensive. I had it in the condo kitchen, and I loved it, but that was oak butcherblock from IKEA, and they don’t carry it anymore. But I thought, “Hmm….oak. My floors are solid oak.” And then I thought about how easy it would be to use real wood flooring on a countertop. I’m excited to try out the idea!

  11. Sounds like a great plan, and beautiful tile! Open storage is a smart plan for the larger appliances and such. So jealous you have a pantry. You go girl.

  12. I retract my vote for tiles with no purple! Those look gorgeous! I think you’ve come up with a great idea for symmetry across from the freezer but I do have a question… Will those open shelves be “decorated” or just storage? Are they close enough to the shared wall with the breakfast room that they will be tucked out of sight? It would drive ME nuts to look at my cluttered shelves all the time. YOU are probably a lot neater than I am though! lol 🙂 Just wondering… I’m dreaming of a big pantry like yours so I can’t wait to see how you deal with those corners. I guess it wouldn’t be that hard to replicate this layout and just put doors on right side shelves… hmm, you’ve got my wheels spinning! Good luck and I’m excited to see the finished room!

    1. If it’s not tucked away in the corner enough, I’ll put doors on it. And no, “neat” is not something anyone would ever accuse me of being. 😀

  13. It’s going to look amazing!

    But as someone who has doors with pull out shelves inside the cabinet, its a pain in the butt. I wish I had just put deep drawers. You have to open both doors all the way in order to get anything out. I find it a pain. Just my two cents, it looks great in the kitchen where I have it, but if I could do it over….drawers all the way.

    1. Ditto. Even though drawers take more time to build I’ve found they beat pull-outs in EVERY respect. The exception being a “pull out and lift” shelf for a big, often-used mixer.
      Those tiles are TO DIE FOR!

      1. I have to agree about the pull out shelves and doors. I’ve never had them until this house, always just had stupid fixed shelves inside doors. They are a pain when you just want to get something (or put away something) that you know goes on one side or the other. Not a HUGE pain, but I can now see that deep drawers would have been better.
        And Chiflipper, wish I would have done one of those mixer shelves too! Instead, I have a cabinet with a half shelf that would have been perfect for that use, and my mixer is taking up space on the counter. UGGH!
        Kristi, I am so excited to see your new pantry finished! Yippee for the ORC to motivate you!

    2. I agree about going with drawers! In a past kitchen remodel, we did deep drawers same size for symmetry, but put drawers inside the drawers that were different heights. The drawer in a drawer is like the top bin on a freezer drawer — the drawer slides for the inside drawer are on the side of the big drawer. The big drawer back is short so the top drawer can be closed when the big drawer is open. I had one drawer where all my baking pans were stored vertically — so easy to use! The inside top drawer on that one was shallow but held flatter things. The other big drawer had two section similar in size that perfectly fit stacked sauce pans. Again, so easy to use because they weren’t stacked high! This explanation is rather opaque, but look at a freezer drawer that has a top drawer in it — that is the concept. Use full extension sliders and everything is right there at your fingertips. No doors to open. It was great!!

  14. The tiles turned out great! Your challenge will be the slanted ceiling and corners. Paint colors can be changed as you desire.

  15. Do you have a tutorial on how to make those tiles? They are so amazing!. And what brand of alcohol ink ? I have to copy this. It’s gonna look great once done! You are so creative.

    1. I don’t have one yet, but I’ll be making a video tutorial when I make the actual tiles. I used both Jacquard Pinata and Tim Holtz brands. And if you want to purchase specific colors individually, I found the best prices and selection at Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff online. (

  16. One consideration for your freezer — be sure that the door hinge is on the wall side! If it is not, either see if you can re-hinge the door OR flip your plan and put the freezer on the other side. It is so important that the hinge is on the left toward the wall so you have direct access from the open freezer to a counter to place things.

    1. I agree – especially when you have to defrost it. You will be stuck in a square shaped hole with that freezer door open.

  17. I cant wait to see the finished pantry. I love what you have done to the house since you bought it.

    One question: the way the freezer door opens seems a bit awkward. If it could open the other way it would be a lot easier to access.

    1. I agree, especially when it comes time to defrost it. You will be stuck in a square shaped hole with the freezer door open.

  18. I’m glad you love symmetry so much because until I saw the tall storage on the other wall, something about the freezer was making me feel itchy! I couldn’t figure out what was bugging me until you said it needed something tall on the other side, and I was like AAhhhhhhhhh that feels so much better! 🙂

  19. This is going to be a beautiful room! Love the ideas and can’t wait for the “after”!! By the way, you should go into business selling those beautiful tiles!! They are amazing!

  20. We have the same freezer and have been really happy with it. If you want some extra peace of mind, we found that a standard plastic drain pan for a washing machine fits perfectly under this freezer. Ugly, but functional!

  21. Cant wait to follow this project! I was also curious, will you have to grout the tiles? And if so, what type of grout will you use?

  22. I tend to think that you have no fear in you at all! After all the new things you try with such huge success! I prefer to say that you have a few moments of uncertainty! And certainly not many of those moments even dare to rear their heads! Your plan is awesome and I can’t wait to see then end product!

  23. I’m really looking forward to follow you on this journey! If I cannot have an pantry of my own (not enough space) I can at least enjoy yours 🙂
    I love the plans, do get the need for symmetry and am looking forward to the tiles. I love them individually but cannot yet imagine what a whole backsplash of them will look like – I’m very curious! I cannot imagine getting all of that done in this short amount of time (I mean, you are not only installing the backsplash, you’re kind of making it first! I’m glad it doesn’t involve making the tiles themselves :)), but if anybody can do this, it’s you! And if it takes more time, well, it’s your house and your project, so you decide on the necessary time, too!

  24. It’s going to be beautiful when you get it finished. I LOVE the purple color for cabinets. It’s one of my favorite colors…and the deep color is gorgeous!!!
    Where did you get that light in that pantry!!! I LOVE it!!!
    Can’t to see the progress and reveal!!! 🙂

      1. Thank you so much Kristi for the link!!! I’m assuming when u say ‘painted’ that you used spray paint??
        I’m loving this for my entry. It’s open to my living area and a small area, so I cant habe something terribly big, but I want something with some ‘bling’, and I think this really fits the bill..and its a great price!!

  25. I am SO excited to follow along over the next few weeks! I used to really enjoy the ORC but it seems in recent years they have gone more towards having the official participants be more “professional” designers or bloggers, rather than the every day bloggers that they started out with. Kind of irks me, because the every day bloggers are the ones who could probably really benefit the most from the sponsors! Anyways, I know you will make this amazing, like everything else.

  26. OMG! LOVE LOVE LOVE that you kept some purple in your tiles. When other commenters yesterday kept saying no purple, I was yelling at my computer….”.but she has purple in her breakfast room” why not add some purple? 😂 Those tiles are beautiful! I can’t wait to see it all finished as I know it’s gonna knock my socks off 😉 it’s gonna be absolutely amazing! You rock gf!!

  27. I knew I loved your home, but especially because I have 2 of those pantry sconces in my master bathroom and my powder room is painted almost that exact dark purple. My house is very neutral and I just decided to go crazy in the powder room in honor of my mom who loved purple.

    Carry on, you’re amazing! Why don’t you redo a house in ATL!?!?!?

  28. This is going to be STUNNING!!! I’m super excited for the backsplash! I can’t wait to see that. WOW!!!! (love your ideas for cabinets, shelves & the overall floorplan!)

  29. If you execute your corner plan, consider putting some sort of LED lighting under there so that you will be able to switch it on to see what’s in there.

    I would also consider installing LED lights under your shelves as well, which will highlight your tiles as well as brighten the whole pantry. We bought some very thin ones from Lowe’s several years ago, and instead of plugging them in, we wired them in to operate on wall switches. They are glorious.

    I also would flip the freezer door hinge to the left side, so that you can load and unload onto a counter.

    Lastly, you might want to build panels for on top of the freezer area and the open shelf area. Open triangular spaces up there will do nothing but be a repository for dust bunnies and spider webs.

    We are all looking forward to seeing your final final!

  30. This is going to be exciting. I really like it when you make progress and we can see an entire room change or be created.

    1. Well, yes and no. Alcohol ink used alone will give you a much different look than alcohol ink dropped into resin. The inks on their own dry super fast, so you have just a couple of minutes to work with them before they dry. They can be reactivated with alcohol, but I find them kind of finicky to work with. When you drop them into resin, the resin acts as a carrier for them and they stay very workable for about 30-40 minutes. That gives you plenty of time to get them just how you want them, and gives them much more time to mix and marble together.

      So the short answer is yes, you can use them by themselves, but you’ll get a different look than you do by dropping them into resin.

  31. This is the one room I have been waiting for! Your plan is fantastic, challenging, trendsetting, mind-blowing…. I Am cheering for on the sidelines. go girl!!!!!do I sound jealous?! Absolutely

  32. Hi Kristi,
    Love everything you do. I save your post whichever day it comes for last because it is my favourite. your creativity and colours you use are amazing. I am finally trying bigger patterned fabrics for bottom of curtains and throw pillows. Thats as creative as I can manage to get.
    I am almost aftraid to mention this next bit as your last month or so has been stressful with comments to you.This is not a you should but a worry… the way your freezer door opens . Will the door make it more of a pain if you have lots of food to put away. If you have a large grocery load to put in and are on the counter. You would have to keep going around the open door. if that would not both you at all then my apologies for bringing it up. My pain is the washer and dryer and how their doors open…drives my nuts as they sit side by side. Never even asked if I could purchase with dryer door opening the other way.

    Looking forward to checking out this one room challenge.
    I am sure your pantry will be beautiful as all your other rooms.
    Kind Regards

    1. I thought about putting it on the other wall so that it would have the hinges to the wall, which is what you would naturally do in a kitchen. But for some reason, after trying it both ways, this way (with the hinges towards the countertop) feels more natural for me. I hope I don’t end up regretting it, and I totally agree that generally it would need to open the other way, especially in a kitchen. But for some reason, in this pantry, I prefer it this way. I wish I knew exactly why so that I could explain it! 😀

      1. I haven’t read all of the posts. So, if this has already been discussed, my apologies. But, I think it is a good idea to have the freezer door open toward your cabinets. I have my refrigerator door opening toward the wall. And, it is very limiting. It is hard to get stuff in and out of the refrigerator – especially big stuff. And, there is nothing I can do about it to give me a little more space. The wall is it! Anyway, my two cents. 🙂

  33. The plans look great, Kristi! I look forward to watching the journey and seeing what color cabinets you end up with. I’ll say it again, those tiles you are making look like art! Your pantry will be beautiful and colorful. I wish we could vote for you. 🙂

  34. Your plans look amazing and I can’t wait to follow along and see your progress. I think the tiles will be fantastic and I had the initial thought that you might want to take them all the way up to the ceiling, behind the shelves. I don’t know what all you will be keeping in the shelves; it may fill up all that space and so it may not be worth the time and effort, but Cassie at Hi Sugarplum ended up making that change in her kitchen and it makes such a statement. I’m so happy for you that you’ll be getting this done this year!

  35. So fun – I painted my walls in the pantry a mountain blue- just makes me happy! I figure anyone who can have a full pantry of plenty should be grateful about it and make their pantry a happy place. ;0)
    Can’t wait to see all the changes and its fun to listen to your enthusiasm. Can I suggest that you try to embrace your quirky ceiling of two heights and make a statement with it? Maybe tongue in groove up there or something that says, “Yep, that’s me , I’m slanted, just the way I roll!”

  36. It is going to be so, so pretty. Love the layout. Thank you for posting the link to the challenge. I was hoping you would so that I could follow you and the others.

  37. It all looks great! But Kristi, are you sure you want your freezer door opening on the wall side? Door opening on the right (hinges next to the wall) gives you a spot to set things down when putting items in or taking them out. You’d probably have better light, too, even if the freezer has a light.

  38. This plan is great! Practical, yet beautiful. The large open shelves to create symmetry are a great idea; I think that will end up being your primary pantry item area, vs the open shelves that will probably end up with decorative items and he drawers and cabinets that are better suited to pots and appliances.

    A thought on your drawer-front rollouts; the faux face frames may end up banged up and gappy after they get used for a while, or aligning them properly may end up being a pain. You could channel some retro cottage styel and cover that area with short curtains, which would give you the opportunity to bring in a beautiful fabric.

    Best of luck! I can’t wait to see what you do.

  39. Will sealing your red oak counters turn them an orange-y color? I know from experience that my unstained oak floors are rather orange with just a clear sealer.

  40. You’ve probably already seen the blog post, but I’ve seen one on a bathroom vanity top made with hardwood flooring. I could link it if needed. I think your pantry is going to be one of the best things you’ve done! The colors will be worth drooling over, especially for those of us that love color and don’t see near enough of it. It would be beyond awesome (even if you charged for them) if you made your cabinet plans available after you finished!!

  41. I really like your pantry plan, the layout is great and I love the symmetry of it. It’s going to be breathtaking, so I’m glad you’ve got those glass French doors on it, so you’ll be able to admire it all the time. So exciting to see your pantry come together.