She posted a search for a professional organizer on the Front Porch Forum, Vermont’s online community bulletin board, accessible in all towns. She especially sought someone with experience. After several exchanged emails and a phone conversation, including about recipes that needed better storage, we set a date.
There are two pantry areas in the house. She is a massage therapist with a home practice, so she is especially concerned that those she treats there see tidy areas.
We decided to focus on the pantry closer to the kitchen. We first pulled out recipes that were stored in a crate lying on its side. I suggested organizing them in a three-ring binder, with side tabs for different kinds of foods, like breads/muffins, appetizers, soups, salads, main dishes, etc. I showed her one of mine brought along for “show and tell.” It’s useful and fun to leaf through it when looking for yummy eats to make. It’s so low-tech as to be no-tech. It would take some time to develop, though ultimately can save time. No screen needed!
Next, working top to bottom, we cleared off the top shelf, storing there platters and other serving bowls used rarely, but still good to have handy. We consolidated other items, like cookie sheets. We brought to the garage some things to be tossed or recycled, and loaded others to be donated into her car.
Pleased with our results, she felt confident about clearing the clutter in the second pantry.
As Judy, Robert and I finished our pantry session, I suggested that they consider hanging a grid on its side wall – if there were studs to support it and whatever weight it would hold.
Robert promptly bought one and installed it. He then hung skillets, making some kitchen storage space less congested. Part of the fun and utility of grids is their flexibility. It’s usually easy to change how they’re best used.
Newlyweds Judy and Robert asked for help. She moved into his house several months before their wedding. Since they’re middle-aged and avid cooks, they have all that they need. Some things, like spices, were in unneeded multiples.
As we discussed first working in their basement, Judy said, “Let the festivities commence.” All righty, then!
We would work top to bottom, organizing some shelves that weren’t really all that bad. Similar items, like for baking, were grouped together better. Plus, since the basement floor very occasionally gets wet, we would clear it.
We brought some things, like spices, upstairs, for easier access in their pantry. Its spices already were alphabetized. Some were old. We tossed them. We took cans of cat food out of cardboard packaging and stacked them, to save space. We discussed a wall grid, to use some extra space and to hang some often-used skillets that wouldn’t fit elsewhere in the kitchen.
There were so many spices, including some from Judy’s former home, that Robert arranged them on the floor.
When we were done, Robert smiled and said, “You have made a permanent impact on our house.”
Lell and Rex have a lovely house within viewing distance of Lake Champlain. Our project was to organize the pantry. Its shelves were somewhat organized into categories (baking, condiments, canned goods, etc.), though some spill-over had happened over time. Lell, who is about five feet tall, couldn’t see all that was stored, even when using a step stool. Also, a tray holding precariously-balanced plastic drinking bottles was on top of the small fridge, and some items had “drifted” down to the floor.
First, I pulled everything on the floor out into the kitchen. Lell sampled crackers and other snacks whose bags were closed with clothes pins. We tossed anything “past its prime.” We added some still-good ones to a fabric-lined basket, already holding other snacks. At her direction, I rearranged shelves, using shelf extenders. Soups, tuna, olives, coffee, tomato sauces and cereals for Rex are now grouped. Paper plates and cups are on a low shelf. S’mores ingredients are together, sure to delight two 12-year-old girls who will soon visit from the South.
Sometimes, small details delight us the most. Lell is thrilled that the sugar is visible and easily reached! We worked hard, and she was pleased.