Since we’re sharing pantries…

Our old house has been remodeled a few times by previous owners, some of it great, some of it not so great. There is a short hall to the back door that had a pantry of sorts with shelving, some coat pegs, and 6-panel bypass doors. It gave the illusion of separate compartments but in reality it was one big shared space. Storing mops, brooms, pet food, people food, pots and pans, etc. all in the same space was not ideal.

Making the most of the pandemic, I designed and built a remodel of this space and I'm really happy with the result. It is now a pantry on one side with a broom closet and pet food drawer in the middle, and a coat/shoe nook on the right. I'm an amateur but the build is solid and works well. My wife is thrilled. The new pantry uses a barn door, allowing full use of the space for storing things. The barn door only intrudes into the hallway a couple inches, and by building a nook we no longer hang coats on the opposite wall. The net effect is a more open walkway.

This is what it looked like to begin with. The doors and some shelves were already gone by the time I remembered to take a photo. The bypass doors took up 5" of the depth, so the shelves were all 12" deep. Everything but one vertical was particle board. (Side note – some of that old particle board was astonishingly heavy. They used to make it out of who knows what but it held up very well, although it was not pretty.) Here is another "before" view.

After gutting the space and cleaning up the walls, I built a couple new verticals and installed new 17" deep shelving and some dividers per specs from the client (my lovely wife). I used 3/4" plywood that came pre-finished (from HD) on one side. It didn't cost much more than the unfinished sheet and saved me a ton of finishing time. I used teak oil on the unfinished side where necessary. Next I built in a sliding shelf, put trim on all exposed plywood edges, and installed a cabinet face to the right as seen here. Teak oil was also used on the wood shelf-edge trim.

With the barn door installed I was able to confirm clearance with the back door. Both can open fully and not conflict at any point. Because of the existing height, I had to mount the barn door through the case molding. I considered other options but decided this was the best approach and it worked out perfectly. The door is a hollow-core Jeld-Wen unit. I was a little concerned that it would not work with the barn door hardware, but it actually works well. The lighter weight is a plus.

Finally I finished the broom cabinet and nook and painted everything. Missing in these photos is vertical trim between the barn door and cabinet, which just finishes it a bit more. The broom cabinet also has a slot for grocery bag storage and a lower shelf for canned pet food. I later lined the drawer by constructing and inserting a box made of corrugated plastic so it can store dry pet food with no contact with the wood. I included a divider so it can have both dog and cat food.

I reused the one piece of solid wood from the original closet to make a shelf above the nook. I went with a curved design because it echoes design cues seen in the rest of the house.

This project was completed in late March. Finished and loaded it has proven to be very functional and a much better use of the space. I also built a slide-out appliance drawer on the bottom that wasn't shown in the other photos. All of the drawers have soft-close mechanisms to pull them completely closed, ensuring they won't collide with the barn door. I also installed a soft-close mechanism on the barn door which keeps it at one side or the other and has a pleasant action.

Alas, I do not know how much this cost in total. Partly because I didn't keep track very well and partly because I don't want to know. Probably more than I think it did!


Through this project I learned that I should have bought a pocket hole jig kit a long time ago. That thing is incredibly handy for joining boards in all kinds of situations, not just cabinets. This project also gave me an excuse to get a nice small table saw which I used to make the cabinet door and drawer faces, cut shelves, etc.

I hope this post inspires others to move ahead with home improvement projects. The sense of satisfaction when it all comes together is incredible.

submitted by /u/Lobster70

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