Some organizing projects can be done in a few hours, such as a junk drawer, and other organizing projects can span days or even weeks. Projects that take longer to complete typically involve multiple steps and coordination of outside vendors. Before embarking on an organizing project, it’s crucial to ask yourself three questions: What is my timeline? What are my goals? What is my budget? The three points of this triangle need to come together for a satisfactory result. Recently, I was contacted to organize a pantry for a new client. This client had an open time frame in terms of completing the project and she had a budget in mind that would support her goal of removing existing shelves and creating a custom space. Her budget also allowed for new organizing products and this supported her goal of the aesthetically pleasing space she envisioned. Let’s take a deep dive into this client’s pantry project.
After the client contacted me and explained a little bit about her pantry project, I emailed her an intake form and I started a Pinterest inspiration board for her. The client indicated that she wanted to remove existing wire shelves and create a custom look with solid white shelving. I added several pantry pictures to the board and asked her to do so as well. I find that this helps zero in on what the client is looking for from a functional and design aesthetic perspective.
After the phone call, I met with the client in her home to review her intake form, goals, and likes/dislikes from the Pinterest inspiration board. From this conversation, we concluded that the client wanted textured, neutral baskets with a mix of clear bins. The client did not want to include white organizing products (baskets/bins). Additionally, based on her busy work/mom lifestyle, she indicated that she did not want to utilize food decanters. At this point in the process, I also ask clients what type of labels they would like in their space. This client initially indicated she wanted chalkboard labels, but later in the process switched to white vinyl labels on black bin clips.
Picking Out the Dream Team
After coming up with an action plan and taking measurements, it was time to summon a team of experts to help us with the construction of the pantry. As I always do, I assisted the client with setting up appointments to get quotes from a few different sources. Before contacting me, the client had already researched and received a quote from one vendor. I set up two more vendor quotes for the client one of which was from a well known retailer and one was a local contractor. Upon review of all of the mock ups and quotes and weighing all of the pros/cons, the client decided to work with the local contractor. Fortunately, he was able to begin work the following week. The contractor offered to remove existing shelving and build out the new pantry, but the client would need a separate vendor to paint the shelves. The client already had a good resource for a painter and based on the contractor and painter time frame, I was able to then slot the client into my schedule accordingly. Below you can see the pantry “before” as well as after it was emptied and the wire shelving was removed.
Sourcing Organizing Products
With the goals, design, final measurements, and timeline established, it was time for me to source organizing products for the pantry. Based on the client’s preference for clear and natural elements, I chose The Container Store’s water hyacinth baskets in the natural colorway along with a mix of the following clear bins:
- iDesign Divided Freezer Bin
- 3-Tier Expandable Shelf
- iDesign Medium Kitchen Bin
- Stacking Pantry Bin
- Deep Turntable
Based on the client’s goal of having snacks easily accessible to her children, I suggested adding in two pull out drawers to the plan. The drawers were delivered after the pantry build out, but fortunately, the client’s husband is handy and was able to install the two drawers. In an effort to maximize the functionality of the drawers, I suggested The Container Store’s Smart Store Inserts to divide and micro-organize each drawer.
Building Out the Pantry
The big day finally arrived and the existing shelves were quickly removed. After a day and a half of cutting and install, the new pantry was done with construction and the painter arrived the following day. Throughout this process, I stopped by and checked in a few times to insure that all was running smoothly and according to our plan. In the meantime, the organizing products were ordered and on organizing day, I brought everything to the client’s home.
Since the pantry was already empty from the build out, I did not need to remove the items and had already encouraged the client to group similar items together into categories and purge as needed. I started by placing all of the organizing products into the space and then brought each category back into the pantry. This part of the project is a little bit of a puzzle to make sure that everything fits and there is some moving around from the original plan, but in the end there is always the right system in place that works for each individual client. The white labels were carefully added to the black bin clips. Any leftover organizing product that was not used was loaded into my SUV and returned to The Container Store. This is a complimentary service that I offer to all clients.
The After pictures are always the eye candy part of any organizing project and obviously they showcase the end result. My hope in writing this blog post though is for you to get a better understanding of the organizing process in case you are about to undergo a similar project. There are a lot of moving pieces and considerations to be made in a project of this scope. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all, reach out to me here. I will happily assist you in person or virtually so you too can have the pantry of your dreams!
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