Butler Pantry – Part 1

This was not my idea. I got the idea (and the name) from this blog here. A Butler’s Pantry is traditionally a space off the main door preparation area where precious or expensive things are stored and kept under lock and key with the Butler holding the key. I have long chaffed at the empty space above our basement stairs. It was bland, dirty and impossible to reach to clean. Over all, just an enormous irritant in a tiny house where every spot is precious. I decided to try to make my own Butler’s Pantry and make this space useful.

In some ways I had an easier time than the people I got the idea from because that floor level ledge is right beside the outer wall of my little house and three 2X10″ inch wood beams. I used extra long wood screws and four hinges to attach a carefully trimmed chunk of 3/4″ plywood to the outer wall. I then created two 2X4″ supports on the opposite side into another pair of 2X10″ beams using heavy duty lag bolts. The result was almost immediately workable, much to my delight.

The board can go up out of the way to access the basement, or be relatively easily lowered to cover the staircase opening.

The very first thing I did once I had a floor that felt solid enough to walk on, was to finally finally finally clean the entire space. It was dusty and awful and filthy and I had not been able to safely get at it since we moved in. In the process of walking back and forth to scrub the walls and ceiling walls I could feel the 3/4″ plywood board creaking a bit. My next job was to start adding some reinforcements and additional supports. I added some extra 2X4″ supports so the board rests on those instead of all the weight on the hinges. I also added a top rail and a wood blocking bit so it can’t accidentally fall onto our heads while we go up or down. This got rid of the slightly wobbly feel and stopped any creaking. I am going to add some additional cross supports at the ends of the plywood to further stabilize it and maybe add a couple of more in the middle similar to how the original looks but without disturbing my hinges that work just beautifully. I also want to figure out some kind of pneumatic lift hinge support so I don’t have to squat and pull to lift floor out of the way.

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A few things became immediately apparent. I now need to plan the best way to put in shelving for my pantry. I can put shelves into all the spaces above head height as one goes up and down stairs and in that back section. I need to plan what height and depth of shelves will work best for what I want to put in this newly accessible space. I have quite a few items that I need to keep but rarely use. These include my big red turkey roasting pan for company dinners, my pot distiller and my pressure canner and boiling water bath canner. Those can go up high on top. I’d like box for my recycle sorting bag instead of leaving it hanging on the wall. I could really use a broom closet and a dedicated spot for my vacuum.

I also need to add a light. With the board down, the new space is really dark. I am going to add at least one electric plug when I put in the light. I have been thinking this space might work very well for my seedlings in the spring if I set aside one shelf dedicated to that purpose and install my grow light above it. If I do that, I definitely need at least one plug. And of course the entire thing needs priming and painting to match my kitchen. The plywood floor will need some nice cover, maybe some pretty linoleum with tiny flowers or something.

I fell asleep last night planning my shelves and plotting the best path for wiring. I want to have it all figured out by the time we have to make our next trip to a city with a hardware store. That way I can walk in with a list of supplies, stock up, and drive home ready to start. The garden is under the snow now, but I have a brand new project to keep busy with. What fun!

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