My butler pantry is turning out to be a major project pushing the limits of my carpentry skills but I am having such a blast! Once I got the trap door in, I spent a long time surveying the space and trying to figure out the best use for the planned shelving. I have several specific needs. One I need a place to put a variety of kitchen items that I use rarely but need to keep. This includes things like my husband’s juicer he uses to make fresh apple juice each fall from our apple trees and my lovely big red turkey roaster pan I use two or three times a year. There are quite a few of such things floating about in a disorganized mess on shelves in the basement. I decided on wide shelves around the top that I need a step stool to access but given how rarely I do need them will be fine.
My second need is for more pantry space. Because we live in the country, it is a long way to any grocery store so trips to town are trips to provision and I hardly ever buy just one of anything. I also am a die hard clearance bin and sale shopper. For example on yesterday’s doctor appointment trip I found brown rice flour at half price and I bought all five small bags. Things tend to get buried on our basement shelving. I need a whole range of sizes of shelves so I can see at a glance what I have lots of and what I am getting short on when I look at flyers and plan my shopping trips. I have planned lots of narrow shelves for holding cans and boxes and bottles.
The third need is for a place to store my vacuum and some assorted cleaning aids. They have no specific spot right now. They kind of get shoved into whatever spot they fit and then get tripped over. This is especially true for the vacuum which currently resides in front of my husband’s lab desk. I need to have designated a broom closet space.
My fourth need is a place to hang my indoor light for starting seedlings each spring. The basement is too cold and the space I used last season is now occupied by my husband’s indoor pond scum growing area. The space required is long and narrow. I will need to be able to have space to raise and lower the light. However since it will only be used a few weeks out of the year, I decided to put in a floating shelf so I can use the space the rest of the year for something else. This also means I need a plug. Fortunately the wiring we put in for a second set of outdoor plugs is right nearby so it was trivial to run a wire down through the floor and our family electrician will connect it with a junction box.
With all those needs in mind I went on a careful measuring binge. I used a level and pencil to mark all the shelf lines I want and then measured again and again and adjusted. One thing I have to do is make sure there is no obstruction to movement up and down into the basement. The closer to the upstairs door, the higher the lowest shelf must go. I also used a nifty on line tool called a sagulator to plan supports and their placements. The result is a mess of lines and notes and crossed out lines where I adjusted the plan. Given all my storage and organizing needs, the space seems to get smaller and smaller. I do have a good plan though.
This also made me realize that I am going to need to put in some lighting so I can see. When the trap door is down and there is no daylight. that space is really dark. This led to a pause in the shelf construction to run wiring for a light. That is when I discovered that the farmer who added the the wall between the stair and the bathroom decided to do so using 2X4s and laying them flat to save space before putting on a 1/2 inch plywood layer on both sides. Very sturdy, of course, but that left me with the need to run wiring through the longer width of the 2X4. This turned what should have been a two cuss job into a seven or eight cuss job but it is done. The result (also waiting for the family electrician to do the final wiring) is in and looks very nice. I’ll be even happier when it has power!
And I got myself another new tool. It is a fun little thing I saw on a youtube video called a “jig” it makes nifty little sideways holes which look much nicer and work much better for inserting screws sideways. It was extremely confusing to use at first because the directions made no sense to me. However I followed them faithfully step by step and it worked like magic on my very first try. I got a fine hole and used it. Such fun!
The final space is actually starting to look like a real pantry. I tried my vacuum and it sits perfectly in the new space I made for it. I even have one high shelf in place and it is now in use for storing my electric cord. I have a long way to go before the pantry is done but I am beginning to see some real results. I’m looking forward to getting a lot of stuff in my basement off the floor and some walking space and organization created. I must say though, I would not want to make my living doing this stuff. No one would hire me at an hourly wage and if I did it as a contractor I’d starve to death. I don’t move fast.