Monday, April 04, 2016

More Than you Want to Know About My Canisters

My new pantry isn't quite ready for the big reveal.  I'm still organizing things, working on the arrangement, and acquiring canisters.  Also, I haven't come up with the solution for the silverware-in-a bucket problem.  The built-in shelves now look horribly shabby next to my new pantry, so I think I'd like to spruce them up a bit as well. Still, I don't want to be a dick and not share anything.  It could be a while before it is all set up to my liking. Anyway, this is the fun part, so I am taking my time.

Once the brackets were installed, it was relatively easy to build the shelves. I bought 8" wide pine boards and Jon cut them to the right length. I wanted them to be a rich, medium brown and none of the available stains looked right. In the end, I copied a friend's technique and used Minwax medium walnut, but wiped it off before the recommended time. I'm happy with the color. I sealed them with three coats of polyurethane.

For the canisters, I mostly used mason jars that I had on hand. The large canisters on the bottom shelf are pickle jars that I bought at Fifth Season, one of my favorite shops in Charlottesville. They carry a wide array of "urban DIY" products for home fermenters, brewers, cheese makers, bee keepers, and canners.

Not quite there yet

Across the bottom row: Sugar, Oatmeal, Whole Wheat Flour, Bread Flour.  I keep all-purpose flour in a large tin on the counter.  It holds fifteen pounds of flour and it's awesome. I bought it from the old "Martha by Mail" catalog.  Anyone remember it and that 1930's green that was so popular for a while?  I fell hard for that 1930's green.  I think Martha was the one who started the trend in the first place. I stenciled the word "Flour" on it, but it looks a bit messy. I'd like to re-enamel the whole thing white, with black letters. Slight digression, but the Martha by Mail catalog was the best. I just read that the catalogs themselves are considered collectible.  I can't find the resale value of my flour tin (not that I would ever part with it) but the yellow ware mixing bowl set, that I probably paid somewhere between $50-$75 for was listed on ebay recently for $500.

I did not realize how dirty my tin was until I saw the photo. (The inside is pristine, I promise.) It has been in constant use for well over ten years. (I can't remember when I bought it, but Martha by Mail folded in 2004.) I am not responsible for the red countertops. Those came courtesy of the former owners, and honestly, they are now nearly twenty-seven years old and are in pretty good shape.

I'll share more photos once I get everything arranged to my satisfaction. I am not going to dispense all of my spices into twee little jars.  Only the ones I used most often. The bottle carrier on the top shelf (which I bought at Fifth Season) was going to be my silverware solution. A wide-mouth quart-sized canning jar fits into each section and I was going to store forks, spoons, and knives in each, but now I'm not convinced that this is the best solution. It would take up a lot of counter space, for one thing.  I'd like to find a creative way to use the hole where the drawers used to be.  At one time, I had baskets stacked in there, but the space is so narrow, it was too difficult to install shelves inside to support individual baskets.


  1. I remember Martha By Mail and yes, I think she was the one to start the green trend. I always think of it as "her" color. I gave up on trying to find canisters and have resigned myself to using plastic containers with snap-on lids. My kitchen game is very, very lame.

  2. Thought for the drawer space - and it very well might not work - in the bottom of one of my cabinets, we've installed a sliding rack. It's great for not losing things in the back of the cabinet anymore - I wonder if you could find a smaller one and install it in what was the drawer space?

    I have long held a very soft spot for that green.

  3. Fun to see your progress! I've lost all initiative I ever had (VERY LITTLE) for home inprovement. You're inspiring:) And I love that green. My grandfather made a very heavy kitchen bench in the 30's. When I stripped the coats of paint off, that green was the original colour. There are still traces of it in places and I love seeing that, thinking about how they chose a hip colour for their kitchen:)

  4. I think your pantry shelves look excellent.

    I have no knowledge of anything Martha. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Martha doesn't hang out with the likes of me.

    You could get a silverware caddy.

  5. Oh, I had not realized that her mail order business went out of business. I adore that color, too.
    Your shelves look great and I really like the jars lined up, very utilitarian and clean looking.