Handy Pantry

For all intents and purposes, the kitchen was done.  Although we had increased the storage capacity of the kitchen considerably, we still needed a place for guests to store their food and supplies during their stay.  Because we moved the refrigerator from the west wall to the north wall, where the old door had been, we had plenty of room on the west wall.  The extra lower cabinet that I bought at Bauer Bros infringed on the walkway space between the wall and the island, so it couldn't be placed there.  We needed something else.

Being a practical guy and an afficiando of all things Menards, Dave bought a sturdy and affordable grey plastic shelving unit, clearly meant for the garage.

“Ummm, hmmmm, it’s, um, grey,” I said.

Practical, but, please.....

Practical, but, please.....

“But it fits in the space and stores lots of stuff,” he offered helpfully.

I didn’t have a better option, so there the garage rack stayed.  It was, in fact, very practical: easy to clean and plenty of space for bread and cereal and snacks.  Meanwhile, I continued to prowl my local consignment stores and estate sales.  

Finding a mid-century backer’s rack turned out to be a much bigger challenge than I anticipated.  There are plenty of Depression-era baker’s racks out there, but their style is decidedly not mid-mod.  Think of scrolly black wrought iron and curvy lines.  I kept thinking I could find a white metal baker’s rack to match my white Geneva cabinets, but I just wasn’t seeing anything.

The mid-mod era was heavy on entertaining, so there are lots of gorgeous teak, walnut, and maple buffets and hutches out there.  Most of them were either too deep or too long for the space, but in addition, those pieces are intended for a living or dining room.  I couldn’t imagine putting a piece like that so close to the cooking area.  Wood that beautiful shouldn’t be within splatter distance of a stove.

The mid-mod era also features a lot of rolling bar carts.  There are wooden varieties and metal ones, and all of them are charming.  But just like a hutch or buffet, a rolling cart would look out of place in the kitchen.  And few of them are designed for storage.  So I struck out on that idea as well.

I had pretty much given up on the idea of finding a mid-mod pantry or baker’s rack.  And then, while walking the streets at the Oronoco Gold Rush, we found it: a white metal pantry, sitting all by itself, surrounded by antique farm equipment.  The front was festooned with some dorky stickers from the 1970s, but overall it was in very good shape.  We gave the man $60 and loaded it into the truck.


Once home, I realized that although the exterior had been painted over several times, the interior was still original.  It was the faintest shade of great and it reminded me of a dentist office.  The more I thought about it, the more I concluded that the cabinet probably came from a medical office.  

Just like with the kitchen cabinets, I had to experiment with painting techniques.  Since the piece is relatively small, I bought cans of spray paint.  I taped off the interior, and first sprayed a coat of primer, then a couple of coats of gloss white.  But it just didn’t have the glean I was expecting.  Finally, Dave rolled it with gloss latex and it turned out just right.

The upper shelves are just right for guest's supplies, and the bottom fits some of the bigger appliances like the crock pot and blender.  It has a slightly smaller footprint than the garage rack, but it fits the mood so much better.