Inventing a kitchen pantry from an entrance...

When we first visited our cottage I imagined a European Style kitchen created from the small awkward existing kitchen and keeping room that divide the center of the cottage.  In my imagination the space would be accented with furniture pieces to add character; a long narrow rustic work table, an antique French sideboard with a small wall hung cabinet overhead for display storage. Layers, ultimately creating a romantic, versatile working kitchen. 

Above, the first layer is almost complete, the buffet lacks a Carrera marble top.  

At the center of the kitchen and keeping room is the original 1930 cooking fireplace complete with cast iron pot and crane.  The desire to preserve this feature limited our ability to alter the two spaces.  One particular obstacle in our design is storage and how to achieve it, while working within the combined footprint of the space. 

One specific storage concern, the lack of a pantry.  How to create ample food storage space without structural changes was a quandary that kept me up at night.   A pair of doorways leading to the sunroom flank the fireplace.  One day while walking through one a fabulous idea presented itself, we could enclose the right side entrance, create a pantry in the keeping room. Once the pantry was built backside would act as a wall to rest the dresser upon. Pencil to paper I drew up a quick sketch of how we could transition the right side entry into a useful pantry with little structural change. 

The original plan is on the bottom; fireplace at the center with a doorway on either side, bi-fold doors, and a single step down into the sunroom.  The new plan is at the top, the pantry on the right side built inside the previous doorway. The doorway on the left remains an entrance to the sunroom. 

Because of Mr. GDC's knee replacement surgeries this past year, we temporarily moved our bed to the first floor, placing it on the backside of the keeping room fireplace.  His dresser beside the bed was across one of the doorways. As the months past with our bed in the sunroom, we grew to like it. Creating the pantry in the right entrance to the sunroom would provide a wall behind the dresser. 

With the frame built we began to see the concept coming to life. We felt the size was good.  We hoped once completed it would appear as an original feature to the cottage.  

Determining and locating the wood to use on the bedroom side was a trick.  It is actually cedar tongue and groove exterior siding.  We spent one day wandering about town exploring lumber yards and found exactly what we needed.  The cedar is very expensive, we wanted the pantry to integrate into the sunroom. We felt fortunate that the exact width and style of board is still available.  Enabling the backside of the pantry to be erected seamlessly in the sunroom, as though it has always been there. 

The sunroom is a step down from the kitchen.  The pantry floor had to be built up allowing it to be flat with the keeping room.  We had 3/4" paint grade plywood installed for the flooring, I  stained it in dark walnut finish.    We repeated paint grade plywood on the walls, a nice foundation for shelving to be attached. 

There is a narrow space of 4" above the doorway where the ceiling begins to rise into a vault. We hung a short track light with three heads wiring it to a wall switch alongside the door. This location above the doorway would allow the heads to be pointed toward the shelves for ample task lighting. 

I thought "U" shape shelves rather than straight shelves would be the best use of space.  The interior pantry is 30" deep. Shelves running straight across would be deep and difficult to access items at the back, also upon the top shelf due to the doorway.  Installing the shelves in a  "U" shape would allow the opportunity to stand in the middle easily accessing anything stored upon the shelves regardless of height. In addition along the side walls we had narrow shelves built perfect for small box items, like Pop Tarts...we have a Pop Tart Shelf!   The light can flow through the open space lighting each shelf well. Straight shelves would block the light flow allowing only the top shelf to be lit. 

There is a return A/C vent in the wall that had to be addressed.  We had a hole cut to allow airflow through the back pantry wall.  Utilizing the original shutter doors allows air flow as well. We installed flat vents over the openings.  Finally, it was time to fill the shelves. 

Yes, I do know I'm decorating the pantry shelves with groceries...

We chose to use the original shutter bi-fold doors again to close the pantry off.  We removed the hinges and hung them from either side of the door frame to open in the middle outward, allowing full access to shelves.  The shutter doors also help with return air circulation.  It took a frustrating day to sort it out. We are happy with the pantry. 

After a little top dressing in the sunroom/bedroom - 

We plan to remove the lantern over bed. It hangs off center and isn't needed. I'm thinking over the dining table it would be stunning. 

An additional layer to the European kitchen scheme is complete. We have the added bonus of a wall for the dresser in the sunroom/bedroom to rest against. We think the design plan for the pantry integrates seamlessly into the cottage, appearing as though it was always there.  We are very pleased with the finished project.  Now for the next layer... 

Until next time, wishing you all the best - 


  1. What a great solution! I have the same headboard that you do, love it too! Looks very cozy.

    1. Thank you for the compliment, I appreciate it. You have the same headboard? Too funny!

  2. What a great idea! Y'all did a really good thing - working with your existing space and not just gutting and re-configuring the original floor plan. Sometimes that is the only practical way to get an older home to live "now" but I love it when it isn't necessary. Good job.

  3. I appreciate how you prioritized keeping the original fireplace intact. It definitely adds to the overall charm of the home.

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