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Kitchen Progress: DIY Pantry Cabinet + Little DIY Kitchen Hacks

I’m excited to show you the new DIY pantry cabinet – along with some more kitchen updates!  That’s right, we’ve slowly made some more progress on the kitchen: an open pantry has been built, shelves have been primed and painted, brackets have been installed, and shelves have been set on brackets and abandoned, lol.  We just need to join together the shelf pieces and install them, finish installing baseboard and other trim (window trim is done though, yay), and then touch up some paint.  I see the light at the end of the tunnel!  Before we get to that “big reveal,” I wanted to address some of the little issues we encountered along the way, and what kind of slap-dash, band-aid solutions we applied (this is, after all, just a temporary makeover).

First up, the piece of veneered MDF that was beside the fridge in the original kitchen:

Even after my Dad and I tore out the upper cabinets, it was still photographed loitering.  Why?  The flooring was installed around it so to tear it out would mean a little square of subfloor at the base of the cabinets.

We decided to keep the kitchen flooring because it’s shades of cream, and a neutral enough pattern for it to work.  It extends into the front entry, laundry room and half bathroom as well.  To solve the problem, Hubby simply cut down the offending panel with a saw, I primed and painted it turquoise, and we installed the counter top right over it!

You wouldn’t even guess that there’s an extra piece lurking there (well, it’s not fair for you to guess because you already know).

DIY Kitchen Hacks

DIY Kitchen Projects

In the photo above (pre-paneling), you might have spotted the fan which had been behind the angled cabinet:

Aesthetic contentions aside, it didn’t work.  This isn’t new territory for us: the range hood in the townhouse didn’t work either.  We’ve been conditioned to cook without one – when we browned meat, indulged in bacon (or burnt the butter), we just opened a window in the adjacent dining room.  But this home also boasts a whole home air exchanger, AND a window in the kitchen (luxury!), so we’ll be fine until we renovate and can fix this thing.  With our phase II remodel, of course we’ll install a proper range hood and make sure it works (dream big!) but for now we blocked it off with foam for insulation because it was drafty, and hid it behind the panelling.  What fan?

Sneak peek: shelves (EDIT: after this post, I removed the shelves above the stove to keep it to code and also moved all the brackets)!

The next little thing was the pantry.  I actually didn’t mind the pantry (to the left of the fridge) in the original kitchen configuration.  It had neat little pull out shelves for dry goods.  But it had the 1990s cathedral style door I hate, so I ripped it out too.  When demoing, it’s really hard to stop.

The flooring was glued up to this part of the cabinetry as well, so when we removed it the subfloor was glaring at me.  If you follow on instagram, you might have caught a peek of the pantry Hubs built (and how we accidentally burned the ceiling finishing it).  But it was easy to build a simple DIY plywood pantry to gain back more storage while keeping things nice and modern to match the rest of this DIY kitchen makeover.

We started with a super sophisticated blueprint (which included a low shelf to hide the subfloor):

And ended up with this! (Ignore the wood piece screwed to the side, that was a plan that didn’t pan out):

How to Build a Free Standing Storage Cabinet

How to Build a DIY Plywood Pantry:

The pantry is almost 8 feet tall and is constructed of two sheets of birch veneered 3/4″ plywood, that is good on both sides (the sheets come in 48″ x 96″ sizes).  It was relatively simple to build and we did it without a table saw (man, we really need one though, because it’s getting ridiculous).  For anyone who is curious, here’s the how-to (you can easily adjust to your own custom measurements, of course):

Using our “detailed blueprint” and the cut list software that Hubby found for the kitchen panelling job, he marked and cut the pieces using a straight edge and a circular saw (or table saw for you fancy folks!).  The unit is 24″ deep, so the sides are simply a single sheet of plywood that is ripped down its length and trimmed a little at one end in order to allow the unit to clear the ceiling.

How to Cut Wood without a Table Saw

Here’s the circular saw we use in lieu of a table saw – we just clamp a straight edge next to it as a guide.  Hubby originally chose a blade with a higher number of teeth to get a cleaner cut on the wall panelling and left the blade on for this job for the same reason.  He finds it cuts a little slower, but does not tear the edges as much.

How to Use a Circular Saw Instead of a Table Saw

The shelves rest on braces (which are just strips of plywood) that are glued and screwed into the back and insides.  Hubs marked the locations and pre-drilled the holes in the side panels.  These holes are large enough to allow the screws to pass through without grabbing the first layer and sucking the second layer of wood in tight.  With all the pieces cut out and the side brackets installed, Hubby brought everything into the house for assembly (it’s a beast to move when it’s assembled).

DIY Storage Cabinet with Shelves

How to Build a Cabinet with Shelves

For assembly, we put it together face down, starting with the top and bottom.  These pieces were glued and screwed into place.  As soon as the screws were tightened and before the glue set, we checked to make sure the unit was square.  This was done by placing a tape measure across the unit to opposite corners (two measurements).  We compared the dimensions and shifted the cabinet to get it as close as possible.  The rear shelf braces (the skinny pieces below) were then glued and screwed into place.

How to Build an Easy Pantry

DIY Plywood Kitchen Cabinet

For a clever little trick, we used extra panelling for the back so when you glance at it quickly, you think you’re seeing the wall behind.  In my eyes, this little feature makes it look less like a plywood box, but we didn’t sacrifice stability by skipping the back panel altogether.  The back panel is just nailed into place using 3/4″ 18 gauge air nails.

A tip for nailing things together is to drive them at alternating angles.  Even if the panel does want to pull off, it means that it will not slide easily.

Once everything was together and the glue had set, we lifted the unit upright.  This was only possible because the ceiling in the dining room is a lot taller.  As you can see from the image below, we did not leave a lot of clearance (intentionally).  The shelves were then put in place to check for final fitment (two needed slight trimming).  Edges were then lightly sanded to remove any sharpness or roughness.

DIY Plywood Pantry with Shelves

We worked on this puppy late at night . . .

DIY Pantry for Kitchen

I painted it, but first we applied some wood edge tape to hide the visible plywood edges.  There is a heat activated glue on one side, so we just grabbed an old iron and ironed it on.

Iron On Wood Edge Banding Instructions

The tape was then trimmed to fit using a sharp knife or a proper edge tape trimmer.  We don’t have a table saw, so do you think we own fancy tools like edge tape trimmers?  Nope.

How to Trim Edge Band with a Knife

The unit and shelves were then primed and painted with semi-gloss paint, and the shelves installed.  The shelves are screwed from the outside, to pull the sides together, and through the top of the shelves into the braces, to pull them down.  We pushed the unit in place and put three screws through the back into a wall stud to hold in in place.

It’s a little imperfect but that didn’t stop us from high-fiving each other and congratulating ourselves for having built something so awesome and functional and HUGE.  The minute we slid it into place, the fridge no longer seemed as prominent – which was exactly my plan!  I’ve decided that every time something is a little imperfect – especially if I’ve painted it white – I’m just going to refer to it as “cottagey,” which is perfectly acceptable for a lakehouse like ours.  So this pantry is cottagey, and we love it.  I can’t wait to add large glass canisters and actually buy things like flour and sugar.

How to Build a Plywood Cabinet with Shelves

We still need to add baseboard to the wall, and in front of the pantry, because without that it’s a little too cottagey, but it’s definitely taking shape.  I wander out the garage every now and then and caress my boxes or Pyrex and glassware.  So close to a finished kitchen and then we can get to the really fun part – styling those open shelves!

As a finishing touch, a little bit of baseboard trim and caulk makes the pantry look more built-in and finished:

How to Build a Plywood Cabinet

UPDATE: See This DIY Kitchen Finished Right Here!!

DIY Pantry Cabinet

The paint for the paneled walls and pantry was provided by CIL.  The colour is White on White (in eggshell for the walls and semi-gloss for the cabinetry).  You’ll see more of the painted paneling soon!

P.S. Don’t Forget to Pin for Later!

DIY Pantry Cabinet Tutorial



  1. Cassie @ Primitive & Proper
    May 19, 2014 / 12:53 pm

    it is looking SO good! love the shelving!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 19, 2014 / 3:16 pm

      Thanks!! We're so close… The shelving will actually extend right over the fridge and connect with the pantry and I'm so excited to fill them with dishes and Pyrex. I had a dream about organizing the shelves last night.

  2. Caroline Nolazco
    May 19, 2014 / 2:16 pm

    Wow. It's starting to look really great!! It's amazing what paint can do 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 19, 2014 / 3:16 pm

      Thanks! Yes, the paint was magical in hiding seams and nail holes in the paneling, and making the plywood pantry look a lot fresher. Can't wait to be done!

  3. Brynne Delerson
    May 19, 2014 / 4:38 pm

    It's all coming together! I love it – can't wait to see your vintage Pyrex goodies on display!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 19, 2014 / 6:30 pm

      My pyrex is in the office, waiting, haha!

  4. Haley
    May 19, 2014 / 4:58 pm

    This looks great so far! I can't wait to see the after.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 19, 2014 / 6:29 pm

      Thanks! The pantry was a big step foward in function, plus it no longer looks disassembled. Yay!

  5. Jo
    May 20, 2014 / 2:05 am

    Love the turquoise! Question: it looks like the shelving runs above the range about 18" above it? Is that a clearance issue? (I'm thinking building code/ fire resistance of materials, etc). Just wondering what the shelving material is – would pots of boiling water affect the shelf?

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 21, 2014 / 1:17 am

      The shelf isn't installed yet, and I do think we will have to move it. I wanted the brackets differently but hubby wanted them on studs. Cutting the lower one out above the stove would mean moving all of the brackets to a more aesthetically pleasing spot. So I'm going to look that up right now. When I do a post about the shelves I will be sure to mention it.

    • brikhouse2
      May 21, 2014 / 4:43 am

      If you add a piece of wood the length from the first bracket to the last and the width of the height of your bracket and mount it to the wall to the studs you can then screw the brackets where ever you want…….but this would hide a lot of your paneling. I had to do this with shelves I made because i wanted the brackets in a certain spot, not on the studs which would look all lopsided. I just painted that back piece the color of the wall and the shelves and brackets are black.

    • Jo
      May 21, 2014 / 2:22 pm

      I understand about the stud issue. Looking forward to seeing it all complete, as, I'm sure you are as well! I forgot to mention that I LOVE the countertop- so pretty! And I'm jealous of your Pyrex collection – if you need to purge any…. 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 21, 2014 / 3:18 pm

      Hubs and I noodles on this some more and the brackets are moving! Frankly, I'm super excited because I didn't like them there. Thanks to both of you for your input, it's been very helpful!! Thanks, Jo!It's so funny Hubs built counters from scratch but these prefab shelves stumped us, haha. Do you collect pyrex? I've been wanting to try doing a trade…I lost after more turquoise but always come across other patterns.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 21, 2014 / 3:19 pm

      *noodled This phone is killing me

    • Jazmyn Strydom
      May 21, 2014 / 5:37 pm

      I too was thinking of the clearance…. 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 22, 2014 / 1:50 am

      I am clearly in need of your expertise… You MUST help with kitchen reno 2.0 🙂

  6. Elaine
    May 20, 2014 / 8:19 pm

    It looks great! Really coming together – great job on the pantry build 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 21, 2014 / 1:17 am

      I'm so happy with the pantry because we really lacked storage. Now I have oodles.

  7. brikhouse2
    May 21, 2014 / 4:34 am

    I like the changes but I loveeeeee those turquoise utensils

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 21, 2014 / 3:21 pm

      It was so satisfying to replace the crusty ones we had. I got them mostly from eBay and a couple from amazon – all new, but discounted. Too scared to use them and wreck them, lol.

    • brikhouse2
      May 23, 2014 / 8:39 am

      lol I totally understand, I got some Kitchaide turquoise measuring cups and spoons from Winners and I don't want to use them either……but they are so purdy to look at lol. Plus, the measurement sizes only seems to be painted on and worry it will get worn off. *sign*

  8. Shutter Perth
    May 22, 2014 / 10:58 am

    Love the way you have installed it. i was thinking to something like that and finally i am here. Going to do something like this.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 23, 2014 / 1:27 am

      Thanks! I have to make a change to the shelves so stay tuned for the reveal.

  9. Jen @ RamblingRenovators
    May 22, 2014 / 9:54 pm

    Way to work with the weirdness! The cottagey look is perfect for your lake house, especially with your turquoise cabinets. Love all the open shelving!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 23, 2014 / 1:28 am

      Haha, thanks Jen!

  10. Ashley@AttemptsAtDomestication
    May 23, 2014 / 8:22 pm

    I seriously love the turquoise! I saw it over at Primitive & Proper today and had to stop by! 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      May 24, 2014 / 2:15 am

      Hi Ashley!! Happy you were lured by the kitchen, haha!! I'm inching along and it should be done soon 🙂

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