Design Mistakes I’ve Made — Our Pantry Drawers


I think I want to start a series called “Design Mistakes I’ve Made” so that I can share with y’all the the things I did in designing and remodeling our house that don’t really work as well as I thought they would. In hindsight, there have been several things I wish I had done differently. The design mistake I want to share today is the design of our pantry drawers.

I don’t have an issue with all of them. The middle section of drawers under the window in the pantry is almost perfect. Those drawers are wide, and the two bottom drawers are deep enough to hold pretty much anything I’d want to put in there. In fact, the middle drawer alone holds an entire 12-place-setting set of dinnerware, and it works perfectly thanks to the drawer slides rated to hold 100 pounds.

Walk-In Pantry – After

The only change I would make is to swap out the current ball bearing drawer slides for soft close ball bearing drawer slides. But that’s not a huge issue. I can live without soft close drawers.

And also, the cabinets in the pantry have worked out perfectly. They all have pull-out shelves, and the one that gets the most use is the slotted pull-out drawer where I store all of my baking sheets, cake pans, etc.

pantry remodel - after 5 - pull out slotted drawer for bakeware and pull-out shelf

The cabinet under the microwave also has pull-out shelves, which are very handy.

pantry remodel - after 7 - pull out shelves in tall cabinet

So while most of the design has worked out almost perfectly, I made a big mistake when it came to the four white drawers.

I have two on each side, and these drawers are very deep. The size is great. I use one of the drawers on the left for storing my big food dehydrator, and one for cookbooks. The ones on the right are used to store bottled water in the top drawer for our Wednesday night gatherings…

…and then to store Bai in the bottom drawer.

So while the actual drawers are big enough to store what we need to store, the big mistake I made was in not using regular drawer pulls.

If you were around back when I was working on this pantry, you might remember me wrestling with ideas on how to use and organize these corners so that I wouldn’t lose any of the storage space in the blind corners. I was confident that I’d use every inch of storage space, including those blind corners, and I needed easy access to them.

After looking at every conceivable option out there, and (for some reason that I can’t now remember) determining that there were no good options for my particular needs, I decided to come up with my own design. I decided that those blind corners would only be used to store things that I needed to access on rare occasions, like punch bowl or something like that. So I decided that in order to not lose a single inch of potential storage, but make sure I had somewhat easy access to anything stored in those corners, I’d make the drawers removable, and add a pull-out shelf in the blind corners.

So once I’ve pulled the drawer out completely and set it on top of the countertop, then I can slide the pull-out drawer over into the drawer space and access whatever is stored there.

Well, do you know how things I have stored in those blind corners? Zero. I mean, just imagine a drawer filled with bottled water or Bai having to be completely removed and placed on the countertop so that I can access those areas. That would never happen.

And also for some reason that I can’t remember right now, with this design, I couldn’t make regular drawer slides fit into the design. So I used the old fashioned way of making drawer guides out of wood. You can see the side of one of the drawers here. That strip of wood attached to the side of the drawer slides between two strips of wood attached inside the cabinet. I’m sure you’ve all seen similar things on old pieces of furniture.

So what happens is that when the drawer is full and weighed down with bottled water or Bai, the drawer is so heavy and very difficult to open and close. It’s a real hassle, and while I thought I was being so clever when I was building this pantry, this whole drawer design ended up being a complete waste of time that has made things more difficult than they should have been.

In hindsight, I would happily give up every inch of that blind corner storage space in exchange for proper drawers that can hold lots of weight while opening and closing very smoothly and easily. This is one of those things on my list of items I’d like to go back and redo. I don’t know when I’ll have the time to do it, but it definitely needs to be redone.

Side note: I worked on the studio doors yesterday! I didn’t get them finished. Those French doors are taking quite a bit of prep work just to get them ready to paint, so that took most of my time. But I did get one coat of the dark eggplant color on the other two doors, and I love it! I can’t wait to share the finished look with y’all!

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