Using Space Efficiently

Sergiu (almost) finished with our attic pantry space today! Significantly fewer trips up and down to the basement are in our immediate future!1

Aly’s Motivation

For almost a year now, we have been using a cabinet in the basement as our household pantry. It’s been great to have a dedicated and fairly secure spot in one of the few temperate zones in the house, but there have been one too many times I realized we needed to restock our attic coffee at 5am.2 The far too frequent pre-dawn run down and then back up 3 flights of stairs – uncafeinated – was enough motivation for me.

Sergiu’s Motivation

A lot of my energy is spent whining at Sergiu to do specific things,3 but occasionally I’m smart enough to request something that he is both confident undertaking and will make his life easier in the long run. This combo was essential to making this project happen, especially as quickly as it did.

For starters, Sergiu is by and far the most frequent food-maker in our family.4 Conveniently, he is also a legit expert in all of the tasks required by this project! Sergiu, much like the rest of us, is far more willing to start projects that he knows he will be good at.

This one not only solved a problem he actually cared about (lots of stairs)5, but also required only those skills in which he is confident. Muahahaha.

Transforming the Crawlspace to a Pantry

The existing cubby/crawlspace was already pretty nice, it just needed a bit of drywall and paint (and maybe eventually a fancier floor); it already had a door, a light, an electrical outlet, and convenient access to all the attic-kitchen utilities.

Ask me sometime about that dryer vent. It’s almost gotten to the point where I can talk about it.

We prioritized keeping access to the pipes6, and since the end goal was a pantry (aka, storage), Sergiu framed out and built a neat little open-able7 shelf thingy seemed like a good multi-tasking feature for the space.

More pictures of Sergiu exist on this blog than anywhere else in the world.

Once that plan was both in place and in progress, Sergiu started on the drywall – one of his specialties. Needless to say, it went a lot faster than when Bridgette and I tried our hands at it. Another bit of good planning8 on my part, all that drywall was left over drywall from other projects!

Zero waste: the environmentalist and the penny pincher’s shared dream.

He sped through the sheetrock, though not without significant complaining about the size of the space. I reminded him repeatedly that his workspace was much roomier than mine and Bridgette’s.9

Once the drywall was hung, it was time to skim coat (another Sergiu specialty!)!

Another task he flew through,10 and I have to admit, he makes it look super easy (it’s not). He also makes it look messy, like the room will never get clean enough to enter. But I was wrong, and he did a great job cleaning up (both before and after painting).

He found some nice simple wood for the baseboards, and then started painting the edges.

This is another example, by the way, of why I have control issues: Sergiu painted the baseboards at the same time as the walls – and used the same paint. It’s a pantry, and it doesn’t have a real floor, so I probably can live with this one small detail, but seriously. At the risk of sounding like I am trying to place blame for my personality flaws on other people’s choices, this is why I micro-manage!

Fun little side fact, we had left over paint (white) from when we left the Brooklyn apartment but not nearly enough paint a whole room (even if it is tiny). It is also absolutely horrible paint11, so we took a bunch of the samples I'd ordered when testing out the trim colors and dumped them into the crappy Valspar white. Shake shake shake, and you have this amazing custom blue for our new happy little pantry! And Zero Waste again!!

It took him all of zero time whatsoever to finish painting,12 and the room looks amazing. We relocated a shelf that fits perfectly,13 and moved all of our excess groceries from the basement to our (nearly) finished pantry space. 🙂

At this point, you might be thinking, “What about the floor? That doesn’t look done!”14

Technically you would be correct, but we did actually have a lot of discussions about the floor. Neither of us love any of the available flooring options, so for the time being we are leaving the subfloor exposed. While this absolutely seems like the type of thing that would bother me to the very core of my soul, I’m honestly fine postponing this particular expense for a little while.

The real reason I keep using ‘almost’ or ‘nearly’ as a preamble to ‘finished’ is because we haven’t put on the cabinet-esque door on the front of our pipe-access shelf. I did, however, used my wicked cool MS Paint skillz to create this artist’s rendering for you, though. So now you can see exactly what it will look like once we finish up that last little bit:

I probably now have to make it that exact shade of blue.
MS Paint demands it.


1 And possibly some weight gain, since I will be virtually eliminating my primary source of exercise.
2 Loads more things than just coffee required frequent trips to the basement, but obviously the 5am coffee runs were the saddest.
3 Specifically, things I don’t want to do, but sometimes these are things that I genuinely think he would do a better job at than me.
4 This means that, aside from the coffee, he is the one most frequently forced to make the pantry run down and up those many stairs. He’s also (by far) the oldest person in the house, so those 3 flights down and then back up are probably harder on him than the rest of us. 😉
5 Funny story, back when we were originally looking at houses and talking about buying a place, he never wanted one that was multi-storied. I wanted stairs – lots and lots of stairs!! – so clearly I won. But since it isn’t a competition, he loves this house just as much as I do.

6 Apparently plumbers and electricians like access to things like pipes and wires.
7 Or it will be openable once it is actually enclosed. I did say he nearly finished, not totally finished.
8 You say ‘manipulation’, I say ‘planning’.
9 I also repeatedly reminded him he still hasn’t skim-coated the room Bridgette and I drywalled.
10 He finishes these projects so fast when I can actually get him to start each one!!!! He did maybe a day or a day and a half’s worth of work total, but it still took 2.5 months to finish it.
11 Valspar paint from Lowes is absolute garbage. It may be tempting to buy cheap paint, but the many many more layers you will have to use more than eat up any savings.
12 Another Sergiu Specialty!!!
13 No small task for a small triangular-walled room!
14 I dropped enough foreshadowing, this should not be a surprise.

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