Pantry Makeover + DIY Shelf Liners for Wire Shelves

My to-do list, which I started making at the beginning of August with the boys prepping to go back to school, is l-o-o-o-n-g. It’s hard for me to prioritize because I want to work on them all, but I finally decided to start with a couple of smaller projects, so I can feel some sense of accomplishment, and move on to the bigger projects later.

Last week, Matt took the pantry doors off for me so that I could finally get the pantry looking like I want. When we moved in, we had a few rooms professionally painted, and one was the kitchen. However, the painters were on a pretty tight schedule (and we were/are on a budget!), and we opted not to have them do the inside of the pantry.

here’s the before…

In my mind, it didn’t matter much…the doors would be closed all the time anyway, right? I can practically hear your laughter now, and I realize my thinking was errant. At our old house, the doors to our pantry swung open into the kitchen, so there was no leaving them open; you literally couldn’t walk through that area with the doors open. Here, the doors are like a closet, on sliders. And one door is open 99% of the time.

So the scuffed, light yellow, poorly-painted walls have been irritating me for a long while now.

But the much, much bigger problem was the shelving. I’d love to have a chat with the guy (yes, I’m sure it was a man) who decided wire shelving in a pantry is a good idea. Here’s why it’s not:

1. Hard to clean.
2. NOTHING STANDS UP ON IT.
3. If something spills up high, every shelf below it gets hit. Like those 2 times the honey fell over (complaint #2) and dripped below. I found honey on things for weeks. Maddening.

I’d priced out some options, the simplest of which would be getting plexiglass cut to fit the shelves. Um, yeah. That was about $140 for 5 9″x58″ shelves. No flipping way. Option 2, also pricey and likely to never get done, was to replace them with wood.

So that left me with Option 3, officially titled, “Get Creative and Work This Out for $20 or Less.”

And I did. 10 pieces of white posterboard from the dollar store + 2 rolls of contact paper at Target = grand total of $18.09, with tons of contact paper leftover, because I had to buy a second roll for $5.99 and didn’t need that much. If you have wire shelving of your own and want a cheap and effective solution, here’s how I did it:

1. I cut the 28″ posterboard into (2) 8.5″ strips, and then added the additional 2″ from the leftover posterboard to the middle of the 2 longer pieces. I taped them together with packing tape.

step 1: create the posterboard layers.

2. Make a SECOND layer of posterboard the same length, except line them up short-long-long instead of long-short-long like the first one. Put a couple of pieces of packing tape around the edges to hold the 2 layers of posterboard together. It’s ok if this isn’t perfect…just do your best to cut straight lines.

3. Here’s where you’re going to want someone around to help you. Cut your contact paper to fit all the way around all sides of your shelf liner (because you can see the underside through the wires). Peel off the paper, and lay the layered posterboard on the end. Carefully stick one side down, smoothing as you go, and then do the other. Then, flip it over and try to work bubbles out of the front.

one strip on!

4. Remember to flip the liner back over, so that your seams can all go on the bottom of the liners. Repeat with additional pieces of contact paper until your entire liner is covered.

TIP: do not choose striped contact paper. Lining all of that up would drive you crazy.

I decided on dark grey for the inside of the pantry. Not only will it hide scuffs well, but it’s also a nice segue into the adjacent playroom/boys’ workroom, where the section below the {hated} chair rail will be getting the same color in the coming weeks or months.

i hadn’t seen clips for wire shelving like these before, where the wall anchor is built into the actual clip, therefore making them not exactly removable for painting. this was annoying, to say the least.

this was tricky…9′ ceilings but only 10″ of depth inside the pantry to get me and a ladder in to paint the higher parts…i only did what i absolutely had to, because this was not fun. also, blog world, meet my painting clothes. they’re pretty.

picture taken this morning, but this is what it looked like by 11:30pm, after many, many breaks and distractions. finished!

ta-da! of course, we have to put the doors back on, but my work here is finished. also, everything expired was thrown out, thus giving us more room.

these bottles used to have to be leaned up against something else so that they wouldn’t fall over. not anymore!

I’m so happy with the outcome, and even happier that I got it all done in one day with the help of my sister!

8 responses to “Pantry Makeover + DIY Shelf Liners for Wire Shelves

  1. It looks GREAT!!! The color looks nice, and patterned contact paper is very forgiving! I’ll bet it’s almost downright fun to pass by & look at it now! You & Hayley did super–and for so cheap!

  2. Very cool! Good job, ladies!

  3. I painted my kitchen a similiar dark gray! I also lined my kitchen cabinets with the same contact paper. You did a great job!

  4. Hi! I was wondering how you kept the cardboard from slipping off of the shelves? Did you glue it down? Thanks!

  5. Vinyl flooring works great. Comes in attractive patterns, easy to cut and install. Very rugged and easy to clean. The remnant rolls are quite inexpensive.

  6. Seems like a great idea if your shelves bump up against the jamb of the door but wouldn’t the shelves slide forward on stand-alone shelving?

  7. Looks great if your shelves bump up against the door jamb of the pantry door but wouldn’t the shelves slide forward on stand-alone shelves?

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