For those of us with kitchens that are lovable but on the smaller end of the spectrum, we recognize the high value of cupboard space and the importance of using that space to its maximum potential. The spice cupboard is one place where many space-saving opportunities might present themselves, but it can be a less glamorous project to tackle without a plan or idea.
This tutorial aims to show a very easy, inexpensive, and quick way to double the space of one of your spice shelves…and thereby lessen the possibility of being attacked by falling spice jars every time you open your cupboard door. (Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?)
Here’s how to build your own spice shelf.
Begin by emptying out your spice cupboard. If you’re only looking to use this tutorial to expand one of your shelf spaces, just empty out that one.
Give the now-empty shelf a good wipeout.
Carefully measure the depth of your cupboard, from the back of the shelf up to whatever frame/trim you have at the front of your cupboard. This example’s depth is 11”.
Next, carefully measure the precise width of your shelf, from the narrowest point anywhere in the cupboard. In this example, the trim extends into the shelf width 1-1/2”, so instead of a 10-1/2” width, I’m measuring a 9” width.
Take an L-shaped trim piece that has a precise right angle as the inner bend and is at least as wide as your extending cupboard trim pieces. (Remember how the trim on this example’s cupboard extended 3/4” on each side at the cupboard opening? This means the L-shaped trim piece had to be at least 1/4″ greater than 3/4″, so at least 1” on one side.) This example uses a spare trim piece out of MDF. No problem. High-five for using spare materials, in fact.
Measure, then cut your L-shaped trim piece to the length of your cupboard depth. (This example is 11”.)
Repeat for a second piece of L-shaped trim.
Take your two trim pieces inside and verify that they fit snugly, and precisely, along your cupboard walls. Next, take the tallest spice jar that you want to be on the “ground level” of your spice shelf, and use it as a reference to determine where you want your second shelf to go.
Measure and mark this placement.
Use small nails (you don’t want them poking through to the other cupboards nearby) to hammer the L-shaped trim piece in place. I simply broke off some 5/8” brad nails and pounded those in, five or six per trim piece to hold it in place.
Measure and repeat for the other side, so your two trim pieces are in place, ready to take on your new spice shelf.
Oh yeah. The spice shelf. Let’s create that. Take a 1/4” piece of plywood and cut it to size, meaning cut it to the precise depth of your cupboard (11” in this case) and 1/8” less than the width of your narrowest part (shelf width is 8-7/8” in this case, which is 9” minus 1/8”).
Next, take a piece of flat trim 1/4″ x 1”. This will be cut to comprise your spice shelf’s walls. Technically, you don’t need walls on your new spice shelf, but the idea is this: Assuming you don’t have lots of vertical space to share, your new shelf will be removable so you can easily find and access the spices located in the back of the cupboard. If you want to play with fire and pull out a shelf full of spices without a wall to hold them somewhat in place, have at it. I personally don’t love flying spice jars, so I’m going to keep them corralled.
Cut two lengths of your 1” trim at the exact depth of your cupboard (in this case, 11”). These will be, obviously, the side walls of your shelf. Then cut two pieces that are slightly less than the measured width of your plywood shelf. Measure the width of two trim pieces (in this case, 1/2″ because 1/4″ + 1/4″ = 1/2″), and subtract this number from the width of your plywood shelf. In this example, that length is 8-7/8” – 1/2″ = 8-3/8”. Cut two pieces of 1” trim at this length.
Grab some wood glue.
Apply a thin line of wood glue to one side of one of your longer (e.g., 11”) trim pieces.
Place the trim piece on the side of your plywood (rough side of plywood facing up or down, your choice), and clamp into place.
Take some short brad nails. I believe the shortest are 5/8”.
Flip your shelf over and nail the trim piece into place from the bottom of your shelf (through the plywood). Be careful that nails are close enough to the edge that they catch the trim piece and don’t float out on the inside of your shelf walls. Check periodically to make sure you’re hitting the trim and only the trim with the nail ends.
Wipe off any excess glue from the outer edge and inner corner of your shelf.
Your first shelf wall is attached and is pretty secure at this point. It’s time to attach the other walls, starting with one of the shorter trim pieces.
Glue, then nail your second wall into place in the same way.
Place two nails at the corner to hold the trim pieces together. Add the second short trim piece and then the final long trim piece as walls onto your shelf.
It looks good!
You can add as many or as few brad nails as you feel comfortable with, really. I aimed for a nail every 2” or so.
Now lightly sand the entire shelf and walls with fine sandpaper.
Grab a can of spray paint + primer. I chose white because the rest of my spice cupboard shelves are white, although you could definitely do something a little more fun and funky!
Use light strokes to spray paint the top, bottom, and sides of your spice shelf and walls.
Load up your taller spices on the lower portion of your spice shelf.
When your shelf is dry, fill it with shorter spice containers (or whatever containers you were planning on filling it with).
Load the removable shelf onto your shelf mounts.
If you want a little bit of extra adornment, just to make your cooking heart happy, go ahead and add some washi tape as trim onto your new spice shelf.
It’s the simple things, really, that make form + function a dream come true.
More Pantry Ideas with Spice Storage
DIY Pantry Remodel
The reason why this project is amazing is because it literally gives you a chance to turn a boring kitchen closet that’s normally a mess and used to store detergents or other cleaning tools and supplies into an organized pantry that can really free up your kitchen.
As expected, you’re going to have to remove the existing shelves and, based on whatever you want to store and the distance you want to have between your shelves, there are some measurements to be taken and marks to be made. It’s best if you make the cuts based on the size of the future pantry.
Some of the tools that you’re going to need for such a project include a lever, measuring tape, pencil, reciprocating saw, shelves, and the required hardware to mount everything in place. When the project is over, you’re going to be able to enjoy a very cool pull-out cabinet and drawer that offers plenty of space to store food.
Custom Walk-In Pantry
Making a walk-in pantry can be very intimidating, especially when you consider all the work one has to put behind its mere remodelling. However, few DIY home renovation projects are more rewarding, and the reveal for this project has left us speechless.
This pantry is designed with all the elements needed to make the best use out of the space: from storage for small appliances to snack drawers. It uses two IKEA kitchen cabinets, as all the other shelves are custom-built.
Naturally, the measurements for the materials, which are all specified in the tutorial, can be adjusted to best fit your existing space, but you are going to need quality wood for shelving (doesn’t have to be expensive) and the tools required to measure, mark, and drill holes.
This pantry is also designed with a countertop that’s nothing more than IKEA’s butcher block, but the contrast between that brown and the white used throughout the entire pantry is just top-notch.
DIY Pantry Makeover
When you think about a pantry makeover, it just sounds so intimidating. It makes a lot of people want to quit before they even get started. However, these “after” pictures are so inspiring, they should give everyone who is looking to remodel the pantry a good push into doing just that.
This project uses a considerable number of tools and materials, including table saw, wood filler, utility knife, impact driver, sandpaper, a generous list of lumber in specific cuts, and a plan which is laid out for you so there will be no confusion once you get to work.
What we also love about this project is the list with all the costs divided into material categories, so it would seem like it takes less than $500 to remodel your entire pantry (based, of course, on its size).
DIY Pantry Shelves
If you have a smaller reach-in pantry, there is always room for improvement, especially if you learn how to make your own shelves in custom sizes and based on what it is that you’re looking to store.
Unlike the other projects we’ve looked at before, this one actually uses less materials, which are mostly a few boards, some screws, some L brackets, a nail gun, a stud finder, and a level.
One of the best things about this tutorial is that it teaches you what you need to take into account before actually getting to work, because a pantry size and configuration that works for one household might not work for yours.
Also, the fact that this pantry is concealed by a sliding barn door is just off the charts! It gives the kitchen a very cozy and farmhouse-style charm, you simply have to consider whether it fits into your space.