Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pantry Styling

One of my favorite features of my house is the vintage 1920's pantry. It retains the original cast iron sink and built in cabinets. While I love it, it's been challenging to work out how to use it. Part of me wants it to look like the 1920's still! But I also want it to be a very usable space and not like a museum.

Finally, I think I'm starting to get it organized the way I want. At first, I didn't know what to put in it; canned goods, dry goods, linens, kitchen tools? Soon, I established an under stairs closet as the canned goods storage place. A rolling cart with storage then held the dry goods. So, I started to think of the pantry as storage for all decorative kitchen and household items and tools. Part of my trouble at first was just putting too much stuff in it. I've removed almost all my vases and cache pots which are now stored in the basement on original, rustic shelving in the 'root cellar' room. (Possibly, a whole other blog post subject matter, if it ever gets cleaned up and organized. LOL!)

The sink is charming to look at, but sloppy to use and lord help you if you drop something in it!!! It makes a delightful home for a very large plant that overwhelmed my mother and ended up with me, not that I really have any room for it! I water it by turning on the tap. I fill my watering can at this sink, but don't use it much otherwise. I have the original drain board for it, but am storing that in the barn at the moment.

The glass fronted shelves are in pretty good shape, considering. While I use the clear glass nested bowls (on the left) almost daily, the other stuff is for occasional use and decoration. This flash photo makes the wood brighter than it really is. The striped fabric showing to the left of the sink is part of our patio cushions. I have them squished in the corner for storage.

Here is a detail of the middle section with my pitchers, cake stand, wire baskets and new compotes.

And this photo shows the drawers and door for storage beneath the glass fronted shelves.

Mixed in with the things I use are some vintage kitchen tools and some vintage boxes of extracts, silver 'Jiffy Jems' and some bottles of food coloring. Don't worry, I do not use them!!! My Grandmother found them, lost at the far back of one of her cabinets when she was cleaning out and knew I'd like them.

The Jiffy Jem jar is kind of cute because it was designed to be a shaker bottle after you were done with the jems that are too large for the holes in the top. They were made by an old Boston/New England food company, but I don't know a date or anything specific about Jiffy Jems. Looking at the pic, I guess I should clean it a little!

The food coloring is by a company called Burnett's and the 'color kit' was possibly introduced around 1939, but I don't know how long they produced it.

I love the tiny, labeled glass bottles inside! They are 2.25 inches tall.

Opposite the built in shelves, I have a dry sink style piece of furniture which is a handy place for the Panini press and holds linens.

We have added a few modern cabinets opposite the original ones that match those in the adjacent kitchen.

The little ceiling light appears to be original, with a vine and grape motif. I know it needs a cleaning, but every time I take it down is a chance to break it!

I do have an amusing story about the pantry. When I randomly picked a farmer out of the classifieds to come till our garden, it turned out that his family were the descendants of the family that built/first lived in our house. His relatives only lived here briefly before moving to another home, but he said that the grandmother never forgot her pantry and always missed it and reminisced about it, wishing for another one like it! I invited his family into the house to see it for the first time! I'm not sure they were all that impressed after hearing such praise of it for so many years, but I think they were happy to see it still there and appreciated.

Recently, I got an inexpensive used copy of a book called The Pantry: It's History and Modern Uses . It has some inspiring ideas for people with pantries or those who want to build a new one as they have come back into fashion. A fun image in it is this war-time ad for Ball Canning Jars stating "Now I am really PROUD of MY pantry". (I've posted a cropped version of it.) It would be fun to find a print of an ad like this for my pantry wall!

I'm not really sure the best way to treat the wood beyond basic washing (using very little water). I would like to figure out how to best maintain the finish. I still need to figure out how I want to line the shelves. I have contact paper on them, but only stuck down in the corners as I didn't want to be scraping it up at some point. (I think there are still some scraps of very old contact paper underneath it.) It has begun to roll along the edges. I am thinking it would be fun to have vintage shelf edging paper, but have to look into where to buy it. Also, I should sew a 'skirt' for around the old sink to hide the legs and pipes beneath it. I need to figure out how those are constructed and attached. Some new ones seem to be attached using Velcro. I did have a scrap of light fabric attached with magnets for a little while, but it wasn't quite wide enough so I was just using it to see what a skirt would look like. If anyone has ideas about maintaining the old finish, liners or edging, or sink skirt patterns, please let me know!


2paw said...

That is so interesting, here a pantry is just separate shelves in the kitchen or a little room adjacent, I love your sink and the lovely unit. I have an old sideboard and table that were my nan's and I wipe them with a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice!!!

Kristen said...

Your built-in pantry is beautiful. I didn't realize you lived in an older house. How cool about meeting the relatives of the original owner.

knitseashore said...

I loved reading your post; it makes me miss my old house in Milford (though we didn't have a pantry there).

Have you tried Murphy's oil soap for your wooden cabinets? I think it might be gentle enough for them.

Are you looking for the paper lace edgings for your shelves? I know I have seen it somewhere, and if you are, when I come across it I'll forward you the link.