DIY Pantry Lights

January 18, 2012 at 8:21 am | Posted in for the House, thrifty projects | Leave a comment
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Our house was built in 1971, and apparently the people who built it didn’t like light.  I had a very hard time getting my camera to take a photo of the pantry that wasn’t blacked out – even with all the kitchen lights on that corner stays dark.  The after photo really doesn’t show what a huge difference the lights make – when I stuck everything back in I had almost an extra shelf worth of space, since I could see everything and where it was going.  Being the cheap thrifty person that I am, I didn’t spend $40 on rope lights for my pantry, or even more for a fancy lighting system.  

Christmas lights are more economical than rope lights, even though they are the exact same thing an 18′ strand of rope lights cost $20, and  an 18′ Christmas rope light cost between $8-12.  After Christmas most stores mark holiday items down 50%, and a few weeks after that they go down to 75%, and sometimes even to 90% off if anything is left.  I found my lights for $6 a strand from Lowes marked down 40% a few days before Christmas, and $3.50 a strand from Walmart the day after Christmas.  (That’s another family holiday tradition- hitting the clearance sales December 26th.)

The lights came with little clips, and my intention was to randomly zig-zag them under the shelves.  But my Mom is brilliant, and she helped me hang them when she came to visit right after Christmas.  The lights run down the back of the pantry, behind the shelves, and make a loop under each shelf for even lighting.  I just screwed the clips in a circle on the underside of each shelf, replaced them all, and then ran the lights through the clips.  I also stapled zip ties to the wall in the center of the back of each shelf just to help hold things in place.

The bottom shelf is probably shows the lights the best – it makes a world of difference to be able to see what is in the pantry.   And for $12 and a few hour of my time you can’t beat it.

As a side note, yes, that is a rather massive amount of canned veggies for a family of 3.  I shop sales/coupon, and really stock up when the price is exceptionally low if I have the room to store it.  I love having my grains/beans in canisters – my in-laws bought some beans with moths in them and had to throw away most of their pantry a few years ago, so I started using canisters.  Last year I bought a bag of flour from the drugstore and it sat in my pantry for a month before I needed it.  I opened it up to find it was full of weevils, but the only thing they got into was a bag of sunflower seeds and some popcorn since everything else was sealed in canisters.  I don’t buy grains from the drugstore anymore since their stock isn’t rotated often, and I always check under the flaps and in the crevices of any grocery I buy from the drug or discount store.

I wanted to update this post to mention another way to lighten a dark pantry – white paint!  I had some leftover white paint, and wanted to seal the untreated wooden shelves, so decided to randomly paint the inside of my pantry white last year.  Between the lights and paint my pantry is MUCH easier to see in, and therefore easier to use.  🙂

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