What is it about spring that makes you want to clean? I don’t necessarily like to clean, but come April 1st, I glance around my house and hate everything — from the color of the walls to the style of my furniture. I am suddenly acutely aware of all the dust and clutter, and start moaning to my family about how I could use a little more help around the house.

They see me go through this phase every spring, so they nod their heads and say, “OK, Mom, we will,” and continue texting on their phones.

One particular source of stress for me has been the lack of storage in my kitchen. All the stuff that I don’t have a place to store has overflowed into the living room, and onto our pool table. My Instant Pot, my crock-pot, Christmas décor I haven’t put away yet and a laundry basket full of assorted chips — Tostitos, salt and vinegar, and Ruffles — are on display for all to see. It’s embarrassing. Needless to say, not much pool is being played out there.

My biggest storage dilemma is where to keep all my Tupperware and other plastic stuff. Currently I keep all of it in an enormous storage bin that’s big enough to store an artificial Christmas tree. Yes, I have that much plastic stuff. And do you think I can ever find the matching lids? The bin sits out in the living room, next to the pool table. It looks like we’re moving or preparing for a garage sale.

In a perfect world, I would own a house with a walk-in pantry. A place where I could store everything from soup to nuts, crock-pots to cake carriers, and all my Tupperware. All the things I don’t use every day but like to have when I need them. We even considered moving just so I could finally have a pantry.

All the new-home builders get it. Women like pantries! I bet some women use it as a place to hide from their families for a few moments, and maybe eat Oreos or drink wine in there.

But we like our house, we love our neighbors and we adore our backyard. Could we give all that up for a pantry? We finally decided to have our existing cupboards upgraded with roll-out shelves, and build an additional set of cupboards. Not an inexpensive undertaking, but cheaper than buying a brand new house.

Fortunately, we happen to know an excellent cabinetmaker, so we gave him a call. Larry had a lot of great ideas. He drew a few sketches of my new “pantry.” It even had a wine rack! We set a date for the installation. What we didn’t anticipate was the domino effect that would soon follow.

The first little snag was that we needed to move the existing light switch for the kitchen to the opposite end of the wall, since our new pantry would cover it. This required hiring an electrician. This also called for drilling nine large holes (holes the size of cantaloupes) in our wall.

Let me just say that when I walked in and saw the nine enormous holes, I gasped. Our wall looked like some strange, vertical version of whack-a-mole! Our painter took one look at the wall and said we would need to hire a “tape and texture guy.” Where do you find one of those? And how much would it cost? The domino effect was in full-tilt.

My husband, Maury, headed to his favorite place for answers: Ace Hardware. He found an old-timer who probably owned his own hardware store at some point. Maury returned with everything he needed to patch the holes. A can of spray texturizer and a coat of paint and we had our wall back. Who needs a “tape and texture” guy when you have Ace Hardware and a husband whose middle name is MacGyver?  

The final and most disgusting job was to clean out my existing cupboard where the new roll-out shelves were going. I felt like Indiana Jones exploring a dark cavern somewhere in the Andes Mountains. I needed a miner’s helmet to see what was back there. Is that a bat?! Although there were no bats, I did throw out seven bags of stale and expired food. I found crackers from 2016 and Tabasco sauce from 2002.

As I cleaned out the last cupboard, way up top, I discovered I had another problem. Nope, those aren’t poppy seeds … Ugh. At some point, I must have had a furry freeloader up there. I guess a mouse is better than a bat. I grabbed the bleach.

Our new pantry went in yesterday. My Tupperware is neatly stored at the bottom — with their matching lids. My canned goods are neatly organized and my chips are out of the laundry basket, tucked away on a shelf all their own. The pool table is almost recognizable as a pool table.

I cannot tell you the peace of mind an organized pantry has given me. I just might have to celebrate with a few Oreos and a glass of wine. Happy spring!

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