Kitchen Remodel, Butler’s Pantry & Murphy Door?

Remember back in May when I posted that we were seriously thinking about gutting our kitchen and making the space over? Well, after having 3 different kitchen designers look at it over the summer and design layouts to consider, we decided it doesn’t make sense at this time.

The main reason being is that it wouldn’t look that different since the footprint and cabinet placement and color would be the same.

We would also have to totally gut the kitchen floor to ceiling which would mean we would have to replace the flooring not only in the kitchen, but most of the first floor since it is open concept.

To get a cabinet layout that I wanted, we would have to go with custom cabinetry where they could be made with less depth so an island would fit. With stock size base cabinets – the design programs the kitchen designer’s used won’t even allow an island to be placed in the floor plans.

Small white kitchen with driftwood grey wood floors.

So no kitchen remodel for the time being, if we win the lottery, then we would like to add an addition to the house to double the size of the kitchen. But I am content with what I have and will keep enjoying making the space the best it can be.

Even though the remodel is a no go, I am happy that I went through the kitchen designing process to see what could be. One designer I met with told me how to look at my current kitchen with new eyes. She said what we could do is add space, not size. I had to repeat this a few times in my head until I understood what she was saying.

Basically, find a way to use the existing space you have better. OK – I am pretty good at doing this, for instance when I found a small rolling cart to use as a kitchen island. It is used constantly. I needed to look harder at ways to create more space. So over the last few weeks that is exactly what I did and then some.

I have been going through every cabinet, closet and drawer, not only in the kitchen, but the entire house. I have been donating what we no longer use or need, which in turn opened up space for new energy and opportunities.

I have taken car loads of stuff to the local thrift shop. After a few trips, the volunteers there asked me if we were moving! :-)

Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions

Nope, I just want less, less stuff, less items sitting around getting in the way simply because I can’t make a decision about any of it.

I have even donated the coffee table that was in my living room. It got picked up last week along with other furniture pieces I know I will no longer use. The decluttering process was therapeutic – I feel liberated!

decluttering kitchen

I have decluttered the contents of my house and kitchen cabinets many times before this, but this time, I was ruthless. If we hadn’t used something in the past few years, out to the thrift store it went. My husband, Ed was all on board which made the process pretty painless.

For More Space: Embracing the Murphy Door Concept

A while back I read an article about Murphy doors and was intrigued. It gave me the idea to create a room for kitchen storage or if I want to be fancy, a butler’s pantry of sorts that would be in a room of its own, but easily accessed from the kitchen.

Closed pocket door in hallway.
My studioffice is behind this pocket door.

Much like Murphy beds, Murphy doors conceal a surprise—but the surprise isn’t simply an unexpected sleeping space or nook. With Murphy doors, the secret is often an entire hidden room. In addition to their hidden pathway—making them great space-saving solutions for smaller homes like mine.

Wood pocket door in the entrance to storage Butler's pantry space.
My food pantry is next to this pocket door.

The Murphy door idea is becoming popular with homeowners now as it is a fix for one of the most common homeowner woes—a shortage of storage.

Wood pocket door at entrance to room where one side is being transformed to become a Butler's pantry and kitchen storage area.

I could implement the concept in my studioffice using one half of the room as a butler’s pantry. I however, don’t need to add an actual Murphy door as the room already has the next best thing – an existing pocket door that can act like a Murphy Door.

The door does not have a doorknob and when closed it can resemble a paneled wall especially if I paint it or do some sort of trompe l’oeil art on the door.

Creating More Storage Spaces for the Kitchen

Using one half of my studioffice made so much sense to turn into a sort of butler’s pantry since it is right next to the kitchen and pantry closet, plus I no longer did computer work at the worktable I created in the room. I prefer working at my kitchen table where there is a better view of the lake.

Without needing a sit down work area in the room anymore, creating a new function on one side of the room for larger and less used kitchen items, as well as bulk foods we get at Costco was a no brainer.

cleaning out studioffice

We initially thought building a wall of cabinets with a counter using stock cabinets would be the way to go, but then I decided before we spend time and money, lets use something we already own first to see if having less-used kitchen items adjacent to the kitchen functions as we think it will day to day.

Pocket door in doorway of a room used for kitchen storage and a DIY decorator studio.

What we used instead of custom building a butler’s pantry was a forgotten and now vintage IKEA wall unit that we used in the basement of our previous house.

When we first moved to the lake house, the wall units didn’t fit anywhere, so we took them apart and stored it all in the attic thinking we may give it to one of our daughters one day. I am glad we saved it.

Looking at a Pocket door from inside the room being changed to a kitchen storage area.

Luckily when we took it apart, we organized all the screws, nails and shelf brackets into baggies, as well as labeled every piece and documented it all with photos.

two file drawers placed into a shelving unit from IKEA

After bringing all the pieces down from the attic, it went together pretty fast.

Where the two file cabinet are placed, was a space with a turntable for a TV. We threw the turntable out and found the two file cabinets fit well in the space.

large and heavy pots stored in a cabinet in new room where half will act as a butler's pantry.
White pitchers being stored in a Butler's pantry cabinet.

Now we have more storage space for kitchen items that we want to keep handy, like my heavy Dutch ovens. In the kitchen cabinet I had them in they had to be stacked on top of each other to fit in the cabinet.

I use these a lot, and it was a lot of work getting to the one I needed to use. Now there is enough space for me to simply grab the one I need, no more stacking and unstacking needed.

Vintage IKEA storage baskets and boxes in a shelving unit.

I am still organizing the shelves and making labels for everything to help me keep it organized.

So far, both Ed and I are loving how our new storage area/Butler’s pantry has given us more space in the kitchen cabinets.

Ideas to Make The Most of Kitchen Space

For the kitchen itself, I will keep tweaking and embracing the positive aspects of the space. Where it lacks features, I will continually try to come up with creative solutions to make the kitchen work better for the way we live and move around in the room.

For instance, we can retrofit the cabinets under the cooktop with sliding shelves, pull-outs or baskets. Doing this will give us two levels of space in each cabinet which will double what we can store in them.

Kitchen drawer used as a desk drawer.

I can also style areas of the kitchen differently to give new life to the space seasonally or on a whim.

I would like to find more rectangular and square baskets to organize the contents in all the drawers – not only a few.


And adding a surprise pop of color in the way of a DIY Drawer Liner where you don’t expect it always turns what looks unattractive, look so much better.

Now that we have opened up storage space in the kitchen, I have restyled the open shelves as well as added something new on the wall in the kitchen. Both turned out even better than I thought they would. I can’t wait to show you in my next post. Stay tuned.

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  1. Beautiful! Love your idea for a new pantry. My pantry is actually my basement stairs. I had my husband hang 4” deep coated wire shelves on one side of the stairway. It’s been a lifesaver since our kitchen is so small.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Laurie – Love hearing creative space/organizing ideas like you have done using the wallspace on the basement stairs. Smart!

  2. I had a similar shaped kitchen in my last home and really felt the need for a small island but space was tight. Here is what I did. I measured, allowing for walk space, and then mocked up a narrow custom sized “island” from cardboard boxes cut to size. I even painted one side to get the look I was considering. After a week of working around it (and slightly adjusting the placement) it was a go. A local cabinet maker did a CAD drawing. We selected a trash pullout design with one top drawer and small shelves on the one short end, a custom blue color and a quartz top from his remnant stash. Fantastic! It really made the kitchen so much more functional and attractive. And, although not cheap, much cheaper than a full reno!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi AF – Thanks for telling me about how you got an island in your kitchen. I love the fact that you made a cardboard mock-up and lived with for a week. So Smart!!! I would like to do something similar. When I do I will be sure to post about it.

  3. Barbara H. says:

    Great job problem solving, Diane! Not only did you find the space you needed you are using something that was being stored. Might want to send that kitchen designer a nice little Thank You not for shifting your brain a little. You always come up with good solutions so you might have made it there on your own.

  4. What a great idea, it looks wonderful and I’m loving the green stock pot!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Gail – The green stock pot is from Macy’s – The Martha Stewart line. I needed a big one and Ed got it for me for Christmas a few years ago.

  5. We built a new laundry room in a better location and used the old one for a pantry. I love my new pantry as it holds So Much and it’s so easy to keep organized 🥰

  6. This is why I enjoy your blog so much. Thinking about how to use a space for your needs is key. Repurposing what you already have. And keeping what you need/love will eliminate so much frustration. This article should be required reading before any renovation! Thank you for sharing your great ideas!

  7. Not only do you now have the cleanest cabinets in town, you “found” more space without the cost of remodeling. I really like your thoughts on making your style for what works best for you.

  8. I love your creative solution! And all it took was thought! Great job, both of you. Years ago I moved into a small apartment and by adding a very small cabinet just outside the kitchen to serve as a coffee bar, I gained so much space in my kitchen! It’s amazing how much we can do when we (literally) think outside the box!

  9. I’m so glad you mentioned giving away your coffee table! More people should consider doing this. After my mom passed away I convinced my dad to get rid of a huge coffee table in the living room and a huge circular one in the family room. So much better! The two spaces look so much larger now and it’s much nicer not to have to walk around them to sit on the couches. I found 2 small rolling carts with shelves on Amazon that work as a surface now in case he needs a place for a drink, etc. Small baskets from the dollar store on the shelves store eyeglasses, tissues, remotes. Much more functional than the coffee tables that tend to accumulate clutter. The carts can just be pushed away when standing up or when not needed.

  10. Barbara Pilcher says:

    This is timely. I recently “found” space in my small laundry room just by doing as you did — rethinking what goes where. I looked for any space that was not utilized and found ways to keep supplies handy but out of sight, like adding a rolling wire cart from Amazon and storing lightweight things that are needed once a year on top of cabinets. Thank you for some new ideas, like the pretty drawer liner.

  11. Nice job rethinking your kitchen and re-purposing what you already had! We moved into a smaller house that we used as a long time rental this summer. We only plan to stay two years until we can sell and save some on taxes. My daughter has been living in it since 2020, and it has been hard integrating our things with hers. So many things taken to charity thrift shops. I miss the island and additional storage space it provided in our last house of 27 years. I have things stored in the garage, and under the stairs. My husband put up some wire wall mounted shelving from Home Depot to hold large appliances and baking and canned goods in the lower level. Doesn’t look as nice as yours, but you’ve definitely inspired me to get creative and make it look better. I’m tired of running all over to gather things as needed. Can’t wait to see what else you did.

  12. kate shaw says:

    Well your ideas turned up and just hit the spot I’ve been ringing my hands over! Small kitchen, too much stuff such that I cannot see what I need most times. Always appreciate your articles, clever in so many ways. Many thanks.

  13. Michele M. says:

    YES!!!!!!! Funny I just wrote you about needing to purge and then read this. Apparently we are thinking as one. Heh heh. Diane – this was a scathingly brilliant idea. Very well done and it looks great. Whoo hoo! You are going to be so happy now. : – )

  14. Ikea and your excellent brain to the rescue! The storage concept looks like it would work well for you!

  15. Well that was just a brilliant idea!! Perfect space to use!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Holly – Thanks. I wish I had thought of doing it sooner as an extension of our pantry closet that is right next to the doorway to the room.

  16. I love this! I am currently rethinking my kitchen layout with the same intention, use what I have. This new area looks like it holds a lot!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Suzane – I am thrilled to no longer have the items in my small kitchen no longer stacked everywhere so they fit. Having the new space feels like a luxury. Enjoy rethinking your kitchen. :-)