Posted by Ash
When we moved into our new home, we found an old, tall tower style CD holder shelf that the previous owners had left. It was supposed to be screwed into the wall, but the screws were loose. Seeing it as a hazard, Eileen wanted to remove it and toss it, but I had a feeling that we could repurpose it one day into something more useful. So off it went into the corner of the garage where it sat for almost a year.
As the months went by, I was starting to regret my decision of keeping the tower because it was always getting in my way when working in the garage. Then, one day as I was looking for some cashews in the pantry, I noticed something very interesting.
One side of the pantry had an extra thick wall. It was actually twice the thickness of a regular wall. How unusual, I thought. My mind immediate jumped to storage. If there was empty space in that wall, it could open up the doors for all sorts of pantry storage projects.
Ever since I built a sliding spice shelf in our previous home (in between the fridge and the wall), I had been eager to come up with something similar for our new home. The pantry was getting difficult to navigate with all our spices, and we could never find anything we needed. Unfortunately, there was no decent space to build the equivalent, so I needed other options for spice storage. This thick wall was the perfect solution.
First, I needed to assess the wall situation better. I needed to know how much space was available inside this wall. For all I knew, it could have been thick to accommodate a central air duct. I did some knocking on the wall and it sounded very hollow. Still, I needed to know what was inside before unnecessarily ripping off a large chunk of drywall just to find the area impractical for use.
I took to the Internet and purchased a very cheap endoscope camera for my computer. The endoscope would provide eyes into the wall and allow me peer around without causing too much damage. When it arrived, I hooked it up to my laptop, tested it out a bit to get a feel for it. Pictured below is the endoscope camera, which plugs into the computer via USB.
To give you an example of the detail it gives, I placed the camera inside my son's fire engine, and displayed on the computer screen is a very detailed profile of the driver.
After testing it out, I then stuck it into a very small hole I drilled into the wall. The camera had an adjustable light, so I could see inside the dark wall. I looked up and down, and all around, and the endoscope revealed what I suspected all along - a lot of empty space!
Now that I knew what type of space I was dealing with, I had to brainstorm the best way to make use of it. It was a tall vertical space, so I was thinking along the lines of a vertical shelf to hold spices. I went off into the garage to plan out designs for a custom-built shelf to fit the area.
In the garage, I saw some scrap wood resting in the corner that could be turned into shelf pieces, but once again, that tall tower style CD shelf was in the way. The CD shelf was really starting to test my patience. I was about to finally toss it out when I had a eureka moment. You know, that CD shelf looked very similar in size to the space that I discovered lurking in the pantry walls. I anxiously took out my tape measure and did an exact comparison. The shelf would indeed fit into the wall!
Good thing we did not throw out the CD shelf (more reason for Eileen to start accepting my hoard-ish ways). It seemed like the perfect solution for spice storage. It was not very deep, so it wouldn't hold large cans or boxes, but would easily hold spices and baking materials, which was exactly what we needed.
I could have used the shelf unaltered, but I decided to make it a little shorter for the pantry. The full height would have sent it nearly to the ceiling, which would made it a little impractical for food storage that high.
After the shelf was shortened, I needed to cut the hole in the drywall. I first used a pencil and ruler to outline the exact cutout on the wall. Then I used a special drywall handsaw (commonly called a jab saw) to cut out the hole. It was a little messy working with the drywall, so I kept my shop vac close by.
After the hole was made, I inserted the shelf into the wall to get a feel for how it would look. It looked amazing! I couldn't wait for Eileen to see.
Now I needed to permanently affix the shelf. The shelf was not resting directly on the floor inside the wall (it was a few inches above the baseboard), so first I had to attach a 2 x 4 cross piece to rest the shelf on. I used my Kreg pockethole jig and some pockethole screws to attach both ends of a short 2 x 4 to the wall studs. I repeated the process to attach another cross piece above the shelf to secure the top. Then I slid the shelf in between the upper and lower 2 x 4 supports and attached the shelf permanently using some screws.
All that was left now was to apply some trim. I actually had a lot of extra trim left over from redoing some kitchen baseboard a few months prior. The trim I had originally purchased was too tall for the kitchen, so I had cut it shorter using my table saw. Good thing I held onto the cutoffs. They were the perfect size to use as trim for the new pantry shelf. It was already painted too. I secured the trim directly to the shelf using some finishing nails.
I adjusted the heights of the individual shelves to accommodate a variety of spice configurations, and then the pantry shelf project was complete. I loaded it up with all my spices and our baking materials, which freed up so much space in the pantry.
This was one of the more simple projects I’ve done recently for such a big reward. I completed the project in a few hours, and best of all, it was free!
I'm hoping to repurpose more of my stashed finds in the near future. What upcycling have you done? Leave us a comment - we would love to hear from you!
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Hi! We're Ash and Eileen, and we are sharing our home project stories with you. From crafty projects to home maintenance to more ambitious DIY endeavors, we hope our stories inspire you to check a few things off your project list! :)