The Built-In Pantry Makeover That Took An Unexpected Turn

I had a definite plan going in for this built-in pantry update. Granny Smith Apple green paint with dark wax on the exterior to make it a stand-alone piece in our small kitchen. Why apple green? It's the accent color in the adjacent dining room and living room and I wanted to carry it into the kitchen. I set out to prep for paint over the stained finish when the makeover took an unexpected turn.

Built-In Kitchen Pantry Makeover With Wire Cloth Doors

Built-In Kitchen Pantry Makeover


But before I get into all of that, the motivation for finally giving our built-in pantry a makeover was Furniture Fixer Upper Day. Six talented furniture painting friends come together on the fourth Thursday of every month to breath new life into furniture. I've included links to my friend's makeovers at the bottom of this post.

I've had this project on the queue for a year and it feels good to have it off the list thanks to our group. Last month I turned my parent's first dresser from when they married in the 50s into a DIY Faux Apothecary Cabinet. Because of the sentimental value, I'm hoping it stays in the family.

A little history about this pantry

But first I should share a little bit of history about this piece because it wasn't always a pantry.

Built-In Kitchen Pantry Makeover China Cabinet Before

Formerly a small hutch that came with our oak dining room set purchased in the early 90s. When we needed more storage in our small kitchen, we split the hutch in two. The base was converted into a small island and the top into this custom DIY built-in pantry. I wrote about it here in my Repurposed China Cabinet Into Kitchen Pantry Plus Island post.

Why buy new when you can repurpose what you already have. ~Marie

Built-In Kitchen Pantry Before Makeover

How prepping for paint changed the direction of this pantry makeover

I say it all the time, prep is the most important step and the one I dread the most but it must be done for a lasting finish. I spent a few hours sanding the brown stain to knockback the glossy finish so the primer I planned on using would have some bite.

The plan was to use a clear primer so when I distressed the apple green paint color, the dark brown would show through the paint.

Then I took a coffee break and stood by the kitchen sink looking at the pantry and in an instant, the direction for this makeover took a sudden turn.

I liked what I saw!

Loved how the dark walnut looked without the glossy finish but even more, I loved the character of the distressed edges around the doors.

Built-In Kitchen Pantry Makeover Distressed

And instead of a granny smith apple green painted on the outside, we now have it on the inside.

Built-In Kitchen Pantry Makeover Interior After

...and the glass doors have been replaced with a more farmhouse wire mesh cloth.

Built-In Kitchen Pantry Makeover After

When comparing the before and after photos it doesn't look like I did much to this pantry but believe me, many hours were spent on this makeover.

Here's how I did the kitchen pantry makeover

This post contains affiliate links so you can see what products I used or recommend for this project. At no cost to you, we receive a small commission if you make a purchase.

Plan B - reversing the order of the apple green

So I set out to prep the upper interior of the pantry much the same way I did the exterior, sanding the stained wood to give the clear primer some bite. 

Built-In Kitchen Pantry Makeover Clear Primer

Once the last coat of primer dried the recommended 45 minutes, I set out to paint the interior. It took three coats of Behr Granny Smith Apple chalk finish paint to cover the brown, waiting two hours between each coat.

Built-In Kitchen Pantry Makeover Granny Smith Apple Green

Painting Tip

I find Behr chalk paint to be thick and so I thin it out with a few tablespoons of water to a more cream-like consistency. The paint goes much further this way and moves easier with the brush.

Built-In Kitchen Pantry Makeover Apple Green Interior

To paint the shelves or not to paint, that was the question

Once the interior was painted the decision was whether to paint the shelves green apple as well or leave them stained dark walnut. I hemmed and hawed for hours and asked my sister for her opinion when she came to visit and the consensus was to keep them stained for contrast.

Built-In Kitchen Pantry Makeover Painted Back and Staiined Shelves

Girl, tone down that apple green!

I didn't mind the bright apple green but I wanted a timeworn aged look for this pantry and toned the green down with dark wax. Working in sections with a round wax brush, and removing the excess with a lint-free rag.

Built-In Kitchen Pantry Makeover Dark Waxed Painted Back

Goodbye dated glass hello wire cloth

I was so glad to finally get rid of the old glass in the upper doors, I've been wanting that outta here for years. It won't go to waste, saving for just the right project someday.

The plan was to replace it with clear glass but after the makeover took the unexpected turn, I decided to go the wire cloth route instead. It's a fine 23 gauge hardware cloth with a 3/8-inch square opening.

Built-In Kitchen Pantry Makeover Wire Cloth Doors

Wire Cloth Cutting Tip

Make sure to wear safety goggles and gloves because the wire is sharp. Use the old door glass as a template for cutting the wire cloth. Cut it one square larger on all sides with wire cutters. Staple the wire cloth to the inside of the opening on the doors, making sure to angle the staples so they don't pierce through the front of the door. I found a very helpful wire cloth cutting video tutorial on YouTube that I hope will help.

Adding jewelry to the doors

I had some ceramic floral knobs with the same apple green in my stash and replaced the bronze knobs with those instead.

Built-In Kitchen Pantry Makeover Floral Knobs

The lower cabinets in our kitchen are also stained dark walnut so the built-in pantry ties in well with those. But I am going to sand them down and distress just like I did with the pantry.

So now what will be the stand-alone piece in the kitchen?

Next up, the bottom half of our old china cabinet - the small kitchen island. I have big plans for it but first finding just the right wine fridge.

Built-In Kitchen Pantry Makeover With Wire Mesh Doors

So what do you think, did I make the right choice leaving the built-in pantry stained brown? I get that the apple green isn't for everyone but it works in our home. See how we used it in our 80s Wall Unit Hack in the living room and in the living room reveal here.

If you have any questions about this makeover, please leave them in the comment section below or press the Contact Me button at the top of the blog to drop me an email. I love hearing from you!


Built-In Kitchen Pantry Makeover

Please join me by pressing the links below to see how my talented friend's transformed these furniture pieces.

Furniture Fixer Uppers Before August 2019
  1. Girl In The Garage
  2. Petticoat Junktion
  3. Confessions Of A Serial DIYer
  4. Salvaged Inspirations
  5. Just The Woods
  6. The Interior Frugalista (that's me)

I share my projects at these inspiring link parties.

30 comments

  1. Absolutely love it! I am trying to incorporate more color throughout my house...sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't...this worked beautifully and I think you made the right decision to use the green as an "accent"!

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    1. Hi Beck, I'm happy to hear you think I made the right choice with the apple green. It was hard to capture the true color of the pantry with the poor lighting in our kitchen but I'm quite pleased with the results. Never in a million years would I have ever thought that one day I'd be decorating my home with green. LOL

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  2. The results are amazing, Marie! You used a lot of creative ideas to transform this into a lovely pantry!

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    1. Thank you very much, Gail, that means a lot that you saw all the creative ideas that went into this makeover! Because at a glance between the before and after photos, it doesn't look like there is much of a change. Hugs from Canada xo

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  3. Love the chocolate with the lime green. And how clever to soften the green with the dark wax. A detail that makes such a difference. It's a fabulous piece! Enjoy! Enjoy!

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    1. Thank you very much, my friend, I'm glad you like the chocolate and lime green combo. Girl, had someone told me that one day I'd decorate my home with lime green I would've thought they were crazy. Here we are!

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  4. This looks fantastic, Marie! I think the pop of green is just enough...might have been too much if you did the whole piece! Worked out perfectly, and I love the mesh cloth in place of the glass! XOXO

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    1. Thank you very much my friend! I wish I could have captured the true colors of this piece but it was very challenging with the poor lighting in this room. It really does look lovely in person and suits our kitchen perfectly. Appreciate the visit and your sweet comments. 🤗 xo

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  5. Marie, I am in awe of your initial recreation of the hutch, and in love with your new look. Nailed it!

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    1. Thank you very much, glad you like both re-loves of this piece! Out motto is why buy new when you can repurpose what you already have.

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  6. Love the repurpose of your China cabinet it is amazing to say the least. The green apple accent is the icing on the cake.

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    1. Thank you very much, I'm glad to hear you like the granny smith apple green interior!

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  7. Hi! First time subscriber. Love the look of the apple green with the walnut. Looks like something you would see in an Irish pub.
    I’m changing my kitchen to a free standing kitchen. I purchased a large china cabinet that will be my pantry. Have you had any experience with building a free standing kitchen? Taking all our cabinets out, free standing white farm sink and china cabinet is our start. Thanks for any help in direction.

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    1. Hi Cathy - welcome 😀 I'm glad you like the pantry makeover! Sorry but I have zero experience with the free standing kitchen concept. I've seen photos online and love the look when done well. Sorry I can't offer any tips or suggestions but I wish you all the best with your kitchen transformation.

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  8. Marie, I think it looks fabulous! I really like the apple green accent color inside. This is an awesome piece that you've been able to update through the years when your style changes.

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    1. Thank you Jen, I'm glad you like the apple green interior! Our little china cabinet repurpose has been a godsend in our tiny kitchen for extra storage. It's our grandson's favorite cupboard because his snacks are stored there. LOL

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  9. Lots of farmhouse charm Marie. I'm glad you kept the green but toned it down just a bit. It looks great.

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    1. Hi Mary 🤗 Glad to hear you like the toned down granny smith apple green interior. Never in a million years would I have ever thought that one day my house would be accented with apple green...and here we are! LOL

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  10. Oh, my gosh, I have the exact same oak china cabinet! Even the hardware is the same! The glass in the doors is a little different, it is etched, but don't have the diamonds in the glass. I would love to paint but I can't bring myself to cover beautiful oak stain, even thought I'm tired of light oak. I would do it, but my husband would have a heart attack if I did! You did a great job.

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    1. Hi Linda! I'm not going to lie, I did feel some guilt staining over the original finish when we repurposed the hutch but I'm so glad we did because now I love it even more. The light oak just didn't work in our home anymore but I couldn't part with the hutch because of it's sentimental value. Another option, instead of re-staining your hutch could be removing the clear coat with a light hand sanding and apply a dark wax, removing the excess. It will nestle in the grain of the wood and darken the light wood just a bit. Try it in an inconspicuous spot to see if you like the look.

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  11. You know I actually gasped when I saw the picture with the wire mesh added Marie. WOW!!!!!! doesn't even come close to describing how stupendously gorgeous this makeover is. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pinned

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    1. Thank you very much, Michelle, I'm so glad you like the wire mesh switch out. I was a little nervous about it at first but I'm really liking it because our kitchen window is directly across from the pantry and there was always glare on the glass. Now you can clearly see what is displayed inside the upper pantry.

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  12. My son has his work cut out for him in the turn of the 20th century property he purchased. Lots of renovation work to go! I think some of your posts may serve as inspiration.

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  13. Hi Cie, so glad to hear you found our pantry conversion and other posts inspiring. Wow, that's quite the exciting undertaking your son has taken on. When we were much younger we wanted to do the same but it never happened. Wishing him luck with his renovation!

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  14. Marie,
    What a lovely transformation in your kitchen. I love the green color inside.
    Stop by Over The Moon Linky party since you are being featured.
    https://www.eclecticredbarn.com/2019/09/over-moon-linky-party_8.html
    Hugs,
    Bev

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    1. I saw that this morning, Bev, thank you so very much for the feature! I'm glad you like the pantry transformation. xo

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  15. Your talent consistently stuns me. I don't know how that is possible I should expect it. I congratulate you on taking the big changes this piece needed. Its spectacular Marie. Pinning and Sharing.

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    1. You just made my day, Leanna, thank you so much for your kind words, I really do appreciate it! xo Thanks for the pin and share too 🤗

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  16. That green really looks nice with the brown, and I love the chicken wire, too! Perfect for your home!

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    1. Thank you so much, Julie! I tell ya, this one surprised me. LOL

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I always enjoy hearing from you so please don't be shy! I read and reply to every single comment.