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Before & After: From a Gnarly Furnace Room to a Rad Pantry

The room where the hulking gas furnace & aging gas water heater was not exactly featured in the real estate listing for home. But when I saw it, I saw potential immediately.

  • First - it's literally just off the kitchen.

  • Second - with our plans to immediately remove the fossil-fuel burning gas furnace and replace with a way more efficient multi-split heat pump, I knew this was a SERIOUSLY underutilized space that could make my pantry dreams come true!

So yeah, I nearly squealed when the furnace was out, folks. Shelves were imminent! Along with that, I donated the old gas water heater to an old man in the neighborhood and our plumber replaced it with a beautiful new Rheem heat pump (AKA hybrid) water heater (hello, $750 in rebates!), since the room met the WH's space requirements and as a bonus would ensure the room stayed cool. We repurposed the old cabinet to the garage for garden storage, was aplenty!

The back wall was a perfect spot for all the "equipment", from the food processor to the meat grinder to the hand mixer to all the baking things I don't use on a daily basis but still want to keep (cake & pie pans, etc.) And of course FOOD! My zero-waste habit is a happy addiction, and with the mason jars filled from our mega trip to the local co-op's bulk aisle, I was over the moon. Low-depth art shelves - like in our last kitchen - were perfect for the food, and bare 2x12's on iron brackets drilled right into the studs fit the bill for the kitchen tools, not to mention a shipment of bulk organic bread, pastry and semolina flours I got in from Eden Foods today (Aside: Eden is SO much more ethical than Azure by a mile! No flaky drop coordinators, no company that won't guarantee the food you paid for will actually BE on the truck, no managers that don't care if the drop date, time or location suddenly gets changed. Azure screws you if you can't drop everything to obey their DC's frequent, random changes).

What I love as well is that there is still more room for shelves! Notice you don't see any canned sauces, jams, etc., filling up here, and that's because we knew we were moving before we told anyone, so only had 4 tomato bushes and a few pepper plants that we harvested and pretty much just ate fresh before moving, and just cured the garlic and tossed it in a bag to come with us. There will be room next year to add on here, and that leads me to showing y'all the other side of the room...

We arrived to another generic white space - the seller's laundry area (including a gas dryer, ew), both appliances that I immediately sold on Craigslist before we even moved in (we negotiated 3+ weeks to vacate the old house, giving us the luxury of getting much of the needed contractor & DIY work done BEFORE we slept our first night here), and put the proceeds towards the purchase of the top-of-the-line - and so worth it - GE Profile heat pump washer-dryer combo. It's a beast, and it's fantastic, folks. Unlike the W/D combos of old, this one is full size. And furthermore, it's not only heat-pump driven, but it's ventless - and 50% more efficient than traditional Energy Star dryers. We may do the clothesline thing in the summer, but we do appreciate a good dryer - particularly as this baby does king-size bedding without batting an eyelash. (And to not have to bend over to pull out and stuff the wet clothes into the dryer? The cherry on top!). NOTE: These are fucking 1) wait til the holiday sales where you'll save at least $300-400, and 2) look for an open box or floor model if possible (that saved us several hundred bucks as well), and 3) make sure to know learn your local energy efficiency programs offer. Ours up here had one for washer, one for dryer, and a 'bonus' incentive if we did it by 9/30, so we got another $275 in rebates in the mail from them the other day. Ultimately, it was the same cost as buying separate models .... without the crazy space hogging not to mention no worry about venting it (or cleaning those vents).

This then gave us a plug & play spot for our lil freezer to go (we downsized from the full size one, selling it as well before the move)! While I miss the upright one, we wanted to lighten our footprint - me in particular with meat consumption - so it's perfect for our salmon share and frozen fruits - like the Keitt mangoes that just came in for the short season (every year I buy a dozen or so and chop/freeze them for winter, including the Peruvian mango ceviche we both adore...)! And yep, selling the old one not only paid for this, it went into the kitty for cool stuff like the W/D combo :)

Finally, as neither of us are fans of closed cabinetry, I pulled off the doors of the one above these appliances, and this ultimately became the Canning Jar Storage area - I swear it felt like we had more boxes of empty mason jars than clothes, y'all...!

The kitchen photos, ooh la la, are coming soon...

You don't need a silver fork to eat good food. ~ Paul Prudhomme


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