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Where Bloggers Live: Simple Standardized Spice Organization and the College Living 2.0 Aesthetic

Welcome back to the monthly edition of Where Bloggers Live! I am lucky to have joined a terrific group of bloggers who give a peek into the places and spaces where they spend their time.

Today's topic is Kitchen Pantry...which is a bit awkward because I don't have a kitchen pantry! Not a built-in kitchen pantry room or a stand-alone cabinet. My husband and I have an apartment in the city that caters to child-free adults, and the space is allocated accordingly: a large walk-in closet in the bedroom (which I use to its fullest extent and then some, haha) and not much storage space in the kitchen...I assume because the expectation is that we'll be living mostly on restaurants, take out, and food delivery. My husband and I are reluctant chefs but we do cook almost all of our meals, so we do need space for food.

When I told him about the topic of this month's post, he said that our food storage is like living in a Costco, and I can't totally disagree. After all, I did pass two brown paper bags of food and a huge package of toilet paper in the hallway this morning that was reminiscent of one of those random pallets at a warehouse store. But we have not truly embraced the Costco décor scheme; in fact, we have a single designated food storage space (aka kitchen "pantry") as part of our College Living 2.0 home decoration aesthetic.

Oh, are you unfamiliar with this aesthetic? Understandable, I just made it up. These are the defining elements of College Living 2.0:

  • You live in a rental house/apartment. Having a mortgage or owning a place outright disqualifies for this aesthetic; see options under the Truly Adulting aesthetic umbrella.

  • The walls and carpets are the same original bland white/grey/beige they were when you moved in. (Note: stains on the carpet are permissible as long as they were accidents and not a styling choice.) If you would like to paint one or more of the walls in violation of the lease but are too lazy to do so, this falls under the Hypothetical Artiste aesthetic.

  • Walls are covered in posters in cheap-ish frames. (Posters without frames reference the Endless Childhood aesthetic. Wall art that is mostly on the floor and not the walls is an element of the Indolent Home-Mover aesthetic.) Art prints are also acceptable, as are artistic creations by yourself or other people you know you personally as long as the creator has not sold any art professionally. The occasional nicer piece is allowed as long as it was a gift that makes everything else on your walls look sorta tacky.

  • Little to no "real" furniture. Any real furniture dates to your own childhood, is a hand-me-down, was purchased at a thrift store, or was rescued from the side of the road. Most of the fake furniture has similar origins. Furniture is expensive. That money could be spent on scotch, computer games, and craft supplies. (If you would spend your money on books, microbrew, and credit card debt, see the Perpetual Grad Student aesthetic.)

  • Furnishings may be rundown overall, but any intentional distressing runs into the Shabby Chic aesthetic.

  • Storage solutions tend toward open metallic shelving that can easily survive at least two state-to-state moves. Ideally, the color of the shelving is inconsistent across pieces/rooms, but accidental matching is acceptable unless you notice that you have a "cohesive color story" or similar. If you were attracted to this shelving due to appearance rather than price or practicality, take heed: this is a sign of Light Industrial, which your living space is probably not zoned for!

OK, now that you understand the aesthetic at play, here is our College Living 2.0 Kitchen "Pantry" reveal!

Impressive, is it not? It is a true tower of victuals. And of course I enjoy playing Grocery Jenga every time I want to eat. My husband pointed out that naturally everyone has a scarf hanging next to their food, right? (This is by no means the strangest place you'll find a scarf hanging in my apartment on any given day.) I would have been so excited to have this much food all at once when I was in college, and now I'm livin' the dream.

So while the College Living 2.0 Kitchen "Pantry" is lacking in terms of visual appeal and useful organization, I do have to say that my spice storage game is pretty strong!

Oh yes, I was one of those people who early in the pandemic took a look at my domicile with despair and came up with a distracting project. Luckily, I actually saw my spice reorganization project all the way to completion and have managed to maintain it all this time. I kind of wish I had a "before" picture to show you what a freaking disaster this was in the pre-standardization era, but I'm sure you've seen a messy spice drawer before (in someone else's home, naturally). But this is what ours looks like now.

I bought a set of 50 8 oz. deli containers, a set of spice/herb labels, and a silver fine point marker from Amazon and got to work [not affiliate links]. It was easy to transfer the contents of the various different shapes/sizes of container that would never stack properly into these standardized deli containers and label them. Then I put them back into the cabinet two deli containers deep with the most-used spices in the front (visible) row and the less-used ones behind them. I have 8 stacks of 5 containers for a total of 40.

I started with each stack of 5 alphabetized, but over time, I have simply made sure to place each spice container back in its proper stack. This has been good enough to allow me to quickly find any spice I need. I also no longer have multiple containers of the same spice open at a given time. At the right of these containers I store a few things in their original containers (like the El Paso taco seasoning that has the taco instructions on it) as well as new bottles of spices that I will use to refill the deli containers when they empty.

Thanks for joining me in sharing my kitchen "pantry" and my surprisingly well-organized spice rack!

Next month's topic is Favorite Website...which I'm going to have to think about.

In the meantime, visit these lovely bloggers as they share about their kitchen storage:

Bettye at Fashion Schlub

Daenel at Living Outside the Stacks

Em at Dust and Doghair

Iris at Iris’ Original Ramblings

Jodie at Jodie’s Touch of Style

Leslie at Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After

Anyone else out there with a home aesthetic that feels like you're not quite a full-grown adult yet? How would you describe your home aesthetic - either seriously or jokingly? What is your kitchen pantry like? How do you store your spices?

Blogs I link up with are listed here.

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