I made that!

I Totally Made That.

Posted in Don't BUY it, MAKE it! by brandi on July 13, 2011

Sooooo… you might have noticed that I’ve been pretty much MIA. As you may know, for the past year I’ve been working on starting my own business, The Pantry. I’ve certainly complained enough about the long hours and lack of time, but did I tell you that I built it with my tiny little hands? I had lots of help for sure, from my two business partners, Olaiya Land and Brandon Pettit, and countless friends. But this project, the realization of a dream I’ve had for a long time, now THAT was intense. And awesome. And exhausting. And completely impossible at times. But what can a girl do? A dream awaited, and I certainly don’t have the funds to pay OTHER people to build it. Since I worked as an architect before making the big switch to pastry, designing a beautiful kitchen wasn’t a stretch, but after nine months of being permanently attached to my Carhart overalls, I learned really fast how to not just make spaces that are pretty on paper, but how to actually make them stand up. Needless to say, I’ve been left with zero energy for making things in the kitchen, hence the lack of posting. So I wanted to share with you what I HAVE been making, even if it’s not edible.

When we started, it was a certified dump. Carpet peeled away to reveal layers and layers of linoleum, then a good thick layer of glue.

There was this low popcorn ceiling, with track lighting. When I first looked at it, I wanted to run away right then. THIS was going to be a BIG task. But when we peeled away the ceiling, there were these beautiful old wood joists peeking out. I like to think of those joists as the beginning of the design for The Pantry.

We had a rule of trying to find as many of our materials as possible used, from architectural salvage stores. On one of our early visits, in the dark days of winter, we came across a door. It looked like it would fall into pieces if you looked at it wrong. And according to our friend and carpenter Joe, who fixed it, it did. But it was $10 and we just had to have it. Between that door and the beautiful ceiling we were exposing, the space just started designing itself. It was to be a commercial kitchen, so there were… rules, but I really wanted it to feel like home. A place where people could feel comfortable just stopping by to say hello. Where after a class or dinner, people would want to linger. A place where a community is built.

And the table, man was that fun. The first thing we did, in the fall, was contact a carpenter in Portland about making us a 16-foot-long table. Everything would be centered around the table. It had to be wide enough to allow for classes, lots of hands flying at once. But it had to be narrow enough that you could meet the person sitting across from you. We love our table, and even after our original carpenter turned out to be crazy, and canceled the contract 3 weeks(!) before we were scheduled to host our first dinner, after our friend Joe (who fixed the door, and well, taught us how to do EVERYTHING) built it to my design in 8 days (costing many thousands more than we budgeted), we still fawn over this table.

We had our first dinner Friday night, and I dare say it was a complete success. 20 people, most not knowing each other, sat down for five courses, and made new friends. It was beautiful. That table is magic. And I look forward to maybe one day seeing some of you there.

A big whopping thank you to all of those who helped. Thank you for showing up on beautiful days when I knew you’d rather be on a long bike ride somewhere. On not-so-beautiful days, when building a deck in the mud was, like, the WORST idea ever. And for putting up with me when I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Thank you Scott Elder for driving up from San Francisco in March, sleeping on our blow-up mattress and being my right arm for 3 months. Thank you to Joe Burmeister for, well, indulging my insanely tiny budget and teaching me and my friends so much. Thank you to Chris Saleeba and Bryan LaComa, for designing and teaching us how to create a garden space that gives me goosebumps. Thank you to Gabe Rodriguez, for taking gorgeous photos of the space under construction (the top two are his). Thank you to John, for not leaving me when I know I was behaving intolerably. Thank you to everyone who just walked by and told me how great everything was looking, you have no idea how much that helped on those rough days.