small improvements: replacing metal shelf pins.

April 12, 2021

Our kitchen has two sets of cabinets. One set is quite a bit older than the others. These cabinets are painted white and sturdily wrought from solid wood. They likely date to when the room was first turned into a kitchen and I like to torture myself by imagining they once hung over a giant enameled sink with a drain board and chrome fixtures. The newer cabinets are installed below and to the side of the elders and they’re part wood and part fiberboard and finished in a reddish stain, as you can see. When our landlord installed our dishwasher last fall and needed to build out a box to fit it into place, he gave me permission to paint all the cabinets white to match. I hope I’ll make some significant apartment progress on that front this summer, but today’s post is about making a far smaller improvement with help from the very humble metal shelf pin.

Even in a so-called minimalist household, spaces behind closed cabinet doors can get unruly. To keep things in check, I like to do a quick overhaul every few months where I take things down, dust them off, and make sure there’s not a hidden jar of chocolate-covered almonds somewhere that I’ve forgotten about. Over the weekend I was tackling the cabinet next to our stove when I was reminded for the fiftieth time of its wobbly, wonky cabinet shelf and finally decided to open my toolbox and do something about it.

I’ve had a tiny cardboard box of replacement metal shelf pins in my toolbox since I bought a set of twenty for one of my first adult apartment nearly fifteen years ago (an apartment that did have a giant enameled sink). Missing or broken shelf pins in less-than-perfect cabinets are just a fact of life in old rentals and having lived in my fair share over the years, I’ve found simple replacements to be perennially useful. Unlike chocolate-covered almonds that need to be gobbled sooner than later, there’s no expiration date on metal shelf pins, so I swapped the bent and broken plastic shelf pins holding up our wobbly shelf for the sturdier metal ones I already had and just like that, we’re wobble free around here.

Moral of the story and metaphor for life: Use the stuff you already have in your toolbox.

Other things:

Our gooseneck kettle.

Our butter dish.

Our shelf riser. (I tend to steer clear of organization-specific products, but in an awkward, deep cabinet that’s short on shelf space to being with, this shelf riser from Open Spaces has been the perfect thing to offer a little more breathing room and I like that it’s pretty enough to transition to a different spot should we ever need to move it.)

The shelf riser was a gift from Open Spaces. This post includes several affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links.

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  • Reply Vânia April 12, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    I love reading about simple things in these very complicated times

  • Reply Sarah April 12, 2021 at 7:10 pm

    I love your concept of just making small, simple improvements. It can be so overwhelming to do big improvement projects or tasks, especially when you have other things going on- like kids, work, etc. Just this last month, I got the urge to remodel our kitchen, but I knew I would regret doing it halfway through the project. Instead I’m just getting the cabinets updated by a local cabinet refinisher since it will be less stressful and pricey than completely renovating my kitchen.

  • Reply Ramona April 12, 2021 at 8:29 pm

    I always say a little “thank you” in my heart to all the genius inventors of simple things that make our life easier.

  • Reply Kimberly P April 13, 2021 at 12:17 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. I am embarrassed it did not occur to me that these could be replaced. Wonderful!

  • Reply Dorothy April 13, 2021 at 12:24 pm

    You are so clever!

  • Reply Sue Hall April 13, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    It’s nearly always those little home improvements that make the biggest and best impact on day to day living isn’t it. Well done on never losing or throwing away the shelf pins, something I most likely would have done.

  • Reply mackenzie April 13, 2021 at 2:38 pm

    I really enjoy the simplicity of your posts Erin 🙂

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