Sunday, November 25, 2012

install it yourself.

Ah, our cabinetry.

One of the main goals of our kitchen renovation was to increase storage capacity. Our house was built in the mid-1960s and has the lack of storage to show for it. We have two total hall closets (one on the main level, one upstairs); we have (had!) no pantry; and the kitchen cabinetry wasn't living up to its potential. Also? There weren't enough drawers - only four.

Circa January 2010, six months after we moved in.

Time to enter the 21st century, Kitchen.

I hadn't originally planned to change the layout of the kitchen. At. All. Not a bit. The goals were to add aesthetic updates and functionality without losing my sanity. But one day, my sister-in-law was over and casually mentioned her idea of scooting the range over to the refrigerator's spot, and moving the fridge to the left of that.

At first, I was totally opposed. Even conceptualizing how to pull off such a feat was more than I could manage in my DIY-overloaded brain. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made...especially after we purchased our new range (seen in the pic above) and realized the cold, hard truth: We couldn't open the dishwasher.


Sad but true. Every time we wanted to open the dishwasher, we had to force the handle of the oven inwards with our hips and squeeeze the dishwasher door past the handle. It was unwieldy, probably not good for the oven handle, annoying, and not a sustainable solution to a daily problem.

I stepped back and considered our kitchen layout. I did want to add drawers, so I had already secured a new-to-me Ikea dresser. It looked less awesome sticking out randomly to the left of the fridge than it would if it were built in with the rest of the cabinetry. Plus, I could add a shelf where the range hood had been, which would both mirror the open shelves on the other side of the kitchen and create a space for the microwave to be up off the counter. AND IT WAS SO.

The only major snag in the plan was the range outlet, which I detailed here. Long story short, to save hundreds of dollars, we bought a longer range cord, which allowed us to move the range but not the actual outlet. With the electrician's blessing, we snaked the range cord through holes that we drilled in the new bank of drawers and trash cabinet and plugged it in. It's still accessible if you remove the bottom drawer, so it's all good.

Removal of the old base cabinet was not that bad spidery, confusing, and traumatizing...but at least it didn't take very long. Finally, we were left with one four last tiny snags-slash-puzzles-slash-sources of a few crying jags: Purchasing, hacking, installing and leveling the new cabinetry. Oh. Yeah.

The bank of drawers is a three-drawer Ikea Malm dresser that I bought half-price from Craigslist (cheap --> cheaper). I removed the top piece, working backwards from the assembly instructions, which I found online, and built up the sides, figuring we could install a slim drawer.

I used scrap wood, nails, and wood glue, and I aimed (ahem. AIMED) for it to be level with the existing cabinetry. As for the drawer? I tried and failed about three times before J.J.'s dad stepped in and took over. Turns out building and installing a drawer isn't as easy as the Interwebz would have me believe...all this junk about leveling and measuring and not buying warped wood, blah blah blah. Hey - in the end, it was done, and it was perfect. I'm not above asking for help. (After crying on the floor that the kitchen would NEVER BE DONE and NO ONE CAN FIX IT and JUST TORCH ITTTTT AHHHH.)

He even made the drawer front with a beveled edge so
it would match the other drawers/doors. Awesomesauce.

Obviously, I also primed and painted it, and the flat-front drawers were perfect for adding the same half-round moulding design that the rest of the cabinet doors were now sporting. 

Also featured in the picture above, just to the left of the Ikea hack? Our new trash cabinet! She started out a humble, lonely 15-inch base cabinet that I snagged from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $20.00. Woot!

After giving it a thorough cleaning, I removed the protruding pieces in the upper-right corner, removed the door, installed a pull-out trash bin mechanism, primed and painted, added moulding to the door, and added a toe kick. And, um, just for the record, installing the pull-out trash bin thing was among my top five least favorite things that I did in the whole kitchen. Wayyy harder than it had to be. Attaching it to the bottom of the cabinet was easy enough - just screwed it into place...

...but attaching the whole mechanism to the cabinet door just. wouldn't. freakin'. work. I decided to leave it alone for a while, since the more important task at hand was getting the cabinets actually installed - which I need to do before I order the countertops or lay the flooring - which the rest of the kitchen reno was hinging on at the point.

There was one more base cabinet that needed some screwing, too.

This beauty (?) was also scored at Habitat, this time for $10.00. I needed it to fill the gap between the range and the fridge surround. I thought the fridge surround would work butting up against the range, but visually and functionally, it wasn't optimal (no countertop to break up the space, pot handles would bump the fridge surround, and it felt crowded). I went back and forth on what to do with the dead space that was created next to the range before scouring Habitat again, where I discovered this slim, nine-inch base cabinet. Wooo! All (haha) I had to do was clean it up, fix the toe kick, and repurpose a door from one of the upper cabinets we removed. The door was shorter than the opening, but it was flat-front (essential for consistency in the moulding design), and it wasn't difficult to extend the top of the cabinet and make the door look like it'd always been there. (More on fixing up the trash cabinet and the skinny cabinet here.)

Meanwhile, J.J. and his dad built the fridge surround together using Young House Love as their primary guide. I loved the simple way YHL explained their process, and I knew it would work for us since I accidentally bought an identical fridge (I saved mine from the scratch-and-dent section of Lowe's). Basic concept of the fridge surround: Two huge side panels + an upper cabinet (another $10 Habitat find)...although it took a whole weekend for them to assemble, so I'm sure it was slightly more complicated than that. 

Lying face-down on the job...you can see the upper cabinet is already attached.

With the cabinets all ready for action, there was nothing left to do but install, install, install. Somehow, J.J. and I roped my brother into helping us with the installation. Neither of us had done it before, and the very idea of it, being overwhelming and intimidating, had spurred a major procrastination streak. With my brother there, we had no excuse. Plus, he had the stud finder. 

FOUND A STUD. This provided, like, half an hour of
entertainment. And that's my brother's hairy arm...not mine.
It took us the whole day, which was approximately six more hours than I'd predicted. Oh, silly, naive Cathy. But at the end of the day...THEY WERE INSTALLED. Full disclosure: I didn't take an official "after" picture when they were really for real installed. Couldn't tell you why. And I can't show you an official "after" pic now, since that would give away the flooring, countertop, and backsplash awesomeness. Just pretend they're screwed in here, even though I can tell they're not because the holes left by the electrician aren't there, and because the fridge surround is chillin' about four inches away from the skinny cabinet:

Note the crooked trash cabinet door. Eff that door. Eff it.
Praise the DIY gods, the cabinets were all installed. Supposedly, that meant it was countertop and flooring time. Well...spoiler alert. That was in early June. We didn't tackle the floors until two months later, thanks to Crazy Awful Summer From Hell. HOWEVER:


Might be hard to tell, but this is a shot of the dishwasher clearing the handles of the Ikea-hacked-base cabinet. YAY! No more hip action/worrying that we were permanently breaking our new range every time we needed to open the dishwasher! Seriously. It was liberating.

Nothing was quite as transformative as the new flooring, though. OH JUST YOU WAIT...

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...