How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space

How could this happen? Who did this? The cabinet in my kitchen with the tiniest opening—a mere 7.5 inches wide—was the cabinet that had the largest amount of storage space inside of it. I’d like to speak with the person who designed my kitchen.

This post is the second in a series on how I’m improving my small, non-functional kitchen on a budget. Since I can’t afford a complete kitchen overhaul, I’m keeping the majority of my lower cabinets, but the runt of the litter recently underwent a little surgery, and that’s what this post is about. More specifically, I’m sharing how I made access easier to the large, dead-space corner cabinet in my kitchen.

Here’s what I started with. The cabinets are actually sturdy and in good shape so I’m keeping as many as is practical. They’re just not functional and not all that attractive. The 80’s are alive and well in my cabinets.

How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

You can see how much space is inside this cabinet, but the opening is so tiny that it’s difficult to fit anything in it. I had a mountain of stuff piled in there.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I wanted to cut out part of the board to the left of the opening to make it bigger, but I knew it would be impossible to make a nice cut with a jig saw–especially in oak. And my original plan was to then install a stationary shelf to put a basket on, and leave the cabinet open.

So I consulted my super-smart carpenter brother, Mike about my dilemma. He suggested removing that board entirely, cutting it down to a smaller size, and then replacing it with the factory cut edge showing.

You can see here that it’s a separate piece.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s what the piece looked like from the inside of the cabinet.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

He told me in order to remove the board, I’d have to hit it like a carpenter, not a painter (I just happen to be a painter). He said I’d have to hit it hard. Real hard. So I prepared myself for battle.

First I carefully removed the stile with a jig saw.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I took a 2 x 4, put it against the cabinet and took a mighty swing. The hammer bounced off that board like a soccer ball, and I laughed so hard I nearly passed out. I tried again and again…and again. Honestly, my brother had way too much faith in me on this one.

So I carefully took my jig saw, and cut as far as I could along the top and bottom of the board. I couldn’t cut through the entire length of the board because my stove was in the way of the saw. After cutting as far as I could, I decided enough was enough, and gave that board a Ninja kick that I’m confident would have impressed Jackie Chan.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Finally!

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I cut out the remaining dowel rods that held the piece in place, and sanded them smooth.

How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I decided to replace the board from hell with the smallest board that I could, but being sure to leave enough clearance around the oven door for pull-out shelves. I changed my mind about the stationary shelf. A woman’s prerogative.

So I used a 1 x 3 in the space.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This was my first opportunity to use my new Kregg Jig K5 for drilling the pocket holes in the 1 x 3. Now if I decide to change the cabinet again someday, all I have to do is unscrew the piece instead of risking a fractured foot.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s the piece installed. I planned to paint my cabinets white, so I didn’t have to worry about wood types matching. I’ll be filling the grain on the oak before I paint so they’ll look the same after painting.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s a side view looking through the stove handle showing proper clearance for the pull outs.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I whipped up this simple shelf for the inside of the cabinet. It’ll be tucked in to the left of the opening, and will sit beside the pull-out shelves.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Fast forwarding here, I built a simple box for the first pull out drawer. I used the hardware from the original drawer and scrap wood I had on hand.

How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I tried the first one out before making the second one. It was a good thing, as the first one didn’t fit the opening and I had to disassemble it and make it smaller. Ugh. Here’s drawer number two. There was a pull out drawer in this cabinet originally, so I was also able to use the hardware from that one too. I just had to build a new  drawer the right size for the opening.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since the hardware for the pullouts wasn’t white, I had to spray paint it so it would blend in better. The photo is of the drawer upside down.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had this dentil molding leftover from an old project, and had just enough to use as decorative face plates for the pull outs.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

For your amusement, here’s an ugly picture of the cabinets after I filled the grain prior to painting.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now it’s starting to look like something!

Here’s the much more functional cabinet. It’s not any bigger than it was before, but with the added shelf unit inside, the larger opening and the pull out drawers, it just makes life easier.

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here are some before and after photos.

How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

In case you missed the original peninsula re-do which was the start of this makeover, here are before and afters of that too. (See peninsula tutorial here.)

 photo IMG_6775.jpg How to Improve Access to Dead Kitchen Cabinet Space/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’ve got many steps left on this makeover—making a wooden counter top and cutting down another one until I can afford new ones, building open shelving, replacing the current 30″upper cabinets with taller 42″ ones, adding trim and hardware, having a few doors drilled for hidden hinges and more. Baby steps.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager /Redesigner. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-DIY

Want to get rid of that builder grade faux wood paneling on your kitchen island or peninsula? You know the stuff. It resembles those wood panels that used to be on the sides of station wagons. I’ve had it in every kitchen I’ve owned. But I’ve learned that I don’t have to live with it. And neither do you.

This peninsula update is the first step of many to come in a mini DIY remodel that I’m about to undertake in my small, non-functional kitchen. I’ve had smaller kitchens, but my current kitchen, hands down, wins the award for the least functional. It also ranks right up there with the least aesthetically pleasing.

So here are my before pictures. Pretty standard as far as peninsulas go. This kitchen is one big ball of patterned brown. I love brown, but there are brown patterns that fight each other in the oak grain, the flooring and the countertops. Makes me dizzy. This kitchen is not a safe place for anyone who is prone to seizures—that’s for sure.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’ve been collecting posts on Pinterest for kitchen ideas, and to give credit where credit is due, I copied this design from “Remodelaholic”. And I combined her project with a photo I saw on “DIY Network”. This transformation can be done with basic carpentry skills, and isn’t all that expensive.

Step one was to remove the corner trim piece so I could pry back the existing paneling and locate the studs, water lines and electrical wires. My dishwasher is in my peninsula, so I was aware that the potential existed for an electrical shock or a flash flood if my nail hit just the right spot.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Unfortunately the installer for my new dishwasher had to remove some studs in order to get it to fit into the space where the old one was. That leaves me with only a few studs to attach my boards to. I knew that was going to be my biggest challenge. However, I was relieved to find no water lines running through the studs like I had in my last house, and there were only two electrical wires that were going to be relatively easy to avoid. Here’s one of them.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

So I marked my stud locations on my counter top with some tape, and I taped another area to mark a board from the back of a cabinet that I could use to nail into. And of course, there will always be a 2 x 4 on the floor, on the outside corners and against the wall that were used in framing.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had to remove a piece of baseboard on the wall adjacent to the peninsula since it was going to have to be trimmed down afterwards.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The only other out-of-the-ordinary item I had to deal with, was an electrical outlet that I had to move up about 1/2″.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I decided to use bead board paneling for this project, and Lowe’s had a new kind that looked like traditional bead board on steroids. The routed groves were much larger and farther apart. A  4′ x 8′ sheet of traditional bead board paneling ran around $20. The more unique version that I decided to use was $30 a sheet. The extra $10 was worth it to me.

Lowe’s will cut plywood for their customers, and so will Home Depot. Not only does it save me the hassle of cutting it, but a 4′ x 8′ sheet won’t fit in my tin can of a car. I had them make me four panels which required four cuts. The first two cuts were free, and the second two cost me 25 cents. Again, worth it. I also had a large scrap piece leftover to use on another project.

I had the panels cut to a size that was 1/4″ shorter than the actual height of my counter tops so that I could mount them off the floor a bit. Dishwasher + leak = potential water on the floor at some point. Cutting it short also allowed for any wonkiness as far as the possibility of the sheets not being cut perfectly square (sorry Lowe’s) or my floors/counters etc…not being square (sorry house).

So I attached the bead board to the peninsula, setting it on a ruler to raise it while I hammered. I’m happy to report I only hit my thumb once, but I’ll admit I did bend a handful of nails that had to go in the garbage. I also broke two drill bits while pre-drilling. Like I said, I’m not a carpenter. I also used a level to make sure each sheet was plumb.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s a photo after the bead board was attached. Since I didn’t have much of a selection of studs to hammer into, some of the pieces only had one nail on top and one on the bottom, but I knew when I added the trim, some of those nails would also be penetrating the bead board to hold it on too. The trim itself would also help secure it.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had to trim around the outlet, and I also had to shave down part of the toe kick that extended past the end of the cabinet in order for the bead board to lay flat against the cabinet.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I added 1 x 4 pieces of MDF that I cut down from a leftover sheet I already had, and attached those. I also kept those up off the floor. MDF and water do not mix.When MDF gets wet, it puffs up like a toasted marshmallow.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next came the horizontal pieces. I had to cut a hole in the trim piece that went around the outlet.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s how it looked with the horizontal pieces added.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The bottom board is a 1 x 8, so that once I put the baseboard on, there will be a reveal equal to the rest of the 1 x 4 trim.

The next step was to install the remaining vertical boards. These will cover the areas where the sections of bead board paneling meet.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The previous photo shows that my vertical board placement didn’t line up with any studs (marked by the blue tape on the counter top). In order to attach these two pieces, I just pre-drilled at an angle so my nails would go into the horizontal pieces that were nailed into studs. This is where I managed to snap my last 1/16 bit. Sigh.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

A suggestion from the “Remodeloholic” post, was to round over the edges of the trim boards, so that once installed, there is an intentional space where the trim boards meet. That way, there’s no need to caulk or putty those areas.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here all of the trim pieces were installed.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next came the baseboard. The baseboard is the only piece placed directly on the floor to cover the gaps from the bead board, the corner trim and the 1 x 8’s. It would be simple enough to replace if it were to get wet.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

In order to keep costs down on my projects, I usually buy “lesser” quality pine boards and then spackle over any knots or dings at the same time I putty all my nail holes. I sand and paint, and the imperfections are impossible to find afterwards.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next a coat of primer.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After the primer dried, I caulked every place that the trim met the bead board, and along the top of the baseboard. This is an important step, and makes everything professional looking.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I painted everything with two coats of paint, sanding in between coats. Finished!

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now the traditional before and afters.
 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since I had some of the pine boards and MDF already, I don’t know exactly what this project cost, but I would approximate not more than $50, with $30 of that being for the bead board.

A cheaper version would be to leave out the bead board and mount the trim directly onto the existing faux wood paneling. Give the paneling a light sand, a good primer and a good quality paint and you’re on your way. I’ve done that too!

Honestly, the worst part of this project was the major splinter I got in my hand when picking out the wood. It was all smooth sailing after that.

Author’s edit: And here she is after surviving nearly two weeks in the palm of my hand. My daughter, Sophie, was my splinter remover, but she moved to Los Angels. Now I’m on my own in the foreign object removal department. (Thus the two week hibernation period.)

 photo IMG_68361.jpg

Now on to another cabinet…

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager /Redesigner. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Built-In Storage Between the Studs

Whoever invented the idea of building shelving in between the studs in a wall is a genius. If you’ve searched Pinterest or Google for ways to find extra storage space in a small bathroom, you’ve probably seen photos of some of these.

I decided this would be a good project to try, since I recently moved to a house with the world’s smallest master bathroom. And besides being tiny, it was also a little on the boring side. Here’s my wall before the big event. (Excuse the patches–I was getting ready to paint before I got a wild hair to try this.)

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To begin, I drilled some 1/4″ holes in the wall in order to have places to insert the tip of my saw to cut a hole.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s my super-useful garage sale saw. (Just had to show it.)

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I tapped my saw into the hole expecting to hit another piece of drywall that typically would be behind it, but I didn’t hit anything but air. This meant there was an open cavity behind my wall, and that, ladies and gentlemen, was a very good thing. My super-smart carpenter brother, Mike, told me there probably used to be a tub behind the wall before someone converted the space to a stand-up shower. At that point, it was looking like my between-the-stud project was turning into something a little more exciting than I anticipated.

Just to be sure I wasn’t going to hit something like pipes, duct-work or electrical wires, I only cut out a smallish piece of drywall to start. I’d rather patch a small hole than a big one if I was going to run into a problem or lose my nerve.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once I could peek inside the hole and saw nothing in the way, I made it a little larger, and then I cut out a second hole. There was a stud running down the middle of the wall that I wasn’t ready to cut out just yet.

I hadn’t decided exactly how big I wanted to make my shelving unit, so I left these two ugly holes in the wall for a week or two while I mulled the whole thing over. I would liked to have searched for a unique old door or window of some sort to make this into a cabinet rather than a shelf, but I was a little too impatient for that.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This is a picture of inside the hole. Behind the PVC pipe is the back of my shower in my other bathroom.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once I made my decision of how big to make my shelving unit, I finally cut the hole to the desired size.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’ve agonized over the years about whether or not to buy a reciprocating saw, and once again I wished I had one. But I just used a good, old-fashioned hand saw–also from a garage sale–and got the job done just fine. My biceps got a work out, my pores were cleared from sweating and I’m a better person for it.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Finally I have my hole!

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I decided to make full use of as much of the open space behind the wall as I could. This meant building a big box, which also meant building a heavy box. I made a frame inside the cavity out of 2 x 4’s to support the weight of my shelf unit. I added a 2 x 4 on each side of the opening to screw my box into, as well as a couple for the unit to sit on. I made sure the boards were level so my shelf wouldn’t be off kilter when I set it on the frame.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This may seem a little backwards to a real carpenter like my bro, but I always found it easier to cut my back piece first, and build the box to fit it. I measured the opening I had cut in the wall, and then cut my piece that would be the back of my unit, a tad smaller than the opening. That way, I’d have a little wiggle room when trying to shove that bad boy into the wall.

So here’s my bead board back piece. It looked a little beat up from the move, but it painted up just fine.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I built this unit using simple butt joints–nothing fancy or complicated. I used plywood for the box, and particle board for the shelves. I prefer to use MDF, but used plywood for the box because it’s lighter weight, and I knew this shelving unit was going to be a bear to lift and slide into the wall–especially while straddling a toilet.

In addition to MDF being heavier than plywood, it swells when it gets wet, and this will be sitting right next to my shower pipes. You just never know…I used particle board for the shelves because it’s nicer looking than plywood when it’s painted, and I had no plans to put anything heavy on these shelves. The outer plywood box would protect the shelves from water, as particle board doesn’t like water all that much either.

I knew what items I would be storing on the shelves, and spaced them accordingly. In order to make the best use of the prime real estate I had discovered, I made the shelves 24″ deep. In this photo, I was just trying to get my shelf spacing figured out.

Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It’s actually easiest to paint the pieces with a coat of primer and a coat of finish before you assemble it. Then caulk all of the joints, let dry and put a final finish coat on.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s my son, Ross, ready to help with the install. Whatever would I do without him!!!

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonILphoto IMG_5936.jpg

Ready, set, go!

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After some man-handling, we got it into the wall.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I screwed it into the stud it was sitting on and into the studs on each side. In this scenario, if I ever needed to have my shower plumbing replaced, I could (reluctantly) remove the unit from the wall to access the pipes.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I trimmed it out and make it look pretty. I used this nifty vinyl trim from Home Depot. I’m all about the vinyl trim. It doesn’t crack like wood does, it’s flawless and it paints easily.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Adding trim made the shelves look more substantial.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I added trim pieces to the sides.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had some pieces of a beautiful, old, wooden picture frame left over from another project, so I cut them to size, and painted them white for the top and bottom trim pieces. I caulked wherever one trim piece met another. I sunk all of my nails, puttied the holes and sanded off the excess putty after it dried. Then I painted all of the trim.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here she is! Beauty and function all wrapped up into one big, beautiful piece of…something.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since the shelves were so deep, I was able to put some smallish plastic storage bins of items I don’t use too often behind the towels. This freed up space in my vanity.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

In addition to adding the shelving unit, I replaced my bathroom door with a pocket door. Making my way to the toilet to do my thing used to be like squeezing into one of those public restroom stalls where you have to straddle the toilet in order to shut the door. And I was growing a little tired of a door against my backside while I was brushing my teeth. My amazingly talented brother (yes, I’m a suck-up) installed the pocket door for me.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I ended up changing out the mirror, the light fixture and the faucet as part of my bathroom overhaul too. Next is the toilet, but that’s for another day.

I’m not a fan of having over-the-toilet cabinets in a bathroom unless it’s absolutely necessary. I’d rather look at a pretty picture, and I feel like a cabinet cuts into the space too much. But if storage is needed and you aren’t gutsy enough to cut an enormous hole in your drywall, then so be it. With my new in-the-wall storage, the toilet cabinet is no longer a must. Here’s my before picture.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here’s the after. The walls just have a tinted primer on them in this photo, but once it’s painted, I’ll swap out my photo and no one will be the wiser.

 photo IMG_6004.jpg

So if you need storage or maybe just a space to display pretty things in a room in your house, take a deep breath and try cutting a hole in your wall!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter. Feel free to visit her website at http://www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Add Trim to Builder-Grade 42″ Kitchen Cabinets–Crown Substitute

If you’re looking for a way to add interest to builder-grade cabinets, here’s an easy and inexpensive upgrade.

I happen to have those run-of-the-mill, builder-grade, ho-hum oak kitchen cabinets that everyone on the planet seems to have. I painted them white and added bead board wallpaper to the insets a few years ago (See previous post “Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets“). I loved the transformation, but always wished I had crown molding on my upper cabinets.

The problem was, my 42” cabinets butted up against the ceiling so there was no room for crown. However, my combination OCD, tunnel vision and I-will-have-crown-if-it-kills-me attitude were not to be defeated. I made the decision that I was going to add some type of trim somewhere to catapult my cabinets out of Dullsville. I went on a search for trim, knowing I didn’t want to use the standard quarter round. Here’s the winning trim from Home Depot.

 Add Trim to Builder-Grade Kitchen Cabinets / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here are before and after pictures of the bottom of one of the cabinets without trim, and after trim was added. I didn’t think I’d be able to find trim small enough to fit in the area below the cabinet doors without it looking too small and chintzy, but this was perfect.

 Add Trim to Builder-Grade Kitchen Cabinets / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Trim to Builder-Grade Kitchen Cabinets / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I sandwiched a piece of screen molding as a spacer, in between the new trim piece and the side of the cabinet. Otherwise there would have been a gap because the cabinet corners protrude past the flat side of the cabinet. You can see it in this photo.

Add Trim to Builder-Grade Kitchen Cabinets / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Trim to Builder-Grade Kitchen Cabinets / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I then flipped the trim upside down, and installed it at the top of the upper cabinets against the ceiling. Again, the space for decorative trim was pretty small, but it fit nicely. It’s not crown molding, but it added a decorative touch, and covered the ugly crack where the cabinet met the ceiling. I caulked around all the trim and painted…again.

 Add Trim to Builder-Grade Kitchen Cabinets / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To make the project easier, I primed the trim and put one coat of paint on it prior to installation. After I installed the trim, I puttied my nail holes, caulked and put a final coat on the trim.

The trim for this project was only $15. I needed basic tools, including an inexpensive miter box, hammer, trim nails and a caulk gun. This project shows that a tiny piece of decorative trim can go a long way to adding some much-needed charm to boring cabinets. Your turn!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

DIY Rolling Pantry Tucks Into Space by Fridge

Do you have an empty space in your kitchen next to your refrigerator? If you do, and want to make good use of that space, you might want to add this rolling pantry to your honey-do list.

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I can’t. I saw it on a Facebook post, and decided to construct one, only with a couple of tweaks to make it work better for my situation. Here’s the original post—http://www.instructables.com/id/Hidden-Fridge-Gap-Slide-Out-Pantry/.

I agonized over measurements for about half a day before deciding to build the pantry one inch smaller than the width of the space. This allowed for a decent amount of wiggle room when wheeling it in and out.

I purchased MDF (medium density fiberboard) from Home Depot, which is my all-time favorite construction material. It’s amazingly smooth, doesn’t splinter or have distracting knots, and it paints beautifully. The only con I’m aware of is that it can’t be exposed to water, so it can only be used on interior projects.

I bought a 3/4″ thick, 4′ x 8′ sheet of MDF, and Home Depot cut it down into seven boards, all at a length of 5’4″ by 6 3/4″. I originally wanted the pieces cut at seven inches, but I went with 6 3/4″ instead so I could get an extra board out of the sheet. I allowed 1/8 inch loss of material for each cut made, as that is the saw blade thickness.

I used two of the 5’4″ pieces for the sides of my unit, and cut the rest of the boards at home for the individual shelves, and the top and bottom pieces. I had a nice sized piece left over for another project too. Hernia alert!! MDF is very heavy. If you plan to purchase a sheet of it to cut at home, be sure to have help carrying it! Here are my cut pieces.

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I constructed the rolling pantry as you would construct any bookcase, and used a bead board plywood scrap that I had on hand for the back to keep it square.

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I used several garage sale purchases that I had on hand to keep the cost down, including finish nails, the handle, the wheels and some upholstery tacks.

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

First I cut my bead board to the size I wanted my unit to be. I then constructed a box with simple butt joints to fit the size of the bead board, being sure to glue all four corner butt joints. The top and bottom pieces should be placed in between the two side pieces, rather than on top and on bottom of the two side pieces. It makes for a more sturdy piece, since gravity would be working with your nails if they’re perpendicular to the floor instead of parallel to the floor. You want your nails working against gravity whenever possible.

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I like using upholstery tacks for attaching backing to a shelving unit because the big heads don’t allow the bead board to pull off. If finishing nails are used, the bead board can be pushed off right over the top of them. I used wood glue here too.

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I decided where I wanted my shelves to be, based on what I anticipated storing on them.

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It’s much easier to paint shelves before installation, so I put a coat of primer and a coat of finish on the shelves, and all the semi-assembled pieces.

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After I installed the shelves, I caulked, spackled and applied the final coat of paint. Caulking the cracks makes for a much more professional-looking job as you can see here.

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s when I realized the importance of using the right kind of wheels. I have a bucket of miscellaneous hardware that I pulled this first set of garage sale wheels out of.

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I tried wheeling the pantry on these wheels, and as luck (or lack thereof) would have it, they weren’t a good choice. They were made of glass or porcelain, and I’m guessing they used to be on an antique piece of furniture. They would probably have been just fine on linoleum, but they weren’t well-suited for ceramic tile since they wouldn’t grip the tile. And since they were small, they were catching in my grout lines. So back out to my junk bucket I went. I found these larger, rubber wheels, and they worked much better.

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since my garage sale wheels didn’t come with screws, I searched my garage sale screw stash and found the perfect size.

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s the finished rolling pantry. Ta-da!!

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Going…

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Going…

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Gone!

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It tucks quite nicely in my little space.

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This magnificent contraption holds lots of kitchen stuff, and frees up my “real” pantry for my most often used items.

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

DIY Rolling Pantry / HomestagingBloomingtonIL

Toddler alert! Although I love this idea, it wouldn’t be a safe storage solution if you have toddlers who could possibly pull the unit out and tip it over. I placed my handle out of reach, and it would take a pretty strong child to pull this out of its resting place, but best to rule on the side of caution.

I had originally planned to insert wooden dowels a few inches above each shelf to keep items from falling off as was shown in the original post, but I decided it wasn’t necessary.

As far as cost goes, the MDF plywood was $27.00. The rest of the supplies were either garage sale bargains or leftovers from other projects. I got a lot of bang for my buck on this one!

For other kitchen storage ideas, visit my posts, “Creative Kitchen Storage for Pot Lids“, “How to Build a Simple Kitchen Cabinet for Open Display” and “Organize My Kitchen Pantry With What?!“.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom

This space above my toilet has been speaking to me for five years now. What’s it been saying, you may wonder? It’s been saying, “This is wasted space that could be a functional, show-stopping, toilet-paper-holding, chachki-displaying extravaganza.”

DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I must agree with my talking space. I’m not a carpenter by any stretch, and although I’m comfortable with power tools and know how to use them, let me assure you this is a very simple project that can be done with basic carpentry skills. And to top it off, I’m a girl! If I can do this, so can you.

Bathrooms never seem to have enough storage, and this is a great way to add some. I happen to have a linen closet in this bathroom, so I’m not really needing more storage, but pretty much anything would be more visually appealing than air.

I had some time off work when the weather here in Central Illinois was a record-breaking 25 degrees below zero with wind chill, so it was the perfect day for a project like this one. Needless to say, I brought my miter saw into the house, and totally made a mess so I didn’t freeze my patootie off in the garage. Seriously, I set up this saw on my kitchen table and let the sawdust fly. Who does that? (Thanking God for my laminate flooring.)

DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I already had some scraps of bead board in my garage, so I just had to purchase some 1 x 8’s for the shelves and outer box, and some casing for trim. I’m a painter by trade, so I already had paint, caulk, primer, brushes, etc… With that in mind, this project cost me $15.75. It’s true, ladies and gentlemen. You can make yourself some sweet, mind-blowing storage for mere pennies.

To start this project, I decided to cut a piece of bead board plywood about 1/4″ smaller than the recessed area over my toilet since I’ll be trimming the shelving unit out to cover any gaps. No need in my mind to make it fit so tight that I have to ram it like a linebacker to get it to fit in the space. Since walls are rarely straight, and to assure myself that I could avoid the linebacker situation, I placed the cut-to-size bead board where it was going to go before building the shelving unit to fit the bead board.

I did actually hold the plywood up to the ceiling where it’s actually going to be mounted, but couldn’t do that and take a picture at the same time. That’s why it’s hanging out on the toilet tank in the photo. (Imaginations, please.)

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I cut four pieces of 1 x 8 to fit the bead board, and made a box out of them using simple butt joints. This shelving unit is only going to need to be sturdy enough to hold things like toilet paper, towels and pretty stuff, so there’s no need to reinforce it with a frame-type construction. I used screws to construct my unit, pre-drilling the holes to make my life easier. It keeps the blood pressure under control.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I decided to slide the box into the recessed area just like I did the bead board to be sure it was going to fit before I went any further.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I then determined where I wanted to place each shelf by using items I plan to put on them. Of course I won’t be keeping the same items on here for forty years or anything, but it gives me a plan. If you’re needing shelving more for storage of not-so-lovely looking items, like, well, you know–those hygiene sort of items we all need–you can buy yourself some pretty baskets, and keep your personal items hidden. I would recommend buying your baskets first, then spacing your shelving appropriately.

 photo IMG_3092.jpg

Before screwing the shelves in place, I made sure they were level by using two speed squares placed in both directions. One speed square makes sure the shelf will be level side to side while the other makes sure the shelf will be level front to back.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonILg

I screwed in each shelf using two screws on each side. And here’s my unit with all the shelves installed.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonILg

Next I attached the bead board plywood to the back of the box by using upholstery tacks that I bought at a garage sale (note my 10 cent sticker reminding me of the fantastic bargain I snagged). Upholstery tacks are perfect for this application because they’ve got a large head, and won’t pull through the plywood. I attached the tacks on the edges of the back of the box as well as one in the middle of each shelf. If this were a freestanding bookcase, I would have run several tacks into each shelf, but since it’ll be against the wall, there’s no chance of the plywood pulling away from the back of the shelf.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now we’re starting to look like something! And holy toilet paper, check out my bubble! Gotta love it when that happens.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To save a few dollars, I bought less-than-desirable wood that’s referred to as “standard” grade, and fixed any imperfections myself. I carefully checked to make sure the boards I bought weren’t warped, which was, and always is, a monumental task. If you’ve ever tried to pick out wood at a box store, you know where I’m coming from. For every ten boards you inspect, you may find one good one, but I consider it a fun challenge in some sick sort of way.

I covered all the imperfections with durabond, let it dry, sanded, and I was good to go! Or if you’re not a cheap skate like me, you can just spend a little more and buy decent wood. But you’ll still have to go through several pieces regardless, so I say go the frugal way, and buy a stick of gum or something with the money you saved yourself. Here’s a picture of my patched up shelving unit.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After I primed the shelf, I caulked every place where two boards meet, and every place where boards meet the bead board. Caulking makes a huge difference on how your finished product will look so don’t skip this step! Here’s before caulking.

DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here’s after caulk.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then it was time for paint! Since this will be in a bathroom, and next to my shower, I used a semi-gloss paint–one coat now, and another coat after adding the pre-primed wood trim. I used Sherwin Williams Promar 200 in the color Pure White. It’s a nice, crisp white that I use on all my projects, including the trim and interior doors in my house.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I installed the unit by driving screws into the corners. I bought pre-primed casing at Menard’s to trim out the cabinet, and here’s a photo of that. Trim gives it a more finished look and hides the gaps left after installation.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s a picture with the two vertical side pieces of trim tacked into place.

DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To install the trim, I used finish nails and then counter-sunk the nails with a punch. I spackled over the holes being sure to overfill them so I could sand the spackle down smooth. I was careful not to sand so much that the hole showed again. I then brushed some primer over my patches so they wouldn’t show through after I painted the second coat. Here’s a picture of all the trim complete.

DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then it was time for more caulking. I caulked around both sides where the shelf butted up against the side walls and also against the ceiling. Then it looked like a real built-in!

After the caulk set up, I applied a second coat of paint, being sure to paint over the installation screws so they’d disappear.

And here are the before and after pictures.

 DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

DIY Custom Shelving for a Small Bathroom / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Of course once I had this nice, new built-in shelving, I had to update the light fixture. And a new light fixture made the old paint look bad, so I had to repaint. Then I needed a new bath mat to match the new paint color. Then I needed new towels to tie in the bath mat, etc… So much for my $15.75 project.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim

Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I stumbled across this chunky, old frame at a yard sale not long ago, and fell in love with it. It was battered and broken in half at the corners, but I loved its ornateness, and its masculine bulkiness. So very interesting, I thought. And the lady only wanted $2.00 for both halves of the frame. Sold! Now what to do with it. Hmmmm. I stuck it up in my attic with all my other treasures thinking, “Someday this will be perfect for something.”

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

For me, “someday” can be years. Like when I bought some really nice table legs at a garage sale several years ago. Yep…just the legs. I hauled those $5-for-all-four table legs that I had absolutely no use for, from house to house whenever I moved. Three houses worth. Who does that? I just couldn’t part with them. My son, Brandon, was visiting not long ago, and mentioned that he wanted to build a craps table. I must say my beloved table legs made for a pretty incredible craps table. (I missed the boat not blogging that creation.)

Fast forward now to my super-cool frame. I quickly realize it’s not going to take years this time to find a use for my random purchase. I have a very plain wall at the end of my galley kitchen that needs a boost. I’ve been looking at that wall for some time (yawn), trying to figure out some simple, yet interesting project to spruce it up. It’s just a tiny space, but those areas can be the most fun to decorate.

I decide to use my frame as part of a decorative trim combination to top off some bead board wainscoting. I painted my kitchen cabinets awhile back, and added bead board wallpaper to the inserts on the cabinet doors (Refer to post, “Yes, You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets”). So I’m thinking bead board is a logical choice.

This time, instead of using the bead board wallpaper, I’ve decided to use decorative bead board plywood. I decide it would be a better choice from a durability standpoint. I’ve got a refrigerator door and a pantry door that both open up against this wall.

I know that the plywood comes in 4 foot by 8 foot sheets, so I need a piece of my frame to be four feet long to match that. Four feet will be enough to make this project disappear behind my fridge. I’ll need to piece the frame together since I don’t have a run of it that long. I cut both pieces of the frame at 45 degrees where I’m going to butt them together, making sure I get a match in the design. I’ll probably need to use some stain to help camouflage the joint.

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

So next its off to Menards to buy some bead board plywood, and some trim to go on either side of the frame. The gal working at Menards tells me they can’t cut a 4 x 8 plywood sheet down for me so that I can fit it in my car. Hmmm. I’ve had wood cut down at Menards before, but who wants to argue, right?

Home Depot, here I come. A friendly employee at Home Depot happily cuts some plywood for me so that another Home Depot employee and I can man-handle, bend, and smash it into my tiny, little car. I’m wondering how the heck I’m going to get this thing out of my car when I get home. As usual, I manage because where there’s a will, there’s a way. And I was blessed/cursed with an overabundance of will.

I determine the height of my paneling based on a picture I want to hang above it at a specific height. There are “rules” about how tall to make wainscoting, but I’m not concerned about decorating rules this time. Everybody knows what they say rules are meant for anyway.

I’m lucky enough to have a baseboard that has a wide enough top ledge to accommodate the bead board, so it’s not necessary to remove the baseboard. I simply place the plywood on top of it, and then tack up the bead board with some small, white finish nails. I don’t use construction adhesive because if I get tired of it, I want to be able to easily remove it. I sink my nails, and spackle over them. I caulk along where the plywood and baseboard meet.

Now I can set the picture frame board on top of the bead board, and attach it to the wall with finish nails. It works pretty fantastically (is that a word?) because there’s already a groove routed in the frame from where the glass would normally sit, and that groove sits right over the top of the bead board plywood. The two go together like Thelma and Louise says my son, Ross.

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now I trim out the picture frame wood with some decorative trim so it all looks like one big, happy family. Here’s what I use.

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I place the trim both underneath and on top of the frame piece.

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s a close up of the finished trim.

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I debate on whether or not to paint the wood from the frame white, but I like the old, worn look of it just like it is, and decide to leave well enough alone. So I paint the bead board and both pieces of trim white so they all match. I use some Old English furniture polish on the frame to hide the scratches, and it’s beautiful!
Here’s my little wall all decked out. Total cost was under $30.

Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here are before and after photos.

Before
Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After

 Turn a Vintage Picture Frame Into Decorative Trim / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It’s sort of amusing that the picture I chose to hang over my project says, “Kitchens are Made for Families to Gather”. I’m thinking any family gathering in this kitchen better not consist of more than two or three people or the jaws of life are going to have to be called in to pry everybody out. But I love my picture all the same. It makes me smile. And so it stays.

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.