DIY Hallway Cabinets – All Painted And (Practically) Finished!

My hallway cabinets are pretty much finished, with the exception of a couple of details. Overall, I’m very pleased with how they turned out. If you missed the other posts on this project, you can click here for how I built the actual cabinets

DIY Hallay Cabinets - Part 1

…and click here for info on how I made the cabinet doors with no fancy cabinet door-making tools…

Simple DIY Cabinet Doors - make cabinet doors with basic tools

The hallway isn’t finished yet…obviously…but here’s how the cabinets turned out.

finished hallway cabinets - front full view

Overall, I’m pleased. But in hindsight, I wish I had done a couple of things differently. Mainly, I wish I had left off the horizontal trim that I added between the drawer and cabinet sections. I got that idea from a photo I really liked, but the cabinet in the photo had inset doors rather than overlay doors. In my mind, I thought it would still look really great. In reality, it just created too many lines and too many shadows from the one ceiling light in the room. I do plan to get a solar tube installed in the hallway very soon (possibly this week), so it will provide a great deal more (and much more natural) light in this dark hallway, so that might help the issue. We’ll see.

But other than that, I really like how the cabinets turned out. Of course, the crown moulding and baseboards that wrap around the cabinets will continue around the room (which is why they’re cut at angles), but I’m thinking I might want to settle on a wall design first and get it done before I install the rest of the trim.

In my first post about building the cabinet, the upper cabinet area was just one big open area from left to right…

how to build cabinets- 19 - add trim between sections

That would have required 4-foot-long shelves. I decided that was way too wide. The wider the shelves, the more likely they are to bow over time, and I didn’t want to have bowed shelves. But also having 4-foot-wide adjustable shelves would really limit how I could store things in these cabinets. If I had one tall item that needed to be stored, the entire 4-foot shelf would have to be adjusted to the proper height just to store that one item, which might create a lot of wasted space if everything else is much smaller.

So I decided to add a middle panel to separate the upper cabinet into two sections. I drilled all of my pin holes first (using my Kreg shelf pin jig), and then I attached it using pocket holes (created using my Kreg pocket hole jig) and screwed it into place.

how to build cabinets- 21 - add separator in upper section using pocket holes and screws

So now I have two separate sections with fully adjustable 24-inch-wide shelves. I filled the pocket holes using the Kreg pocket hole plugs and sanded them smooth.

I haven’t cut the shelves yet, but I’ll just use the same 3/4″ plywood that I used to build the cabinets. And then I’ll use shelf pins like these (I found mine at Lowe’s) to hold the shelves in place.

I kept the inside of the cabinets the natural color and just used General Finishes High Performance Topcoat to seal them.

finished hallway cabinets - interior of upper cabinet with polyurethaned natural color plywood

I ran out before I could get enough coats on (I’d like to do two coats on the top section, but probably three or four on the bottom since it will hold a litter box), so I had to order more. I get mine here. It should be here to day so I can finish this up, let it dry, and start using this storage by the end of the week.

finished hallway cabinets - interior of upper cabinet with polyurethaned natural plywood - 2

Several of you asked me about the cabinet door on the left, and if the thermostat would interfere with the cabinet opening all the way. It does, of course, but I don’t know that it interferes enough for me to go to the trouble of moving it.

finished hallway cabinets - interior of upper left cabinet

And then there’s my favorite part of all — the little cat doorway on the side. I found it here, and it seemed way overpriced to me, but I couldn’t resist.

finished hallway cabinets - side of cabinet with cat door entrance to litter box

So that’s it! My pretty-much-finished-but-not-quite hallway cabinets.

finished hallway cabinets - side view

Sure, I’d do some things differently if I could start over today with the knowledge I have now, but let’s face it. These cabinets, even with the extra trim and shadows, are 1000% better than what was there when we moved into this house…

Hallway 12 - resized

Please tell me you agree. 😀



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  1. 1000% better! Nice work! I do agree that the added piece to the drawer front is very busy. I hope you take it off. But nonetheless, your cabinet is gorgeous and love the cat door! Purrfect 😺

  2. It looks awesome Kristi, you’ve done a fantastic job……..and yes, I too agree, it’s much better than the cupboard that was there before.

  3. I think it came out awesome!

    If the thermostat thing becomes an issue, you can totally fix it with a bumper (though something tells me you won’t want a bumper visible). I know for doorway doors, they make a little metal bumper that fits onto the hinge and can be adjusted to allow the door to open only as far as you want it to. I wonder if there’s something similar you can use for the hidden cabinet hinges.

  4. It’s awesome, but I can’t help think it’s the most elaborate cat potty I’ve ever seen 😉

    Seriously, you did a great job and I like ALL the trim, in fact, I plan to borrow your door technique for an upcoming winter project.

  5. Looks amazing. I see what you are saying about the trim on the drawer but if you hadn’t pointed that out, I’d have thought it was perfect as is. I am so impressed. Congrats!

  6. I wouldn’t have noticed the trim shadow if you hadn’t written about it, and I think once the hallway is finished and decorated a casual observer won’t notice it at all. Actually, it’s not bad, really, just a bit busier than you usually go for. The cat door is awesome! A solar tube is a great idea for that space, too. You are back in gear!

    1. Agree with Donna. The cabinet is gorgeous as per usual with everything you do, I love *all* of the trim, and LOVE that you left the inside natural. It’s very, very pretty. I am *not* showing this post to my cat, she will be far too interested in that super fancy litter box set up you have for Peeve, and I just don’t have the space or the skill to make one for her though I too would adore having the box hidden away like that! =^.^=

  7. Congratulations on having a more functional home (and hidden litter box, that’s a big thing – and I agree with you, that kitty door is a bit ridiculously priced, but I wouldn’t regret buying it either)! 🙂

    About the thermostat, I built my kitchen using IKEA pieces, and they recommend adding a vertical spacer next to walls, so that the doors have enough space to open – I see that my mom’s italian made kitchen does the same for some drawers they put in the corner. If the cabinets are still able to move, that would be a quick fix – and I think it would make the whole set of cabinets look more balanced to the eye, now they look a bit too close to the wall.

    1. Phoebe, I’ve been wondering why Krisiti didn’t use a spacer. Glad I’m not the only one seeing this. I figured it would be standard practice…is this a live and learn thing, Krisit? As long as it doesn’t bother you…I say great!

      1. Yep, definitely a live and learn thing. 🙂 That’s why I wanted to be sure to build this smaller cabinet before I jumped into the pantry project, and especially before I started building the studio cabinets. I knew I’d make mistakes that I could learn from, and I’d rather make those mistakes on this hallway cabinet than the pantry or studio cabinets.

        1. Well, as far as “mistakes” go, this is easily fixable, IF the cabinets can move – just push them a bit to the right, add some cubes of wood between the wall and cabinet, and screw the spacer on them! You’ll need to add the trim on the bottom and top, but you can do that when you do the rest of the room…

  8. Fantastic! The cat door is so stinkin’ cute, it makes me want to get a cat!😋 I think the horizontal trim is fine and the only way to cover those seams. Maybe what’s bothering you is the inset trim on the drawer front. If you look at a lot of kitchen pictures a drawer that narrow in depth will not have the trim.

  9. My husband and I will be building our cabinet and open shelf storage in 6 weeks. We have to go home to NC and get some of our tools first, that’s why the delay. Again, thank you for giving me a visual to show my husband instead of trying to convince him of my vision.

    I will let you know how it turns out.

    Looking forward to the next update!

  10. Gazillion times better than the before. Also, I am always impressed with the super smooth paint finish on all of your cabinets. Read your post “How To Paint Cabinets With A Paint Brush (and get a near-perfect finish!).” Guess there are no shortcuts to a perfect finish.

  11. Kristi,
    Wish I had your skills! The hall cabinet fantastic. If you think the horizontal trim between the cabinets and drawers looks too busy, would removing the thin inner trim from the face of the drawer help visually open up the middle section of the cabinet?

    1. I think that might help. And also replacing the trim between the drawer and cabinet sections with smaller, thinner trim might help. I’ll probably wait until more of the hallway is finished and my solar tube is installed before making a decision, but I’m going to keep those trim options in mind.

  12. Kristi, this cabinet looks great. I just have a couple of questions about the finishes. Does the Topcoat Finish have an odor to it? Has your sweet kittie gone in and used the box in its new location yet? Do you think, with the doors closed and that small hole, there is enough light inside? I know cats have amazing eyesight, but for my own comfort, I like to have a bit of light in their litter closet. My litter boxes are in a literal walk in closet and I have strung some of those cheap white Christmas lights and keep them on till they burn out and I pull them down and string up a new one…cheap and easy. With your box, you can put in one of those battery operated puck lights that stick to the ceiling with double stick tape, if you think you need light in there.

    1. The topcoat is water-based, so once it dries and has a day or so to cure, there’s no odor. I mean, to me there’s no odor even when it’s wet. But it does have a slight smell to it.
      Peeve hasn’t used her litter box in the cabinet yet. I haven’t put it in there yet since the plywood isn’t sealed. But I have put her in the cabinet through the cat entrance, and she didn’t object. I think she’ll be fine since we had a similar setup at the condo that she used.
      There’s an outlet in the bottom cabinet where the litter box will go. I bought an LED nightlight to put in there for her.

  13. Looks great! I love the white, it’s what I would have done, BUT, I swear you said it wasn’t going to be white???

    1. I’m shocked that you’re the only one who said anything about that! 😀 You’re correct. I said it was going to be dark teal. I changed my mind. I had some plans for the hallway that I’ve decided to save for elsewhere, like possibly our future master bedroom. My plans just started to seem a bit fancy for just a hallway, so I decided to stick with white trim, white cabinets, and light (but not boring) walls. But I am going to be doing my doors in a dark teal instead of black. 🙂

    1. She hasn’t really used it yet. I don’t want to put the litter box in there until that plywood is really sealed. I did put her through the cat entrance, and she didn’t object. I think she’ll be fine since we had a similar setup with a litter box in a cabinet at the condo.

  14. Well done! I see what you mean about the trim, but honestly, I would not have paid any attention to it if you hadn’t mentioned it. If it continues to bother you, I think I would remove the drawer trim to lighten the look. Easier than taking the thing apart! Can’t wait to see the light you get from the solar tube – I want one for our bath in the hallway, but due to our rafter configuration, I’m told we can’t do it. BOO! And I am dying to see how the wall color looks!

  15. Meow! Love the cat door! The whole cabinet is beautiful and will be so useful for many different things you’ll need in that part of your home. Totally love the look.

  16. Beautiful. Wish I could do half what you do! I can dream it up but have to find somebody to actually build stuff. If I still had all the tools we once had, I MIGHT give it a try. But sometimes I’m not exactly graceful!

    I love the cabinets. Looks fine to me. Can’t wait to see what you do next.

  17. Kristi,

    Beautiful job! I love the litter box tucked away and the “kitty” door is so cute! You have both great vision and talent. I’m learning lots by following your blog. True, I’m in a rental, but there is so much that I can learn that helps me come up with ideas for storage and all kinds of things. I’m almost an old lady now, 70, but I still enjoy tinkering around at times and always enjoy learning new things. Thanks for all your sharing!

  18. Wow!!! Amazing!!! I wouldn’t change a thing. I think some people are misunderstanding which trim piece you wish you hadn’t added. You’re talking about the piece BEHIND the drawer front, not ON the drawer front, right?

    I can’t wait to see the difference a solar tube makes in your hall. My kitchen has zero natural light and the only thing I can think to do is add a solar tube. We diy everything ourselves and we’re intimidated by that one project.

    1. Right, the pieces that bother me are the ones that separate the drawer section from the cabinet sections. I’m not bothered by the trim on the actual drawer. But I think some people are simply suggesting that if the number of horizontal lines in that small area is bothering me, perhaps a simple solution would be to remove the smaller trim from the face of the drawer. Maybe just reducing the number of horizontal lines in such a small area would reduce the busy appearance that bothers me. It might work! But I’m going to wait until I’ve gotten more done on the hallway before I make that judgment call.

      1. Once the hall is finished, if it still bothers you couldn’t you just make a new drawer front that’s wider from top to bottom? That seems like the easiest solution to me.

  19. I love everything you do,, It’s just my taste to a tee..
    What’s with the blue on the door by the new cabinet? I’m sure your testing colors , but for what area…I really like that blue.
    ( I might have missed a post on it) Can you share the brand and color?
    The Kitty potty,, well, that’s so cute,, makes me want to go find a Kitty. lol
    Keep up the good post,, love seeing everything your doing..

    1. The colors on the door are colors I was testing for the hallway. My initial plan was to paint the doors, trim, and cabinet all one (non-white) color, preferably teal. As you can see, I changed my mind about the cabinet and trim, but I’m still going to paint my doors teal. The color you see above is Beta Fish from Behr. You can see more of that one, plus another teal I tested, here: https://www.addicted2decorating.com/diy-fail-paint-color-options.html

  20. Nice work! I need to learn how to use those Kreg thingamajigs. I am working on some very plain cabinets with no detail at all in my garage/studio, so I have been following your progress with interest. They were already here when we bought the house, so I didn’t have to do any construction, but I might want some more so I would like to have a go at it. Right now, I am just painting them. You always inspire me to try new things.

  21. I love the result and several details on the cabinet! The idea of a middle partition in the upper part so that you have narrower shelves will make tidying up a lot easier, I guess – great idea! I love the trim and that it’s going to be continued in the room – and I think that the trim between the cupboard and drawer section ties in perfectly with the cat door and moulding on top and bottom. I agree that the front could be read as a bit busy, but if it really annoys you, it might be easiest to get rid of all or some of the trim on the drawer – as it is so narrow, to me that is the bit that seems to be busiest. Having said that I know that I wouldn’t change anything myself – it’s just a suggestion to your wish for perfection 🙂
    I’m really curious how everything will look with the light from the solar tube and when the doors are painted… thanks for sharing!

  22. These are amazing Kristi! You inspire me to build things myself–thank you for giving all the details to your builds!

  23. I think the moldings between the sections give a very finished and high end look to the cabinets. This is especially noticeable on the sides of the cabinets; the sides would be rather plain without those two moldings. Just my two cents.

  24. continuing here — if anything, maybe delete the inside molding on the drawer front if you want to simplify a bit, but keep those moldings between the sections!

  25. Is the notch out of the trim on the left had upper section there so you can run trim along the wall/ ceiling?
    This is a project that is hard to tell how nice it is going to look until everything is finished. Then I will probably say “Wow! That looks great” but at this point it is really hard to tell! But everything you do always works out, so i have faith.

    1. Yes, the trim (both the crown and the baseboards) are cut at angles in the corners where the rest of the trim around the hallway will be installed.

  26. If the thermostat bothers you too much, that should be a simple fix. Can’t you just move it to the other side of the shared wall and just patch the hole where it currently resides? Hope that makes sense.

    1. I’ve considered that, and might end up doing it if it becomes a problem. Right now, the thermostat doesn’t really bother me there, but that may change when I start actually using the cabinet for regular storage.

  27. This looks fabulous! Every detail! All the details! Even the cat door – I’m not a cat person, but I think that is so cute! And I do think that once you get some more real light in there, those deep shadows won’t be so bothersome or noticeable.

  28. That hallway is gonna rock once the doors are painted that amazing color! I certainly wouldn’t have thought anything about the cabinet trim before you mentioned it and still don’t, but simple and minimal aren’t in my decorating vocabulary.