Kitchen Cabinet Installation Underway!

I finally feel like I’m making some really significant progress in the kitchen because I actually starting installing some cabinets yesterday!  I decided to work on the wall of cabinets first, which I’m hoping will end up something like this…

You can click here to see more details on my plans for that wall.

On Wednesday morning, this wall looked like this…

kitchen remodel progress as of 5-23-14 - 1

I spent several hours on Wednesday putting up additional bracing between the studs for the lower cabinets,…

wall of cabinets -- cabinet installation - 1

…and then installing the drywall, taping, mudding, and finishing the electrical wiring on this wall.  I took this picture before I did the taping and mudding, but I was so proud of that electrical work I did.

wall of cabinets -- cabinet installation - 2

Those outlets on the left side of that wall weren’t just straightforward, simple wiring.  The outlet on top had four wires (which really consisted of 12 individual wires — four black, four white, and four ground) that had to be connected to it, and the one on bottom had three wires (consisting of 9 individual wires — three black, three white, and three ground) that had to be connected to it.  They were pretty complicated (for me, at least), so my brother-in-law Bill drew a very thorough diagram for me, detailing where every single wire was supposed to go, and then he explained it to me twice.  I think I even made a video of him explaining it, but I found that the diagram was sufficient.  So I was pretty darn proud of my electrical work, and I was also so excited to finally see that awkward window be covered up once and for all.

With the taping and mudding done (for the most part), I was anxious to get started on the cabinets.

Now if you’ll remember, I’m using stock unfinished cabinets from Home Depot in my entire kitchen, but the last thing I want is for them to look like plain stock cabinets when I’m finished with them.  My goal is for them to look completely custom in my new finished kitchen.  Turning plain stock cabinets into something that looks custom can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible.

Another tricky situation is that I only have about 23 inches of depth on this wall from the wall to the door openings, so standard base cabinets wouldn’t fit there.  Instead, I’m using all upper wall cabinets to create the entire thing.  (I used upper cabinets as base cabinets on the built-ins at the condo also.  It works great if you have limited depth for base cabinets.)

Stock wall cabinets are 30 inches high and 12 inches deep.  Naturally, I don’t want a lower countertop that’s only 12 inches deep.  That wouldn’t be very usable.  And I certainly don’t want a countertop that’s only 30 inches high.  Even for someone as short as I am, 30 inches is way too low for a countertop.  So in order to use the upper wall cabinets as base cabinets, I had to do the following:

  1. Add a base to raise the cabinets up 4.5 inches so that they would be 34.5 inches tall just like the other base cabinets, and
  2. Add bracing/support to the back to bump them out from the wall so that the countertop would be deeper than 12 inches.

Here’s how I accomplished all of that:

First, I built bases for the cabinets.  I built them in three sections, since the middle section of cabinets will be bumped out from the wall 4.5 inches more than the side sections.  These bases are nothing fancy — just pieces of 2″ x 4″ lumber cut to the width of each section (a 30-inch section on each end, and a 57.5-inch section in the middle), with each section supported by smaller pieces of 2″ x 4″ lumber.  2″ x 4″ lumber is actually only 1.5″ thick, so stacking three layers gave me the 4.5 inches of height that I needed.  I put these together using wood glue and my nail gun with 2-inch 16-gauge nails.

wall of cabinets -- cabinet installation - 3

Here’s a closer view of one of the end sections…

wall of cabinets -- cabinet installation - 4

You can see that they’re not fancy at all, but it doesn’t matter.  All of the toekick areas will be covered with plywood when all is said and done.

Next I needed to add bracing/spacers to the wall.  I bumped out the side sections 4.5 inches.  On the bottom, I created spacers using three pieces of 2 x 4’s each, and attached them to the wall and to each other using wood glue and my nail gun.  These aren’t actually supporting weight, and I’m not even going to screw the cabinets to them.  Their only purpose is to act as spacers.

wall of cabinets -- cabinet installation - 5

The top braces needed to be much more structurally sound since they’ll not only have the cabinets screwed to them, but they’ll also be bearing some of the weight of the concrete countertops.  So I used 3-inch screws to put these together, and screwed them into the bracing that I put inside the wall before I put up the drywall.  I also measured very carefully and used a level to be sure that these were perfectly straight and level.

wall of cabinets -- cabinet installation - 7

I did the middle section the same way, except that the middle section needed to be bumped out an additional 4.5 inches, so each wall brace/spacer needed to consist of six (!) 2 x 4’s rather than only three like the outside sections.  With those in place, it looked like this.

wall of cabinets -- cabinet installation - 8

Note:  I ended up not needing all of those bottom spacers for the middle section.  As I was building all of this, I thought that I had purchased four 12-inch cabinets for the middle section, so I placed a spacer on each end, and then where each 12-inch cabinets would begin/end.  As it turns out, I purchased two 24-inch cabinets for the middle section, so I could have done without two of those spacers.  Oh well.  🙂

Here’s a look at the whole wall with all of the bracing for the lower cabinets in place.

wall of cabinets -- cabinet installation - 6

It’s definitely not pretty, but again, absolutely none of this will show when everything is finished.  All of the bracing and spacers will be hidden by the countertops, and the bases will be covered by 1/4-inch plywood to create the toekick.

The cabinets aren’t actually installed yet, but here’s a look at them all sitting in place.

wall of cabinets -- cabinet installation - 9

I put the turned wood legs there just for reference, but that’s not exactly where they’ll be, or what they’re going to look like when it’s finished.  They’re 36 inches tall right now, and I need to cut them down to 30 inches.  Unfortunately they’re too big to fit under the blade on my miter saw, so I need to figure out how I’m going to cut them.  Once they’re cut, they’ll be sitting up on the base with the cabinets, and the front of the turned legs will be even with the front of the cabinets.

It’ll look something like this…

kitchen cabinets - wood columnsKitchen via GardenWeb

There’s still so much to do in order to get the rest of the cabinets installed, but I finally feel like I’m making some very significant progress in this kitchen! The pretty stuff isn’t too far away now. 🙂



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  1. There is no way I would tackle a job like that. You amaze me! In a good way, of course. 🙂

  2. I am so impressed and jealous with your ability to do electrical. Lucky to have your brother-in-law to guide you. That’s always my biggest draw back. Electrical scares me do death. Love to watch the process of remodeling as mine is finished but I get excited as if it was my house. Great job encouraging others to do it your self.

    1. Gail, until about two weeks ago, I was scared to death of electrical work also. I swore that I’d never touch the stuff. But my sister and brother-in-law came over, and he walked me through each thing — how to install switches, how to install outlets, how to hook up the wires to the breaker box. He explained what the dangers were, how to do everything safely, what to touch, what not to touch, etc. Just gaining that understanding and having him walk me through everything and watch me do the first few switches and outlets alleviated all of my fears. I went from being scared to death of it to feeling very confident with it now.

      1. I wish I knew someone to teach me–congrats on learning this. You’re really progressing now–don’t you love it when a plan comes together?

      2. Do be careful! I once tried and the electrician who came to fix my mess was surprised I had not shocked myself. Glad you had instructions from someone knowledgeable. I LOVE those cabinets…I’m so jealous I can’t stand it. The legs are a beautiful touch. Other than aesthetics, is there a reason for the bump out?

        1. Aesthetics, but also just to gain a little more countertop space on the center section. I didn’t want the whole countertop to be that deep all the way across because I wanted a bit of wall space/wiggle room between the cabinets and the thick moulding I plan to use around the doorways. Doing it this way will leave about 3 inches of space between the cabinet and the edge of the trim around the doorways, and even less between the front edge of the countertop and the edge of the trim around the doorways.

  3. You are one determined lady…. wow. I hope someone will be helping you put those upper cabinets in..!! This will look amazing when you are done…!!

    1. Nope, I’ll be doing the upper cabinets myself. 🙂 I installed the upper cabinets in the condo by myself, so I know I can do it. And I’ve learned some tricks along the way to make it easier.

  4. ummmmmmm I know how you can get those legs trimmed to size……
    It’s looking good, you are the master house remodeler!!

  5. I’m loving it and so excited since it’s all going to go much more quickly now. Just one thing though, if that were mine, I’d take the back off the center cabinet and attach another side panel to attain the full depth.

    1. I did consider that for a while, but then I decided that the additional work wasn’t worth the few inches of storage I’d gain. At least not for me. 🙂 Especially since I decided to add even more cabinets on the back side of the peninsula. But certainly, for someone who really uses their kitchen a great deal and needs every inch of space to store their gadgets and small appliances, removing the back panel and extending it to the wall would be a great idea.

  6. Kristi, if you figured all that blocking out on your own you should be teaching somewhere! That is probably the hardest part of the job! Having seen what you have done makes me realize that there is so much that can be done with just a little Yankee injenuity! My other thought was…..I sure hope you never move and sell to someone who decides to change the kitchen! You thought you had a tough time getting the old cabinets off the wall, can you imagine what someone would think when trying to undo your genius, LOL. It will be a beautiful kitchen just what you wanted. It is so much fun taking this journey with you! Blessings~

  7. I think you mentioned previously that you have a table saw. If so, that might allow you to cut the turned legs cleanly. You might need to make 2 passes to cut the entire thickness, with the base (or top) of the leg resting against the fence at the same distance for each cut. A cross-cut sled with a stop block would make that cut easier. Steve Ramsey has a great tutorial for building a sled on youtube.

  8. Yay! It’s looking so pretty already. I am excited for you and am looking forward to seeing the progress each step of the way. You are so inspiring!!!

  9. Well, its really coming together and turning into a KITCHEN! I can’t wait to see how the cabinet color looks on the cabinets. I hate to throw something new at you (or maybe you’ve already thought about it) but with the space under your base in the toe kick area have you considered using any of that space for storage drawers or other options. It didn’t cross my mind until I saw the photos today of your base.
    There are some really great storage solutions for this area. One kitchen that I l loved had a little step ladder made to fit. The top of the ladder looked just like the remainder of the toe kick area. I did a Google search using “toe kick storage ideas” and it came up with scads of great ideas including versions of the step ladder (I’m vertically challenged, too). Anyway just a thought since everything is not “nailed in yet.

      1. Some of the kitchens I saw in my search results had feet or arches but of course you can’t tell the dimensions of the cabinets. If I could retrofit my toe kick space I would only ask for two things: one: the storage for the step ladder; two, is an opening attached to the central vacuum system which sits in the area of the basement below the kitchen. I figured since all your planning was done that it might be too late to figure them in. I wish I could retrofit but in my space it would be too costly.
        I’m also wishing I hadn’t done that search after seeing some of the new ideas for organizing using hidden wasted space. Good thing dreaming is still free!

  10. Kristi, in your first shots, before the drywall, why is the center 2×4 askew? It looks like you did a great job putting the braces in there despite. I’m just curious. Just the age of the home or settling…?

    1. Haha! There are so many things about this house that I see and wonder, “Why?!” 😀 The 2 x 4s on that wall are no exception. I don’t think it has anything to do with the house settling. I think whoever put those studs up just didn’t worry so much about them being straight. I tried to straight a couple of them by whacking them as hard as I could with a hammer at the base, but the things wouldn’t even budge at all. So I decided if they’ve been like that for 65 years, they’re probably not going anywhere. 🙂

  11. Loving the progress…have become addicted to your site and am now itching for my own place to fix up (living in Army housing at the moment)! Just one thing I can’t visualize is this: won’t the turned legs be in the way of opening the cabinets the the left/right of them? The Gardenweb kitchen seems to have some space behind the turned legs.

    1. I actually just finished tweaking the plan a bit to make more room. About to head to Home Depot to exchange some cabinets so that there will be more room on each side of the columns. 🙂

      There’s actually plenty of room without the additional space for all of the doors to open and close, but visually it just looks cramped. Things definitely need to be a bit more spread out around those columns.

  12. Oh, I’m having fun now! Looks like you’ll have a new kitchen by Independence Day – or earlier!

  13. It is beginning to look like a real kitchen!!!!! Whooooohoooo! One question. Will you be putting a spacer between the cabinets and then attaching the decorative posts? Or will the posts cover the entire gap? It is looking great! So excited for Monday. With the weekend ahead it is fun to wonder what we will be seeing. LOL

  14. I’m sure it’s just the photo but I’m trying to figure out how the doors will open with the decorative legs there. It doesn’t look like a space is there for the legs like in the sketch.
    I really can’t wait to see the cabinets painted. You have such patience. This is so exciting. 🙂

  15. Thanks Kristi, for the in-depth explanation. Ever since I saw your built-in bookcases in your condo, I’ve been dreaming and scheming to do a similar look in my den/sewing room, but when I considered using upper cabinets for the bottom, I thought it would be too narrow as well, but 24 inches seemed a bit too wide. But I couldn’t quite figure out what to do about it. Now that you’ve shown us how to do it, I can start scheming some more!
    I do have two questions, one that applies to my situation, and the other one just a curiosity question:
    1) Is it not necessary to prime and paint wallboard? I certainly don’t blame you for NOT doing it, if it’s not necessary, I guess I assumed it needed to be finished to preserve it or something.
    2) when gluing and nailing the 2 x 4s together, when you use the 2″ nails – is the 1/2″ that penetrates the second board enough? and do you put 1 nail into the first two boards, and another into the 2nd and 3rd board. Sorry to be so dense, and to ask such specific questions, but well, I just want to be sure I’m understanding everything.
    Thanks for your response!

    1. Regarding the priming and painting the drywall, I actually had the very same question (and I also wondered if it’s necessary to tape and mud behind cabinets) so I googled the question last night and happened upon two different forums where DIYers and contractors alike contribute to the info. What I found was that there are varying opinions on the topic even among contractors. Most say that at the very least you should tape the seams and use one very thin coat of mud. Others were at the other end of the spectrum and believed that all of the seams should be thoroughly and perfectly taped and mudded, and then the walls should be primed and painted before installing cabinets.

      So because I was anxious to get on with the cabinets, I opted for the “tape with one thin coat of mud” option. 🙂 I might go the other route on the walls that have plumbing so that if I ever have a leak, maybe the primer and paint can shield the drywall from water damage, but on this particular wall there are no plumbing pipes. The only thing in there are electrical wires.

      This was definitely one of those situations where I didn’t necessarily do things in an order that makes sense, but I did them in an order that keeps me motivated to continue. 🙂

      And you’re certainly not dense about the bracing and spacers. I didn’t explain that part well at all.

      On both the braces at the top, as well as the spacers at the bottom, I started by attaching one piece to the wall (using screws for the top braces, and glue/nails for the bottom spacers). Then I attached the second piece to the first piece using the same method, and then I attached the third piece to the second piece in the same way. So I started at the wall and worked out, and each new “layer” has screws or nails/glue holding it in place.

  16. Amazing progress you are making, all that work and You still have time to post for us all to see. You need your own TV show!!!

  17. We’re as happy as you to see this progress. It’s going to be so wonderful. Congratulations! Your hard work is paying off. The only thing I would have done differently (if I were able to do it at all) would have been to hang the top cabinets first so you don’t have the bottom ones in the way when you hang the top. But don’t do it like I would have done. Do it the way you feel most inspired to do it. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. You make it look much more simple than it reallly is.

  18. Hi Kristi, I spent hours today looking at house on line for when we retire next year. I saw quite a few very upscale kitchens with designs similar to what you are doing with the table legs. It really looks very nice. I saw a few other things that got me thinking, not just about my new house, but also about yours. I know you plan to have your sink in the peninsula, and you decided against using stools on the breakfast room side of the peninsula. I cannot remember if you planned to have your counter overhang or just have it as wide as your sink cabinet. Anyway, here is what I though of….If you do not have an overhang, instead of having your faucet at the back of the sink, you could have it on the side, which would then allow you to access your sink from both sides of the peninsula. I also thought, if, again, there is no over hang, you cold have your dishwasher front facing the breakfast room, so that when you clear the table you are not walking around to load. I know you would still have to walk around if you have stuff to load from the kitchen, but it’s six of one and half a dozen of another. Anyway, these were just some thoughts that popped into my head as I was looking at houses and trying to reconfigure kitchens to my liking and also thinking about staging my current home for when we put it on the market. I have gotten rid of a lot of furniture ( read needy kids) and am now faced with empty rooms that are not great when showing a house. So I am mentally moving things from one place to another, just a fun Saturday! Looking forward to seeing your latest progress on Monday!

  19. It’s Feb 2016 and I’ve just discovered your website/blog. I LOVE IT!!!!! I like doing things myself but I have become chicken over the years, especially since I’m married to a contractor (who doesn’t do a single thing to his own home unless I’m in the middle of it-UHG!!!) and you have inspired me. Thank you! And I’ll keep discovering new pages on your blog.