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…
On Wednesday morning, this wall looked like this…
I spent several hours on Wednesday putting up additional bracing between the studs for the lower cabinets,…
…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.
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:
- 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
- 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.
Here’s a closer view of one of the end sections…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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. 🙂