I have spent the last three days with one singular goal in mind — to finish my hallway cabinet.
Do you even remember this cabinet that I started building last September? Did you remember that it wasn’t finished? I had certainly tried my hardest to forget about it, but since I have to walk through this hallway several times a day, it was pretty impossible to forget. The unfinished cabinet stood there as a daily reminder of my failure and frustration. But now…IT’S DONE!!
It had been almost finished once before, with chunkier moulding between the sections, and one wide drawer in the middle with two rows of moulding just like the doors…
And then I realized that since I failed to put a spacer between the cabinet and the wall, the left cabinet door wouldn’t open all the way because it hit the thermostat. I considered moving the thermostat until I realized that once the casing was installed around the cased opening between the hallway and the music room, I wouldn’t be able to open the drawer all the way either. So the cabinet had to move over about 3/4 inch.
Talk about major frustration! I removed the crown moulding and baseboards, and my brother and I moved the (very heavy) cabinet away from the wall, added a spacer (which was a 1″ x 2″ x 8′ piece of lumber sandwiched between the cabinet and the wall), and then shoved the cabinet back into place. I placed the wide side of the spacer against the wall so that the thin side (i.e., the 1″ side, which is actually only 3/4″ thick) gave just enough space between the wall and the cabinet so that the doors would open to a full 90-degree angle (or slightly more) and the drawer would open completely.
Sounds simple, right? That’s what I thought, too! But as you can see above, adding that spacer meant that I had to completely replace the moulding between the sections, as well as the crown moulding and baseboards, since all of those were now 3/4″ too short. But moving the cabinet away from the wall and then back into place also threw everything out of alignment just enough so that the drawer wouldn’t close all the way on the left side anymore. The drawer would be closed on the right side, but would be sitting away from the cabinet on the left about 1/4 inch. I tried every which way to make adjustments with no success.
So I gave up. I’ll admit it. I totally let this cabinet defeat me for about three-and-a-half months.
But this past weekend, I was determined to get it done. I removed the one big drawer, separated the drawer section into two sections, and made two brand new drawers.
I’m glad it happened this way, because these drawers are constructed better than the original drawer. (See that little magnet catch? That’s a remnant from one of my 50+ ideas and adjustments I tried to make that other drawer work. I forgot to remove it.)
The bottom section is pretty much the same as it was before, except that it’s completely finished now. I used three coats of General Finishes High Performance Topcoat on the plywood (my new absolute favorite water-based clear coat, which I buy right here), sanding between coats for a smooth finish, and then caulked the corners. I didn’t caulk the corners in the upper section, but since this lower section is specifically for Peeve’s litter box, I didn’t want to take any chance of cat litter getting caught in those small cracks. I also put an LED light in there that comes on automatically when it gets dark enough.
The litter box is a Petmate top entry litter box (I bought it here). I removed the lid, and then used my jigsaw to cut a large opening in the side where she enters. So she goes through the hole in the side of the cabinet (trimmed out with a cute Kitty Pass tunnel, which I bought here), and walks directly into her box. I placed the litter box on a Gorilla Grip cat litter mat (found here), which does an excellent job of getting all of the loose cat litter off of her paws before she exits the cabinet. That way she doesn’t track cat litter onto the floor outside the cabinet, although I really should move it so that it covers all of the exposed cabinet “floor” close to the side entry on the cabinet.
The top section is now usable cabinet space with the addition of two adjustable shelves on each side. The shelves are simply 3/4″ plywood, cut to fit, with 1″ x 2″ lumber nailed to the front edge to give it a clean, finished look. I gave those two coats of the General Finishes topcoat, sanding with 220-grit sandpaper between coats for a very smooth finish.
This project definitely taught me some very valuable lessons. First and foremost, always, always put a spacer between any cabinet, bookshelf, or anything else that will be built up against a wall, even if it doesn’t seem like the spacer is needed.
I should have learned that lesson from my kitchen. On the peninsula, I put the cabinets right up against the side wall on the right. That was before that wall had a cased opening, so having a drawer right next to the wall was no problem.
Later I added the cased opening, then added the 1″ x 4″ casing around the opening. The next time I tried to open that small drawer to the right of the dishwasher, it wouldn’t open all the way because it hit the casing! So I have one small drawer in my kitchen that can never be removed, and will only open about 3/4 of the way. A spacer would have prevented that problem.
So yes, I should have known better. But when I got started on this hallway cabinet project, it just completely slipped my mind. I can assure you that it’ll never happen again! 🙂 I guess sometimes I have to make a mistake a couple of times before I learn from it. Evidently the kitchen drawer didn’t cause me enough inconvenience and/or frustration to make me remember the importance of a spacer, but this hallway cabinet caused me so much frustration that I’m certain to never forget the importance of a spacer again.
I’m so relieved I can finally cross this project off of my list!