Catch-Up On My Cabinetry-Cation

So glad the corner can light turned out so well highlighting those cabinets! Great when a plan comes together!

At the start of the week…

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of not going to an office every day and stayed home to build cabinetry.  Though I had planned on posting pics of everything I was working on, the reality is that I was so busy with my cabinetry-cation (and since), that I haven’t gotten the chance to post updates on everything I got done.  So, sorry about the delays, but here goes.

I started my staycation with 2 upper cabinets finished* and installed – the upper corner lazy susan cabinet and a relatively straightforward cabinet that mounted next to it. (See the picture to the right.)  I had also gotten a really good head start on most of the base and remaining upper cabinetry in the kitchen, but it wasn’t really ready to go. Here’s how the week shook out.

I Changed Direction

After installing those first two upper cabinets, Mr PoP and I went to install the other upper cabinet that was to go on the left side of the corner as was the plan shown in this picture:

Looked great on the ground, but felt off when we went to mount the one on the left...

Looked great on the ground…

But when we put it up there, neither of us were really a fan of it without being able to put our fingers on it. So that got pulled down and instead I spent a good chunk of this week building an open shelf (similar to this design from Ana White) to go in that spot instead. I’m pretty sure I like it, but I’ll probably hold off on getting rid of the already-built left hand cabinet for a while until I’m absolutely sure this is for us since in the past Mr PoP and I had talked about open shelving and been wary of it for cat and gross-ness reasons. (Any ideas on what we should put on these shelves?)


There were two big take-homes from this:

  1. It’s nice (well, as nice as it can be while requiring 2x the effort!) to be able to build two different items and actually test them out to see which we’ll like better – one of the often ignored benefits of DIY!
  2. Cutting curves is hard – really hard. The first one I did with the jigsaw was atrocious! Luckily, power sanders really helped remedy the problems from my imperfect cutting.

I Built Some Custom Drawers

One of the biggest reasons that I wanted to build our own cabinetry was that it would give me the opportunity to build some truly awesome drawer features without incurring a huge amount of extra cost for them. I had seen estimates of $300/drawer for every toe-kick drawer, and I wanted those and so much more without paying those steep prices.

The first ones I worked on were some really cool drawers that are going to be in the corner base unit above a big lazy Susan for our pots and pans. Instead of pulling out straight from the wall, though, these drawers pull out at a 45-degree angle from the corner. Doesn’t make sense? Here’s a couple pictures:


The cool thing about these drawers (and there are two, despite there only being one in these pictures) is that not only will their unique shape bring me great joy, but they are also deeper than normal drawers, running on 28″ sliders instead of on 22″ sliders. For now, I’m thinking they’ll be used to store lids for the pots and pans that will live below on the lazy susan, but we’ll see if that plan changes over time.

Cutting and fitting the bottoms into these drawers was tough, too – requiring me to once again use the jigsaw to make the bulk of the cuts and then follow it up with a good amount of sanding to get the fits right.


Toekick drawer!

Then I also built some toe-kick drawers since I wanted the slides for these already installed before the bottom cabinets go in. While the toe-kick drawers were easier to build than the the curved open shelves or the corner drawers (rectangles are soooooo much easier!!), getting the slides and everything lined up exactly ended up taking way longer than I thought it would. And sadly, as Mr PoP reminded me when I showed him how straight and spot on I had finally gotten the two adjacent toe-kick drawers on the kitchen-sink cabinet, I will be the only one that ever really notices how perfectly level they are. (And sadly I forgot to take a picture of it before I took the slides off to varnish them, so I can’t even prove it here!) But I’m kindof okay with that.

I built a couple of other simpler drawers, and even made a temporary custom insert for our silverware with some scrap wood.


I also made good progress on this drawer that I’m calling my “no-counter-clutter” drawer. It’s not quite installed yet, but you can get the idea. This drawer will go right between the stove and fridge (see the hole in the pic with the toekick drawer for its future location) and will be my go-to place for items that I don’t want taking up precious counter space. On the left we have 3 stainless steel bins that will be stand-up storage for cooking utensils like spatulas, spoons, ladles, etc. Then on the right we’ll have dedicated storage for paper towels and clean hand-towels and kitchen wash cloths.


Also note again, cutting circles is hard! Luckily these stainless steel bins have enough of a lip on them that we won’t ever see my imperfect jigsaw cuts.

I (Mostly) Finished the Lower Cabinets

With the exception of a couple more custom drawers that can be installed after the cabinets are in place, the lower cabinets are now getting installed. After grouting some more of the floor this past weekend, Mr PoP and I got the first couple of lower cabinets installed (the corner and sink cabinets) and have two more sitting in place waiting for us to have a little more time to get them in.

We tossed a couple of pieces of spare wood on top of them and instantly increased our available “counter space” by ~1000%! (Huge gains like that are easy when you’re starting with a < 1sqft cutting board as your only counter space.)

So this is where we are now:


Starting to look like a kitchen, eh?  (Okay, so technically 2 of the base cabinets – the one right of the fridge and the one left of the dishwasher aren’t screwed into the wall yet.  But they’re ready!)

I’m going to try and get some temporary counters cut out of the ½” maple plywood sections that came included in our order as packing material and then we’ll really be in business.

So What’s Left?

There’s still a fair amount to do, especially in the dining room which will have two big units (built of several smaller ones). But I really did get a ton done on the cabinetry as well as taking care of some other long overdue items around the house.   And it’s a huge plus that our back patio (at least for now) looks less hoarder-ish now that those cabinets are in place inside.  =)


What would you do with a week-long stay-cation?

17 comments to Catch-Up On My Cabinetry-Cation

  • Wow! You guys are much better fabricators than I realized. Bravo. I love the toekick drawer. What are you planning to put in there? Infrequently used items like cooling racks or cookie sheets?

    Income Surfer recently posted..This Conversation Made My WeekMy Profile

    • Thanks, Bryan! For now I’m thinking the toe-kicks will have things like cooling racks and other supplies that I don’t use often and are also fairly flat.

  • Wow, this is looking amazing! I especially love the no counter clutter drawer.
    Leigh recently posted..Q3 2015 UpdateMy Profile

    • That one might be my favorite, too! We gave up a little counter space with the layout change, so I’m trying to make sure we don’t keep things out all the time taking up valuable counter real estate. =)

  • Another Wow!

    We have that corner cabinet in our rental, only with doors and with a v cut in the susan as well. The doors are a bit fussy, but the lazy susan is great.
    nicoleandmaggie recently posted..RBOCMy Profile

  • Facebook just reminded me that it’s been five years since my week stay-cation building a bunch of built-in bookcases. I look back on that time fondly… I took a day or two off this year to work on the shed, and just two days ago, after many weekends and weeknights away, it finally has a door! So I can actually, like, put things in it. Pretty amazing feeling.

    Your stuff all looks really good! I’ve never even heard of toe-kick drawers before. Seems like a good use of space.
    Norm recently posted..Kids: Increase Your Halloween Stash With These 3 Simple TipsMy Profile

    • A door! We’re not quite there yet, but I can totally understand the feeling. Your bookcase stay-cation sounds awesome! I assume you’re still using those all the time.

  • It looks great! I love the blog and have enjoyed reading all year about your kitchen (and more) renovation. It is super impressive what you have learned and been able to do w/ those cabinets!

  • I love all your custom drawers! The pull outs for the lids are amazing, and the stuff for counter clutter is sweet too.

    re: the open shelves, those are perfect for things that look okay and are used every day. For me, I’d put my electric teakettle up there if it fit. I keep that on an open shelf in my kitchen. I also keep a berry bowl (pretty and used regularly in the summer), some plates, and my mixing bowls. The mixing bowls aren’t used quite as often, but they look really nice, and it’s easy to wipe dust out of them if needed.

    Thanks for the update :-) can’t wait to see more!
    Leah recently posted..Time and seasonsMy Profile

  • Looking good! I’m amazed at the things you were able to do and make yourself. That’s awesome!
    Cat@BudgetBlonde recently posted..Why We Invested Over $10,000 in Ourselves This YearMy Profile

  • bluewater

    really impressive work, really enjoy these posts. one thing i’ve struggled with in building is really getting a nice finish. hard to tell from the photos but did you roll/brush out the cabinets and poly the insides or did you invest in a sprayer? with a bit (or a bunch) of sandpaper and a kreg jig the construction of cabinets is surprisingly straightforward!

    p.s. if you’ve got a lot of building in your future a hole saw kit makes quick work, precise holes and is a lifesaver if you have more than a handful to cut out.

    • So far I’ve been brushing the poly on. I start with a 100-150 grit sand and do at least 2 coats with a 150 grit sand in between. Then for places where our hands will be, I follow with a 220 grit sand and a final coat with a brush paying special attention to getting long strokes with the grain.

      For the white I’ve been brushing it on, and there are a lot of brush marks, but it’s just primer so I don’t mind much. I’ll sand and I’m starting to look into marine paints for the color coat since I’ve heard they are very durable and go on very well for kitchen cabinets. I’ve heard they flatten really well when brushed on and leave very little in the way of brush marks.

      As for the hole saw, we actually have a few of various sizes, but the size I needed was a little awkward ~5.125″. Spending $40 on a 5″ hole saw and then having to still cut it a little bigger didn’t seem worth it. But our hole saws have come in handy many times for various other projects!

  • My goodness! You seem to have found your calling in life. What an awesome job!

    Uhm…if you get bored, I have a kitchen you can play with…
    Funny about Money recently posted..Publishing: Proceeding Apace. Decluttering: Ditto.My Profile

  • Kendall Frederick

    Looking good! I have no intention of ever building toe kick drawers, but I admire yours. :-)

    If you want to cut perfect arcs, one way I’ve found is to use a router with a jig. The easiest “jig” is just something with the desired radius and a smooth edge, clamped under the work piece. Use a straight bit with a bearing to follow the guide piece. You’ll have to rough cut the piece close to desired size first.

    Rockler makes a real jig, also:

  • Holy wow your cabinets look lovely! I am absolutely in love with your corner drawers. So clever. I never would have thought of those instead of another old, lazy Susan. And I know you might not like your open shelving on the end but I think it’s so cool! It leaves room for cool accents like a plant or cook books or fresh fruit…actually, here’s a pin for an example: See? Somewhat practical without “the ew factor” of putting plates, cups and such out in the open. 😉 Great job and if you’re ever holding a cabinet-building seminar, please put me first on the list of attendees. Thanks.
    Mrs. FI recently posted..Why Giant Tax Returns are Overrated!My Profile