Last you might remember, we had installed the new tile in the dining room. Next we did some finishing touches (copious amounts of pics on my flickr) and got some base cabinets to install in the corner. We chose to buy unfinished cabinets since we were planning to paint them white anyway (to go with the kitchen cabinets) and getting the unfinished ones saved us some bucks. We managed, somehow, to make the final decision about which cabinets to get the same day that the Despot was finishing their 20% off in-stock cabinets sale. And we decided this at about 5pm. So we grabbed a quick dinner, looked online to see that our closest Despot had two cabinets in stock as well as a truck available for rental so we could haul them home, bought the cabinets, loaded the truck, brought them home, and returned the truck within an hour. It was like we had some Felix Felicis for supper! Then we spent the better part of a couple weeks sanding, priming, and painting the cabinets, doors, and drawer fronts. We have a really small set-up for painting the doors and such (just a couple sawhorses in the basement) so it took awhile to get everything done.
This weekend K had the whole weekend off, so Saturday morning we woke up early and got right to work. Here you can see the before shot of this area.
We did some careful measuring to figure out what we needed to cut out to accommodate the awkward little vent box in the corner. Luckily K measures things precisely for a living, so he’s really good at this. It was in the upper 40s, so we set up in the driveway so all the sawdust could stay outside. As you can see, these cabinets are definitely the basic, no-frills edition. They’re solid wood on the front, sides, and where needed for structural integrity, but the back of the cabinet is just laminated particle board. So chopping off part of it made me wary – I thought for sure we’d end up with a wibbly-wobbly off-kilter thing that we could never get to be quite square again.
But, lo and behold, it worked! We had to do a little trimming here and there to get it to fit exactly, since the vent cover box isn’t exactly square and the corner walls aren’t either. We were very pleased that we had all the tools on hand (jigsaw and keyhole saw being most important to this task).
Here you can see that the vent cover box comes out just a teensy bit farther on the side than this 24″ cabinet. This worked to our advantage, since the cabinet could rest on the box, but the sticky-outy bit of the box fit in between the two cabinets – no need to cut anything out of the right-hand cabinet.
Next we made the two cabinets into one unit. We used a piece of square trim to fill the space between the two, and then used bolts, washers, and nuts near top and bottom, back and front, to keep things secure.
There were actually some pre-drilled holes in the cabinets that we didn’t need to use for anything else, so we used them for the bolts. Hooray!
We put the unit into the corner and then worked to shim it up to level. No one wants a countertop that things roll off of! The floor here is definitely not level, so thank goodness we bought a whole packet of shims. We needed them! Once it was level, we used screws to fasten it to the wall. Not that it would probably be going anywhere, but we thought it wouldn’t hurt.
And there is it level! Just waiting for us to sleep on the decision of what to do for a countertop. (Also still waiting for the toe kick, which was drying from being painted, and for trim as is the rest of the room.)
So the next morning, despite it being the spring forward DST shift, we woke up nice and early and decided that the IKEA PRAGEL countertop was the right choice. Its finish is very close to what we will be doing in the kitchen, and the price was right. I posted in our neighborhood facebook group that we were looking for someone with a pick-up truck who might be willing to help us haul it home, and within 20 minutes had a volunteer. So we were able to pick it up that afternoon! Three cheers for nice neighbors! Here you can see K fitting it in to see how it looks. He had a few ideas for keeping the long end as a breakfast bar.
I was a little concerned about trimming the piece and having the laminate split or crack. Luckily the intarwebs was there to help! I found that a few people recommended using a 60-Tooth Carbide blade for the circular saw and claimed that it would cut through the countertop “like butter” and leave no burns or other marks. They weren’t lying! We took our daily second trip to the Despot and picked up a Diablo (!) blade for the saw. It worked really well and I definitely recommend it.
Then came the oh-so fun task of attaching the countertop to the cabinets. The cabinets came fitted with little plastic thingies in the corners so it was easy to mark and pre-drill the holes, but squeezing into the corners and retaining enough torque to get the screws to move was a real trick. K came up with the ingenious solution of using a ratchet, which worked well in a couple of the corners. All of the corners were too tight to use a drill. Also, we were able to use the same screws that we used to attach the cabinets to the wall, which was nice since we had to buy a box of a few hundred.
Hooray! K is so excited to not be cramped up inside the cabinet anymore! Also to have me pestering him to pose for photos! No really!
I think it looks really nice! I’m seriously pretty impressed with us for doing this project. We had gotten a couple of quotes to have a contractor do this, and it would have been at least $2000 for this project. I’m sure the quality of the materials would have been slightly or significantly superior, but it still would have been wooden cabinets, painted, with a laminate countertop. We did this ourselves for (including renting the truck and shelling out $20 for the special saw blade) less than $250. Aw yeah.
I’m excited to get the toe kick and trim installed. We’re still debating on whether or not to do any kind of backsplash over here. There’s only a tiny section of backsplash in the kitchen and it’s a metal tile thing that I’m not a huge fan of, so I don’t think I’d want to replicate it here.
We couldn’t wait to load it up! Now our countertop convection oven and microwave can live happily together here, and the cabinets will hold a variety of other small appliances that don’t need to be out all the time (slow cooker, mixer, etc). Please don’t be alarmed at the weird blueness of the world outside the window – I took this photo at night and had to amp up the exposure to get it to be less shadowy. So! This project gets a big thumbs up for success!