June 22nd, 2013
Hi! Mr Project here with a few tidbits from our kitchen cabinet build experience. When the Project Girl and I set out to redo our house in California, I really had no idea what I was doing. Jen had the vision for what this house would be, and I promised to execute. I knew how to use a few tools by then – circular saw, drill, router, hammer to name a few – but I really felt out of my depth. In fact, the first hole we put into a wall the night we signed for the house was as much an adrenaline rush as I had ever felt. Remember when your mom would tell you not to write on the walls, and when you did, you felt SO naughty? Yeah, that was me, but this time with a hammer. It felt surreal.
Here is the kitchen during the first part of demo:
Check out the before pictures of the project house here, and the after pics here in the Project Girl’s project house reveal!
We had quite the task ahead . . . to say the least . . . Definitely look at those before pictures if you haven’t yet. Every surface of the house needed to be re-done.
Soon, I got into the swing of things (pun intended) and the intimidation and anxiety left with each swing of the hammer and each hole I made.
Fast forward to one of the big, no, BIG parts of the renovation: THE KITCHEN. I hadn’t ever built a kitchen cabinet, but I figured that this wasn’t rocket science or brain surgery. I’d built somewhat complex and challenging pieces of furniture in the past, but still, the thought of building a kitchen cabinet was really daunting and stressful. In retrospect, this was probably due to the fact that I really had no idea HOW they were made or pieced together. I was crippled by fear of not knowing how, and somehow made them out to be this really big deal in my mind.
So, I did what any man that is lost, or looking for directions would NEVER do – I tried to find an instruction manual. Turns out that there are some really great books available for purchase that pretty much teach you everything you need to know about building kitchen cabinets, including how to find the right materials, basic construction and makeup, finishing, install, and even building countertops. These are the books I used to learn pretty much everything I know:
“Build Your Own Kitchen Cabinets” ,“Trim Carpentry and Built-Ins” , “Building Kitchen Cabinets”
Not only was I able to find out how to make them, but how to make them amazing. Just by reading these books. I did have to expand my tools a bit, but the investment was well worth it and from that effort, we were able to build and create an awesome custom kitchen.
Jen, of course, did the kitchen design, and I just made, installed, and finished the cabinets.
So here are seven things I learned during the process of renovation and building our kitchen -
1. Ask questions -
Not only are there usually great people around who are willing to help, but with the internet, you can pretty much find an answer to any question you have. Power tools aren’t that scary if you just read or watch how to use them, or have a friend show you the basics. It’s all about knowing. Ana White, for example, has some really great tips on getting started with building small wood projects.
2. Get the right tools -
Having the right tools for the job is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Think of all the money you could save by doing your own cabinetry! Most of the cost in pricing out custom cabinetry comes from the labor costs associated with the job. I decided to put the money I would save into purchasing the right tools. You can do a lot with a circular saw, cordless drill, and a router, but having a table saw, for example, will save you SO much time. We built our kitchen cabinets for less than 2500 bucks. Killer deal if you ask me!
Here’s a pic of my garage “shop”.
3. Work Smart -
Cabinetry is pretty standard. Look for patterns as you work and cut your pieces in lots. Cabinets are a lot like puzzles. There are standard pieces and sizes that come together to make the full box.
4. Have a plan -
The Project Girl out together all our kitchen design drawings before I got to work. This was so helpful! We measured everything and planned out where and how we wanted things to be. That way, we could minimize surprises along the way. Part of the biggest challenge in making something is not having a plan on how to execute.
You can check out more plans from The Project Girl here.
5. Be ready to change that plan
… And be ready to change that plan too. As we were installing cabinets in our new kitchen, we realized that the floor in our kitchen wasn’t very level. We had to change a few things in our plan to make it work, but it worked out nicely.
Sometimes, plans change. You can’t see it too well here but there’s definitely a slight shift in level of the floor from one side to the other. We made it work!
6. Patience is everything -
Finishing/Painting is my least favorite part of the process. It sucks. But if you’re patient, have some good tunes, and a good attitude, it’s really not THAT bad. Patience is one of your greatest tools in your arsenal. If you’re patient and let things flow, everything can and will come together. At least, that’s how it was for me.
7. There’s always a fix -
Last, but not least, this is my new motto – “THERE’S ALWAYS A FIX”. One of the great things about this whole process is really, there isn’t THAT much that you can screw up, and if you do, it’s really easy to fix, with some time and effort. Knowing that there always is a fix helps me relax and take things on with a good and positive outlook.
So those are some of the things I learned along the way. There’s much more, of course, and if you’re feeling up for the challenge, here are a few of my favorite books that helped me along the way as I was learning how to build cabinets.
“Build Your Own Kitchen Cabinets” - Solid guide, but not my favorite, though useful.
“Trim Carpentry and Built-Ins” - Good for knowing about how to integrate cabinetry into your home and finish things off.
“Building Kitchen Cabinets” - My personal favorite.
April 8th, 2013
Okay things have gotten real over here with our new house. We’re going to break ground in a few weeks and until then we’re RUSHING to get the house designed so that everything is to our exacting specifications before we even start. We had to compromise on a lot of rooms/things in the house, but one thing that we both wanted was a large pantry.
I’ve been collecting pantry ideas and am so thrilled to be able to design my very own pantry. Here is some of my awesome inspiration:
Who doesn’t want a hidden entry into a pantry:
And this pantry design was the first inspiration that I had to create a butler’s type pantry with a countertop for appliances etc.
What an awesome place for your microwave! And more open shelving – love it!
Fun barn doors leading to a very open pantry really does make it like a second kitchen.
And if you’re looking for a more elegant butler’s style pantry. I love the idea of wallpaper or patterned tile. Or possibly planked wood.
And why not do it in a fabulous color??
Baskets, shelves, cabinets and coffee!
Might as well throw in a ladder!
This one is just perfection! I think mine will look closest to this room – though I think the color will be a more bluer version of this green – so a desaturated aqua/teal.
Aren’t those all mouth-watering pantries??? I get giddy just thinking about having something similar in my house. The space that we saved for a pantry is about 16′x8′ and is right off the kitchen area so that it can be used as a second kitchen. We’ll have a sink, dishwasher, fridge, and microwave in there. I’m also including a “mom’s desk” or “command central” for all the bills, mail, homework, tasks etc. The pantry also opens into the hallway right next to the garage, so it’s a good central exit/entrance.
I’ve put together my preliminary elevation ideas (using Adobe Illustrator), I’m sure these will change a bit before the final product. Check em out:
You can see the profile of the shelves on the right, And then there will be a small apron sink (24″), and a single dishwasher drawer to the left. I’m so beyond excited to have a window in the pantry.
A few things to note on this side – The door from the kitchen will be a pocket door – so no swing issues. I’m thinking a cute little cup cabinet next to the sink – I had an inspiration photo of this but can’t find it. Left of the door is a built-in microwave (counter height), and plate dowels above the microwave. A row of glass-door cabinets above all of that for serving ware storage. We’ll also have a full-sized fridge in here, and next to that a big metal or chalkboard message board. (the wall here is flush with the fridge because of a coat closet that is in the hallway.
This is where my big open shelves come into play. So excited about those (I just adore open shelving). I’ll have some pull-out baskets for onions & potatoes, and then my awesome command central with lots of mail slots, and a pin board for chores etc. We’ll also have a charging station for phones and electronics here, and a printer.
I thew in a little color just to play around with some of the ideas floating in my head. I saw this awesome black/navy hutch, and thought the color was perfect for my desk area:
And the rest of the cabinets I was thinking a desaturated blue/green color and a wood or butcher block countertop. Here’s my illustration with some color dropped in:
So that’s our pantry plan for now. I would have to say that this is the room I’m most excited about in the whole house. I can’t wait for it to be done just so I can dance around in it! What do you think? What would you put in a butler’s pantry if you were designing it?
February 13th, 2013
We finished our DIY kitchen more than a year ago, but I really haven’t done a “final kitchen” post. So I snapped a few shots, ran them through Instagram for fun and here ya go! I really love this space, and I especially love seeing photos because then I remember how awesome it looks.
Click HERE for more pics of our kitchen and lots of process pics.
And if you don’t want to go through the trouble, looking at the BEFORE picture might intrigue you:
January 7th, 2013
I’ve been slowly plugging away at organizing and re-organizing our kitchen. I recently showed you my spice jar drawer:
And I figured it was time to tackle the pantry. We have a large cabinet pantry – you can see it here on the far left next to the fridge:
Here’s what it looks like with the door open (this was after I reorganized it):
And here’s the top drawer (there are two and they are massive):
This photo was obviously taken after the organization :p I love this drawer because it fits full-sized cereal boxes, and keeps all the bread items accessible and off the counter tops.
In my organizing I came across this drawer that we’ve been using to store TONS of used jam jars and salsa jars. I couldn’t part with them because they were glass and so pretty, but I was about ready to because we have tons of them. Some I’ve been using to hold misc pantry items like small amount of left-over pasta, raisins, chocolate chips, tea bags, stevia packets etc. And a bunch were just empty.
I organized that drawer in the pantry and filled most of the empty ones and cleaned it up and it looked like this:
Which is pretty good, but I wasn’t in love with all that red gingham, and it’s hard to tell what is inside of them from above. So I thought about making some sort of label to put on the lids, but that seemed like a lot of work especially if the contents do end up changing. So then, I wondered if I could spray-paint the lids with some of my handy-dandy chalkboard paint, and then just write on the lids what each one contained.
I consulted with Mr. Project who was confident that the lids would take the paint, and then I filled up a make-shift paint booth (cardboard box) with lids and painted.
The painting went well and stuck okay. No problems getting them to take the paint (though make sure they are all clean and free of grease). They can scratch though with a sharp nail or object. You could prime or sand before the spray paint to avoid this, or possibly paint, write your contents, and then clear-coat. But then you wont be able to change what the lid says… which could be fine depending on your storage system. I just painted them and am okay with any scratching here or there – these odds & ends don’t get too much every-day use, so I don’t think they’ll show wear too quickly. And since this is a repurpose project it doesn’t need to last forever. I also recommend using a chalk marker if you don’t want your lids to smudge.
After seeing my horrible chalk-handwriting, Mr. Project volunteered to write the labels for me:
And there you have it, a much more chic drawer of pantry odds & ends. And best part is it was all using stuff that I already had. Yay for free projects!
August 7th, 2012
Okay, so it’s been awhile since I’ve posted…. way too long! I’ve been basking in my early-pregnancy zombiness which includes sleeping, napping, resting, and trying to get some work done. And oh yeah… keep my toddler from killing himself (mostly through convincing him that he wants to “snuggle mama” and lay next to me while we watch Sprout ). I am starting to feel a bit more productive and we’ve started on another big phase of house projects before the baby comes. I also have lots of new work projects that have been taking up 90% of my actual productive time, so the blog has become super low priority. But I miss it like crazy, so hopefully I can really follow through and get this machine up and running again!
So onto a quick project that I finished yesterday… Spice Jars! So when Mr. Project built the kitchen cabinets, we planned on having two drawers for spices and a drawer for liquids/oils next to the stove. The top two are for spices and the bottom for oils.
For the spice jars we found these empty glass jars from The Container Store. We figured that 24 of these jars would fit perfectly in each drawer.
Mr. Project measured everything and cut a 1/4″ board that fit inside the drawer and drilled circle holes in it for each of the jars to fit. This is a super simple modification that anyone could do to their drawers. The finished drawer insert and jars look like this:
The board sits about 2 inches up via scrap wood that he nailed underneath in the back and front of the board. The board is also removable for cleaning. I thought I had a picture of the drawer with no spices, but I couldn’t find it! Oh well, you can imagine what it looks like without the jars.
For a few months we’ve been living with these temporary tags taped on the top of each jar identifying the contents. But now that we’re working on projects again, I ordered some 1.5″ round stickers and designed some cute labels that match the kitchen.
And printed them on the label paper.
And finally put them on the spice jars!
So now we have a useful and impressive spice drawer! And best of all, nothing can get lost in there!
I have tons of other projects to share as well as updates on our little family, so come back and visit soon!