Kitchen: Adding furniture style storage

Way back months and months ago (has it been a YEAR?) when we were staring work on the foyer, you might recall we removed the pantry that was in the kitchen (check out that progress here and here).  The pantry never functioned well for us. It was always messy because the shelves were difficult to access, and it took up space where more kitchen counter should have been. We also thought the pantry space would be better utilized as entry way storage, and we desperately needed more of that (see how we enlarged our entry closet here).

Over on the opposite side of the kitchen we also removed a corner cabinet that didn’t have useable counter space.  Now that these storage places are gone, we’ve got to replace them.  We decided on customizing some very affordable furniture pieces instead of building all new cabinetry.  This is just a budget friendly facelift, after all.  Enter some extreme Ikea hacks….

We purchased two Brimnes 3-drawer dressers and a slab of Ikea’s solid oak butcher block counter top (Hammarp). We went with the solid counter because we were going to be cutting it down both length and width wise and we didn’t want any exposed or unfinished edges.  The dressers were selected primarily for the color.  At the time it was one of the only complete units that came in the solid black I was looking for.  They are also priced excellently and would provide a decent amount of storage.  Most of the items that now need a new home are dry goods that don’t have much weight to them, and these drawers will easily hold the loads. These are dressers, after all, not built for holding the weight of dishes or pots and pans.

The dresser for the opposite side of the kitchen is the perfect size for a coffee bar. I wanted the counter to be a bit higher than the standard 36 in., with a minimal depth and at just over 37in. tall and 18.5in. deep it works really well. The counter space in this area will be for coffee and toast prep, and the storage below is for breads (we got a lotta carbs, folks) cereals, and maybe the treats drawer (shhhh, noooo, I mean, I don’t have a whole drawer for treats! That’s crazy….ahem).  Obviously because we are already adding different ‘cabinetry’ to the existing kitchen that doesn’t match, the new cabinets have to at least match each other.  That meant the second dresser for beside the range had to get a bit of an….upgrade.

The dresser is not the standard kitchen cabinet height or depth (36in. high 24 in. deep), so…we had to change that. After excitedly putting both cabinets together when we first purchased them we had to take the second one apart again, but not before measuring and marking the exact height we needed.  The overall height needed to be 36in. including the countertop thickness.  We used our table saw to cut the sides and back of the dresser down to size.  The extra height was taken off the top so we could keep the kick at the bottom, and the location of the top drawer runner (at the drawer bottom) luckily didn’t get in the way.  We then put the dresser back together, with a little help.  Because the top would be covered with the butcher block counter we screwed the dresser top back on.  This helped to add some strength to the piece as well.  Then we dealt with the depth issue.  This was a little simpler.  We constructed a standard 2×4 frame and secured it to the wall behind the dresser, and then screwed the dresser directly to it.  No tipping issues here. This left the side exposed so we added an end gable constructed of paint grade plywood painted out in the cabinet color.  It ended up looking great, you can’t even tell where the dresser ends and the gable begins.  The counter, which was standard depth, was cut to length and screwed down (from beneath) and TA-DA, more kitchen storage AND countertop!

…well maybe not TA-DA just yet…now the top drawer is too big.  This was not too terrible to fix though.  We removed the drawer front, and simply cut the drawer box shorter, then built a new drawer front (out of MDF) and painted it out to match.  We added the original handle back on and TA-DA (really this time) NEW CABINETRY.

Over on the other side of the kitchen this piece is still under construction.  We added gables in the same manner as the other dresser to both sides, but moved the right hand gable all the way over to the door trim.  This leaves an empty space that will eventually keep the dogs dishes out of tripping range.  The plan is to build a base that raises the dishes to a more comfortable eating level (Brian is an old dude), and then add an extra drawer or possibly open shelf at the top for some added storage and to make the piece feel more balanced.

Above the counter we are going to be adding more cabinetry.  I have a design in mind, but have yet to decide if we will buy or build the upper cabinets here.  There will be an open shelf and the backsplash will get installed in this area as well.  For now everything is back to being functional, and after living in such a mess for so long we are pretty relieved!  BUT, on we push!  It is certainly motivating when you start to see the design come together, and we are working on adding the final pieces and getting this space checked off the list!


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