One bright day this fall, I walked into the kitchen to find Eric leaning back against the sink, contemplating the cabinets on the other side of the room. He’d just removed the Formica countertops. We were hoping to reconfigure the original cabinet bases, preserving the past but giving them new life with snazzy self-closing drawers and space-efficient pull-outs. I pulled up a sink and leaned beside him. We stared at the sad spectacle before us and said in unison, “We have to buy new cabinets.” Save the old ones? What were we thinking?
Really, there wasn’t anything useable left. The base cabinets didn’t have boxes like the ones you see today … just some wimpy framing that couldn’t support modern hardware. The drawers had worn Oregon Trail-like grooves in their tired old wooden supports.
So off we went to IKEA to get an idea of what’s available at a price we could afford. Hard to believe, I know, but we truly didn’t foresee new cabinets in our original plans. Now, I love IKEA, but nothing we saw there quite hit the mark. Nice designs and features, but too modern, too … Scandinavian. So we went home to ponder our kitchen some more.
That’s when we noticed (this is hard to admit … are we blind?) that the cabinets under the uppers were only 19 inches deep. And the peninsula cabinet was–you guessed it! Also 19 inches deep because its back wall was an actual 4-inch wall. Twenty-nine years of groping and cussing into its dark depth and I never realized it could have been even darker and deeper. While we have plenty of room to make the peninsula the standard 24-inch depth, we’re stuck with 19 inches on the other side to allow enough clearance between cabinet and fridge. In other words, our solution of buying stock cabinets died a quick death. And custom cabs are definitely not in the budget. Can you guess where this is going?
So … b’bye, old cabinets … thank you for your long service. (I wonder if someone will kick me to the curb when I’m 99 years old.) Duke kept a close eye on the demo. This is where his food lived, and suddenly… it was gone.
See what else was gone? Hint: see the floor where the cabinets used to be? The fir flooring that covers the rest of the house was mysteriously missing here. We could see basement through knotholes and cracks in the shiplap subfloor. Eric brought the sunken footprint up to grade with plywood. I painted the interior of the upper cabinet a soft green; I’ll paint the IKEA sideboard white with a dark top to match the cabinets.
Meanwhile, down in the basement shop … Eric is 6′-2″, and the joists are 5′-9″. He’s been spending a lot of time down there, building our custom cabinets. I’m afraid he’ll be shaped like Quasimodo by the time he’s done. I snapped this picture as he delivered his first baby. Push, basement, push!
Suddenly, there was a carcass in our kitchen! (What I’ve always called cabinet boxes are called carcasses in some of our DIY books.) Duke examined the bin that will hold his food.
Eric assembled the corner cabinet upstairs, IKEA-style, because it was too big to come up the stairs whole. Then he added the top framing that will support the counters. I’ve always had good visualization skills, which has its pros and cons. It’s great to be able to mentally slip into a floor plan and walk around, and being able to imagine exactly what a room will look like is really helpful for our renovation projects … but because I can “see” the results before they happen, I can get complacent. (I lived with plastic sheeting lining my tub for years before I tiled the walls because in my mind I could see the tile.) So you might look at these carcasses and wonder how it’ll all turn out, but to me, they’re already beautiful!
Happy Thanksgiving from OB2C!