Saturday, July 18, 2015

Streamlined kitchens

We're pretty fond of a fairly minimalist, modern, and streamlined look, especially for kitchens. This week's job has been building our kitset cabinets into the surrounding walls to hopefully achieve something close to that.

This is both an aesthetic preference and a practical one; two metre high cabinets in a 2.7m high room leave a nasty dust-and-grease gathering gap that I am not at all a fan of. One way to solve this problem (at great expense) is to get custom made cabinetry built in for you by a carpenter. That's expensive.

Another way is to buy kitset kitchen cabinets and build them in yourself!

This does take a bit of skill, which we're still gaining but luckily we had my dad here helping (read: taking charge) this week.

It's also time-consuming; it took Dad and I three days, though we did also get a couple of other small things done in that time. I won't pretend to be the world's best apprentice, but hopefully I still sped things up!

My first accomplishment of the week was breaking one of our windows... Well, really it broke itself, the frame split and came clean off its hinges when I opened it. But it still slowed us down a bit... It's not really warm enough at the moment to leave a giant hole in the wall overnight.

Gorilla glue and duct tape got us there in the end... Super pro solution but it worked! 

Anyway, our cabinet fancifying technique (which we've now applied to two kitchens) is basically to build little walls around the top of each tall bank of cabinets, and then gib them in.

It can be pretty fiddly, especially in an old house where nothing is square, but (to me) the end result is well worth it, and takes the bog-standard cabinetry up a few pegs, as well as eliminating a few surfaces off the cleaning schedule, which is always welcome around here!

(side note: I love the look of open kitchen shelves, which are pretty popular at the moment, but just can't come to grips with all the dusting)

The first step was to slightly move the pantry. Because (naturally) I had changed my mind. I had originally thought I wanted the gib flush with the cabinet carcass and the doors sitting forward... And then decided that for the pantry and oven that the gib should be flush with the doors. So all the screws came out of the pantry, and some of the food I'd enthusiastically packed into it had to come out so we could scoot it back 10mm to permit everything to line up. On the bright side, I do think it looks good, and we gained 10mm of extra floor space in our kitchen. Woop woop! 10mm!

Step two was attaching the over fridge cupboard to the pantry, and then we did the timber framing up top. This follows standard wall construction methods, with a bottom plate (on the cabinet), top plate and studs. Remember to leave a 10mm allowance for the gib if you're picky about where it sits... I am. ;-)

Then we had to patch the messy bit of ceiling above the pantry where we'd changed the ducting. Although this is completely closed in from the kitchen I'd rather not have any risk of roof-dwelling creatures invading the space behind the pantry. So our brand new jigsaw (because what would a week of DIY be without a new power tool?) got its first workout and the ducting is nice and snug now.

We also made a side panel to box the ducting in behind the pantry, and a sort of lid that sits above the fridge, because it's a bit more complete that way and it'll help us keep all our precious heat in the bits of the room we're using.

Because we didn't want to lose any more room than we had to to wall framing, and the fridge cabinet was firmly secured from above, we chose to make the wing wall out of MDF. The framing at the top is the same as for the other cabinets, and at the bottom it's secured with little brackets screwed into the floor. These will be hidden by the fridge (and are the same as are used with standard melamine kitchen panels - which wouldn't have been tall enough and wouldn't be paintable so got vetoed).

Please don't rob us - we don't really have any valuables, the safe is for chocolate and (sadly) is empty anyway... 
Then the gib went on - another fiddly job. To keep the edges neat we used metal external corners and capping so that we can neatly stop and paint up to the cabinet (masking tape will be involved in that job, methinks!).

I guess maybe you want to see some photos? I forgot to tuck our super flash duct tape drawer handles away for these ones so apologies... Real handles coming soon!

And so the next job for the kitchen is some plastering and more painting. But first we need to finish the ducting for our gas central heating before the gas gets hooked up on Thursday (oh how glorious it will be to have a warm house and hot water to the kitchen taps!).

What do you think of our weird kitchen building technique? Will it catch on? Or are you happy dusting the tops of cabinets to avoid the extra building work? ;-)


  1. I'm planning on having open shelves, but I think what you've done works very well in your space. I have a long narrow kitchen on the north sideside of my flat so I want to leave it as open as possible to the light. I am worried about dust, but I'll have to deal with it I guess.

    I'm thinking of taking the doors off the wall cabinets I currently have just to see what it will be like with open shelves. And the doors are really ugly anyway.

    1. Can't wait to see yours! Taking the doors off the cupboards seems like a good way to test drive... I'm sure in a freshly done kitchen the dust isn't really that major, I'm just very lazy on the cleaning front. ;-)