IT HAS FINALLY HAPPENED: I HAVE OFFICIALLY 100% TOTALLY FINISHED THE KITCHEN RENOVATION. All caps is not hyperbole when it comes to how exciting this is.
Before I dive into the final project, first a quick detour to some personal items from the past week that were pretty exciting too. First, Sam and I celebrated our three year wedding anniversary. Yay! I like to snap a photo each time, so here’s the spread so far:
Even the untrained eye will notice that we have dressed up in our finest athletic clothes for all three occasions, and the astute observer will catch that I am wearing the same shirt and sports bra in Years 1 & 3 and the same shorts in Years 2 & 3. I get my money’s worth out of active wear. I’m in three different pairs of kinvaras (my fave brand of running shoes) though, that’s how I choose to invest my money.
In other news, this weekend we ran our third Ragnar Trail relay (my fifth Ragnar overall, having done two road relays too). You wouldn’t think that running up and down a mountain three times over the course of 24 hours on very little sleep would be fun, but as usual it was the best weekend of the year. Mostly because it involves hanging out with awesome friends, eating oreos, dressing up in bear costumes, and ENDORPHINS.
Running is a drug, what can I say.
Okay, now on to the kitchen. As you’ll recall, in January I declared the kitchen 99.99% done. Then I went on to do a few more finishing touch projects, like building a threshold for the floor transition from kitchen to sunroom and installing all the new baseboard trim. But one thing remained: finishing the “pantry wall,” which was so close but last you saw was looking like this:
Most of the key elements were there, but we were still lacking doors for the pantry and a lower cabinet to the left of the fridge to hide our recycling. Well, I am thrilled to share the finished result, officially the last project of the kitchen reno!
Yes, this will do quite nicely. And very fittingly since yesterday was Father’s Day, my dad is the star of the show when it comes to this pantry wall.
Before I detail how he and I finished off this space, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane. Pre-kitchen renovation, here’s how that back wall looked:
I knew we could get even more storage out of that wall, so the idea of the “pantry wall” was born:
To kick of the kitchen reno (18 months ago), the very first project Sam and I did was removing the buffet and cutting it down to turn it into an island and single cabinet.
That left the wall looking like this:
To prep for how we would use the wall, we did some electrical work: we installed a new outlet behind where the fridge would go, another behind where the pantry would be so the microwave could sit inside it, covered up an excess outlet, and capped off two ceiling lights that would get covered by fridge and pantry.
Then we got a new fridge:
And built a surround around it using the upper cabinet that had been above the old fridge:
Next it was time to build the body of the pantry. My dad came down to Boston and we worked on that together. I love working with my dad because he’s very skilled and I always learn something new from him, but he also respects me and my skills and so it’s an equal partnership.
It’s so great having him to work through puzzles with, which there have been plenty of throughout this project.
With the pantry frame in place, things were starting to come together.
I also took advantage of having another pair of strong arms in the house to mount the heavy cabinet that Naomi and I salvaged from the high school that was being torn down (after adding some framing around it to make it fit the opening next to the fridge).
Next up was putting in new butcher block counters on the side cabinet and to the left of the fridge where the recycling center would eventually go. I just rested the counter on some temporary brackets since I knew it would be awhile before we built the cabinet.
I built open shelves to the right of the pantry:
And built sliding shelves for the pantry to add much-needed functional storage:
And that brings us to where I last left off with you! While I was doing all this, my dad was figuring out how to build cabinet doors that looked close enough to the existing doors while having cleaner lines (I don’t love the arched doors and raised panels we have now). I am not going to try to write a door-making tutorial because I don’t know how to do it well enough myself, but basically the way a cabinet door is constructed is that it has two stiles (vertical pieces), two rails (horizontal pieces), and a panel:
My dad used his router table to cut the grooves where the rails, stiles, and panel slide into one another. You can see the profile of that groove here — an original cabinet doors from my kitchen is on the left, and a new door my dad made for the pantry is on the right:
My dad built these in Vermont and then brought them down, so we were anxious to see if they would fit right! First though we had to install the hinges — we used ones left over from extra cabinet doors from the original kitchen that we didn’t need. They inset into the door frame, so first we used a forstner bit to drill a round inset for them:
Then we installed the hinges:
And then we took them inside to test them out. Success!
While he was visiting we also got to work on the cabinet frame for the left of the fridge. We made the whole thing out of a sheet of nice plywood, just like we used to make the pantry.
First we built the base for the cabinet.
Then we built the cabinet frame, which just needed a bottom, back, and two sides. We didn’t have a single piece big enough for the back, so we used two pieces joined together with pocket holes — this is basically invisible since it’s inside the cabinet, and the pocket holes are on the back side so they’re hidden completely.
Then came the moment of truth, testing to see if the frame fit in the opening.
Next we created the front frame for the cabinet, which would have three stiles (vertical pieces). We cut this out of the plywood as well, and used pocket holes on the back side to put the whole thing together.
We used my nail gun to attach it to the cabinet frame, temporarily resting the countertop in place to ensure we mounted it nice and flush along the top and bottom.
We still needed to add some support, so we built two cross braces and attached them to the back with pocket holes and the front with the nail gun.
Then we put the counter back on and drove two screws in from below to secure it in place. I also finished up the baseboard and quarter round coming around the doorway and butting up against the new cabinet.
My plan was to use the left and center openings for recycling (cardboard and glass/plastic, since we don’t have single stream), and then I built shelves for the right opening to store some of our kitchen appliances when they’re not in use. I just used pocket holes and the nail gun again to secure two side rails and then two shelves.
I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to find recycling containers that fit well, but we actually found some at Lowes that were the perfect height and depth, and once I cut the side handles off also fit perfectly width-wise.
Next up, I painted the frame, and my dad built three more cabinet doors in the same style as he did for the pantry. I painted the cabinet and pantry doors, and installed the same IKEA hardware I used in the rest of the kitchen.
My original plan was to build sliding bases to put the containers in and then have a standard hinged door for the appliance shelves, so I bought some drawer slides and build two bases:
But when I went to attach the doors, I found that the bases really didn’t slide smoothly enough to open when pulling on a handle at the top of the door. The slides would really need to be pulled from the bottom to work, which obviously wasn’t a place where I could functionally or aesthetically place the door handle. So I scrapped that plan, and decided to try out regular hinged doors.
My dad and I had originally eschewed this plan because we thought the stiles were too thin to accommodate the 1/2″ overhang that the hinges I had required (all the hinges were leftover from unused original kitchen cabinets) — but we had wanted to make the stiles as thin as possible to accommodate wider recycling containers, since we were already worried about finding ones that were narrow enough.
I decided it couldn’t hurt to try, though, so I bought my own forstner bit in the right size (1 & 3/8″) and drilled the insets for the hinges just like we’d done with the pantry doors.
At first when I attached the doors, the fit was too tight — you couldn’t open the middle door without opening the left door first. So I decided to take a risk and shave off about 1/8″ from the left door with my table saw. I knew this meant that the stile would then be narrower, but I hoped it wouldn’t be too noticeable.
What do you think, can you tell?
That’s a trick question, no you absolutely cannot.
I am so happy with how it turned out. I love how clean and streamlined it looks:
But with lots of useful storage behind those doors.
The hinges work perfectly:
And my dad did such great work on the doors for both these cabinets and the pantry — they seriously look professional.
This wall turned out exactly as I was imagining it.
It’s such a welcome sight from the dining room/sunroom/entryway:
It sure is a huge change from where we started 18 months ago!
Oh and one last update: we recently had water pressure issues with the kitchen sink, and our awesome plumber told us it was some broken valve pieces and the faucet would need to be replaced. I took the opportunity to swap our generic faucet out for this industrial one from Amazon, and I love how it looks!
And with that, I couldn’t be more thrilled to be calling the kitchen renovation totally and utterly complete!