Along with demolishing the old countertops (and, obviously, fabricating and installing the new ones), the other part of the kitchen renovation project we decided to hire out was the construction of a new lower cabinet and the extension of an existing upper cabinet.
Back when I introduced the kitchen, I shared this amazingly realistic, professional rendering showing my plan to (a) move the refrigerator to an unused area at the end of the room, (b) add a lower cabinet in its place, and (c) extend the existing upper cabinet to match the one on the other side of the range. You’ll also noticed that I stretched the standard 30″ range out to better fit the 40″ space.
The photo at the top of this post is the progress in that spot so far: Cabinets repainted, hinges and knobs replaced, old countertop removed, floor tiles painted and stenciled, and the freestanding 36″ Cosmo range in place.
The most important thing to me and AK when it came to adding the new cabinetry was that it match the original cabinets from 1950. They were built on-site and are very simple—basic plywood boxes and shelves with pine fronts—with beautiful rounded corners that were created with a strip of quarter round! Such a great idea, right? We really didn’t want someone to get carried away and build something too fancy, or insist on adding extra elements that would’ve given away that the additions were anything but original to the house.
The extension of the upper cabinet was a little trickier, since it would require making a cutout to notch in the new section…plus some creativity to attach it to the existing cabinet in a way that wouldn’t be visible. And, of course, new doors.
My friend Geninne recommended a lovely local furniture builder named Manuel, and we went together to talk to him (I don’t speak Spanish, regrettably, but Geninne is bilingual and was happy to help!). Manuel came by the next week to measure, then came back to measure again, and then he got started. Fortunately, because his workshop is very close to my house, he was able to come over periodically and dry-fit the cabinets as he worked on them. It was harder than he expected to get everything to fit just right (especially the upper cabinet), but eventually he got there!
LOWER CABINET SUCCESS!! Conveniently, Manuel was able to use the original doors from the upper cabinet for the lower cabinet. That goes a long way toward making everything look like it’s been there for 70 years. And check out that corner!! He did it exactly like the original. The only change he made was to add an extra piece on the inside top for extra countertop support. Probably not necessary, but much appreciated. The back is open, just like the other cabinets—the “back” is actually the kitchen wall.
About a week after the lower cabinet arrived, Manuel brought the extension piece for the upper cabinet over. It didn’t fit, of course, so that began the first in a series of increasingly-comical trips back and forth between the kitchen and his workshop, shaving off a tiny bit at a time and checking to see if that did the trick. (Yes, I offered let him work in our garage to save himself all the back and forth, but he’s a man who needs his own space, and I respect that.) Finally…UPPER CABINET SUCCESS!! We cheered and high-fived, because this was back in the olden days when it was still OK to shake hands and high-five people.
I used a combination of caulk, wood filler, Bondo, and Ready-Patch to even out the seams where the old cabinet and the extension piece meet, and then sanded the life out of it. Now that it’s painted (we’ll get there eventually), you really can’t even tell that the cabinet was altered at all.
I felt very smart when I came up with this solution. There wasn’t an outlet behind the range, and I knew I wanted one inside of the cabinet so I could hide the microwave, so I used a spade bit to cut a hole in the side of the cabinet and ran the range cord through. Feed two birds with one scone. Love it.
At this point, I had been washing dishes (and draining pasta, and washing vegetables) in the bathtub for a month. I was starting to feel like Kramer. I did my best to remind myself that this really wasn’t the greatest of hardships, but my back…my back was very angry and grouchy about the whole situation. I started to feel like this was just how it was going to be forever. I thought about Little House On the Prairie and tried to channel Ma instead of Nellie. I love Nellie.
But we’re getting there! A functional kitchen is definitely in sight!
✚ It’s time to meet the kitchen!
✚ Kitchen planning!
✚ Kitchen cabinets: Prep + painting.
✚ Painting and stenciling the kitchen floor.
✚ Kitchen countertop demolition.
✚ Painting the kitchen’s steel casement window.