When I shared the photos of the new lower cabinet, a few of you smarties wondered what I might do to fill in the remaining gap on either side of the range. The existing space is 43″ (to accomodate the 40″ width of a standard range in 1950), and while upgrading to a 36″ range instead of a 30″ (the contemporary standard) reduced the overall dead space from 13″ to only 7″, that’s still a full 3 ½″ (well, 3 ¼″ if you account for the necessary ¼″ clearance between the range and the cabinets) on each side. 6 ½″ of extra countertop is no joke in a small kitchen, and surely the space underneath could be used for some kind of storage!
If you’re wondering why I didn’t just shove the range all the way to the left and just have a wider cabinet built to go to its right, it’s because I’m not a monster. That would have meant the range would no longer be centered under the existing built-in shelf and upper cabinets. It would have thrown off the entire balance. Unthinkable!
Now, it’s not a revelation to fill gaps in cabinetry with storage cubbies for baking sheets and cutting boards, but I wanted to do it in a way that wouldn’t look like a fill-in. Because the range is freestanding (meaning the sides are finished, and the top doesn’t have a lip designed to overlap the countertop edge) and on legs, I thought that running a cubby all the way down to the floor—or even to the toe-kick—would look weird. It would have conflicted with the lower corners of the range. Also, I didn’t want to interfere with the proportions of the cabinets as they were designed.
After spending a lot of time holding up pieces of wood and pinching my lower lip thoughtfully, I decided that the best option was to build cubbies that maximized the available width, but were only tall enough to accommodate a standard 13×18″ cookie sheet turned on its side. I also thought they should be set back slightly from the front of the cabinets so as not to take away from the curved cabinet corners.
And…cubbies! There’s nothing fancy going on here. I just used some basic pine project panels for the sides, and 1×4″ pine boards for the tops, bottoms, and back. Everything is the same thickness as the cabinets. It’s all held together with screws. Super simple. If you look verrrrrry closely at the cubby on the right, you can see that I drilled a hole in the side to line up with the hole in the cabinet so I’d be able to run the range cord through. I’m still patting myself on the back for remembering to do that before I permanently attached the cubbies to the cabinets. Well done, Dorfman!
With the cubbies securely in place (again, nothing fancy here—I just used my handy Kreg pocket hole jig to make holes through the cubbies and into the cabinets so everything could be screwed together) and the range in position, I could see I needed to add a little something else to make it all come together visually. My favorite thing about these cabinets is how simply-built they are, and how everything looks handmade. I started thinking about what I could do to incorporate a handmade element of my own, and how I could introduce a distinctly New Mexico flourish.
My mind immediately went to this stepped motif that’s seen all over New Mexico. Here it is on the corner brackets of a lovely set of shelves in artist Paul Baxendale’s Santa Fe studio at Field Studies Editions; on a door I spotted at a house on Santa Fe’s famous Canyon Road; and at the San Geronimo church at Taos Pueblo (photograph by Jennifer Yin).
A couple of scrap 1x4s, a ruler, a pencil, a jigsaw, and about 20 minutes later, I had some cute little stepped doo-dads to add to the storage cubbies! I don’t know why it doesn’t occur to me to make stuff like this more often.
TA-DA!!! Could these storage cubbies BE any cuter??? No, they could not. This is the maximum amount of cuteness that can be achieved via cookie sheet and cutting board storage cubbies. And yes, both of my 13×18″ baking sheets and the mini sheet for my toaster oven fit in the left cubby, and my lesser-used-but-still-essential cutting boards fit in the one on the right. I lined the bottoms with self-adhesive cork to prevent scratching. Not only cute, but deeply satisfying.
(You know what else these cubbies mean? It’s time to measure for countertops! Yesssssssss.)
✚ 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.
✚ Let’s add some cabinets!