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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Building a Kitchenette (Part 1)

My son is a very talented guy! I have wrote about him before talking about his talent as a musician and songwriter. 
He also can tackle projects and learn as he goes like most of us bloggers and DIY'ers.

When he decided to renovate his home this little transformation he actually documented. He wrote this and I told him I was going to share it on my blog for people that have small spaces they need to redo. Hope this helps. It is in two parts because of its length.

I started remodeling my basement about 4 years ago, and rented out my upstairs while I was living in the “construction zone.” Eventually, I needed a kitchen of my own, at least to do dishes/cook. I had a corner that seemed large enough, and I planned to build a “kitchenette” to make the most use of this space. This is what I eventually came up with. 

Function over form, budget over flash, using materials at hand. This set up was made from old cabinets I found on CraigsList and a butcher block I was given. I managed to find a sink small enough to fit in the corner and made a quick shelf for the microwave. The downside? It's hideous, for one thing. It's hard to tell from the picture, but everything was rough-cut to fit, so there were gaps and damage to the cabinets everywhere. The butcher block never did seal right where the seam is on the left. It was also horribly uncomfortable to use, since the sink was so far back. You had to lean over the counter to wash dishes and the 9” wide bar sink just didn't hold enough. It was time for a change.

 But how? I couldn't find a prebuilt cabinet base for the dimensions I had, and the ones I did find were way too small... and a custom cut counter top was going to cost almost $600! So I decided to make my own custom cabinet and counter top out of.... wait for it.... CONCRETE! 

So step 1 was tear everything out and start from scratch.

I spent a little time in Google SketchUp ( and put in all of the dimensions of the corner so that I could start working on some different designs and configurations. I went through about 3-4 different arrangements. This was the rough design that I settled upon. I later decided that I would try to reuse doors, drawers, and hardware from the old setup to minimize cost and effort of making them from scratch. Nevertheless, I had the design that maximized counterspace, sink size, and storage. Time to start building!

This is the rough framing underneath it all. I way over-braced and over-engineered this, since I knew there would be a lot of use, and a lot of weight on top. I screwed 2x4's at 90 degree angles to each other to make a kickplate recess under the cabinet. Also took the opportunity to fill in the hastily cut holes in the drywall with some expanding foam. I replaced the top cabinets with new white ones and build a better shelf for the microwave that went with the style a little better. Also added a wine glass holder for when this project was done! 

Next came the “floor” or base of the cabinet. I chose 1/2” Blondewood since I knew I would be painting and sealing this inside and out, and it would be heavily reinforced by the framing. Each step involved cutting the board, then sanding flush with the frame to ensure a snug fit when the front went on.

Sides on, with holes cut out for the plumbing (a little more flush this time). Everything attached with coarse thread drywall screws, and I embedded the screw head to allow me to go back over all of the holes with wood filler.

Building out the frame for the front of the cabinet. Again, this was going to be bearing a lot of weight, so I chose to have some sturdy framing in place. Also checked the level and somehow everything was spot on!

Attaching the front facing, again using 1/2” blondewood. I used a table saw to mitre the cuts so the front piece would fit in a tight, flush corner.

View from the top, making sure all of the joints lined up okay. I ended up caulking everything with paintable silicone caulking. I wanted this to be sealed up nicely and also have the joints look seamless.

Did I mention over-engineering? This is the framing I put in to hold the countertop. I wanted all sides of the sink braced, and everything tied in.

Test fitting the new sink I got from Lowes, looks good! Ready to get the mold done for the concrete counter.

Not bad right? The counter is my favorite part! I think anyone can incorporate this technique.

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4 comments: said...

Hi Deneen- I don't see the images past the first one. I want to learn about the concrete countertop! laura

Bliss said...

Good job son of Deneen! Now you know.... there is nothing you can't DIY.

Tina@WhatWeKeep said...

Agreed! Good job, son of Deneen! Bliss you crack me up.
Looking forward to seeing the countertop, Deneen!

Danni@SiloHillFarm said...

Son of Deneen...LMBO..that's what you get from a bunch of old Hens! What a fabulous start. Love that you get to have a real sink...that little one looked impossible! Looking forward to "Return of Son of Deneen"!