Kitchen Post #4 - Cabinets Part B

To see my first post about building our own Kitchen cabinets, click here. We started constructing the cabinets in October 2009, and they were built (minus the doors, molding, etc.) by September 2010. Doing it yourself while working 70 hours/ week and raising a newborn may take longer but it's so worth it. :) 

Since I posted the last post, I did find a photo of some of our plans. This is what Pat & I drew up to construct these. Amazing, huh?

So once the cabinets were done, it was time to gut the rest of the kitchen. One beautiful October Saturday, Dave & I tore out the old cabinets. It was a blessed day. One I'd been waiting for since we bought the house.

The best part was when we carried the cabinets out to the driveway and beat them with a giant hammer. Nothing like taking out all your aggressions on inanimate objects.

And this is what we were left with. Ew!

Due to some terrible wallpaper fiascos (previous owners hung a border on top of a border and also painted over entire walls of wallpaper - I hate wallpaper!), we ended up deciding to re-drywall most of the room. But this also gave us a great opportunity to re-insulate the kitchen wall (which was drafty) and fill holes in the bottom wall plate where mice were getting in. We also took the opportunity to widen and reframe the doorway (shown below on the right) to have an actual header in it since this is a load bearing wall and when the family room was added on, this opening was NOT framed correctly. Big surprise...(We have found SO MANY THINGS not done correctly! And we're DIY novices!) So, all that stuff took about 2 months.

Meanwhile, we were living in the midst of chaos like this - this is our family room, folks! Ah! My blood pressure rises just looking at this photo! This is a sign of what remodeling does to your home. You've been warned.

And this was our temporary kitchen in the front room when ours was under construction:

Dave's face was scrunched into a constant frown like this (and I'm sure my countenance was worse...). You see, he was working like crazy at work and on side work and every time he came home he felt like he had to work all hours of the day and night on the house. It was not fun to be home for either of us. Or for our little baby.

Still, we tried to be "Merry" and set up our Christmas tree and all. It got covered in drywall dust of course. We had to dust off our presents before we could take them to our family members' parties. Thankfully, this phase of our life is over.

So finally, the week leading up to Christmas, it was time to install the new cabinets. Our brothers-in-law, Rod & Linn, came to the rescue. They came out and stayed with us for days and worked on this big project. And I am so thankful for their help.

And by the time they left, the kitchen looked something like this:


Even though it was a long way from being "done" I begged Dave to let me put stuff away in the cabinets for Christmas so I could feel like I had a kitchen again. And he said "sure" since he knew it would be months before he'd have a chance to finish it all or even till the doors were done.

One of my favorite parts about this whole process is that since we were doing it ourselves, we decided to use 3/4" poplar for the drawer bottoms. This would assure that I could store heavy pots and pans in the drawers and know the bottoms wouldn't bow and fall out! When you build your cabinets yourselves, you can make little upgrades like this for a fraction of the cost that you'd pay when buying the same thing at the store.

Somewhere along the way, Dave began planning out how to produce the crown mold. He bartered with our woodworking friend (rebuilt his transmission) in exchange for running off the crown mold on his equipment.

Here's a cross section of a crown mold display at Lowe's. We wanted something like this.

This is what we decided on finally:

Dave went over to our friend's woodshop one Thursday night and came home at 1 a.m. with a ton of this stuff. Here he is holding it up to the cabinets. Beautiful!

And here it is mounted up to the cabinets.


Over the course of a few more months, Dave added all the crown mold on and our friend Jack came over and stained the cabinets one Saturday. Then in March 2011, Dave's brother Pat and his wife, Michelle  (and their 3 girlies) came out for a long weekend. While the guys were off doing mechanical stuff, Michelle and I brushed on 3 coats of polyurethane on every square inch of the cabinets. (All while watching 4 kids I might add...):


Then David and Patrick sprayed on 3 coats of poly on all the doors and came up with this handy dandy little way of hanging them all up to dry in the family room.

Later that weekend, the guys hung all the doors on the cabinets and Dave added the black spray painted dentil mold to the crown molding. I really wasn't sure that I wanted him to do that but in the end I love it. It brings out the black speckles in our granite counters.

Isn't it amazing what a difference the stain, poly, crown mold and doors make?

Here are some more after shots of the room after the bottom molding was added (again, another huge difference!) and the backsplash was tiled. And the floor.

When all was said and done, we finished up every last detail sometime in July 2011. 1 month shy of 2 years after we bought the woodworking tools. So this was NOT a fast process. But it was so worth it! Not only was it very rewarding but it also saved us probably around $7,000!!

So what do you think? Do ours resemble this Lowe's display we were going for?

I think so....we went back and compared ours in detail. Ours are definitely built more sturdy and will surely handle the weight of pots and pans and dishes over the years better than the manufactured ones. Ours also fit together better and seem to be constructed better. And ours have a lot more character because we chose the actual pieces of cherry lumber to use for door frames, etc. Patrick did an incredible job with that. Some of the pieces are just absolutely amazing!

The only aspect that ours do not measure up in is the finish. The manufactured finish of this nice display is sanded much more smooth than ours. But ours are a lot smoother than the in-stock Lowe's cabinets. So...if we were ever to do this again, we'd have to figure out a way to sand our cabinets better.

Which brings me to another question you may be wondering, "Would you ever do this again?" And the answer is "YES. ABSOLUTELY!" It is so worth it to take your time and build your confidence and do a big project like this and save a TON of money.

However, I personally, would probably time it so that the kitchen remodel was not occuring simultaneously with the remodel of 6 other rooms during a pregnancy and first year of a baby's life. That is basically my #1 piece of advice about this.

I'm sure the guys could add a lot more about the construction of the cabinets and tips and things they learned along the way. So, if you do have any specific questions, go ahead and ask and I'll talk to them to try and get the answers. The main thing is that you can't underestimate yourselves. If we can do it, so can you!

I linked this up to Beth's blog at Home Stories A2Z!


Anonymous said...

Looks amazing! I know how you feel about remodeling and living in chaos. It takes it's toll but is so worth it for how much you save!

Amanda said...

Oh wow, nice job!!

Kelly said...

That is an undertaking! Living in chaos, especially with a newborn can drive you nutty. But I agree with the comment above, so worth it for how much you save. Can't wait to see the rest of the pictures!

Sarah, Three Boys said...

You guys did an AMAZING job! Well done. Your kitchen is absolutely stunning!

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