Aristotle once said that nature abhors a vacuum – that a void cannot exist because the denser matter that surrounds it will flow into it as it seeks a new balance. My dear wife is living proof of this idea. Give her a void (or a room), and she’ll fill it. She started with a small crafting area in my office with a little secretary desk that I refinished for her (way back when we started crafting and woodwork. Pics here). This area became unusable for crafting as wood scraps and foam balls and little paint cans and printers and paper all competed for real estate on a small chair and tiny desk, so we dismantled this area and cleared one of the garage bays as her new crafting space. Before long this area became unnavigable with accumulated supplies and future projects. Soldiering on, we cleared a spot for her in the basement with a big workbench and some shelves. But Handan prefers to be closer to her family when she crafts, so the basement workshop became storage depot number two, filled with scratched-up dressers, broken chairs, ancient steamer trunks, empty picture frames, and assorted doodads, thingamabobs and whatchamacallits bought and scavenged over several months of weekend tag sales and weekly trips to the town dump’s Put and Take. So in the spirit of promoting close proximity to her loved ones while she crafts, we evicted the bed from guest bedroom #1 (which adjoins the living room/kitchen) and set up yet another crafting space.
Can you guess what happened next?
To make a long story short, I’m told that if we can just move the linens from the closet in the room-formerly-known-as-guest-bedroom-#1, all of Handan’s storage needs will be well met, and everything will be awesome. Hence, the Upstairs Hallway Built-In, aka Keeper of the Linens!
Here’s the before shot. It’s a weird little nook at the top of the stairs. We never knew what to put here. A tree? A Ming Vase? A statue? How about something more useful?
laboriously hacked out whipped up a plan in Sketchup using 3/4″ and 1/2″ plywood with 1/4″ for side trim, hutch back and door panels. The counter would be real wood of some sort, most likely stained dark, but I hadn’t yet reached a firm decision when I was making the Sketchup model. The 1/2″ plywood was an 11th hour substitution just to save a few dollars. In hindsight, that was a mistake. Going forward I will build entirely from 3/4″ plywood, except for trim, backings and door panels. I’ll explain in more detail later.
I decided to make the cabinet 26 1/2″ deep. That would bring the doors right up to the glass blocks. I cut the carpet to 26″ deep. That extra 1/2″ would slide under face frame of the cabinet, which I would leave 1/2″ off the floor to accommodate the height of the carpet. By doing this, I would be able to tuck the cut edge of the carpet underneath the cabinet to give a nice clean look. The face frame is still 3/4″ in this plan drawing, even though it’s 1/2″ in reality.
There was an outlet in the way on the right side, so that would need to be moved forward. I started by prying off the baseboard, cutting and removing the carpet and pad, then using the reciprocating saw to cut through the tackless carpet strips before finally pulling them up with a pry bar.
To relocate the electrical outlet, I first cut power to the outlet (electricity is fantastic when it flows through wires and devices, far less so when it flows through humans), then I cut away the drywall around the existing outlet and pried out the gang box. Fortunately I only needed to move the outlet as far as the distance between two studs, or 16 inches. This meant that it wasn’t necessary for me to drill through one or more studs to run the wire to the new location. I marked and cut the new hole for the outlet and added a jumper to the exposed wires.
There was no way I’d be able to hammer the gang box into the stud, so I opted instead to epoxy it.
Once the epoxy set, I ran the wires into the gang box, connected them to the outlet, and screwed it into place. I left the big hole on the left open since it will be totally and securely covered by the side of the cabinet.
With the site prep finished, it was time to start work on the built-in! I broke it down into four components: the cabinet, the doors, the counter top and the hutch. In the next post we’ll take a look at building the cabinet.
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