Category Archives: DIY

Repurposing the Kitchen Cabinetry Step 2: Cutting the Cabinets Down to Size

Now that we have a plan to upcycle the upper half of the original kitchen cabinetry, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. The first step in refashioning the cabinets as new fireplace built-ins is cutting this one cabinet into thirds.

To be honest, this was the part of the project that had me procrastinating for so long. The thought of pulling the cabinet off the wall and cutting it into separate pieces seemed really overwhelming. I’ll do that someday but not right now, I would tell myself. Meanwhile, every time I was in the garage and would catch sight of the cabinets they would taunt me.

“We would look so lovely in the house, Jason! Please take us inside!”

And so, like all projects, I put it off and put it off and then awoke one morning and decided to just dive in.

It turns out that I was correct in expecting the project to be difficult, but not for the reason I had anticipated. I had assumed that the upper cabinet was simply resting on a piece of a wood that was attached to the wall of the garage. Pulling it off would be easy, I thought. It’s the act of cutting it into separate pieces that would be the hard part. I was so wrong! The upper cabinet was attached to the wall in a few different places with long, long nails. Prying out those nails and separating the heavy cabinet from the wall without destroying it, myself or The Mister was quite a feat! But with brute force, the power of swear words and a pry bar, we removed the cabinet from the wall and brought it outside.

With the cabinet freed from the confines of the garage wall, I could finally cut it down to size. This turned out to be the easy part! I marked my lines, created guides using scrap wood and then used my circular saw to make cuts to the top and bottom of the cabinet.

After the top and bottom were cut I also had to make a small cut to the front of the cabinet. Again, I drew a line where the cut would need to take place and then used scrap wood as a guide to ensure a straight cut.

 And just like that, one big cabinet became two!

My plan had worked! We had taken this big piece of cabinetry and created one cabinet that would be the perfect size for the fireplace. Or at least I hoped it would be the perfect size.

Up until this point, this whole project had been largely based on theory. I thought the cabinetry might cut apart and look nice sitting next to the fireplace, but until the cuts had taken place I could only envision it in my mind. Now I could finally test my theory! After making those first cuts we carried the newly formed smaller cabinet into the house and set it in place.

If you had been at the house that day you would have witnessed my happy dance when I first saw the cabinet in what will be its eventual home. The size is absolutely perfect!  We went back outside and made the rest of the cuts to form the second cabinet for the other side of the fireplace and then brought it in the house and set it in place.

Another perfect fit! And we could finally step back and see how the two cabinets fit in the space…

Sweet, sweet success! These cabinets are going to look so good in their new homes. But of course we’re only a quarter of the way to the finish line. Next up, the cabinets will need to be stripped of paint and old finish, new interiors will need to be made and, lastly, they’ll need to be refinished and built in place. We’ll cover that in the next post. For now, let’s just step back and celebrate this small victory.

Upcycling the Original Kitchen Cabinets
Or, Making Lemons into Lemonade

We’ve been thinking about what to do with the original kitchen cabinets since we first discovered them in the garage back in the spring of 2014. Back then, the cabinets were sitting in a corner of the garage covered in layers of dust and grime. The base unit, facing backwards, was resting on the concrete floor and the upper cabinet was mounted on the wall above. The doors, drawers and shelves were stacked on the top and inside the base unit. We turned the base unit around and tested to see if the drawers and doors fit it and the upper cabinet. We were delighted not only to see that everything fit but that none of the glass in the doors had been broken over the years.

Satisfied that we had the complete cabinetry, we start mulling how we would reuse them in the house. In those early days of house ownership, when we were wide eyed and filled with outrageous ambition, we dreamed of retrofitting the kitchen and re-placing the original cabinets back in their rightful spot. But to make the footprint of the kitchen look as it would have back in 1917, we would need to completely reconfigure the kitchen. We would need to relocate the refrigerator and dishwasher as part of a complete kitchen remodel. Ambitious, right? Well when we decided to give the kitchen a facelift instead of an overhaul, that nixed that idea.

And so we left the cabinets sitting there in the garage. For. Five. Years.

Now that we had jettisoned the plan to move the cabinets back into the kitchen, I started thinking about another way that I could upcycle them. About a year ago I hit on the idea of dismantling the top cabinets to reuse them elsewhere in the house. I think I was sweeping the garage when I ran excitedly into the house and beckoned The Mister to share my new plan with him. Picture it, I said as I stood with him in front of the cabinets in the garage, I’ll cut the upper cabinetry apart to create two built-in cabinets for the fireplace. There had once been shelving flanking the fireplace but that had been removed years ago. So let’s take something that had been removed from the elsewhere in the house, I explained, to create something new for it. What a great idea! we both agreed.

And then I choked. I could hear the purists in the back of my wind. “Why would you ever cut those cabinets apart! They’re one of the only remaining original features of your home! You should preserve them!”

But today I’m here to tell you that I’ve decided to let the purists squawk all they want; we still think this is a good idea.

Because, you see, here’s the thing: the Delbert Meier House is not a museum. And we have not set out to turn back the hands of time and recreate the home that the Meier family first inhabited in 1917. This house is an ever-evolving family home in a small rural town. Over the years it has been owned by woodworkers, DIYers and co-creators who have made changes to the house that they deemed appropriate at the time. We’re following the example set by those previous owners and creating something that will be useful, beautiful and enhance the livability of the house for future owners.

We don’t know exactly how long the original kitchen cabinets have been stored in the garage. Judging by the layers of dirt and dust on them, I’d say at least a couple of decades. Some of the shelves were imprinted with what looked like oil can rings and other automotive stains so we suspect that the cabinets were used for storage in the garage at some point. The cabinets have been enduring the damage of temperature change and wear and tear of being in the garage for decades. By repurposing one of the cabinets for a new use, we’re saving them from further neglect.

And so it’s official. The upper cabinetry will be cut down to size and repurposed as built-in cabinets on either side of the fireplace. Stay tuned to see the progress of this project!

Before & After: A New Vintage Farmhouse Kitchen

Hallelujah and pass the peas! It’s been a year in the making and at some points I thought we might never finish it, but I’m happy to report that the kitchen at the Delbert Meier House is finally (mostly) done. There are still a few lingering little tasks – repainting the walls and replacing the faucet – but it’s finished enough to show off the before and after photos here on the blog. Continue reading

How to Install a Tile Backsplash
(Good News: It’s Easier Than You Might Think!)

Before installing the backsplash in our kitchen I had never in my life tiled a single thing. But how hard can it be? I reasoned. I mean, people have been tiling for thousands of years! And all of those people couldn’t have been geniuses. But then as I watched YouTube videos and read how-to posts with all their steps and warnings of pitfalls, I grew increasingly worried that tiling was a job best left to professionals. No! my inner adventurer called out. And so my can-do, DIY spirit kicked in and I decided to tackle the job on my own. And you know what? It’s not as hard as you might think! Now that I’ve mastered the art of tiling (because, you know, I’ve done it once so now I’m an expert), I’m going to share the process with you. Continue reading

Farmhouse Fabulous: New Flooring for the Kitchen

When I work on a DIY project – like, say, installing new Pergo laminate flooring in the kitchen – my mind wanders during the easier parts of the work. For instance, while ripping up the old vinyl tiles in the kitchen I thought up punny things I could say about the new flooring. I may have said a couple of my punny sentences out loud and chuckled to myself. That’s one of the things I love about DIY projects – that my hands are busy creating something beautiful while my mind is off on tangents all its own. Multi-tasking for the mind!

But enough about my mental quirks. You’re here for house updates, not to learn about my inner workings, right? Continue reading