Project: Built-In Cabinet Remodel

built-in 1

Since we are still waiting for our bathroom to be finished (I will be posting about it when complete), we have started other projects around the in-law suite in an effort to make it just that much nicer when we move in.

Our new venture is redoing the built-in cabinet located right outside the bathroom. I couldn’t find a great “before” photo, it’s kindof an awkward corner so I didn’t take many pictures of it in the beginning, but basically the cabinet smelled on the inside and the shelves were old and gross. If we were ever going to put things in it, it had to be fixed.

The first step was to tear everything out. We started our carefully removing and labeling all the parts so we could re-cut the same parts and put everything back together, but I later realized that I didn’t even like the original layout of it. So, instead of it being (top to bottom) tiny cabinet, large cabinet, large cabinet, laundry shoot…I’m changing it to be large cabinet, 2 open shelves, large cabinet.

Ripping out the laundry shoot cabinet left exposed, the bottom portions of the walls and a subfloor with a hole in it. Neil cut new wood pieces to complete the side walls and we used a piece of insulation and durock, leftover from the bathroom, to fill and cover the laundry shoot hole on the floor.

built-in 2

Now, onto the remodel! I put together a to-scale diagram of how I wanted the new cabinet and what order I wanted to do everything, that way I could figure out all the dimensions and have something to follow. This is my first ever building project and I didn’t want to screw it up too badly. Neil let me take the lead, which was very trustful of him =), so I just tell him where to cut and screw (I’m not comfortable yet using power tools, so he does that part).

The first step of stage 1 of the remodel: Install the upper and lower most sections of the framework. I designed horizontal support beams between each section and knew that if I put the entire framework in first, I wouldn’t be able to get the drywall in or seam and mud it properly. So, The bottom most beam was placed first, which then gave me a flush starting point for everything else to be built around and line up to.

The new cabinet is slightly shorter than the original. The top section of the original exposed an unreachable ceiling area (which actually goes up about 8 – 10 more inches behind the top wall in the picture) and weird framework that poked out and couldn’t easily be removed. rather than spending the time to try and figure out how to replace it properly and make everything level and flush, I designed a brace frame to lower the ceiling . The leftover spacing will be covered by the finishing trim, so I won’t even have to patch that part up.

After the floor and ceiling braces went in, I cut drywall pieces for the wall. Yes, I measured and cut it myself! The drywall was leftover from the bathroom, so I decided to use that, instead of buying new wood sheets to line the walls. I had Neil screw in the ceiling piece first, which in turn would also be supported by the walls placed underneath it. The back wall was second, which we had to liquid nail because the built-in cabinet and closet, behind it, shared a sheet of drywall as a divider. We could’ve added 2×4 beams and built out a new wall, but then we would have lost about 5″ of shelf depth. So, we liquid nailed the back wall, then placed the side walls which, again, in turn held in the back wall.

Please excuse me if this construction sounds weird. This is my very first project and the steps make sense to me, so that’s what I’m going with!

Next, it was time for me to seam and mud the drywall. If doing this step for the first time, I DO NOT recommend starting in a small closet space. I have never touched drywall tape in my life and found it very difficult to apply it in such a small space, there just wasn’t enough room to apply and scrape properly.

It took me almost 2 hours, but I got the first coat down. I think it looks great and I was really proud of myself. Now, I figure, if I could pull that off, real walls will be easy. 😉


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