March 17, 2018
Cabinet doors

The vision

I new exactly what I wanted for my home office. I was thinking a bank of built-in cabinets and a peninsula table that looked out the front window. My main goal was to take up the majority of space on the longer wall in the room, but leave enough space to walk around.

Home office space

This is the home office space. The plan was for the cabinets to line the wall with the desk looking out the window.

Decisions, decisions

Built-in or freestanding?

Initially, we were thinking built-in cabinets for this space. As we got to planning, I got more and more uncomfortable with the built-in idea. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for a wall treatment in the room and I’m not a big fan of open-face shelving. I also don’t know if the carpet is going to be permanent or what we’ll do with that. Basically, we decided that we didn’t want the commitment of built-ins. Instead, we would create freestanding cabinets. That way, we have flexibility with location and unlimited options for a wall treatment.

Cabinets: build or buy?

The biggest decision with this project was what to do for the cabinets. Building cabinets properly is expensive. Buying cabinets is cheaper, but quality suffers. We explored both options and landed on buying pre-made, in-stock, 30″x30″ white cabinets with full overlay shaker doors.

After trips to all the big box stores, we found that Lowe’s had exactly what we were looking for. The color, style and $110 price tag made it hard to beat.

30" x 30" Diamond Now cabinet

30″ x 30″ Diamond Now cabinet from Lowe’s.

Building the frame

We knew we’d have to do some building for a frame and the top. With the cabinets being 30″ high, we were aiming for a finished height of about 32″. This height allows you to store things like printers and office supplies on top of the cabinets at a comfortable height.

We created a frame for the bottom of the cabinets out of 1″x2″ select pine. We sanded the boards and painted with a Behr Marquee color match in satin enamel. It’s not a perfect gloss match, but close enough that you don’t notice.

1x2 select pine used as a base frame.

1″ x 2″ select pine base painted with color matched Behr Marquee in satin enamel.

We also added blocking between the cabinets to keep each set structurally sound.

Use blocking between cabinets.

Blocking provides additional support between cabinets.

The countertop

The top of this piece was about as easy as it gets. We chose 1″x4″ poplar that we sanded and finished with General Finishes Lamp Black Milk Paint and High Performance Topcoat in satin. Based on the width of the cabinet and the overhang we wanted, the four 1″x4″ boards were a perfect fit and didn’t require any custom cuts other than length.

Finished countertop

1″x4″ poplar boards finished with General Finishes Lamp Black Milk Paint and High Performance Overcoat in Satin.


Countertop board alignment

We wanted to maintain a rustic look like the top of the desk. The boards are flat enough to be functional.

Cabinet length

Another decision we had to make was how big to make this piece. As we weren’t doing a built-in, one massive unit didn’t really make sense. We decided to do two banks of cabinets with a shelf between the two cabinets to hold the router, modem and any other electronics. This way, we could repurpose the cabinets if we ever wanted to move them to another room.

Cabinet length

To make these multi-purpose for other uses down the road, we included an overhang for the top on both sides, the front and back.

Completing the look

One of my favorite things is choosing knobs and pulls for cabinets. It’s a fun accessory that can change the entire look of a piece. When it came to these cabinets, I already knew what I wanted.

Cabinet pull

I’ve walked by this industrial-inspired pull no less than a bazillion times in all my trips to Home Depot.

We also purchased a drilling template to make sure we got the holes in the right place. It worked great! Actually, it worked so well that Josh and I got to feeling so comfortable that we stopped paying attention and drilled a hole in the wrong spot. A quick internet search showed we could buy another cabinet door. Not ideal, but we’re learning here.

Then, it happened again. This time, two small pilot holes on the wrong side of the door. Another quick internet search showed we could buy a new cabinet cheaper than the two doors. We were upset, but this is DYI and mistakes do happen. We went back to Lowe’s. On the way over, I just kept hoping there would be some sort of damaged cabinet that would have the doors we needed.

Ask and you shall receive. There it was. A damaged cabinet.

Damaged cabinet that provided the doors we needed.

I went to the front desk and asked what deals they run on damaged pieces. The employee had no idea.

With perfect doors.

Cabinet doors

We agreed on 75 percent off and I scored my new cabinet for less than $30. Side note: If you need a new vacuum, I can’t recommend a Miele enough.

The finished cabinets

Here it is! The second cabinet looks the exact same.

Completed cabinet.

One of two cabinets. Total length is 5′ 5″ . Height is 32″

Once we build the shelves for center of the cabinets, I’ll post the finished look.



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