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Space-Saving Cabinet Ideas

Rare is the kitchen that has enough storage space, and rarer still is the kitchen that successfully organizes its gear. When planning kitchen cabinets, be sure to incorporate ideas that maximize the use of space. Here we look at a few brilliant concepts that squeeze out every inch of storage and organization.

Toe-kick drawer offers flat storage for potholders, placemats, and more.

Toe-kick drawer offers flat storage for potholders, place mats, and more. ©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

 

 

Recently, during a visit to the home of Al & Susie Lewin, we discovered these outstanding space-saving drawers in their kitchen. The inside-corner takes wonderful advantage of space that is otherwise hopelessly unreachable. And the toe-kick drawers are perfect for flat place mats and the like.

 

Corner drawers is outstanding for reclaiming lost space.

Corner drawers are outstanding for reclaiming lost space. ©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This vertical cabinet, next to the stove, keeps spices and cooking oils organized and handy. Courtesy of Houzz.

 

Take advantage of severely vertical space by employing a pull-out knife rack. Note: If small children are in the house, add child-proof safety latches! Courtesy of Houzz.

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4 Easy Cabinet Updates

Sometimes all your cabinets need to give your kitchen a whole new look is a bit of basic repair or a few minor improvements. Changing your pulls, for example, can completely alter the look of cabinet as can refacing or repainting them.

If your cabinet doors droop or shut poorly, repair or change the hinges. First, try tightening the screws. If a screw won’t tighten, remove it, squirt a little white glue and insert some broken-up toothpicks into the hole to fill it up (wipe off any excess glue). After the glue dries, cut the toothpicks flush with the surface using a utility knife, and drive the screw into the refurbished hole (you may have to drill a small pilot hole first).

With a European-style hinges, adjustments are easy with the turn of a screw.

With a European-style hinges, adjustments are easy with the turn of a screw.

Exposed decorative hinges can also add a new design element to your cabinets. Hinges can be found in virtually every style and size. You’re sure to find replacements that will both fit your cabinets and perk up their appearance.

If it seems that your cabinet doors are perpetually hanging open, you may want to switch to self-closing hinges, which do not require a separate catch to keep the door closed.

If you have European frameless-style cabinets and the doors are out of adjustment, you may simply need to adjust the hinges. Most of the hinges that attach doors to these types of cabinets can be adjusted with only the turn of a screw to bring the door into line. These hinges are usually mounted directly to the interior cabinet side and are hidden when the door is closed. They do not require a catch since they are self-closing.

Another common, and easily accomplished, repair is adjusting drawers that don’t close easily or well. This problem can usually be solved by re-attaching or replacing the drawer’s glides. For the smoothest, most trouble-free drawer opening and closing, purchase prefabricated metal ball-bearing glide sets that attach to the drawer bottom or sides, depending on your drawer’s construction and current type of glide. The manufacturer’s instructions should detail proper installation.

If you want to use side glides in a faceframe cabinet, you’ll need to bring the mounting surface flush with the edge of the faceframe stiles by gluing and screwing filler strips to the inside of the cabinet’s sides. copyright-sun

How to Build a Closet

Build a closet yourself, following these illustrated step-by-step techniques, including wall framing, paneling, and finishing.

how to build a closet

Bi-fold doors conceal this utility room. Photo: Lavalon

Need more closet space? If you have adequate floor space and some basic carpentry skills, you can build a closet in a bedroom, guest room, den, or hallway that will look like it has been there all along.[GARD align=”left”]

The first step is to build a closet frame and fasten it to the surrounding walls. Next, you will trim the door opening and install the door(s) of your choice. Finally, you will hang the closet rods or customize the interior with rods, shelving, drawers, and any other accessories you desire.

Planning to Build Closet Walls

Plan to build a closet frame from 2 by 4s, allowing an inside depth of at least 27 inches. You can construct the frame in one of two ways: Build the walls flat on the floor and then raise them up into position, or build them in place.

It is much easier to nail the framing members together on the floor if the room has a large, clear area to accommodate this. But, using this method, you will have to make a slight modification in the height of the closet walls because it is impossible to tilt an 8-foot-tall wall up into an 8-foot-high space. So, build the wall about 1/4 inch shorter than the height of the ceiling, and then place shims or thin blocks between the top plate and the ceiling.

First, mark the positions of the top plate and the sole plate. On the ceiling, mark both ends of the center line of the new closet wall. Measure 1 3/4 inches (half the width of a 2-by-4 top plate) on both sides of each mark. Snap parallel lines between corresponding marks with a chalk line to show the position of the top plate.

build a closet wall framing

The Basic Structural Elements of a Closet

Next, hang a plumb bob from each end of the lines, and mark these points on the floor. Snap two more chalk lines to connect the floor points, marking the sole plate’s position. If the closet has a side wall return, lay out the top plate and sole plate in the same way; use a framing square to make sure this will be perfectly perpendicular to the front wall. Cut each sole plate and top plate to the desired length.

build a closet mark plates

Mark the top plate and the sole plate together for stud locations, using a square and a pencil.

Lay each top plate edge to edge against its sole plate and flush at both ends. Beginning at an end that will be attached to an existing wall, measure in 1 1/2 inches (the thickness of a 2-by-4 stud), and then draw a line across both plates using a combination square. Starting from that end, measure and draw lines at 15 1/4 and 16 3/4 inches. From these marks, advance 16 inches at a time, drawing new lines for stud locations until you reach the far end of both plates.

NEXT SEE: How to Frame Closet Walls and Finishing Closet Construction

Featured Resource: Find Local Pre-Screened Closet Builders

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How to Tile a Backsplash

Mosaic tile backsplash provides a stunning, durable wall between countertop and cabinets.

[/media-credit] Mosaic tile backsplash provides a stunning, durable wall between countertop and cabinets.

A tile backsplash is a relatively easy project for a do-it-yourselfer. As with most projects, preparation is key. Be sure to remove any existing tile and scrub the surface of the wall. You may need to fill in small holes and sand or scrape the area to make it level.

Retro checkerboard backsplash is made from black and white square tiles. Photo: American Olean

As for your choice of tile, glazed varieties work better for kitchen applications than unglazed tiles, which can absorb grease and moisture. You may need to rent a wet saw to cut the tiles; be sure to wear safety goggles when working with this tool.

When applying mastic to the wall, spread the mixture evenly and moderately. If you apply too little mastic, your tiles will not adhere properly. Too much mastic will mean your tiles will take a long time to set and could be uneven. Wear gloves when working with mastic, and follow label directions carefully.

1Plan your layout. Identify the center of your design using a tape measure or ruler. Use a level to mark a line at that spot, and then continue to draw a grid of one vertical column and one horizontal row intersecting at the central point of the backsplash.[GARD align=”left”]

2Apply mastic where the central tile will go, and adhere the tile to the wall.

3Lay out the tiles from the center for the first column and row, applying enough mastic to the wall to lay out two tiles at a time and using spacers between the tiles for uniformity. Press firmly on each tile to adhere it to the wall but not so hard that mastic oozes between the tiles. Wipe off any mastic that makes it onto the face of tiles.

4Continue to apply tiles to the wall. If you know you will need to cut tiles for the edges of your backsplash, do this before completing your final two columns and rows. You can mark where the tiles will need to be cut using a wax pencil and then use either a wet saw or a snap cutter to cut or break the tile.

Grout is applied after the tile has been attached to the wall.

[/media-credit] Grout is applied after the tile has been attached to the wall.

5Let the mastic dry according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. It will usually take about 24 hours for the mastic to set completely. Remove the spacers once the mastic has dried.

6Apply grout between the tiles with a blade float. After the grout sets (about 15 minutes), clean off any excess with a sponge. Let the grout dry for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer.

7Once the grout has dried, apply a bead of caulk around the edges of the backsplash as well as to where it meets the countertop.

Featured Resource: Get a Pre-Screened Local Tile Installation Contractor

Mix & Apply Thinset Mortar

Be sure to use thinset mortar that is latex- or polymer-fortified; otherwise, it is likely to crack, resulting in loose tiles. You can buy “polymer-fortified” thinset mortar that you mix with water, or you can buy less expensive, unfortified thinset and add liquid latex as directed.

Use gray thinset for ceramic and stone tiles that are dark in color. However, many types of marble, glass, and other kinds of tiles are slightly translucent, so a gray mortar would slightly muddy them. For these tiles, use white thinset, which costs only a bit more.

Mix the thinset mortar and allow it to rest the amount of time specified by the manufacturer. Slowly add a couple of inches of liquid to the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket and then pour in some powder (don’t add water too quickly). Mixing by hand can be somewhat strenuous work-a half-inch drill fitted with a mixing paddle makes the job much easier. Hold the bucket between your feet as you spin the paddle. Work slowly at first to avoid slopping mortar out of the bucket. Then run the paddle faster until the mortar is a smooth consistency. When you pick the paddle up, the mortar should remain stuck for a few seconds before sliding off. Keep mixing until you attain a consistency that holds its shape and is barely pourable.

Spread mortar with a notched trowel.

Starting in a corner, dump or scoop the mortar onto the surface. Use the flat slide of the trowel to spread the mortar over an area about 3 feet square. Using the notched side of the trowel, comb the mortar to produce an even surface. Use long strokes and hold the trowel at a consistent angle. If the mortar starts to harden while you work-either on the surface or in the bucket-discard it and mix a new batch.

Get a Pre-Screened Local Tile Countertop Installation Contractor

Mix & Apply Thinset Mortar

Be sure to use thinset mortar that is latex- or polymer-fortified; otherwise, it is likely to crack, resulting in loose tiles. You can buy “polymer-fortified” thinset mortar that you mix with water, or you can buy less expensive, unfortified thinset and add liquid latex as directed.

Use gray thinset for ceramic and stone tiles that are dark in color. However, many types of marble, glass, and other kinds of tiles are slightly translucent, so a gray mortar would slightly muddy them. For these tiles, use white thinset, which costs only a bit more.

Mix the thinset mortar and allow it to rest the amount of time specified by the manufacturer. Slowly add a couple of inches of liquid to the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket and then pour in some powder (don’t add water too quickly). Mixing by hand can be somewhat strenuous work-a half-inch drill fitted with a mixing paddle makes the job much easier. Hold the bucket between your feet as you spin the paddle. Work slowly at first to avoid slopping mortar out of the bucket. Then run the paddle faster until the mortar is a smooth consistency. When you pick the paddle up, the mortar should remain stuck for a few seconds before sliding off. Keep mixing until you attain a consistency that holds its shape and is barely pourable.

Spread mortar with a notched trowel.

Starting in a corner, dump or scoop the mortar onto the surface. Use the flat slide of the trowel to spread the mortar over an area about 3 feet square. Using the notched side of the trowel, comb the mortar to produce an even surface. Use long strokes and hold the trowel at a consistent angle. If the mortar starts to harden while you work-either on the surface or in the bucket-discard it and mix a new batch.

Get a Pre-Screened Local Tile Countertop Installation Contractor

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