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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

Cabinet Types: Frameless & Face Frame

face-frame cabinet construction

Face-frame Cabinet

There are two types of cabinet construction: face frame and frameless (also called European-style).

Face-frame cabinets, as their name implies, have a frame around the front of the cabinet. Frameless cabinets don’t. You can usually tell the difference between the two types of cabinet construction by the way the doors and drawers fit against the front.[GARD align=”left”]

Another difference is that, because the face frame adds rigidity to the construction, face-frame cabinets usually don’t have a top panel or a full back (or the back may be made of thin material). Also, frameless base cabinets are usually mounted on top of a separate plinth or toe kick; face- frame cabinets have integral bases.

Face-frame Cabinet

A face-frame cabinet has a 1-by-2 frame that rims the cabinet’s front edges, masking the construction and strengthening the box. Doors or drawer fronts normally overlay the frame, but they may be flush or offset. Standard offset hinges are partially visible from the front.

 

frameless cabinet construction

Frameless Cabinet

Frameless Cabinet

The frameless cabinet utilizes European-style connectors and hinges to create a contemporary look with flush doors and hidden hinges. This method of construction is often used with laminate cabinets. Frameless cabinets usually have a solid top and back, and base units sit on a separate plinth.

 

What Is a Scribe Rail?

A scribe rail is a length of wood shaped to serve as a buffer between a wall with an irregular surface and a cabinet. To install one, use a simple compass to trace the wall’s surface onto the rail, and then trim it to ensure a tight fit.

Cabinet Types: Frameless & Face Frame

face-frame cabinet construction

Face-frame Cabinet

There are two types of cabinet construction: face frame and frameless (also called European-style).

Face-frame cabinets, as their name implies, have a frame around the front of the cabinet. Frameless cabinets don’t. You can usually tell the difference between the two types of cabinet construction by the way the doors and drawers fit against the front.[GARD align=”left”]

Another difference is that, because the face frame adds rigidity to the construction, face-frame cabinets usually don’t have a top panel or a full back (or the back may be made of thin material). Also, frameless base cabinets are usually mounted on top of a separate plinth or toe kick; face- frame cabinets have integral bases.

Face-frame Cabinet

A face-frame cabinet has a 1-by-2 frame that rims the cabinet’s front edges, masking the construction and strengthening the box. Doors or drawer fronts normally overlay the frame, but they may be flush or offset. Standard offset hinges are partially visible from the front.

 

frameless cabinet construction

Frameless Cabinet

Frameless Cabinet

The frameless cabinet utilizes European-style connectors and hinges to create a contemporary look with flush doors and hidden hinges. This method of construction is often used with laminate cabinets. Frameless cabinets usually have a solid top and back, and base units sit on a separate plinth.

 

What Is a Scribe Rail?

A scribe rail is a length of wood shaped to serve as a buffer between a wall with an irregular surface and a cabinet. To install one, use a simple compass to trace the wall’s surface onto the rail, and then trim it to ensure a tight fit.

How to Paint Kitchen or Bathroom Cabinets

cabinets-painting-rail-ss

[/media-credit] Painting existing cabinets is a great way to give your kitchen an entirely new look on a budget. You can use a brush for a first coat or primer, but we recommend a short-nap roller for finish coats.

A fresh coat of paint is a quick, inexpensive way to give your cabinets a new look. Whether you want to lighten up dark and dingy cabinets or liven up your room with bold colors, paint can provide an instant makeover. Not all cabinets, though, can be painted.

Solid-wood or wood-veneer cabinets take paint well, as do metal ones; cabinets and face frames covered with plastic laminate or thinner melamine plastic cannot be painted because paint will not bond properly to these surfaces.[GARD align=”left”]

There are three basic tools you can use to paint cabinetry: a brush, a roller, and a spray gun. Brushing paint on large surfaces will leave brush marks. Sprayers are expensive and require an enclosure to contain overspray. Rolling is fast and inexpensive, and it works exceptionally well on large surfaces; a short (4- or 6-inch) foam roller is a good choice because it lets you cover the face frames with a single stroke and quickly handle the wider doors. As for paint, satin enamel is an excellent selection-it covers well and is easy to clean.

If you are installing new hinges and pulls, make simple drilling jigs that will allow you to position the hardware accurately. A drilling jig is nothing more than a scrap of 1/2-inch plywood with holes drilled through it at screw-hole locations and strips of wood glued to two adjacent sides to hold the jig in position.

Remove all hardware.

 

1Remove screws, hinges, knobs, and pulls, and set aside whichever ones you will be reusing. Empty the drawers, and pull them out. (Although you can try to paint your cabinetry with the doors and drawers in place, it is a lot easier to remove them.) Number the doors, drawers, and hardware to make it easy to replace them when you are done painting.

 

sanding kitchen cabinets

Clean and lightly sand all surfaces.

2Thoroughly clean the cabinets with trisodium phosphate (TSP). Rinse the surfaces completely with fresh water, and allow them to dry. If you will be installing new hardware, fill all the mounting holes with putty, and allow them to dry.

Next, sand all surfaces with 150- grit open-coat sandpaper, and vacuum to remove any dust and sanding grit.

 

 

 

paint cabinet face frame

Paint face frames first.

3Mask off all adjacent surfaces, and position dropcloths to protect countertops and flooring. Begin by painting the face frames, and then turn your attention to the doors and drawers.

 

 

 

 

paint cabinet door

Next, paint the door insides.

4Paint the insides of the doors. While the doors dry, paint the drawer fronts. Then paint the fronts of the doors. Depending on the paint you are using, you may or may not need additional coats. If you do need additional coats, allow the first coat to dry overnight, and then sand all surfaces with 220-grit wet/dry sandpaper. Vacuum thoroughly, and apply the next coat.[GARD align=”right”]

 

 

 

Drill to install the pulls

5Install the drawers and attach the doors once the painted surfaces are dry. Carefully lay out and drill holes through a jig at the desired hardware location. Position the jig on each door with the strips butted firmly against the door’s bottom and side, and drill through the holes in the jig into and through the door. Finally, install the pulls.

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How to Install Kitchen Cabinets

When installing kitchen cabinets, start with the upper cabinets, and then install the base cabinets.

[/media-credit] When installing kitchen cabinets, start with the upper cabinet boxes, and install the base cabinets, and finally, add the doors..

Thinking about installing kitchen cabinets? These illustrated step-by-step instructions will guide you through hanging both base cabinets and wall cabinets.

If your handy with do-it-yourself projects, you may be able to install your own cabinets, but make sure you have all of the tools and materials you’ll need—and a strong helper—before you begin.[GARD align=”left”]

If this job looks a little too complex, be aware that many dealers offer installation, either by their own personnel or by independent installers. When you order your cabinets, ask for estimates and/or referrals. The job usually goes a bit smoother if you hire a cabinet installer who is familiar with the particular product you’re purchasing. Make sue to ask the installer for references. Another option is to install the cabinet boxes yourself and hire a finish carpenter or cabinet installer to handle the trickier jobs of mounting and adjusting the doors and drawers as well as for any special trim work.

Installing new cabinets doesn’t necessarily require hiring a professional—but it does take a fair amount of do-it-yourself skills and basic tools. The key is to install all the cabinets perfectly level and plumb—otherwise, the cabinets may look shoddy, doors and drawers may not close properly, and appliances may fit poorly. You’ll need at least one helper for lifting and holding cabinets in place during the fastening process.

Preparing for Cabinet Installation

Before beginning installation, check the sizing of all cabinets against the room's measurements to make sure everything will fit properly.

[/media-credit] Before beginning installation, check the sizing of all cabinets against the room’s measurements to make sure everything will fit properly.

When installing new cabinets, plan to do the job after the completion of the rough wiring and plumbing but before the finish flooring has been installed. By installing the flooring after cabinet installation, you won’t use more flooring than needed and the new floors won’t run the risk of construction damage.

If you’re replacing outdated cabinets, remove the old cabinets carefully so you don’t damage the walls and so you can use them for taking critical measurements (or, in some cases, as patterns for the new cabinets). The best strategy for removal is to take off all of the doors, pull out the drawers, and lift out any removable shelves.

Most cabinets are secured to wall framing members through their backs with nails or screws, which you will need to pull. Be sure to have a helper when you remove upper cabinets-as you extract the fasteners, you’ll need help holding the cabinets up. If cabinets are screwed together through their side panels, also remove these screws so you can remove the cabinets one by one.

The walls that back new cabinets need to be level, smooth, and clean. To check them for flatness, place a long straightedge against them. Mark any bumps or voids so that, during installation, you can adjust for them.[GARD align=”left”]

Unpack your cabinets and make sure all the components are included. If your cabinets arrive disassembled, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Wait until after cabinet installation to add drawers, doors, and shelves. If you remove any parts, be sure to label them so you can return them to their proper places.

The first wall and base cabinets are key-if you get them installed level from back to front and side to side, the other cabinets should follow suit. It’s easiest to start with the wall- mounted cabinets so the base cabinets won’t obstruct your work.

Installing Wall Cabinets

When installing kitchen cabinets, it’s easiest to install the upper wall cabinets first; this way, the base cabinets are not in your way during the necessary lifting and fastening.

When moving them around, you will discover that upper cabinets are heavy—just imagine their weight when they’re loaded with dinnerware or foodstuffs. For this reason, it is imperative that they be fastened securely to the wall stud framing behind the wall’s surface material. And the screws you use must go through a strong part of the cabinet, such as a support rail, that runs along the cabinet back. Every cabinet should be secured by at least three screws that penetrate the wall framing by at least 1 1/2 inches.

Measure up from your baseline to determine the location of the upper cabinets.

[/media-credit] Measure up from your baseline to establish marks for the top of the base cabinets and the bottom of the upper cabinets.

1Use a level and with a pencil to draw a perfectly parallel line across the wall about 3 inches up from the floor. Measure down from this line to the floor to find the floor’s high point (if it has one), and mark a line at that point. From there, measure up 34 1/2 inches and draw a level line across the wall to designate the top of the base cabinets.

2Establish a line for the bottom of the wall cabinets. From the 34 1/2-inch line, measure up another 19 1/2 inches and mark a level line across the wall to indicate the bottom of the wall cabinets. Lightly mark the cabinets’ dimensions and placement on the wall to double-check your layout.

After establishing a base line, draw a level line across the wall where the bottom of the upper cabinets will go.

[/media-credit] After establishing a base line, draw a level line across the wall where the bottom of the upper cabinets will go.

 

3Locate the wall studs, using a stud finder and, with a pencil, mark their locations above and at least 6 inches below the mark you’ve made for the bottom of the wall cabinets. Draw straight vertical lines between the top and bottom marks to indicate the center of the studs.

 

4Screw a temporary 1-by-3 support rail to the wall, aligning the top edge of the rail with the line for the bottom edge of the wall cabinets. Attach it by driving three or four 2-inch screws through the rail into the wall studs.

Support upper cabinets on a temporary rail. Then level and shim them before fastening them to wall studs.

[/media-credit] Support upper cabinets on a temporary rail. Then level and shim them before fastening them to wall studs.

With a helper, hang the corner wall cabinet first.

5If your cabinet setup includes a corner wall cabinet, install it first, with a helper. Drill pilot holes through the sturdy cabinet back or its support rail and into the wall studs. Screw the cabinet to the wall using two screws that are long enough to penetrate the studs by at least 1 1/2 inches, and then check the top for level and the front edge for plumb. To correct the position, back off the screws, tap shims behind the cabinet at stud locations, and then drive the screws home and add several more into each stud for secure attachment.

 

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Screw through structural parts of the cabinet back into wall studs for solid support.

[/media-credit] Screw through structural parts of the cabinet back into wall studs for solid support.

Install the adjacent cabinets. As you install each one, secure it to its neighbor with a clamp and check it for plumb. On face-frame cabinets, it’s easiest to drill two 1/8-inch pilot holes through the sides of the face frame and screw the cabinets together.

With frameless cabinets, drill bolt holes through shelf-peg holes, and then bolt the two together. Be sure not to fasten through shelf-peg holes that you will need for shelves.

Installing Base Cabinets

After all the upper wall cabinets are in place, install the corner or end base cabinet.

1Level and shim the corner cabinet. If necessary, use shims to level it and raise it up to the high point of the floor so that its upper edge aligns with the line on the wall. Be sure it is level from front to back and from side to side, and then screw it to the wall studs.

2Add the first adjoining cabinet. Align it the same way you did the first cabinet. If necessary, tap shims under and behind the cabinet to adjust for plumb and level. Clamp together the face frames. Then drive screws through one face frame into the other, as shown, to permanently fasten them.

Clamp together adjoining cabinets, and then screw through the edge of one face frame into the other.

[/media-credit] Clamp together adjoining cabinets, and then screw through the edge of one face frame into the other.

To turn a corner with base cabinets, push the adjoining cabinet in place and clamp the two units together. Add a filler strip if needed to allow doors and drawers clearance.

3Drive screws through the cabinet back (and shims) into the wall studs. Trim any excess material from the shims with a sharp chisel or knife. Continue to add adjoining cabinets in this manner, joining them as you did the wall cabinets. Be sure the lower cabinets line up with the upper ones.

Screw through backs of cabinets and shims into wall studs.

[/media-credit] Screw through backs of cabinets and shims into wall studs.

Featured Resource: Find Local Pre-Screened Cabinet Installation Pros

 

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