When we moved into our house in March of 2016, I knew the first project we needed to do was update our home office. There was a perfect little nook in between two drywall columns that would fit a double desk really well. I started dreaming but knew it had to be on a budget. We had just bought a house after all, and I wasn’t ready to drop a few thousand more dollars on custom cabinets or anything of the sort. But something had to be done. We decided on installing IKEA cabinets.
This is what we were doing our work on:
Nothing wrong with it, and I ADORE our chairs, but the wonderful folding table we bought in the interim were an eyesore, to say the least. Aaron’s job is wonderful for many reasons, including the luxury that he can sometimes work from home. While the table was functional, he was constantly running out of space on his desk, and it wasn’t a super productive work environment.
So I started dreaming about what we could actually afford to build. I knew I wanted to maybe redo our kitchen with IKEA cabinets someday, and what better way to get a preview than to use them in our office? I wanted lots of skinny drawers, a built in cabinet for our desktop towers, and the ability to DIY our countertops. Here’s what I came up with:
This gave us two ‘seats’ at our joint desk, fit exactly between the two columns, and gave us ample storage below (that’s 6 drawers on each side). I also was able to hide our printer in the center drawer. I think this is actually my favorite part of this desk. I hate looking at printers, and they aren’t used all that often in this digital age. I’d much rather hide it and open the drawer when needed than have it out all the time.
I made sure we had a few other things that were going to make the space more attractive. I’ve always wanted glass-front cabinets, and the traditional style of them really fits our house. The butcher block countertop (also from IKEA) meant we could keep this project in an acceptable budget range but also have a beautiful space. I also wanted to hide our desktop computer towers. I know that sounds super old school, but we’ve found you can get more bang for your buck with desktops rather than laptops. We still have a MacBook Air that we can use around the house, but all of the heavy computer use is done in our office. It also helps us keep work in a work space and lets the rest of our house be a place for family and relaxation.
But back to the cabinets – IKEA’s Home Planner is wonderful. I threw this plan together in one evening, and it gave me a list of everything I needed from the store. I saved my design and drove up to IKEA the next day. They had me log in to my account, pulled up the same design, and the employee helping us double checked everything, making sure we had what we needed. We checked out, loaded up the car, and drove back to the house to start building cabinets. First was the frames.
These are actually super easy to put together. It’s just like assembling any other IKEA purchase, and they went together quickly. They’re particle board, but I think they feel really sturdy. We have not been easy on them in the last year and a half, and I’m happy to report they are as nice as when we installed them.
Next up was hanging them on the wall. IKEA has a super cool railing system that allows you to adjust the cabinets once they’ve been hung. (You can kind of see it peeking through the top cabinets in a few places) It’s really smart actually, and I think it’s what sold me on using them in our kitchen someday. The only thing I wish I had done differently is bought a better saw to cut the railing with. It comes with a set width, and you have to cut it down for your particular setup. Let’s just say our hacksaw got a lot of use that night.
We finally got some cabinet boxes up on the wall, and things were starting to come together. After getting them in place roughly, we attached them all together by screwing one cabinet to the others, making them one massive set of cabinets. These puppies weren’t going anywhere and felt super solid. I was so pleased with our purchase even at this point, and couldn’t wait to see what they would look like with cabinet fronts.
First of all, let’s just take a second to admire my wonderful family. My mom was in town to visit and helped us put most of the cabinets together. Aaron was working during the day and coming home to help us with cabinets (can you tell he’s tired in this picture?). I am so thankful to have a supportive family that not only is willing to help me with projects but enjoys working on DIY and home renovation with me. I’m so lucky!
Anyway, next up was installing all of the drawer hardware, which was pretty time-consuming. Each one had to be put in a certain way, and we did it wrong more than once. Basically, you have to count the holes on the sides of the cabinets and make sure you are installing them in the right place, otherwise, the drawers won’t close. Since we were installing SO many drawers, making a mistake meant lots of extra work. We persevered though and finally finished. While my mom was installing the drawer hardware, Aaron and I were building drawers.
The actual drawer part goes together really easily. It’s those dang drawer fronts. They are SO HARD to get on. I think we probably spent 15 minutes if not more on each drawer front. My best word of advice? Get yourself a screwdriver with a lot of torque. We actually ended up using the screwdriver that came with our Nest Thermostat, which we have now named ‘The Magic Screwdriver’. My theory is Nest is actually just trying to rid the world of bad screwdrivers, and the thermostats are their way of getting them in our houses. Yep…definitely a thing.
Finally, we got all the drawers assembled, the fronts on all the cabinets, and the countertop kind of in place. My mom had to go back home to Kentucky, so we were on our own for the rest of the project. The next task on the list was getting the countertops cut to size. It sounds a lot scarier than it actually was. We measured, and then taped where we wanted to cut both countertops. Then, using our circular saw, cut each to size. Once cut, they slid in for a dry fit quite nicely. Our walls in this area are pretty square, so I felt lucky to have it work pretty well the first time.
That just about wraps it up for this post. Stay tuned for the second part of the story on Friday!
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