We have a couple of chopped up living room cabinets!
Here’s the before, just for fun:
Red arrows indicate the new outlets, the blue dashed line is the new height
I can’t believe how much more space there is now. It still looks a bit too white, but once we add the black Chicago skyline and top it with dark stained wood, things will be looking better. And obviously we have to finish patching up holes and repainting. Anyway, here’s how we did it:
- We measured where we wanted to cut and jotted down this measurement.
- We disassembled everything. So we had the side boards, the back boards, and the top/bottom boards. While disassembling we realized the back boards needed to be a bit longer than the side boards, so we took that into account.
- We cut down the side boards (there were 6 of them) and the back boards (2 of them) with a circular saw.
- Taking advantage of the fact that the living room wall was now empty, we removed the baseboards (since we want the cabinets flush with the wall). We just used a couple of screwdrivers for this, it was very easy.
- Then we brought everything back inside again and started assembling. First the bottom, then the sides, then the back, and finally the top. Here’s where we got a bit “creative”. Originally, the cabinets had a system that allowed you to screw from the inside of the cabinet (so the screws are invisible from the outside) but by cutting them down, this became impossible to do. So we simply glued the top to the sides/back and then screwed it from the outside. If you do this, pre-drill your holes first unless you want the particle to split everywhere (ask us how we know…). Also, you should be aware that the screws will now be visible on top! But since we’re covering it with wood, we don’t mind.
- Lastly, we added all the drawers and doors again, and put them into place. Voilá!
Here are a few pictures of the process:
Empty wall… with no baseboards, and it still needs to be sanded down and re-painted. All the shelves are on the right.
Here’s what the cut down pieces look like
Reassembling! We kept as many rails as we could in their place
First one in its place
Both of them are already assembled, and the drawers are up. Notice the hole in the top-left corner; that’s for all the router and printer cables.
More or less done! (we still have to screw both cabinets together, and fiddle with the door & drawer hardware so that they align properly)
Now came the fun part: fitting everything back in. Since the cabinets are now a lot smaller, we had to get creative with the space. Right from the start I decided to take all my college paperwork and books downstairs to the garage, where we have a storage room (I’ll have to show it to you some day, it’s where we store Christmas decorations and other random stuff); plus most of the extra wine and champagne glasses (we really don’t need more than 10 at a time, and if we ever do, we can just fetch them from the garage). That freed up a lot of space. We actually have 3 empty drawers right now!
Here’s how I organized what we did keep:
- The first door on the left holds our printer, router, etc. (you can check here how we did it). Except this time I decided to add another shelf on top of the printer; it’s a narrow space there, but more than enough for our cable box and router. The bottom shelf holds all of our cables and chargers, using this system, but inside a couple of white boxes (since we lost four of our drawers in the process of cutting down our cabinets). Right below that we have a couple of drawers; the bottom one is empty, and the other one holds all of our board games.
- The second door has all of our wine and liquor bottles (yes, we do have a ton of them… don’t judge!), plus our wine and champagne glasses and a couple of glass vases. Inside the drawers right below this are all of our candles, and smallish dishes I use for props in recipes, etc.
- The third door has a couple of shelves. The bottom narrow one is used for two big oven dishes and tea light candles (in small galvanized pots) which we bought in bulk from Ikea. The top one holds all our pretty, less used plates and dishes. I’ve stored them using a couple of things: on the left, there’s this double tier thingy (you can see it in action here with a couple of Spanish tortillas on it), and on the right, this white organizer from Ikea (which I had in the kitchen but wasn’t getting much use). I also added a hook to the top, so we can hang that three-bowl saucer from it.
- Inside the fourth door I’ve stored more glasses, and I’ve also added this vertical organization system I saw on Martha Stewart. It is awesome. So much more practical than storing them one on top of the other. The drawers below are still empty!
My boyfriend cut tubes to size and we simply screwed them in place (although one tube disappeared so we’re missing one on the right corner, if you check the picture above you’ll notice it)
Organizing everything properly took me more than a couple of hours since I had to figure out which was the best way, but it was so worth it! Everything has its place right now, and because of the way it’s organized, I’m pretty confident it’ll stay that way (at least I hope so). Prior to this, all those plates and dishes were a nightmare, since I kept them one on top of the other. And I like that we still have space for more!
So what does this mean? Well, for starters, we’re much closer to the end of the Operation Living Room Built-ins. We still have to build them in though (duh). However, since we’ve realized that we can store all those things inside – even the wine and liquor bottles – we won’t be building a liquor cabinet for the living room like we planned. It may even mean that I’ll move all the things we store in the entry way Ikea Rast chest of drawers (tablecloths, napkins, etc) and give away the Rast to someone. I’m still not sure about this one, since I really like how it turned out, but our apartment is small, and I don’t want it getting cramped with too much furniture.
It also means I’m looking for table top lamps. I want a tripod lamp, kind of like this one from Pottery Barn. Sadly, although that lamp is gorgeous, it’s waaaay out of my budget. So far I’ve found this one, for a great price of 56€ (including shipping)! I’ll probably look around a bit more and if I don’t find anything else, I’ll order that one.
So what do you guys think of the shortened cabinets? Do they look better than the taller ones, or would you have kept them tall? And what about the tripod lamp, is it your style or are you a fan of more traditional lamps with shades?