Category Archives: Kitchen

Building a custom microwave cabinet

I’ll start by saying that I have been super excited about this project since we first started talking about it, which was when our friends (and now neighbors) asked Cody to build them one. So, what am I talking about? A custom under the counter cabinet to hold a microwave on our island! Not visualizing it? Then check this out.  Apparently microwaves are too plebeian to be seen in the kitchen anymore, and considering we hardly use ours anyways I am all for the trend of hiding them away. Since we gutted our kitchen we were starting from scratch, but a microwave cabinet can easily be added to the end of existing cabinetry (as our friends did).

First up ,we had to build and base for our island so we had something to screw the cabinets into. We were lucky that the previous island had already been run for electrical, so we just made sure to pull up the wire into the new base.

kitchen island base

Next, we installed the base cabinets for the island that we bought from Ikea. You can see from the picture below that the base was built so the cabinets line up to it in the back but hang over a couple of inches in the front. Eventually the base will be covered with plinths that match the cabinets.

Install island cabinets

Now it’s time to start assembling the custom microwave cabinet over the exposed base. First, Cody attached a piece of 1/2″ MDF to the top of the base making sure to leave the same overhang on the front that her left on the front of the other cabinets. Next, he screwed in two pieces of 1×2 to each side of the side of the last cabinet to create a frame.

custom microwave cabinet Then, Cody attached the sides of the new cabinet to the 1×2’s.  On the right side he used a piece of MDF that will later be painted to match the cabinets. On the left side he used a cover panel that matches the cabinets from Ikea. Originally we were going to make the whole thing out of MDF but magically some cover panels showed up in our order (we didn’t order them) so we decided to take advantage of having them on hand.

microwave cabinet After having measured how tall the new microwave is he attached two more 1×2’s along both the sides to form a brace for the shelf that will hold the microwave. Then he attached another piece of MDF to the top of them to make the shelf the microwave will sit on. At this point he also pulled the electrical through the bottom of the cabinet and installed an electrical outlet.

under counter microwave cabinet The cabinet is technically complete now except for the framing. Cody framed out the cabinet with more 1×2’s. The microwave was a little wider then the framing would allow, so he had to go back and trim up the face framing on the top to get the microwave to fit.

custom microwave cabinet


The final step was filling in all the holes with putty and painting.  We wanted the cabinet to match the IKEA Adel cabinets perfectly, so we took one of the cabinet doors to Benjamin Moore to have it  color matched.  They recommended Advance Waterborne Interior Alkyd for the cabinet. The custom color is Y3-3 S1-1. I wanted as smooth as a finish as possible so I used the Wooster Chinex FTP 2″ brush* to apply the paint. I particularly love how easily this brush cleans up making it an excellent investment. The paint can recommends 16 hours between coats, so it took me two days to finish up with the painting, but look at our new custom under counter built-in microwave!

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under counter microwave

I don’t know what I love more: that the microwave is hidden away when you walk into the kitchen or that it looks so cool when you actually see it. I also love that we were able to carve out room for cookbook storage below it. Oh and while we left plenty of room behind the microwave for it to breath and get air flow because it’s boxed in on the sides it’s virtually silent when on. Seriously, I keep checking on it because it’s so quiet I’m convinced I didn’t push start. The microwave itself is a Magic Chef 6.1. It was actually remarkably hard to find a microwave under 24 inches, but we finally find this cool dude at Home Depot for $100.



Kitchen Remodel on a Budget: Modern Cottage

The kitchen was the first major renovation we took on in our house. The kitchen was original to the house (about 1960) and included 2 layers of wall paper, a dishwasher on wheels,  peeling laminate counter tops, cabinets too shallow to fit anything in, and blind corner cabinets that things disappeared into.  The goal for this remodel was to make the kitchen more aesthetically pleasing as well as more functional. We were going for a modern cottage look. Our budget was $5,000. At the bottom I included a product list. Check back soon for all our tips on how we accomplished so much on a small budget. Modern Cottage kitche remodel Before

To keep our budget small we decided to keep the original layout of the kitchen and most of the cabinets. We removed all of the cabinets to the left of the stove and the upper cabinets that hung between the kitchen and dining room.  We repainted all the remaining cabinets in Benjamin Moore’s Bright White High Gloss Oil based Acrylic.

Modern cottage kitchen remodel after

The cabinets that we removed were replaced by 3 Ikea cabinets ( the 4 drawer unit and corner unit on the bottom and the corner unit on the top). We then refaced all the existing cabinets with MDF to match the doors on the Ikea cabinets. All the cabinets then got new hardware from Ikea and the upper cabinets got crown molding as did the rest of the room. What’s really cool is that when we tell people that some of the cabinets are new and some are refaced they can never figure out which are which. The 3 new cabinets are so functional that they effectively doubled our storage space. We replaced all of the appliances with new white ones and we installed an over the stove microwave in an empty area that was already over the stove. We got lucky that it fit perfect. We installed a new light fixture over the peninsula that separates the kitchen from the dining area where cabinets used to hang.  The counter tops are butcher block which helps keep the room from feeling cold.

MOdern cottage kitchen remodel with ikea cabinets

On this side of the kitchen we left the doors off of the cabinets that hold the dishes to create an open shelving look. The original dishwasher that was on wheels was tossed to make room for a new built in dishwasher. We installed white bead board for the backslash. WHite kicthen with open shelves, beadboard, and butcher block

This wall is too shallow for cabinetry so we bought this unfinished wood buffet which we painted black. It holds all of the kids dishes as well as kitchen linens in the baskets on the bottom. The wall unit is Ikea Grundtal. black kicthen buffet with Ikea wall unit

I love the new sink! It’s a large one bowl white sink that holds anything. We installed a new traditional brushed nickle faucet with sprayer. We also installed a garbage disposal, something the kitchen originally lacked.

traditional bushed nickle faucet with large white sink

In the corner we installed the Bygel wall system from Ikea for more storage. The glass containers are also from Ikea. Ikea jars and hanging baskets with beadboard

And one more before and after.

Modern Cottage kitche remodel Before       Modern cottage kitchen remodel after

Product List:

Cabinets, Lighting, Counter tops, Hardware, and Wall unit: Ikea

Flooring: Heritage Pecan by Swiftlock

Microwave and stove: LG from Home Depot
Dishwasher: Whirlpool from Lowe’s
Sink, Faucet, crown molding, back splash and garbage disposal: Lowe’s
Paint: Benjamin Moore Bright White High Gloss Oil based Acrylic (Cabinets and moldings) and Olympic Ivory Tower (Ceiling ) and Benjamin Moore Monroe Bisque (Walls)


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