We downsized from a Florida house to a condo. The condo was a mess. Although we didn’t know it when we bought the place, the woman who lived there had been a hoarder. We bought it sight unseen, and gutted mostly from the sheet rock out. We are old hands at renovating, flipping, buying and selling, homes, but we are now trying to retire.
I knew the condo had good light, and a view of a lovely creek through the woods. It feels like we live in a tree house. But it’s a tree house without a lot of storage.
Because these are modest condos, and our unit needed so much work, we wanted to keep costs low. I thought long and hard about how to fill the dining room alcove, that all the units have, on a modest budget and maximum storage.
Our kids, and small grandchildren, were coming to visit, and first we placed bookcases in the alcove:
What it looked like before
We had wasted depth with the bookcases, the alcove is just over 12 feet long, and about 27-28 inches deep.
We ordered four base kitchen cabinets from IKEA and had them delivered, and put them together:
Chili Dawg helped:
Our friend, and carpenter, installed the cabinets on 2 by 4’s and secured them to the wall.
I have used IKEA butcher block in the past when it was all wood. Now that it has fibreboard in the middle, I didn’t want to use it. Lumber Liquidators had 12 foot lengths. I bought pine.
I mixed a custom stain to try to match our vintage teak dining table.
We ordered doors from Semihandmade. They were spray painted white.
Electricians installed lighting.
I bought desk book shelves at an unfinished furniture shop nearby. They were spray painted. (The backs need to be painted tan.) And some crown molding applied
The almost finished alcove shelving project. There is more decorating to do, and additional lighting needed. As you can see the lower shelves are a little dark:
I sanded, stained two coats, and put a couple of coats of polyurethane on, sanding in between. It has some joints on the side that I didn’t love, and tried to make them less visible by dabbing dark stain and feathering it out.
I hired two guys who install granite countertops to carry the counter top up two flights of stairs, because it wouldn’t fit in the elevator. It was hard work, and I paid them well. We have open stairwells and halls, in Florida, if we didn’t I don’t know how it could have worked.
… and the alcove shelving
I ordered the bookcases from a local unfinished furniture shop. He sanded them well, and we spray painted them, before installation. Our carpenter cut and painted the crown molding.
We gained so much storage
The entire project took about two or three months. Mostly we had to wait for the shelves and butcher block to come in.
I love the storage I’ve gained. Kitchen cabinets are so deep I can put bins in front to back and they fit nicely. I store linens and sewing supplies in there, too.
The most difficult parts were done by others, like carrying the butcher block. It has not been moved since the guys put it in place.
I love IKEA kitchen cabinets, but the doors didn’t work in our new kitchen. We have traditional white Shaker cabinet doors. I had read about Semihandmade online, and they had doors that matched. We chose barely visible pulls installed on the top of the doors.
Because this project was made with mostly “off the shelf” pieces there are a couple gaps here and there, that would not be present with a custom piece. But I figure we saved thousands.
Jules Yap started IKEAHackers.net in 2006 as a personal blog to showcase the most impressive IKEA hacks from all over the world. Since then, she has learned a lot more about power tools and DIY. Her site has helped thousands modify IKEA furniture with step-by-step tutorials, craft projects and home styling.