Tessa’s Remodel: Chapter 4: Cabinet Installation

September 3, 2014No comments

The New Kitchen Takes Form

Designer Tessa and husband Jake work together, leveling a base cabinet in their kitchen

We have been following Tessa and Jake as they remodel their kitchen. In this post, see how Tessa, a creative and experienced designer, and Jake, a practical perfectionist, work together to create a beautiful space from semi-custom cabinetry.

Cabinet installation was a group project, keeping Tessa, Jake and Tessa’s dad busy for quite a while. Tessa helped Jake meet his high standards for construction as he and her dad fulfilled her unique design, knitting disjointed spaces together into a graceful whole.

Leveling Cabinets:
Take No Shortcuts!

As a team, they leveled, shimmed, then leveled again so the base cabinets would provide a strong and stable foundation for the countertop. Since their house was 50+ years old, they knew the floors would be irregular, but were surprised at the degree of variation—as much as ¼ inch across a single cabinet unit.

When the bench in the old breakfast nook space came out, it revealed a huge surprise—a large duct funneling heat into the adjacent addition. CliqStudios cabinets are built with full-plywood boxes and all-plywood backs, so it would have been fairly simple to cut a channel in a corner unit without destroying its structural integrity. However, no cut or rebuild was necessary. Since the base cabinets approach the corner at different heights, Tessa had designed the space as blank—there was no inside corner cabinet!

Some modifying was necessary to lower the heat vent to floor level, build ductwork to run it forward to the front of the toekick, and reinforce the cabinet around the new vent.

before and after construction images of corner with ductwork and cabinet installation

Notice how the wine rack creates a graceful transition between food prep and entertainment areas, and a filler panel bridges the gap left by two levels of cabinetry. Furniture drawers above and below the wine rack provide storage for barware and entertaining essentials.

The beverage station, refrigerator and pantry cabinets would share a wall that stepped down in depth, presenting another set of design and installation challenges. Notice the pull-and-block construction above the refrigerator. It brings the over-fridge cabinet forward to create a clean, smooth line with the wall of shallow pantry cabinets to the right. The transition from the refrigerator and beverage center is handled with a finished end panel and spacer. By this time, Tessa’s dad was growing a little weary of working around her special design features, but isn’t the result beautiful?

Lessons Learned

Tessa’s first lesson learned is to do more thorough planning, so all stages of construction flow smoothly and materials can be stored or installed as they arrive. Her example: she didn’t realize her flooring choice was special-order, and wouldn’t arrive before the cabinet installation. Installing flooring after cabinets was doable, but would present an extra challenge.

She realizes it is easy to underestimate project time and expenses. Example: she hadn’t anticipated the time it would take to adjust hinges and drawer glides, a skill that has a little bit of learning curve.

Hands-on installation experience also brought home to her as a designer the importance of allowing space so the installer can get a drill in a corner or have access to shim and adjust.

And finally, she points out that it is good to live near a hardware store or home center, because a do-it-your-selfer will be a regular visitor over the course of the remodel project.

Follow the links below to follow Tessa and Jake’s experience and see the finished product.

Do you have any questions or suggestions about the remodel timeline or installation process? Post them here, or call our Design Studio at 888-994-8405 for assistance.

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