Transforming a Kitchen Desk into a Kitchen Cabinet
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Transforming a Kitchen Desk into Cabinet Space

Over the course of living in our new home for a couple of years, we remedied our dated kitchen by refinishing our kitchen cabinets with gel stain, installing a natural stone backsplash, and purchasing stainless steel appliances (via some Black Friday discounts).

There still remained though, an odd looking corner next to the fridge. It was a desk area, with a floating cabinet drawer to allow space for a chair – and no cabinet storage underneath.

​The previous owners of our house had used it as a kitchen desk with a chair.

Turn a "kitchen desk" into cabinet storage!Not only was it an inefficient use of space (the kitchen already had limited cabinet storage), but the protruding corner edge posed a risk to our young toddler, who was just about the same height.

Granted we could have put bumpers on it, but why not kill two birds with one stone and box in the empty space below the drawer, converting it into a normal cabinet for storage.

This would eliminate the dangerous corner edge and also turn the wasteful space into something usable.

It was settled – we would convert our awkward kitchen desk into cabinet space.

Here’s a picture taken from further away, showing the floating drawer to the right of the fridge. This picture was taken prior to the gel stainbacksplash, and new appliances. ​

Transforming a Kitchen Desk into a Kitchen Cabinet - Check out the after!Planning the New Cabinet

With our idea to convert the kitchen desk into cabinet space, I gathered the dimensions of the empty space and went to work in TinkerCad.  Here is the design I came up with:

Transforming a Kitchen Desk into a Kitchen CabinetWhile playing around with the design, I originally omitted the toe kick (the recessed part at the front bottom).  I didn’t think it was necessary and would have simplified the build a bit.

However, after Eileen and I discussed it more (and researched online about it), I decided to add it in. I never thought about it before, but that toe kick area is actually an ergonomic feature.

Without an area to insert your feet, getting up close to the cabinet (especially to reach the taller shelves) would put a lot of extra strain on your back to lean forward. The toe kick allows you to get up really close without leaning forward too much more.

Ordering & Preparing the Cabinet Doors

I planned on purchasing pre-made cabinet doors to match the rest of the kitchen. I lacked the tools necessary to create professionally routed cabinet doors from scratch, so ordering them online was the best option.

There were many styles available online, but they all seemed to fall into roughly the same categories across different vendors. The style that matched our other cabinet doors the most was a Cathedral style, with routed arch in the middle top of the door.

The doors were small (around 10” x 30”), so it was pretty cheap to order just two of them. I spent around $70 and they arrived in about 2 weeks (I got the best deal from Fast Cabinet Doors but there are lots of other sites to get custom doors from).

The doors came unfinished, so I had to stain and polyurethane them myself.  I also got the same cabinet handles used in the rest of the kitchen for the new doors.

Here is a picture of the finished cabinet door with handle:

Matching New Cabinet Door to Existing Cabinet Doors - Getting More Kitchen Cabinet SpaceConstructing the Cabinet Box

The actual construction of the cabinet box was fairly straight forward. I just followed the design and measurements in the TinkerCAD drawing.

I used mostly ¾” sanded plywood for the surfaces. For the door openings, I used my compact circular saw with a clamped down piece of scrap wood for a guide. I used my jigsaw at the corners to make flush cuts.

The back left corner of the cabinet box has a piece of 4×4 serving as a leg to help support the bottom shelf.

I attached the plywood pieces to each other with small wood screws and construction adhesive. The outside facing screws were countersunk and were to be covered up with wood putty later and sanded to a smooth finish.

Finally, I used several small L brackets in strategic places to help provide additional structural support (like underneath the bottom shelf, and above the right door opening).

Once the cabinet box was complete, I placed it underneath the kitchen drawer for a fitting.

Staining the Cabinet Box to Match the Kitchen

After a successful trial fit, back into the garage it went for a final sanding before the stain went on. I used the General Finishes Gel Stain in Antique Walnut stain to match the rest of the kitchen cabinets.

We had recently just re-stained the whole kitchen, so had plenty left over to finish this new kitchen desk into cabinet project.

It took about 3 coats of the gel stain, and then 2 coats of polyurethane to get the box ready for the kitchen.

Eileen was worried about the color of this new cabinet matching the rest of the kitchen, as the gel stain was going directly on bare wood – versus the gel stain going on top of already stained wood.

The match was almost perfect.

If you look very closely, you will notice that the cabinet looks a little shinier than the rest of the kitchen; however, it’s an almost perfect match.

Attaching the New Kitchen Cabinet

Once ready, I put it back in place under the kitchen drawer and prepared the area for a permanent addition.

I first used my oscillating multi tool to remove a portion of the baseboard so the cabinet box could sit flush with the wall.

Then I attached two pieces of 2 x 4 to some wall studs directly beneath the kitchen drawer. I used these to secure the back right edge of the new cabinet box.

Using some L brackets, the front left edge of the cabinet box was screwed directly into an existing piece of wood (being used to help support the shelf).

The cabinet box was now firmly attached to the kitchen.

Final Touches

There were a few gaps and a slightly noticeable line where the new cabinet box met the existing kitchen drawer. So I sanded the wood down slightly at the gap (to remove the polyurethane) and filled with wood putty.

Once dried, I sanded down the putty to a smooth finish, stained it and re-applied the polyurethane.  The line disappeared and the cabinet box transitioned into the drawer very nicely now

Here is a picture of the final product:

How to Turn a Kitchen Desk into More Kitchen Cabinet StorageAdditional Interior Shelving

After installation, I added a second shelf inside the cabinet to accommodate even more kitchen storage.

Here is what the inside of the kitchen cabinet looks like:

Kitchen Cabinet Space Gained from Converting a "Kitchen Desk"

​For under $100, this kitchen desk into cabinet project was well worth the effort.  Although it take several days to complete due to the drying times for the stain and polyurethane, it was really only a few hours of work collectively.

The cabinet box blends in so well with the kitchen that we forgot it used to be a desk. The kitchen cabinet is huge and was such a great bonus in our small kitchen. We couldn’t be happier than we transformed that awkward kitchen desk into cabinet space.

62 Comments

  1. This is a great project. It looks so much better now. I bet that desk was uncomfortably right beside the fridge. I doubt you miss it and extra kitchen storage is always a win. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Leanna! The desk was really awkward there. In a small kitchen, I’ll always go for storage 🙂

  2. Beautiful work. Great idea to add more storage to your kitchen.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Rachel! You can never have too much kitchen storage 🙂

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks so much, Carol!

  3. Wow! What a huge improvement. Having lived in more than 25 homes, I know how precious every cubic inch of storage space is. I know you treasure this extra space. Thanks for sharing at the #ThisIsHowWeRoll Link Party.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Wow, Susan – that is a lot!! Yes, we try to maximize all of our storage space. For all the storage we have, we should be a little more organized lol

  4. That turned out very nice! And extra storage in a kitchen is always good! I’m coming over from Your Inspired Design party.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Cecilia! Yes, you can never have too much:)

  5. I love a recycling project and you did a great job working with what was already in place! I’m sure the added space is very welcome.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Melony!! Yes – so happy with the extra space. Such a bonus!:)

  6. Debbie @ Bible Fun For Kids says:

    This is such a great idea! It’s a much better use of space and looks great! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Debbie! Yes, we were so happy to not have the awkward edge 🙂

  7. You’re right – that does look pretty seamless! Awesome job. That “desk” didn’t look like it was a good size or in a convenient place so I’m sure changing it to blend with the rest of your cabinetry has been so much better. And who knew you could order custom cabinet doors all by themselves? I’ll have to keep that in mind.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Alayna! Ya – the desk was really awkward – and not the best use of space! We are happy its now converted! Yes – and the gel stain on the old cabinets and the new cabinet doors worked perfectly 🙂

  8. OH WOW! Well done, oh my gosh you cannot even tell it wasn’t like that from the very start. What a HUGE difference – all that added storage!@!!!! WHOO HOO!!!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Michele!! Haha we forgot it used to look like that too! :))

  9. Extra space in the kitchen is always welcome, right? I can imagine it being tight for an office space and it really does look great like this and blends in perfectly! Thanks so much for sharing at Sweet Inspiration this weekend!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Katrin! Yes, it was awkward to have a desk there – I’ll take the cabinet space any day! 🙂

  10. Sara @ finditfixitorbuildit.com says:

    What a great idea! Gotta love extra storage, and it looks great:) Thanks for sharing.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Sara!! 🙂 We are so happy with it!

  11. Jean | DelightfulRepast.com says:

    Ash and Eileen, you two are amazing! I need you to come stay at my house for a week and tune things up for us! 🙂

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      LOL Jean, what a sweet compliment!! :)) You made our day!! 🙂

  12. Great idea. Who doesn’t need more kitchen space? Happy Saturday! From the Mini Linky Party.
    Megs

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks Megs!! Have a great week 🙂

  13. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want more cabinet space in the kitchen! Perfect plan and it looks great! Thanks for sharing with us this week on Snickerdoodle Create-Bake-Make Link Party! Pinning to share.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Laurie!! The extra space is awesome! Thanks for the pin too :))

  14. Helen at the Pleasures of the NW says:

    Great instructions – Thanks for sharing on the Pleasures of the NW’s DIY party.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Helen:)

  15. Karren Haller says:

    I am all about more storage in the kitchen. Your project turned out greatm kudos to husbby!:)
    Thanks for sharing on Friday Features!
    Have a great week!:)

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Karren!! 🙂

  16. I have a similar odd desk (mine is to the left of the oven) in the kitchen. I keep squinting at it trying to decide what would be a better use of the space. I think I may have overlooked the obvious choice putting a cabinet under the desk part (it uses the same laminate countertop as the rest of my kitchen).

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Hi Susan, Wow – next is the oven is even more awkward than where ours was, which was next to the fridge. I think making it into a cabinet would be perfect! You will love the extra space 🙂

  17. Angie ~ ambient wares says:

    Well, you will never cease to amaze me! Fantastic job!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Awww Angie, you give the sweetest compliments!! :))

  18. Really nicely done, you two! Looks great! You have impressive skills!
    God bless,
    Patty

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Aww thanks, Patty! Ash is pretty talented – I’m lucky 🙂

  19. This is a great idea! My husband and I do real estate investment so this is definitely something we will consider in a property to maximize some more space. Yours came out great! Beautifully Candid

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Sierra! Yes – lots of extra space! And more aesthetically pleasing too 🙂

  20. I LOVE your blog!! So many great ideas!! I found you through Modest Mom’s link up.
    My mom has a desk like your before in their kitchen as well. She’s always said it’s wasted space. I’m sending this post to her so she can get ideas!!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Aww thank you so much, Mrs. U!! We are so excited to hear that! 🙂 Yessss, the extra cabinet space is awesome 🙂 Thanks for sharing our post with her!

  21. Most DIYs of this level are totally over my head. But it looks amazing

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Haha thanks Debbie! This one wasn’t too bad and it made a huge difference!

  22. I love this! My kitchen definitely needs more storage space and could use just one more cabinet!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Jen! Yes this one made such a difference!:)

  23. Such a great idea! That floating desk did look a little odd 🙂 My hubby and I just re-did the faces of all our cabinets, and it’s a lot of work, but so rewarding to get the look you want. Thanks for sharing with us at Funtastic Friday!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Thanks Liz! Yes refacing is so much work!! I always tell others when they are deciding whether to do it or not that it depends how much you dislike your current kitchen! I had enough of ours so I was willing to put in the work!:)

  24. Toni | Small Home Soul says:

    What a great update! I never understood putting a desk in a kitchen, but then again my kitchen is too small for a desk 🙂 You built that beautifully and it looks like it’s always been there.
    Thanks for sharing with us at Waste Not Wednesday Link Party!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Aww thanks so much Toni! I never understood the desk in the kitchen either 🙂

  25. Sharon@BlueWillowHouse says:

    Excellent use of underutilized space. Thank you for sharing at Vintage Charm.

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks Sharon! 🙂 We’re very happy with it!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Jess – will do!

  26. Brenda Young says:

    Wonderful DIY project, extra storage is always a plus! What a big improvement you guys have made in the kitchen, great job! Thanks for sharing at Fridays Furniture Fix!

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Brenda! Yes, we spend so much time in there – that we just keep fixing it up 🙂

  27. What a great idea. You can never have too much storage in the kitchen.
    Thanks for sharing at Over The Moon Party,
    Bev

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks, Bev! Totally agree – we are going to do a mudroom makeover soon – and more cabinets for kitchen overflow 🙂

  28. What a great project! I will be featuring this tonight at my winter blues wednesday link party that opens at 8pm EST. Please stop by and pick up an I’ve Been Featured button. Thanks. http://diybydesign.blogspot.com

    1. Eileen @ Just Measuring Up says:

      Thanks so much, Judy! We definitely will:)

  29. Love your creativity! And love that you guys work together so well. My husband and I are doing the same, creating new projects and we feel SOooo accomplished afterwards. We are now trying to build a handicapped vanity for our twin girls’ bathroom. This will be the biggest project yet. So please cross your fingers too! lol Thanks for sharing!

    1. Aww thanks so much Lilly! Yes working together is so awesome – you have another person to rely on and bounce ideas off of. Good luck with your bathroom – I’m sure it will turn out fantastic!

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