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.
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.
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:
While 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:
Constructing 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.
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:
Additional 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:
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.