Spring 2022 One Room Challenge- Week 5, Building linen cabinets (and two life changing hacks!)
Our home lacks good storage in almost every room. Hence why our home office that we built for the One Room Challenge last year included a huge wall of built in storage. As I renovate each room, one of my goals is to add as much storage as possible where appropriate. One room that does have a nice storage feature is our master bathroom (I guess the terrible combination of finishes and aesthetic is counterbalanced by the storage?!) which has a nice roomy linen cabinet attached to my sink. I actually don’t use it for linens- I use it to store makeup, cleaning supplies, hair tools, etc. When I planned out the kids’ bathroom design, linen cabinets were a high priority. I couldn’t find anything tall enough (why don’t linen cabinets go to the ceiling??) or the correct dimensions in general, so I decided I would build them as part of the One Room Challenge. After all- I build a entire wall of cabinets for the home office, so why not two small linen cabinets?! Here’s an example:
Also, this would give me the opportunity to add wood into the mix of finishes and textures since everything else is painted or patterned. I love the look of white oak in a bathroom, but white oak is very expensive and hard to find sometimes. Enter: red oak. I surveyed the selection of red oak at Hartville Hardware and they have the most beautiful pieces of red oak in any dimensions plus cabinet grade/grade A plywood in every thickness, baseboards, crown molding- you name it. Perfect. I took my SUV to Hartville Hardware last week with my cut list ready to get everything I needed.
First, Hartville Hardware has a 30,000 square foot drive thru lumber center, which is basically DIY-er heaven. Just drive in, select your lumber, load it up, and pay at the exit. Couldn’t be easier!
Also, as soon as you enter, a friendly employee is there to help and they cut ANYTHING to size! I needed several sheets of cabinet grade plywood in different thicknesses, and an employee used the panel saw to cut each panel in half. I fit three sheets of plywood, baseboards, crown molding, 1x2s, and several other pieces of lumber in my SUV! Talk about efficient.
When I got home, we only had to trim a small amount from the sheets of plywood to get to the right dimensions for the sides and backs of the linen cabinets. Our table saw isn’t great at handling thicker sheets of plywood, so we used our trusty Kreg Accu-Cut plus Aubrey’s circular saw, an affordable and excellent alternative to a table saw if you don’t have one or can’t use one for any reason!
I will be trimming out the side of the linen cabinet that faces into the room (each one will be built into a corner so only one side will show!) so we cut the back of the linen cabinet to our desired width and fastened the sides with screws directly into the back of the cabinet. I picked up screws from Hartville Hardware that do not need pilot holes drilled first (to prevent the wood from splintering). The only problem was- I needed to countersink the screws or have them sit flush with the back of the cabinet so I can mount the cabinet flush to the wall. Enter: my first life changing hack.
Life Changing Hack #1 – The easy way to countersink screws
- Find a drill bit slightly larger than the head of your screw
- Drill small indentations into the wood where you plan to put a screw
- Drive the screw into the wood in the middle of the indentation and voila! The head of the screw will sit into the indentation, flush with the wood!
Life Changing Hack #2- How to make red oak look like white oak
As I stated above, white oak is my absolute favorite, but red oak is definitely not far behind. I set out to find a light stain combination that would help me make the red oak look like white oak by muting the pinkish/red hues of red oak. My first tip is to sand the red oak really well. By that, I mean use a sanding progression. I do this on almost every woodworking project and it makes a HUGE difference. I start with 180 grit sandpaper and give the wood a good once over. Then I move to 240 grit, then to 320 grit. You can take it even further than that, but I’ve found that those three in succession give me the smoothest, most beautiful surface work with.
Then, I used General Finishes Antique Oak to stain the cabinets. This is hard to find, but it is the KEY! Fortunately, Hartville Hardware carries the complete General Finishes collection, so it was easy to get exactly what I needed. I tried several different stains, but this one takes the cake. It neutralized the pinks/reds in the oak and left the most beautiful, light white-oak look. The key was in the application. The stain is actually too dark for my liking applied in a regular manner- brush it on, let it sit, wipe off. Instead, I used a large, damp sponge to apply a very small amount at a time. This gave me the exact look that I wanted! I’ll show you the final product next week when I”m finished staining everything.
For reference, this linen cabinet will go in the corner to the right:
I have so many packages laying around in our house right now- it’s time to get everything installed! Starting this weekend, we will install the linen cabinets, vanities, and toilet. Time to get the bathroom photo ready!
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