Adding DIYed Pull Out Basket Drawers In The Kitchen

Remember how we had a trash compactor in our kitchen? Remember how we removed it waaaaay back in March? Well, we have officially filled the void with some slide out baskets.

Only took us three months.

Not that the hole it left wasn’t super attractive and crazy functional. I mean, if incorporating a “great Clara hiding spot” into our kitchen was the goal (and I put that in quotes because Clara’s hiding spots are frequently preceded by “I’m going to go hide in the [insert one of four usual locations here]“). So yeah, it’s time this hole worked a little harder.

We debated a few options – like putting a trash or recycling bin there (but this cabinet hack is already working nicely for us) or adding some open shelves (like we did in our master bath). Ultimately we decided to attempt some sliding basket storage, kind of like what we’ve admired here and here. It would help us get our dishcloths, cloth napkins, and paper napkins out of the various spots they’re housed throughout the kitchen and into one distinct spot, and it would satisfy our curiosity as to whether it’s a feature we’d appreciate in our eventual kitchen remodel (you know we love to use Phase 1 projects as a do-we-even-like-this test before committing long-term).

So with a few key measurements in hand, Sherry hit up HomeGoods and found these two perfectly-sized and nicely-colored winners. And she almost left our tape measure there. Close call, guys.

Before we could put those baskets to use, there was work to be done. I started by filling in two basic areas to make the hole look more cabinet-y thanks to a board across the top and the toe-kick. I attached both by screwing a brace piece into the back of the existing cabinet lip, then nailing the face pieces in.

Next I had to build out the sides of the cabinet to make them flush with the outer lip, that way the drawer slides could attach inside without being obstructed when we tried to slide them out. I did this by screwing in a few pieces of scrap wood that I cut to fit. Actually, up to this point in the project I was able to pull everything from my scrap pile. Am I the only one who feels a special kind of victory when this happens?

With the cabinet hole built out, it was time to create my drawers. Simply put, I used my Kreg Jig to create a frame that the tapered basket could then slide into. I built them out of 1.5″ square dowels from Lowe’s. That was a pretty precise thickness that I needed, so my scrap pile couldn’t help me here. Sad face emoji.

This was probably the most complicated part of the project to figure out. There was lots to take into account to make sure that the frame:

There was lots of triple-checking myself. Since my exact measurements would only work if you have exactly the same opening and exactly the same baskets, just use the descriptors below to create your own frame that should fit whatever specifications you’re working with.

The drawer slides we selected were these ball-bearing ones from Home Depot. They’re a little pricier than your basic wheeled slide ($15 vs. $5), but I thought the full-extension would come in handy – and who doesn’t love a soft close?

Per the instructions, I detached the drawer rail part and screwed it into each side of my two frames. I found it helpful to mark the holes with pen, drill pilot holes, and then come back with the screw to ensure careful placement.

I attached them along the bottom edge of my drawer frame. It not only made keeping them straight/level easier, but also meant when we reattached the rest of the slide (which was thicker) it didn’t stick up above the frame. #thinkingahead

Back inside, I held up my frame in the cabinet hole to mark its placement. Then I detached the cabinet rail part of the slide, held it in place, marked my hole, drilled pilot holes, and screwed the first one in place. This was possible with two hands, but easier with four, so I recommend recruiting your lovely burp cloth sporting spouse (or a friend, neighbor, relative, but probably not your dog) if you can. You can see below that we already had the bottom drawer done and in place.

Before screwing the second one in, I temporary reassembled everything so we could check that it was level first. Not only would this ensure that it looked straight, but it helps the drawers slide more smoothly.

With the second side screwed in, I reattached the drawer, held my breath and checked that everything worked. Insert sigh of relief here.

The next step was to place the basket into the frame. They sat in there nicely, but I shoved them down a bit to keep things snug.

Here are the two basket drawers installed (after we decided after the fact to shift the top one down a couple of inches). We contemplated doing a third, but HomeGoods only had two baskets, and we thought we’d take advantage of the fact that there’s already a working outlet back there (the trash compactor was plugged in, not hard-wired).

Taking advantage actually just meant adding a simple shelf (built from scrap wood!). Sherry suggested that we use it as a phone charging spot, but I saw it as an excuse to buy the Bluetooth speaker that I’ve been trying to justify buying for a while now. Our kitchen radio reception is really spotty at this house, and having my phone tethered to an auxiliary cable has meant that it has gone largely unused since we moved in.

One last finishing piece was to add a few thin boards to the front of each drawer (and the shelf) to give the fronts a clean and consistent look. Plus, it hid the drawer slides even more.

Here’s everything built. Now it was just a matter of staining everything to match. Well, match-ish.

We stained our existing cabinets with PolyShades in their Tudor color, so I wish it was as simple as just repeating that process. But obviously the raw wood finish here is pretty different from the medium brown-red stain that the other cabinets already had going on. So first Sherry darkened the new pieces with a coat of Dark Walnut stain that we had on hand.

After that dried she started in with the PolyShades coats. It ended up taking three coats of it to get a similar tone to the surrounding cabinets. It’s not a perfect match (the cabinets are a little redder) but its close enough for us.

Oh, and you can see that Sherry found a $12 HomeGoods runner to help cover the fact that the laminate floor under there wasn’t looking so hot. Not that the scratched up faux brick is looking very hot anywhere in here.

As planned, the baskets got filled with dishtowels & paper napkins (top basket) and cloth napkins (bottom basket).

Oh, and the bluetooth speaker that we ended up buying is this one from Target. It’s plugged in/charging below and can be has been easily removed for use around the house (so far mostly out back on the deck).

Sherry suggested I include a video of a drawer in action, specifically to demonstrate the soft-close function. Sure I could have uploaded a three second video and called it good, but I just couldn’t resist some music and some slow-mo action.

It’s almost as titillating as our console video from back in the day.

Not sure there’s much to say after those. I’m sorry? You’re welcome? But so far we’re digging the sliding baskets.

What projects have you guys been tackling lately? Kitchen stuff? Building? Painting? Outdoor updates? With these done we simultaneously want to deal with the kitchen floors rightthissecond and ignore them for a few more months.



Since I’m Genetically One-Quarter Egg Chair…

John described me that way in this post, and it made me laugh because let’s face it, it’s true. I’m also one-quarter dog fur (it’s always all over me) and one-quarter ceramic animal (no further explanation required).

How quickly this post got off track.

Anyway, now that we have a sofa and a coffee table on our back porch, the next thing on our list was a little more seating to round out that side of the room in the form of a comfy chair. Our first option was just to buy the $749 chair that matches our sofa. We liked that it would definitely tie into the color/look of the woven sofa without us having to worry that it would clash or look off. But we wondered if we would wish we went for something a little more fun and a little less matchy down the line, and it did take up a pretty big rectangular footprint, which might crowd the corner where we wanted to put it.

Another contender was a hanging egg chair like this $498 one from Anthropologie, just because we thought it could be fun in a lounge-y outdoor space. But we questioned the comfort factor (without plush seat and back cushions, would it get much use?) and we worried a little about the kid-stunt factor (some of Clara’s friends are a bit more… acrobatic). Didn’t want any broken wrists on our watch – especially with the hard tile below. We also worried about the logistics of it holding enough weight to be safe since John the Builder actually had to reinforce the overhead beams on the showhouse’s front porch to accommodate the porch swing.

Then we talked about an egg chair that hung from a stand instead of the ceiling, like this $590 option from Joss & Main, but still didn’t fully trust that we’d want to constantly enforce the whole “do not swing on this” rule (would kids try to twist it around and ride it like a tire swing?). We also thought the futuristic silhouette might not go as well with our outdoor sofa. Although we did remark that Nuni & Nooni would love it.

We also saw this one on Pinterest from World Market, which might have gone better with our sofa, but when we clicked over to see the price it was sold out. Oh well, it still had that hanging-on-a-chain-probably-isn’t-ideal thing going on.

Then there was this one from Joss & Main, which was more like a boat than a chair, but it did look pretty cozy. It was too big for our space, and the $1500+ price tag was more than we wanted to spend, but if we ever have a  spare house in Bali to our name we wouldn’t be mad at a few of these out by the pool.

We kept saying things like “I wish we could find something that sits on the ground like the egg chair at the showhouse.” We loved everything about that chair (the color was great, it swiveled, it was super comfortable, etc). And although we checked every shop we could think of, as well as just doing some random googling, we didn’t come up with anything that really compared.

It kind of reminded us of this one that Pottery Barn used to sell for $1300 a few years back, except that one was a little too warm to go with our cool brown/gray sofa, and it didn’t swivel.

Then we realized we could try buying an identical egg chair to the one from the showhouse directly from GreenFront. We just had to see if they had another one in their store. And as we were telling one of the folks from the showhouse this story they said “why don’t you check with John (the Builder) to see if the showhouse egg chair is one of the borrowed pieces that he’s planning to return, because if so I bet you can buy it over the phone from GreenFront (around 50% of the GreenFront furniture we got was on loan and they were picking it back up after the show).

So we called John the Builder to ask about it, held our breath, and… he said we couldn’t buy the chair. Sad clown. But the reason he wouldn’t let us buy it was because the whole team wanted to go in on it as a thank you to us for working on the showhouse with them over the past year! We couldn’t believe it. We’re still doing that “no way just take our money” thing, so we’ll have to report back if we can sneak them the cash somehow (my mom is a fan of the “hide-it-in-their-purse” method, but most of the team is purse-less…).

Doesn’t the wicker look like it was meant to be paired with the sofa? We’re so glad they work so well together. We also appreciate that the seat is Sunbrella fabric, so it should hold up to Clara’s bubble-solution-covered hands and Burger’s muddy paws. As for the side table, we decided it was a little too much wicker for us (you know my love of ceramic garden stools – especially to add color outside) so we sent it back to GreenFront with the rest of the borrowed pieces that they came back to collect instead of purchasing it – but it was nice to take a look at it first to be sure.

Now it looks more like this in that corner (we took this photo after the others in this post, so ignore the wicker side table’s presence and pretend you see this shiny red beacon of garden stool love):

But back to the chair. It has already been getting a LOT of use from this guy…

… and even some lounge-time from this guy…

I’m getting in on the action too. Sometimes I find myself out there, just gently rocking with the baby in my arms while Clara plays with her water table (swivel action FTW). Definitely one of my favorite new spots.

So that’s the Great Egg Chair Hunt of 2014. Although when you pan out it’s clear that we still have the other side of the sunroom to furnish. I’m thinking a little bistro table under that second fan would be nice since there’s still room to walk around something like that. And of course we still need to build a box to cover those ugly wires that snake down the brick wall.

Here’s a wider shot from further back. You might notice that we parked our dining chairs around the table just because we thought they’d get more use out here in the nicer weather (they’re outdoor chairs so they ain’t afraid of no ghost rain). The jury’s still out whether it’s a temporary move for them, but Burger has already been found lounging on their plush seat cushions, so that’s one vote for them staying outside over the folding chairs that were there before.

Are you guys shopping for any outdoor stuff lately? Are you one-quarter garden stool? I might be too. Hey, maybe we’re related.

Psst- For more what-we-considered rundowns like this one, here’s one about doorknobs, one about kitchen lights, one about rugs, one about dining tables, one about sectionals, one about washers & dryers, and one about our outdoor sofa.