I could have named this post NO SOFFITS! Those evil, vile things won’t get the best of me! I figured out a way to build my cabinets right up to the ceiling even though I have an HVAC line that can’t be moved. At least I was not willing to pay to have the damn thing moved. Plus, this was a million times easier! Woohoo!! Hide the HVAC!
To review, because it takes me forever between posts, this is what the kitchen pantry wall looked like before the renovation. (Read about the demo here and here) Notice the two stage soffit above the pantry cabinets (YUCK!) and the wall (transom?) above the doorway into the dining room. These are now gone, gone, gone!
Here is where we left off in my last post, I was showing you how I built the new and improved pantry wall.
Almost everything from the before picture is gone: cabinets, soffit, flooring, appliances… Everything is new except my iced tea cup. Ha! I didn’t even notice until just now when I was looking over all my pictures.
Here’s the after while we’re at it.
Anyway… I could not add the top level of my pantry system until I figured out a way to work around the HVAC line. But even before I could do that I had to finish removing the framing that somebody *hubby* was supposed to do.
To clarify, I always planned on modifying the top row of cabinets to fit around the HVAC, I just didn’t know exactly how I was going to do it until I could look right at the problem.
Here were the cabinets I ordered. (Full details in this post)
Cabinet 11 needed no modification, yay! The cabinet is only 11 inches deep and fits in front of the HVAC. I could have ordered all of the cabinets this way and still would have been happy. I love this cabinet! And if you know me, you know I can find fault in almost anything. Typical above fridge cabinets, for instance, make me nuts! Why have a high cabinet and then set it back 12″ so know one can reach it and it just begs to have junk piled in front of its doors. It’s madness!
Not my above-fridge-cabinet though. That 11″ depth is so much more convenient than I could have imagined. Deep enough to store a salad spinner and water pitchers, but shallow enough so nothing gets lost. Brilliant!
That left me with three cabinets, 9, 10, and 12, that needed to be modified.
First Attempt to Cut Cabinets to Hide the HVAC
The first cabinet I tackled was #12. I learned from this one and, ultimately, like the other two better.
I may or may not have done all my cutting and sanding in the family room because it was too damn cold to be out in the garage.
Basically I cut a notch in the two side panels, then attached the bottom as usual. I trimmed down the back panel to fit the shorter length and pieced together the top. This cabinet came without a fixed shelf because I ordered it with two roll-out shelves. I never planned to use two roll-out shelves in it though, the second one was for cabinet 8. This cabinet never got a top shelf, even though I planned to make one. I find that it works well without a shelf because we tend to leave cereal boxes open and they would not fit if there were a shelf. The back half of this cabinet is shorter than the other two because I had not perfected the use of space yet.
Here’s s sneak peek of what all 4 cabinets look like installed. I was able to totally hide the HVAC, yay!
“That’s great Liz, but really you told me nothing useful.”
Dude, I got you.
Cutting Kitchen Cabinets to Hide the HVAC
One: Measure the available space for your cabinet. Transfer these measurements to both of the side panels. Make sure they match up.
Two: Cut out both areas. I used a miter saw (in my family room, doh!) to cut nice straight lines.
Then I used a jigsaw to get the last little bit in the corner.
Three: Attach the side pieces to the bottom.
Four: Install the shelf so it fits between the side pieces and lines up with the notch you cut out. I used the shelf clips provided by Barker on the front portion of the shelf to hold it in place, but then I also screwed it to the side panels.
Five: The top portion of the cabinet is not a solid piece, like the bottom. It only looks that way from the outside. To save money Barker uses two pieces, one that runs along the front of the cabinet and one along the back. I used the front top piece + a back support piece, side by side, to create the top of this cabinet. It looks like I lucked out and both pieces together were the perfect size and no cutting was necessary. Make sure the edge banding is facing the front of the cabinet.
Clamp all this together and then attach to the side pieces with screws.
Six: Use the remaining top piece to cover the back of the shelf. In my picture, you can see the groove intended to receive the back panel, which was no longer needed.
Seven: Cut the back panel to size and install in grooves as normal.
Eight: Install back supports. (Only one is pictured)
These are necessary so you have something substantial to screw through to secure the cabinet to the wall. I used the one remaining support that came with the cabinet and used scrap wood for the other. Because remember, I used the other back support as the top. I did this because the back supports are finished with the same varnish as the rest of the shelves. If I had cut my own piece of PureBond plywood for the top it would have been unfished. But it didn’t matter what I used as the back support. Make sense? If not, forget I mentioned it.
Install Cabinets to Hide the HVAC
These install just as you would install any other cabinet. Clamp and screw to all adjacent cabinets and the wall.
Looks awesome doesn’t it!?!
Be sure to pin this idea for later, in case you remove a soffit and realize you need to hide the HVAC line too!
The next post (a relatively short one!) with be about how I fixed an issue with the wall oven cabinet. And after that there’s still doors to paint, hardware to install, the entire thing needs to be framed out, and I have to make the toe kick. No wonder this kitchen thing took me so long!!