In an earlier post, I gave you all the details about how I designed my pantry wall and how I ordered the 12 cabinets needed from Barker Cabinets. As it turns out, a lot of people out there interested in hearing more about the Barker Cabinet experience.
My opinion in a nutshell — you better be a damn good DIYer if you are going to use Barker Cabinets. They come with less instruction than IKEA cabinets, mine came with several errors and missing parts, not to mention the necessity to make customizations because I couldn’t always order exactly what I wanted.
But you’ll obviously need all the details, so here goes…
First, let’s review the diagram.
Then have a peek at the finished product!
Assembling My First Barker Cabinet
It all began with cabinet #3! Barker only gives instructions for a base cabinet with a door below and a drawer on top (of which I ordered zero), but I was able to figure out how to assemble this cabinet pretty easily. It was a good one to start with as it was a simple 2-drawer cabinet. It looks like this when it come from Barker…
Let’s just say I had a huge collection of the white binding going on by the end of this project! I started with the side pieces. Lay them out with their backs toward each other. You can tell which side is the back edge because it has the groove, this will accept the thinner backing material.
This is a 2-drawer cabinet, like I said, so there will be two drawer slides on each panel. Lay them out and check to see if the holes line up. They did on this cabinet, but on others the holes were sometimes missing altogether and I had to drill them myself. They line up with the front edge of the cabinet, there is a space on the grooved edge.
Then go ahead and screw the slides in. It’s easier to do now, before the cabinet is assembled, so you’re not leaning your whole body inside the cabinet and fighting gravity to hold the drawer slide up. Just saying. (These next two pictures are taken upside down, I have no idea why I did that!)
Make sure your slides are sliding AWAY from the groove, because remember the groove is the back of the cabinet and, duh, you want your drawers to slide out the FRONT.
Note: The Barker instructions were wrong for these drawer slides. My guess is that Blum updated the Blumotion slides, but Barker didn’t update the pictures in their instructions. The screw hole placement is different from what it shows in the instructions, but the hole placement was correct on the wood panel.
This video shows me assembling cabinet #1 (in the diagram above), but it is the same type of 2-drawer cabinet. In the video I attached the sides to the base first, and then added the drawer slides, but either way works!
There were tons of decisions to make before the installation could begin. 1. How high off the ground should the cabinets be, keeping in mind there’s only so much space to fit three cabinets stacked on top of one another? 2. Should the cabinets be flush to the side wall and will the pantry doors be able to open if they are? 3. How will they be trimmed out on the sides? 4. How far back should they sit, flush against the back wall?
I had to build the next few cabinets before I could figure all that out.
First Customization was Building a Double Door Pantry Cabinet with Extra Roll-outs
I mentioned in this post that I wanted 5 roll-out shelves in my pantry, but Barker would only give 4. Barker also insists that the roll-outs be evenly spaced and I wanted them to fit the height of the things I was going to store. This meant drilling new holes for the “drawer” slides (the roll-outs and regular cabinet drawers both use the same Blum slides).
I put the door hinges on first, so I could see what space was available for the slides. You can’t have a slide next to a hinge, but just below or above is fine.
Insert Ugly Spacers
Barker Cabinets sends you these ridiculously cheesy plastic spacers to use in conjunction with the Blum slides. I later took all of this out and replaced the plastic with wooden spacers I cut myself.
Time to add this cabinet to the first and do another test fit. I had to make sure the doors would open if I put the cabinet against the wall (which kitchen designers always tell you not to do). The door opened just fine! Ready for the real installation.
Screw into Place
I screwed through the back of the cabinet to attach it to the 2x4s. The back panel you see is a thin 1/4″ sheet of wood and not substantial enough to use for installation, but behind it are two 3/4″ supports, one upper and one lower.
I added an extra back support to the cabinet itself to give myself and another spot to screw through. Make sense? I don’t have a picture of the back of this cabinet (#8), but this is what the back of 4, 5, and 6 look like. See the horizontal piece along the top and bottom of each cabinet? I simply added another piece of wood in between these two to give me and extra place to screw cabinet 8 to the wall. With 5 roll-outs, I wanted to make sure this thing was securely anchored to the wall!!!
Building a Base for the Cabinets to Sit On
If you recall from the last kitchen post, I ordered these cabinets without a toe kick. I wanted a toe kick, but I didn’t want to waste 4″ of height on useless space. There is no counter on this wall, hence no need to stand right up against the cabinets with your toes underneath. But forgoing a toe kick all together seemed strange and would not have allowed for variation in the floor height or left enough space for the drawers to open.
Cabinets to the Right of the Refrigerator
On this side, I used 2x3s up on end to build the base platform, making it 2.5″ high, give or take some shimming. Note: Hubby did not finish removing the soffit framework like I asked. Guess who finished that up?? And demo is usually his strong suit. Check out the kitchen demo HERE and HERE.
Cabinets to the Left of the Fridge
While on this side, I used scrap 2x4s and 2x6s with 3/4″ plywood across the top. There was such a height difference, that I had to install an extra board in the back. This gave me the same 2.5″ as on the other side, but was easier to work around the HVAC vent coming out of the floor.
Another piece of 3/4″ plywood was later added next to this one, to complete the platform. You can see it in the next photo.
Oh, that was the other reason for a toe kick… otherwise cabinet 3 could not sit flush against the wall, due to the HVAC in coming out of the floor going into the wall.
Installing First Stack of Cabinets
So after the base was installed, I needed to make sure I had something substantial to screw the cabinets into. I also needed these supports to bring the wall “out” to meet the cabinets.
This is cabinet #3, fully leveled and waiting to be attached to the 2x4s behind it. The thin wood strips on the side are because I am anal and I didn’t want any drywall showing where the wall meets the cabinets. I wanted a totally built-in look. It worked out in the end (many months later when I finally trimmed them out)! The second strip is just to align the cabinets and space them 1/4″ from the wall.
I’m pretty sure I had hubby help me lift cabinet #8 in place. Then I clamped and screwed them together. And of course tested the door one more time before I attached it to the wall.
Here’s what it looks like with 4 of the 5 roll-outs in the pantry. That roll-out on the top will be in cabinet #12, I am test fitting to see if a cereal container will be able to slide under the HVAC vent, which is staying as-is. You would think from this picture that it might be too tight to work, but we use this cabinet to get cereal out every day!
I attached the cabinet to the wall by screwing through the back panel of the cabinet into the 2x4s. I did this behind the bottom roll-out so you would not see the screws.
Making Multiple Cabinets Look Like One
Next up was cabinet #2, which is almost the same as #3 and #1, except it has a drawer-in-drawer thing going on. Barker explains this not one little bit. The Cabinet looks like this without the drawer fronts…
This particular cabinet was missing one of the back pieces and I had to cut my own piece of wood to replace it.
But it looked just fine installed with cabinet #6 above it.
Next come cabinets #1, #4, #5.
Me assembling #5, a single door pantry cabinet. Once the doors are on, #4 and #5 together will look like a double-door pantry, not two separate cabinets.
Once they were perfectly level, I clamped, then screwed them together.
After the cabinets are attached to each other, they must be attached to the wall.
Again, the cabinets are not flush to the back wall, so I added a 2×3 to give me something to screw the cabinets into. The main reason the cabinets are pulled forward is to make the refrigerator seem to be built-in. I hate when refrigerators stick out from cabinets! Buying a counter depth refrigerator is one way to go, but they are more expensive and not as spacious. I used a full size fridge, but it looks counter depth now that I’ve built out the cabinets. Make sense?
I had to make sure the cabinets to the right of the refrigerator lined up with the ones on the left. I did this using an inexpensive laser level. It would have been much easier if I could have connected the cabinets across the top (#s 9, 10, 11, and 12) at this point, but unfortunately Barker Cabinets neglected to ship one side of cabinet #7 and one side of #11. Cabinet #11 is the bridge between the two sides and it was wicked hard to make sure everything was lined up properly without that cabinet. I’m super meticulous, so it all worked out in the end, but it was one of those points where I wanted to just give up!
We will wrap up this post at this point.
Up next: How I installed the top cabinets around the HVAC line, added interior fittings, connected the two sides over the refrigerator, and eventually painting and installing the doors.
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Check out these posts for more about my kitchen renovations: