It All Started with a Stopped Up Toilet

Many (if not most) of our remodeling projects weren’t intentional. They started with a pressing need that morphed into something bigger. The first project that I can remember was over 20 years ago when our guest bathroom toilet got stopped up – or more accurately – started flushing slooowwwwly. Despite multiple attempts to resolve the problem with plungers and toilet augers, I was finally forced to pull the toilet up from the floor for further investigation. The culprit was Joshua’s teething ring – stuck in the trap of the toilet. After removing the “blockage,” a normal couple would have simply purchased a new wax ring and re-secured the toilet to the floor. But I can still hear those words, “Since you already pulled the toilet up, why don’t we go ahead and replace the flooring.” Not only did we replace the flooring, but removed the wallpaper, textured and painted the walls, and replaced the accessories.
 
Fast forward 20 years. A few weeks ago, our microwave died…fried…gave up the ghost. For most people, that would mean a trip to Lowe’s to buy a new microwave. But, then again, we’re not most people. Just a few innocent words – “We’ve been wanting a new cabinet for the microwave” – and the rest is history.
 
I’ve never really built a nice piece of furniture, and we wanted this one to keep with the character of our farmhouse, so I was off to the drawing board. I started sketching, measuring, thinking, planning – and that’s where I normally get stuck – over planning and over thinking. But, we finally decided on building a lower cabinet base with an upper hutch with bead board sides – and designed it around some “extra” cabinet doors from the back side of our island (which will lead to the future project of modifying the island…)
 

Sketches/Plans/Finished Product

To get all of my measurements right, we had to decide on the countertop for the base section. Elizabeth said she had seen some old oak boards in the top storage area of our shop (left here by the previous owner), so we went and dug through the pile for some “diamonds in the rough.” Using my handy-dandy Kreg pocket hole jig, I attached the boards together and sanding them semi-smooth with a belt sander. (We didn’t want it too perfect – it’s supposed to be distressed. As a matter of fact, after sanding it, I beat on it with chains and random tools to give a place for the stain to settle).
 

Old Oak Boards


Finished Top

I learned an awful lot about pocket holes, routers and router tables throughout the project…and about the importance of paying attention. At one point, and screwed the sides of the hutch to the front of the cabinet – BACKWARDS! But, after taking a deep breath, I fixed the problem and learned a valuable lesson.
 
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that while I might have the technical know-how to design and build things, I don’t have a lot of creativity – that’s where my wife comes in. When I paint, I paint solid colors and straight lines. That wasn’t going to give us the distressed look that we wanted. SO, Elizabeth primed and painted, then sanded parts of the paint off, then rubbed a little stain here and a little there and VOILA! A perfectly distressed piece of “new” furniture!
 

Unfinished Hutch


Before and After Doors


Final Product

And by the way, did I fail to mention that while I was building the cabinet, Elizabeth was busy priming and painting the wallpaper in the kitchen…and refinishing the piece of furniture that the old microwave was sitting on? Which brings us right back to where we started – the microwave…
 

Before and After Dining Room

Old Microwave Cabinet – In Progress


 
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