Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cabinets and wardrobes

We didn't use to store much of anything in the empty room where the bathroom is going but we certainly have plenty of things elsewhere and we made sure to plan for enough storage space upstairs. My father also suggested adding wardrobes in the corridor while at it since we are a bit tight on wardrobe space as it is.
One of the early decisions we came to was that in addition to having wardrobes in the corridor, we would also have a wide vanity with drawers and make use of the area under the roof on the other side of the room by providing storage there. The challenge with that space is that it is a slanting spot that limits what you can put there.
We spent a while looking at options for vanities and trying to find matching cupboards for the other side of the room. You can buy a vanity for $2000+ from Keller so that is a reference point. We also looked at the Chinese cabinet makers in SoDo (who also install granite). They build the cabinets from plywood and they are modular, coming in specific sizes, though I'm sure you could request a special size if you wanted. That list of specific sizes reminded me of Ikea and I started looking into their furniture. I have had good experience with their static furniture that is not being moved or jostled (like a dining table, etc). In fact, all the cabinetry in the kitchen is from Ikea and it has held up well. Moreover the drawer and door action on the plywood furniture was just not as good as my kitchen cupboards. I looked at Ikea's bathroom furniture but it is specifically designed for their very shallow sinks. Then I realised that Akurum kitchen cabinetry would work just as well. I talked to the contractor about it and he said that noone else had thought of doing that in the projects that he had worked on, which surprised me. The one difference between kitchen and bathroom cabinetry is that kitchen counters are apparently a small amount deeper than bathroom cabinets. That wasn't a big problem for us.
We knew we wanted a 60" vanity with a single sink so we eventually decided on a central 24" unit to hold the sink, flanked by two 18" units with four drawers each. While in Ikea, we saw a setup where the center sink unit, instead of having two doors as is often the case, had a single panel that slid out on a deep drawer so you can actually get to all the things under the sink much more easily. That was an easy decision to incorporate.
For the faces, we chose Perfekt Abstrakt Grey 

On the other side of the room, I spent a lot of time looking at the many options that they had and planning it out in Sketchup. I eventually decided on two 24" floor units with drawers in the middle and a 15" floor unit perched above and to the side of them. That left a small spot to the left at about 12" wide but quite a bit lower due to the sloped ceiling.. The challenge was that Ikea doesn't make short cabinets at that width (and why should they? it would be quite an odd size). I did find however that they do have a 24" tall unit that is designed to go over a fridge. The unit is 30" wide but I cut it down to 12" and assembled it almost like normal.
On the surface of the central units there will be the Blue Rainbow marble, just like on the countertop and the tub deck. The white areas are drywall.

Here's a photo of some of the finished product, placed for fit:
Over-refrigerator cupboard on the floor on the left and floor cupboard sitting on another floor cupboard on the far right.

One of my first ideas was how to make use of the slanting roof. The default that the contractor proposed was to turn that face into a wall, just like on the other side where the vanity will go. I didn't want to waste that space and always thought it would be nice to have a "staircase" of shelves that you can put things on. In the picture above, you can see  how the shelves have taken form from the diagram below.
Note that the edges of the shelf surfaces are constrained by the sloping roof so they are widening as they descend as well as sloping on edge.

In the corridor, we went with Ikea again, this time using Pax wardrobes. There was about 100" available but it turned out that there were a number of studs in the way so using anything wider than 20" wardrobes would make things more difficult. We eventually decided to use four 20" units.
Assembling these had the biggest challenge. Not only were they too tall for the space, but the rafters were immediately behind. Therefore, I had to cut them shorter and put a slant on the top. For the top, I used the original top for the front part, and a shelf for a shallow Pax unit for the slanting back piece. After I had built two of them, the contractor suggested caulking the gap to prevent dust from coming in.
Here are a few pictures of the finished product:
In the front, this unit is now 72.5" high instead of 79" and the back is now 65.25" high.

You can see the white caulk in the picture above.

One of the big challenges was figuring out how to cut the large angles necessary. While the rearmost angle is 35 degrees, the overlapping angles in the middle are 55 degrees. By attaching a sacrificial fence and holding the pieces vertically through the table saw, I was able to cut the 55 degree angle that was needed here.


A cutaway of the top construction. The first unit took over four hours to figure out the angles and methods to cut the various. I wrote down instructions and measurements for myself and the next three went by much faster.