The room is super long and skinny, so it has posed a bit of design challenge. How do you fill the space without feeling overcrowded? How do you make it feel like it’s hitting all the necessities — living, dining, gathering?
We also have super low ceilings and off-level lines and corner working against us, so this one has definitely kept us on our toes!
Instead of fighting the space, we’ve just embraced its quirks and are sort of creating little “stations” along the way — a living area, a dining area, and a kitchenette of sorts.
Read on to see how we built our DIY bar cabinet and kitchenette!
Today I’ll show you how we created our built-in kitchenette and bar area. It occupies an awkward corner in a way that feels really natural.
We were originally exploring having actual kitchen cabinets and counters installed. With such a small space it felt really impractical. And it didn’t feel “DIY enough” for me, even though I’m sure Andrei would have loved to have such a straightforward solution. Sorry, babe! 😉
Plus, by using a sideboard and butcher block countertop as a DIY solution, we spent a lot less than we would have on custom cabinets and counters.
And we were still able to get that really custom look by leaving a little nook for a pretty trashcan. That also allowed us to line up the kitchenette with the window, so it’s literally made for the space!
But First: Other IKEA Hacks You Might Like
Shop the Accessories
This is exactly what we used for the project, but you can use tools you already own, of course! You can get pretty much all these supplies at your local hardware store, but I’ve linked to them in case you prefer to shop online. The supply list contains some affiliate links, so I could get a small commission that helps me keep this blog up and running. It won’t cost you anything extra!
- HEMNES sideboard*, white stain finish
- Butcher block countertop in birch**
- Metal corner braces and the tip-over prevention set that comes with the sideboard
- Americana Decor Color Stain in white
- Behr Transparent Waterproofing Wood Finish tinted in coffee or wood stain & sealant in your choice of color
- Sander and sandpaper
- Drill with driver bit and 1/2″ spade bit
- #8x 2″ screws (6)
- 3/4″ washers (6)
- 1/4″ thick plywood cut into 1.5″ x 17″ wood furring strips (4)
- Wood glue
- Lint-free rag
*You don’t have to use this exact piece for the project, but you definitely should use something in solid wood for stability and strength. The HEMNES console table or NORDEN sideboard would also work if anchored firmly to the wall.
**You can have the folks at the hardware store cut the countertop for you. It’ll fit in the car better, and you don’t have to worry about sawing it yourself. Ours is 74″ x 20″ to allow an overhang for the trash can. If you want to just cover the sideboard, you’d want more like 60″ x 20″.
You could also talk to the people at IKEA about getting a quartz or laminate countertop to fit your piece if you want a different look!
Instructions: DIY Bar Cabinet and Kitchenette
1. Begin by assembling just the base of your HEMNES sideboard, attaching the top with a couple pegs just to line everything up.
2. Use a pencil to trace all the way around the underside of the top. This will serve as a guide to cut away the overhang, leaving the top flush with the base without compromising the structural integrity of the sideboard.
3. Use a saw to cut away the excess edges from the top along the cut lines you marked in step 1.
Make sure you’re not cutting too near the pre-drilled peg and screw holes. You want to be able to assemble the sideboard exactly according to its instructions to make sure it stays really sturdy.
4. Sand the cut edges of the top to smooth the cut lines.
5. Stain or paint them to match the rest of the piece. Since we used the white stained HEMNES sideboard, we brushed on two coats of white stain. You could also do a whitewash if you prefer. Wipe away excess stain or whitewash with a damp, lint-free rag.
6. Attach the top to the base per the IKEA instructions, screwing and locking everything down exactly as instructed.
Then drill six holes through the top with a 1/2″ spade bit. We did the four corners and then two across the middle.
7. Glue the furring strips along the top in four equally-spaced places, approximately 16″ apart. These will provide a buffer between the top of the sideboard and the countertop so that the wood can safely expand and contract over time.
8. To prevent any tip-over accidents, secure the sideboard to the wall with the little tip-over restraint strap that comes with it. IKEA has some great information on their Secure It initiative about prevent tip-over accidents.
For extra security and to keep the kitchenette unit from moving around at all, you can use little metal corner braces to screw it into the wall in several places along the back and legs.
9. Lightly sand the countertop and then brush on stain. I used a water-based transparent stain with a built-in sealant in a coffee color and did a single coat to maintain the woodgrain look. Wipe away excess stain with a damp, lint-free rag.
10. Place the countertop onto the sideboard, lining it up exactly where it’s going to be attached.
Working from underneath the top of the sideboard, thread a washer over a screw, and drill them through the holes into the countertop. Don’t worry that the holes are bigger than the screw. The washer will hold the screw in place, and the screw will grab the countertop from underneath — no pre-drilling necessary!
The washer should be tight against the underside of the top but with enough room left for the wood of the countertop to expand and contract over time.
11. Finish assembling and installing the doors and drawers according to the IKEA instructions.
10. Optional: Add matching shelves. We used a leftover strip of countertop and this tutorial from The DIY Playbook for the industrial pipe brackets.
Tip: You can see in the image above that I used butcher paper cutouts to test out shelf placement before installing them.