DIY cabinets

I’m sticking to the subject of storage, but this week I’m trying to balance utility with aesthetics.  In Australia, we are lagging when it comes to planning built-in cabinetry in the design stage of our new homes.  We manage to get it right in the kitchen and bathroom, and recently in the bedroom too, but our living areas and dining rooms typically get fitted out with non-custom, ad-hoc items of furniture.

Is this because we are such cool, unique collectors of eclectic pieces that ooze character and style?  Nope.  It’s because built-in cabinetry costs so bloody much.

Example one:  House By the Water. Cost to add a built-in-robe (1.37 m wide) to our study to convert the room to a bedroom. $2200.  (Rejected.)

Example two:  Friend’s home.  Cost to install book shelves to all walls of one medium room to create a library.  $50 000.  (Rejected.)

Luckily the Nice Wolf is handy, and when equipped with time, he will make us some lovely shelves for our future library, dining room and scullery.  I might have to wait until he retires for furniture and cabinetry.  In our laundry, we’ll need overhead cabinets.  The garage overflow can go here, plus we’ll need to hide what I imagine will be an ugly, exposed (but oh, so convenient) laundry chute.

The plan is to turn this:


The laundry from the Rubix display home by Webb and Brown-Neaves.

into something more like these:

Photos:  1.  The Block  2.  Int2Architecture.

It might be in our laundry, that Ikea has its “House By The Water moment”. When we gutted an old kitchen years ago, we used some Ikea components for the new pantry and cabinets.  The quality was good.  So I sketched up some laundry plans for HBTW and dived into the Ikea website.  Woah!  It’s a minefield of choices and digital tools in there.   I found it quite overwhelming and it’s probably best to head into Ikea and leave the maths and design up to their kitchen planners.  Never-the-less, I managed to come up with a basic list of what we’ll need for laundry wall cabinets and a price estimate.  $750.

Trying to shop around, I checked out Masters’ website too. Although their selection is limited, the pieces all work together, so creating a shopping list was much easier.  Price estimate $750.  I wondered whether Ikea’s doors could be put on Masters’ cabinets, but the sizes are mismatched.

I also had a quick squizz at Gumtree for second-hand wall cabinets.   Most look dated and heavy, but there is potential there, at least to use the bases, if you are prepared to be flexible with layout.

Did you add cabinets to your home?

Have you got your own scary custom-cabinets quote to share?

Have you dabbled with cabinet installation?  

Do you know a great place to have it all done for you at Ikea/Masters’ prices?


17 thoughts on “DIY cabinets

  1. Well Mrs. Marias, I was expecting more from you. Boring old cupboard from Masters?? I thought you’d have nifty space saving designs that slide back into wall cavities, openings in floor areas for underground storage, sliding shelves, pull out boxes, hidden cupboards, etc etc. I don’t even know what is out there. Surely Igor can work a little harder to earn some extra $$ for your mind to go wild!! But of course I’m just kidding, I totally understand the budgetary constraints on a mind that could move mountains. Good luck and maybe Ikea will provide some little nifty storage unit for you that will keep me happy! 😉

  2. Some good ideas XV! Spending money where it’s worth it only. Hey, does that fellow of yours want a working holiday? I need a better quote for the front yard. BYO family!

  3. Tracy says:

    Let me share. Overhead cupboards in our not so big laundry, $2798, I think I need to look at a DIY option here. Changing one of the existing cupboards in the laundry to a washing drawer, $500. I dread to think what the cost will be to upgrade the cupboards to Polytec, I’m scared!

    • Thanks Tracy. I didn’t even bother to get our builders to price that up. “The line” had already been drawn! I didn’t check the materials of the Ikea or Masters cupboards, but I think wall cabinets shouldn’t need to be Polytec.

  4. We need some over wall shelving/cabinetry too. Will sus out ikea for that. Or put in some nice open shelves. Our dryer makes our laundry quite damp even though we have an exhaust fan so not sure how weatherproof we need to be with our choices. Nevertheless, we added a narrow ikea billy book shelf ($59) to our laundry a week or so ago for our shoes. Next is a rail above the sink to hang wet clothes on coat hangers to dry. Then to employ a full time laundry assistant to help with the rest!!! Xxx

    • Good point about the dryer. I’ve included cabinets above our dryer in our plan, but I’ll have to see about that. We don’t have a fan, but the dryer will be beside an exterior sliding door with screen. Good luck with that assistant. If only cats could iron…

  5. Yvonne says:

    We too are trying to work out what to do for all cabinets.

    For the WIR we did the most basic rail which in retrospect if suggest putting the rail higher as we did higher ceilings. We have popped an old Ikea shelf unit under to put drawers and shelves in the WIR.

  6. You can never have too much storage, is the motto for our new house. We’ve got overhead cabinetry going into our laundry, being organised by the builder. They aren’t an exciting style but I have a feeling they will be well used. You’ve just shot down my idea of a book wall in one of the living areas with the ‘library’ price. Having our study having to function as a guest room as well means there ia unlikely to be the room for the wall of books I wanted, so I planned to move it into a living area. I want a big entertainment cabinet for the kids activity room which can double as a Lego display case. Saw something on gumtree that would be perfect, it’s just not the right time to buy – but at least I know it exists! I’d like our WIR kitted out properly with shelving and storage, I can imagine that’s not going to be cheap.

    • Ikea-hacked “built-in” cabinetry could be the go for your living area, Lauren. Some of it looks fantastic. Google it if you haven’t already seen it. Probably more suited to classic style than modern though. And, isn’t the “not right time to buy” thing annoying?! I was eyeing off the perfect wardrobe for our extra bedroom at Freedom for over a year, but had no where to put it yet. It’s now discontinued….

  7. trixee says:

    I’m still reeling at the 50K for the library and have so many questions! How big was it? It’s making the Ikea option sound more and more like a possibility.

  8. Hi Johanne – Amelia Lee from Undercover Architect here.

    It’s great that you are considering alternatives for your cabinetry.

    I’ve helped lots of clients with their renos and new builds, and done a few of my own also. My hubby and I have used flat-packed joinery and IKEA components for all of our kitchens, robes, and vanities.

    One thing we found successful was using off-the-shelf items where possible, and then having a specialist finish things off, or provide the custom items to make it more special. This was MUCH more affordable overall, and gave that professional feel and look.

    For example, in our last kitchen, we used all flat-packed joinery for the cupboards and soft-closed drawers. We had a joiner make up all the doors and drawer fronts from 2-pac, and we installed them (they were pre-drilled with hinge positions). We then installed the handles. We had a stone fabricator measure up and install the stone benchtops. Overall, a kitchen that would have cost well over $60K to have a company fabricate and install was done for under $20K.

    I’ve found Ikea’s robe componentry a standout in the marketplace. We make our robes from it (build them into the wall ourselves), and then have Stegbar or someone similar install doors on them. Built-in robe voila!

    Best wishes for sourcing what you need at an affordable price.
    Amelia Lee

  9. 50K for library shelves… well that sums up the situation perfectly doesn’t it. Yikes. We are about to embark on the Ikea hack option for my library, although the DIY aspect is a bit frightening (it all looks so easy on people’s blogs… we just pulled this off, stuck it here, added crown moulding and painted it, and here it is…!) The other problem with getting in a professional to finish off small customising jobs is that it’s almost impossible to get someone to actually take the job if it’s only small. Maybe that’s a uniquely Perth problem. Good advice from Amelia there… will have to remember that if we ever build/renovate again.

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