Installing Ikea Kitchen Hardware

We needed to add hardware to the coffee bar that matches the rest of the kitchen. We found the hardware easily enough. The previous owners bought everything for the kitchen at Ikea, so its been super easy to add new cabinets etc. When we picked up the new hardware, we also purchased the Ikea Fixa Drill template. The template is supposed to make the placement and hole drilling of your cabinet hardware super simple. (I am all for making tasks simpler!) For the $3 price tag, we decided to give it a try.

Fixa Drill Template
Fixa Drill Template

We brought it home and checked the template against the current hardware in our kitchen to find that the old owners used the same template. Score! We marked on the template where the current hardware is hung, then transferred the template over to our new cabinets.

Template on Cabinet Door
Template on Cabinet Door

Using a small sharpie, El Granto marked the holes.

Holes marked with a Sharpie
Holes marked with a Sharpie

Then drilled them with a bit just slightly larger than the screws.

Drilling Holes
Drilling Holes

After El Granto drilled all the holes, he attached the handles in record time. For $3 Fixa Drill Template was well worth it, and we will definitely be using it next time we need to install hardware!

Yay. Handles!
Yay! Handles!

For more Ikea Kitchen tips, check out our posts on filling shelf holes, and how we installed our upper cabinets.


DIY Tips – Fill Them Holes


So you know how Ikea (or any prefab) cabinets & bookcases have all those shelf holes for allowing you to move your shelves around willy nilly? They’re super useful, but they leave unsightly dark holes that clearly give your shelving unit away as not being custom built. I happen to hate these holes. So much so, that I painstakingly filled them all with paintable caulking in my Custom Ikea Billy Built-In Bookcase project. This took me 6 hours to do, but well worth it. At the time I thought there could be no easier way…

This past weekend, the clouds opened, angels sang, and I found the answer to all your shelf hole problems.

While waiting in the Ikea Kitchen infodesk line last Saturday night, I spied a basket full of strange little objects. I picked one package up and regarded it curiously, then a light bulb went off in my head!

Do you know what these are?
Do you know what these are?

Yes, brilliant brillant Ikea has made SHELF HOLE FILLERS! They’re little plastic pieces that you pop into your unused shelf holes. AWESOMESAUCE! These little guys come in packages of 100 for a whopping $1, and in either black or white.

I swiftly grabbed 4 packages, and then insisted on telling the helpfull (but probably slightly scared) Ikea sales rep about how amazing this invention was.

As soon as I got home I set to filling all the holes in my upper cabinets in the coffee bar & the rest of the glass door fronted cabinets in my kitchen.

Shelf Holes Before
Shelf Holes Before
Shelf Holes After
Shelf Holes After

YOUR MIND IS BLOWN, RIGHT?! (or am I the only person in the world who gets this excited about filled shelf holes…)

Total Cost: $3 ($1 per cabinet) my fingers did get a bit sore after pushing in 300 of these puppies, but a small price to pay for sexy looking cabinets.

Go pick some of these up at your local Ikea, then send me tearful letters about how  they changed your life.


*UPDATE!* Variera Cover Cap’s are now available online at

Coffee Bar – Temporary Countertop

We will be living with the coffee bar without doors for a few months untill the budget will allow us to pruchase all the door and drawer fittings.  The DIY concrete countertop will have to wait until spring (when its warm enough to pour in our unheated garage) but in the interim we still wanted to get some use out of our new cabinets.  So we decided to make a temporary countertop using some inexpensive $20 shelving we found at Home Depot. It is finger jointed pine which looks a lot like butcher block. It’s 3/4″ thick and came in a 8′ length and 16″ wide. It was wide and long enough to fit the bill, and we figured we could finish it up to be a passable temporary butcher block countertop for our coffee bar untill project Concrete Countertops can happen.

We cut to length, sanded, and got to finishing it. We decided to give it a couple of coats of tung oil (same as our dining table) and call it a day.

photo 1

photo 4

photo 5

Not bad for a $20 counter top eh?



Pine Shelf – Home Depot (note we used the #2 grade, you can also get a #1 grade version for $46)
Tung Oil – Lee Valley Tools

Tools Used:

Circular Saw, Tape Measure, Sand Paper

Difficulty Level (on a scale of 1-5):

One out of five

Total Cost: $20

Coffee Bar – Stage 1

On our list of 2013 DIY Goals we noted one big project being the coffee bar. The coffee bar will be placed in our open concept kitchen/dining room. It will be on the opposite wall from our U shaped kitchen, and will be placed half way between the kitchen and dining room.


We decided to build a coffee bar there for several reasons. A.) We wanted more counterspace to house our prolific array of coffee paraphania. B.) We needed more storage for kitchen dishes and barware, and C.) we wanted more space to lay dishes during parties. We decided instead of getting a freestanding buffet, we would build in the coffee bar using cabinets that match our kitchen. I set to planning the coffee bar about a year ago, but it hasn’t been on the top of our DIY priority list, and to be honest its also a bit of a big ticket item. We decided to do it in stages to alleviate the financial burden. Thanks to some Ikea gift cards for my last birthday and Christmas, we were able to use our time off between Christmas and New Years to get started!

The first stage was buying and installing the cabinet bases, then making a temporary countertop. Stage two will be wiring in new electrical outlets, pouring a DIY concrete countertop, adding some reclaimed wood open shelving and getting a few doors for the bottom cabinets. The last stage will be adding glass doors to the uppers, and a three drawer unit to the middle base cabinet.

So here’s part 1 (aka the manual labour):

We headed to Ikea with plans in hand and had the friendly kitchen department write us up a purchase order for the cabinet bases. We went with two 12″ deep, 30″ wide lower cabinets as as well as a 12″ deep 24″ wide lower (which will have a drawer unit in it). For the uppers we went with two extra tall 12″ deep 30″ wide cabinets which will eventually have glass doors. We also purchased some feet and the hanging rail for the upper cabinets. What we forgot to purchase were any shelves for said cabinets. Oops, looks like another trip to Ikea is in our future! After our purchase order was made up, we headed down to the checkout to pay and then off to full serve pickup to get our order. It was fast and easy and we were outta there in no time.

Ikea Full Serve Pick-Up

We got home and set to assembling and installing. We had previously assembled and hung an Ikea kitchen for a friends reno, and having assembled our fair share of Ikea we were fairly proficient in our assembly.

Cabinet Parts

We averaged about 12-15 minutes per cabinet, and with the help of a brad nailer to nail on the back panels, we were ready to install!

Brad nailer = best friend

We started with the lower cabinets which we attached together by clamping them, drilling out the hole and attaching with the accompanying screws.

Drilling out hole to attach cabinets together (protect your cabinets from the clamps!)

We then attached the stainless steel feet we had purchased. We decided to go with the feet so that it looked more like a piece of furniture, rather than the rest of our kitchen which has a toe kick panel. It also made the unit look a little less domineering from the hallway.

Attaching the foot bases to the cabinets. When you’ve got two cabinets right beside eachother you dont want a foot on each cabinet (would look silly) so you place the foot right in the middle of both cabinets. It saves you buying more feet, and it looks better.

8 feet later and we had ourselves a fully assembled base unit.

All the feet attached, ready to be flipped and installed

We flipped it over, decided on the position on the wall, we leveled it using the level-able feet (thank you Ikea, you are awesome for owners of an old crooked house!).

El Granto looking super impressed while leveling the cabinets

Once everything was correctly positioned we attached it to the wall. Our biggest issue was that we were attaching to a firewall which has 1 1/2″ thick drywall and our stud finder was having a hell of a time finding anything! After a few curse words and a couple heavy duty EZ Ancors we were in business.

Lower cabinets installed

After the lowers were done, we set to hanging the uppers. They were to be placed one cabinet on either end with a stretch of  open wall 24″ wide in the middle. We want to put some reclaimed wood open shelving in there, so we left the space open for now.

Hanging the uppers was also super simple, as Ikea’s system is amazeballs. You hang a track on the wall all level and nice, screw it into the studs, then your uppers float on the track!

Ikea cabinet rail attached to the studs and showing the movable anchor where you attach the cabinet

It’s super simple for a long row of cabinets, and makes it so that you don’t have to worry about finding studs to attached each cabinet to. We only needed to hang two smaller individual cabinets. So we cut the rail into two pieces slightly smaller than the cabinets, and following Ikea’s instructions installed them in short order. All in all it took the two of us one evening and one morning to have everything hung.

Upper cabinets half hung, art project sneak peek on the ground and general mayhem and mess
Cabinets Installed
Cabinets Installed


The next steps  to stage 1 will be getting the shelves we forgot at Ikea, adding a temporary countertop and some filler panels. This should all be complete by the end of January 2013.

Stage 2 will involve a DIY concrete countertop, some electrical outlets, open shelving between the two upper cabinets and hopefully a few doors and hardware. (ETA Summer 2013)

Stage 3 will complete the coffee bar with all the cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware. (ETA Fall/Winter 2013)


Chalkboard Menu

My family is rolling into town for the holidays in less than 24 hours. My to-do list is a mile long, I am contemplating giving up sleep to get it all done.

So it why on earth was I standing on a ladder drawing on our new chalkboard wall at 10pm? It was because I had a vision. I wanted a Christmas dinner chalkboard menu, and dammit I was gonna have one.

I had already planned out the menu, I just needed to decide how it was going to look on the wall. I decide to start small. While I love the amazing chalkboards on Pinterest, those are all done by chalkboard artists, and frankly the last time I touched chalk was writing lines on the blackboard in grade school. So I decided to set the bar low, and make a simple menu.

I laid out my type in illustrator on a canvas the same size as my wall.

Then I taped off the spacing on my wall, so I would know where each line of text was supposed to go, and so that the last line of dessert did not dip below the height of the table, so that everyone could see the menu. Once that was done, I started drawing.

“Menu” drawn, and all my tape marks for the rest of the text

I had the computer open beside me and I kept referencing my layout and tried to draw the “Menu” all pretty. Its not perfect, but I have absolutely horrid hand writing. For the actual menu I just wrote in my normal uppercase printing.

Chalkboard Menu Done

I don’t think it turned out that bad. I am by no means a chalkboard artist, but at least its legible. (Although El Granto thinks my “P” ‘s look like D’s. And that people will think we’re having “Dave Potatoes” for dinner…

Dining Room & Menu

Now all I need to do is clean the house, set the table, and cook all the food…

Chalkboard Wall

Our entryway, dining room and kitchen are all one great big open concept room. As soon as you walk in the front door you can see straight to the back of my kitchen. Its nice because the storefront window allows in a lot of natural light, and the open concept high ceiling space makes everything look a lot bigger than it actually is. Since moving into the house we have done very little to the main floor. The main reason being that anything we did would either cost a lot, or impact the whole main floor (i.e. we have one 60 foot long wall that runs from the front door to the back door, going through every room on the main floor except the powder room. So you cant just paint the kitchen or the dining room, you literally are painting the whole first floor.)

We have big plans for the space, we want to create a coffee bar in the dining room, replace the sink, faucet and countertop in the kitchen (and backsplash if I get my way). We just made a new dining table and bench. I have some art projects in the design stage, and a lot of projects for the livingroom.

In the interim I wanted to get the dining room ready for my holiday guests and for Christmas dinner. There is a chimney wall that juts out in the kitchen (see it behind the table in this shot).

See the small wall that juts out right behind the middle of the table?

I decided to give it a bit of a focal point, and paint it with black chalkboard paint. That way I can feature a menu board for dinner parties etc.

To start out I sanded down the wall to remove any imperfections and to make it as smooth as possible. Then I coated in one coat of primer.

Wall Primed

I sanded the primer than applied one coat of chalkboard paint. I started to get a bit worried at this point as it didn’t cover well at all…

One coat of Paint
Detail shot of one coat of the chalkboard paint

After a second coat it was started to look much better, but it still needed at least one more coat. I sanded at this point to try to make it as smooth as possible (chalkboards work best when they super smooth!)

So after sanding and a third coat of chalkboard paint I was starting to get the result I was looking for.

Several coats of chalkboard paint

After this I gave it one more sand and what I thought would be the final (4th) coat. However after it dried it was even rougher than before. Eep!  So once again I sanded and sanded and sanded some more then I painted a coat sideways instead of up and down. After that, I sanded and painted two more coats. Yes that’s right, if you’ve been counting you’ll know that we’re up to seven coats of paint. At this point I still wasn’t convinced it was smooth enough, but gave up because I had had enough of this project…and i deemed it “good enough”. Having never worked with chalkboard paint before I am not sure if I was just being anal retentive, or if you can actually get a perfectly smooth effect on a wall.

Once it had dried for three days, we covered the whole wall in a coat of chalk (rub the side of a piece of chalk over the whole wall.) Consider this like seasoning a cast iron pan. Then rub off with a dry cloth, and you can use your chalkboard wall. Just don’t wipe it with a wet cloth for at least a week.

Chalk Rubbed on Wall
Detail of Chalk
Chalkboard Done!

Check back tomorrow to see how I designed my Holiday Chalkboard Menu!

***UPDATE*** Here’s the Menu

Chalkboard Menu Done



Rust-oleum Chalkboard Paint in Black – Canadian Tire
CIL Primer – Home Depot

Tools Used:

Paint brush, tray & roller

Difficulty Level (on a scale of 1-5):

Two out of five

Total Cost: $20

DIY Pipe & Wood Bench

BIG Milestone today kids! This is our 100th post!

So we made the dining table, then we finished the table, and now we’re making a quick and easy (and cheap) bench to go along with it.

Left over from our table offcuts, was a 2×12 piece of wood just about 6′ long. El Granto decided to surprise me and make a matching bench to go along with our table. The bench will add a lot more seating (you can squeeze a truck load of people around a bench when necessary.) It also reduces the amount of chairs we have to have, and a bench can be tucked close into the table and not take up a ton of room.

Here’s the shopping and cut list for what you need to make a 68″ long, 11 1/2″ wide and 18″ high wood & pipe bench.

Shopping List
(leftover 2x12x6′ from the table project)
2 – Premium 2×4’s
2 – 3/4″ Flanges
1 – 48″ precut piece of 3/4″ black pipe
8 – 1″ wood screws
Cast Iron Square Nails (Optional)

Wood Cut List
1 – 2x12x68″‘ spruce
4 – 2x4x16 1/2″
4 – 2x4x6 1/2″

Pipe Cut List
You don’t need any custom cut pipe. Use your 48″ precut piece as is. Woot!

Pre-sand your pieces of 2×4 (these will be the bench legs, and once assembled are a bit more of a pain in the ass to sand.)  While you’re at it, sand the bench top as well. Start at a 60 grit or so, then work your way up to 220.

Assemble bench legs using your attachment method of choice. We decided to go with the Kreg Jig pocket hole system, but you can easily use dowels & glue. El Granto got a bit carried away in the assembly process, and forgot to take any pics until it was all done (oops!).

Here’s a shot of one set of legs, where El Granto is adding some decorative square nails. You can see how we used the pocket holes to attach the top support piece, we also used pocket holes below the bottom vertical support piece. The bottom support piece is vertical because we are going to attach our pipe cross beam there.

El Granto adding some decorative square nails to one set of bench legs
Square nails are awesome!

After the legs are assembled, attach the flange to one set of the legs, then attach the pipe and the second flange and screw the other flange to the other set of legs.

Attaching the legs to the pipe (excuse the constant garage clutter/sawdust)

Flip the bench top upside down, and place your upside down legs on top, and screw legs into bench top using 2 1/2″ screws.

Attaching bench legs (and yes that is a half naked woman posing with a motorcycle on the wall. The garage is El Granto’s domain, and wouldn’t be complete without a calendar full of bikini clad women posing with motorcycles.) And of course another photo bomb by the dog.
Bench Assembled

After the legs were attached, we took the bench inside to start the finishing process. We stained and oiled it to match the table.

The Bench
Bench leg detail
legs legs legs
Table & bench
Table & Bench

We now really need some new chairs. In the interim, I think I will give the ones I have a coat of paint. I am leaning towards turquoise or red. Eventually I would really love some Tolix chairs or some Emeco navy chairs. The dining room also desperately needs some high impact art, as does the area over my kitchen cupboards.



2 – Premium 2×4’s – Home Depot
1 – 3/4″x4′ black pipe – Home Depot
2 – 3/4″ Floor Flange – Home Depot
2×12 spruce – Rona
1″ wood screws – Home Depot
Varathane stain in Chocolate – Home Depot
Varathane wood conditioner – Home Depot
Pure Tung Oil – Lee Valley
Square Nails – Lee Valley

Tools Used:

Miter Saw
Kreg Jig
Measuring Tape
Hammer (for decorative nails)

Difficulty Level (on a scale of 1-5):

Three out of five

Total Cost: $16 (bench top wood, and finishing materials were left overs from the table project)