Grow Peninsula Grow!

Our “U” shaped kitchen was a bit short on one end. Our peninsula oddly only came out 4 feet from the wall, and perpetually looked a bit “off”. He was just too short, too stumpy, and because of such he wasn’t that much use*. He wasn’t really a good prep space, nor did he have enough room to use as a service area for the dining room.

Lil fella
Lil fella
Stubby Peninsula
Stubby Peninsula
The Peninsula
The Peninsula

When preping for new countertops, we knew that we wanted to make Mr. Peninsula a bit bigger for function and to balance the space better. However as our house is tiny (12 feet wide!) we didn’t have a ton of room to play with, without risking/impeding the traffic flow through the main floor.

The peninsula was actually an area of great debate in our house. We agreed on the countertop finish, colour, the coffee bar, the shelving and dining table choice, but we had trouble coming to a happy place with our peninsula. Ideally we would have ripped out all the skinny cabinets and put in full depth cabinets with a wine/beer fridge. BUT we just didn’t have the room (if we wanted to keep a dining table that seats 6-8). I wanted to add some more open shelving or potentially a wine bottle holder, El Granto thought that would look dated and tacky (after some thought I believe he was right about that). In the end, we decided to add a 12″ matching Ikea Adel cabinet, and seamlessly make the peninsula a foot longer. Not a huge gain, but that 12″ made the peninsula come out to the same length as the dishwasher side of the kitchen, and it will add some more prep and serving space.

So off to Ikea I went, for the second Saturday in a row (sink pick-up the week before), and braved the kitchen department yet again. This time I saved El Granto the trip because he enjoys Ikea about as much as I like perusing the video game isle at Best Buy.

Ikea Kitchen Department
The Ikea Kitchen Department. Come in with a happy marriage, and leave on non speaking terms.

This jaunt to Ikea didn’t go as smoothly as my last, and my round trip took almost 4 hours (including subway and shuttle bus). Ouch. The only saving grace was my froyo treat as I wanted at the full service pick-up.

After getting home El Granto quickly assembled the cabinet while I removed the toe kicks and cover panel on the existing peninsula. In short order we had the new cabinet installed, and we leveled the whole peninsula, as apparently the previous owners couldn’t grasp the concept of Ikea’s easy level legs, and the whole thing was about as level as the Tower of Pisa. As a side note I think they may not had a grasp on the concept of level at all.

New Cabinet
New Cabinet

This was the first step in our prepping for Project Concrete Countertops and it was only the start of demo to come.


We were left without toe kicks, an uncovered back of a cabinet, no end cover panel, and a countertop that was now 12″ too short. The chaos was minimal and contained, wait till you see how long this lasted!

*If you have a dirty mind, and thought that this post was at all dirty sounding, then that just proves that you don’t read carefully enough. PENINSULA’s people. Get your head out of the gutter.

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

Ikea Kitchen Installation Tip

So last week we taught you how to open an Ikea box without ruining your marriage.

Now we’ll teach you how to install an Ikea upper cabinet without swearing at your spouse, or dropping a 30lbs cabinet on their head. You’re getting marriage counseling and DIY all in one. You should thank me.

So when installing an Ikea upper cabinet, you need to hold the cabinet up to the wall where you want it, then mark for where the rail is going to go. This can be a bit of an awkward process with two people. One person has to hold the cabinet over their head steady and level while the other person marks. This is the point where one of you is on a ladder wielding a level and a pencil, directing the other one who is trying to brace the cabinet on their shoulders and keep it steady while you tell them to move it “a little to the left, no your other left dumbass”. This is the point in time when things are about to go oh so wrong. So here’s what you need to do.

You installed your lower cabinets already, correct? They’re nice and level and secure and wonderful? (Level is the key here!)

Measure the distance between the top of your lower cabinet, and where the bottom of the upper cabinet should be. Now go to the garage and cut two 2×4’s to exactly that length (I am gonna call them stilts). Come back inside, and place them standing up straight on your lower cabinets.

Cabinet Stilts
Cabinet Stilts (although we ended up turning them sideways, see next picture)

Now lift your upper cabinet up and rest it on the stilts. You still have to hold on to the cabinet, but now the entire weight isn’t fully resting on your shoulders, and your cabinet is prolly pretty damn close to level. Mark your holes, then take the cabinet down and install your rail. Once you are ready to install the cabinet, use your stilts again to give the cabinet some support while you screw in all the bolts.

Bolting in the cabinet
Bolting in the cabinet

Yep, those two scrap pieces of wood just saved you from a black eye, dented cabinet and sleeping on the sofa.

You’re welcome.

And yes El Granto’s work pants are pink. He’s secure that way.

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)