DIY Kitchen Table

After months of shopping around for the perfect kitchen table and watching many YouTube videos of how other people made their own tables, we finally decided to go ahead and make our own. By doing so, we could pick out the exact type of wood, color, and size and make it exactly how we wanted. 

More details of the whole process, tools and materials used, and video will be posted as soon as possible but in the meantime, I leave you with some photos :)

Luxury Vinyl Plank - Why we chose our floors

Picking out the flooring materials for our living / dining / kitchen space was no easy task. 

We knew the old carpet had to go. And it's really good thing we tore it up because we uncovered mold in a section of the hardwood that was underneath the carpet! Luckily, it was limited to about a 2x2 ft of space and it was easy enough for our contractors to cut that section out and replace it with plywood. But, I digress. 

We loved the look of hardwood (duh) but we weren't comfortable with shelling out the amount of money it would take to install real hardwood. So we considered a few alternatives. Most people nowadays know about engineered hardwood, laminate hardwood, and luxury vinyl plank (LVP). Engineered hardwood is more cost effective than solid hardwood in terms of the material itself, but the labor required is about the same. Laminate flooring is also a cheaper alternative to solid hardwood and it's supposedly a lot more easier to install and maintain, and you can get laminate that really looks and feels like real wood, so we leaned towards getting laminate. We had several flooring companies come out to the house to measure the space and show us samples of laminates but we actually didn't find any that we truly fell in love with... And OK, at the end of the day, the floor is the floor and you don't really need to fall in love with the floor... but at the same time, if you're going to be spending a significant amount of money and time to redo the floors, then, you might as well find something you REALLY like. So we kept searching, and several people told us about LVP, which wasn't something I was initially interested in. But one of the sales people told Kevin that LVP is so waterproof that you could dump it in a swimming pool full of water for several days, take it out and use it like nothing happened. Needless to say, Kevin was sold. Laminate, on the other hand, is not waterproof (despite a lot of companies out there saying there are types that are very water resistant). If you were to drop something sharp and pierce the laminate layer on top of the MDF material underneath and get water in there, it would swell up and be damaged. It would have to be replaced, and good luck replacing just one piece of flooring!

So after several weeks of talking to different flooring companies and checking out samples, I found a few styles online from Shaw Floors and requested samples. Out of the samples that we received, the "Alto Plank, Terza Grande" was my favorite. It was a wide plank (8 inches wide and 72 inches long), 1/4" thick, with enough texture to mimic the feeling of real wood, and not too dark and not too light.

We ordered the material through a local flooring company and then scheduled a flooring crew to come out to do the prep work and install it. We picked up the materials from the flooring company and one tip for you if you order the materials and plan to pick it up yourself: find out how long the boards are! We were surprised when the flooring company employee opened up the back of the truck where our materials were stored and we saw these super long boxes and weren't sure if we could fit it in our car. Luckily, Kevin's Subaru Forester took it like a champ... but not before moving the passenger seat up as far as it could go with me still in it, and we had to make 2 trips. Then Kevin tore up the old carpet where the new stuff was going to go and I helped to take out the tacks and staples the day before the crew came. The crew spent most of the first day doing all the prep work of removing the old linoleum in the kitchen and dining area, cutting out and patching up the square patch that had the mold, scraping all the adhesive off the underlayment and leveling any uneven areas with a leveling compound. The specific flooring we got actually didn't require the underlayment to be level but hey, if you can, why not? At the end of the first day, they installed a few pieces of the LVP and we got a glimpse of what the end result would look like! Then they came back the next day and finished the whole living / dining / kitchen space in about 4 hours. 

It has been about 7 months since the install and let me tell you, we LOVE our floors. They are super durable, and we keep them clean just by vacuuming and swiffering! 

For those interested in the cost of the new flooring, the space that we updated was about 560 square feet (we left the rest of the house as-is for now since we're contemplating an extension on the house in a few years). The cost of the material was about $2550 (we got extra materials just in case) and the cost of labor was around $2700, so about $5250 total for 560 square feet.

Before pictures of the house (and demo)

A lot of people have been wondering what the house looked like before the living/dining renovation, so here are some pictures of what it used to look like! 

Living Room, Before: Look at all those strange walls and nasty carpet.

Living Room, Before: Look at all those strange walls and nasty carpet.

From the other side of the pony wall. Don't mind all the boxes and bags we started moving in when the picture was taken :)

From the other side of the pony wall. Don't mind all the boxes and bags we started moving in when the picture was taken :)

Finding the studs and any live wires. We weren't sure what was behind the walls, so the demo started a bit cautiously...

Finding the studs and any live wires. We weren't sure what was behind the walls, so the demo started a bit cautiously...

Popped off the trim and top ledge...

Popped off the trim and top ledge...

Checking out the electrical...

Checking out the electrical...

Getting our first glimpse of what it would look like without the wall!

Getting our first glimpse of what it would look like without the wall!

And TA-DA!

And TA-DA!

Now with that other strange section of the wall dividing the living room from the hallway taken down.

Now with that other strange section of the wall dividing the living room from the hallway taken down.

Started demo of the built-in shelves

Started demo of the built-in shelves

Lovely.

Lovely.

I think we had it left at this stage for a couple weeks...

I think we had it left at this stage for a couple weeks...

And lived like this for a month or so.

And lived like this for a month or so.

The 4x4 post you see in the last picture (behind the futon) went all the way down into the crawlspace. We had a framing company come to do some other work on the house, so we asked them to take a look at the post and they were able to easily remove it. 

Stay tuned for our next blog post about how we decided on the new flooring material!

How we made our nightstands

There actually wasn't an urgent need for nightstands, but we wanted to practice woodworking with something "easy". The inspiration came from Ana White's Rustic X End Table, but since we didn't have our new couch yet, and no need for end tables at the time, we decided to make nightstands that fit our small master bedroom. The nightstands we had were hand-me-downs and the style was totally not ours. Plus, we both agreed that having drawers only encourages junk to pile up, so we wanted our nightstands to just have a table top and a bottom shelf without any drawers, so this was perfect.

First thing's first, we measured the space on either side of the bed and considered how much table space we wanted. We wanted it to be 22 inches wide, 16 inches deep and 24 inches tall. Our bed is on the low side, so we wanted the nightstand to be at a good height where if we were laying down, we didn't have to reach down or up for glasses, phones, etc. Then we calculated how much lumber we would need to buy. We already had so many 2 x 4s piled up in our garage from the framing of the walls we removed in our living space so we didn't need to buy any of those, but we needed thin and wide boards for the table top and bottom shelf, and also some 2 x 2s for the X brace on the sides and the apron. Note: Calculate carefully - we ended up having to make another trip to Home Depot because we didn't have enough for two!

For the most part, you can follow the plans on Ana White's website - the diagrams should also be pretty helpful. We actually altered ours for the sizes we needed and didn't add the decorative hardware just for simplicity. And for the X cross brace, we actually made one of the nightstands that has one side of the X long with two smaller pieces for the other side of the X, but found that part to be the most challenging to get just right, so for the second nightstand, we opted to just have two longer 2x2s criss-crossed. Another challenge for us was using a hand-held circular saw instead of a nice stable miter saw. At this point, we were using all borrowed tools and weren't planning on making a lot of furniture so we didn't want to spend a lot of money on tools. If we had known we were going to be making a lot more furniture, we probably would have bought more tools earlier, but oh well. Live and learn!

I should also mention, if you plan on doing a significant amount of woodworking, you may want to invest in a Kreg Jig. Ana White's plans for the end table uses pocket holes, but pocket holes are so great for other things. For example, we used them to add extra support in our framing for our TV wall-mount :)

Dimensions for our version

Table top: Cut 3 pieces of 6" wide material to 22" long. (Join along edges with pocket hole screws.)
Bottom shelf: Cut 2 6" wide material to 13" long.
Legs: Cut 4 pieces of 2 x 4 to 23" long.
Horizontal Front and Back Braces: Cut 4 2 x 2 to 13" long.
Horizontal Side Braces (that frame the X braces): Cut 4 2 x 4 to 11 1/2" long.
X Braces: Ours were 4 2 x 2 pieces cut at approx. 19 7/8" long but you will need to wait until the frame is assembled and then measure at what angle the ends need to be cut at for a precise fit. (Tip: Get the angle right and cut the pieces slightly slightly long and trim as needed until it fits snugly. You can always cut it down but you can never add length back!)

Cutting with a circular saw and speed square

Cutting with a circular saw and speed square

Being cool and reading the instructions for the Kreg Jig

Being cool and reading the instructions for the Kreg Jig

Marking our cut pieces to make sure we had our favorite sides showing. We used cedar for the table top, and screwed the pieces together with pocket hole screws.

Marking our cut pieces to make sure we had our favorite sides showing. We used cedar for the table top, and screwed the pieces together with pocket hole screws.

We decided to stain before assembly

We decided to stain before assembly

Assembled (except for the bottom shelf). Ready for poly!

Assembled (except for the bottom shelf). Ready for poly!

How we made our own leaning bookcase

Every few weeks, we used to walk in to Crate & Barrel to browse home furniture and decor items. And every single time, we sat on a couple different couches to test them out - the same ones, every time. We knew we really wanted a sectional for our new living space, but didn't want to actually purchase them until most of the dusty work in the living room area was set to be completed. 6 months after closing on the house, we were finally able to order the sectional of our dreams! But, I digress. 

On several of those C&B trips, we saw a set of bookshelves that we really liked. There used to be built-in shelves on either side of our fireplace that were too deep and "aggressive-looking" as we liked to call them. We demo'd them pretty quickly without actually having a plan in place for what we were going to do once they were gone, but we knew we wanted them out! And once they were gone, they made the living room look so much bigger! Original shelves pictured below. The bookcases we saw at C&B leaned in towards the wall at the top, and we thought they would be perfect to replace the original built-ins. They would frame the fireplace and wall-mounted TV nicely, without being too overwhelming or crowding the space. However, after we installed a new fireplace surround and hearth and measured the space from the left end of the hearth to the corner wall, we knew the C&B shelves wouldn't fit. So, we shopped around at other places to see if we could find any other types of bookshelves that would fit the space, not crowd the fireplace area and also not hurt the budget, but just couldn't find any that fit the bill. Sooo... logical conclusion - we decided to just build our own version of the C&B shelves! 

Before: Built-in shelves, old fireplace, old dirty carpet, yuck!

Before: Built-in shelves, old fireplace, old dirty carpet, yuck!

After demo. Built-in shelves gone, ugly tiles gone, new drywall and hardiebacker hung, hidden tv cords inserted and tested.

After demo. Built-in shelves gone, ugly tiles gone, new drywall and hardiebacker hung, hidden tv cords inserted and tested.

After: New paint, new fireplace, new bookshelves, new floors! Baseboards coming soon!

After: New paint, new fireplace, new bookshelves, new floors! Baseboards coming soon!

Here's how we did it!

Materials Needed (for one bookshelf)

  • 1 x 2s (we used birch, 2 10 ft pieces)
  • 2 x 3s (we used birch, 4 8 ft pieces)
  • Plywood (we used birch, 2 2 ft by 4 ft panels or 1 4 ft by 8 ft panel for two bookshelves)
  • Pocket hole screws (50 Kreg, Coarse-Thread for use with Soft/Plywoods, 1-1/4", 32 mm)
  • 3-1/8" wood fasteners, you'll need 2 per bookshelf (We used star-drive screws that we pulled out of the old built-ins during demo)
  • Wood glue (Elmer's Carpenter's WoodGlue Max)
  • Finish (Brad) nails - optional
  • Wood stain (We used Varathane, Early American)
  • Finish (We used Varathane Polyurethane, Satin)
  • Tack cloth for removing dust before staining
  • Brush for staining, and applying polyurethane
  • Rag for removing excess stain

Equipment Used

  • Table saw for cutting the plywood shelves
  • Miter saw for cutting everything else
  • Palm sander
  • Kreg Jig for making pocket holes
  • Power Drill
  • Nail gun - optional
  • Clamps if not using nails

Other Helpful Items

  • Face mask
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye protectors
  • Felt furniture pads for the feet

Cut List (for one bookshelf)

  • Rear vertical leg supports, 2 x 3, 2 at 76"
  • Front vertical leg supports, 2 x 3, 2 at 76 11/16", cut at 8 degree angle
  • Top horizontal side support, 2 x 3, 2 1/16" along longest edge, one end cut at 8 degree angle
  • Bottom horizontal side support, 2 x 3, 11 15/16" along longest edge, one end cut at 8 degree angle
  • Shelf supports, 1 x 2, 10 2 foot long sections
  • Shelf 1 (top), plywood, 7 3/8" x 24"
  • Shelf 2, plywood, 9 3/4" x 24"
  • Shelf 3, plywood, 11 3/4" x 24"
  • Shelf 4, plywood, 14" x 24"
  • Shelf 5 (bottom), plywood, 16 1/4" x 24"

How To

Written steps are below but make sure to watch our YouTube video for visuals.

We started with general measurements to figure out how much wood we needed to buy. We knew the dimensions from the C&B website (76” tall, 30” wide, 17” deep), but we had to modify the dimensions to fit our space - between the corner wall and the fireplace, which was smaller than 30” wide. We figured out (more like guesstimated) an approximate angle of 8 degrees, and once we had that, adjusted the depth of each shelf and the specific heights that we wanted.

Cutting the Legs and Supports

  1. We started by cutting the 2x3s for the rear vertical leg supports because we knew how tall we wanted the bookshelf to be.
  2. For the front legs, we cut one end of the 2x3s at a 8 degree angle, which would be the bottom that rests on the floor.
  3. We knew how deep we wanted the top and bottoms to be, so we cut the horizontal side supports for both the top and bottom using the same 2x3s, making sure the front ends were cut at 8 degrees to accommodate for the angled front legs. The bottom side support was cut to be 1 inch off of the floor. 
  4. We laid down the pieces, arranged them the way we wanted it to look, marked where the top of the front leg should be cut off so that the top would be flush. 
  5. We measured and cut the 1x2s to span the width of each shelf, as these would be the supports that the shelves would rest on. Then we drilled 2 pocket holes on each end using the Kreg Jig.

Assembling the Legs

  1. First, we drilled pocket holes using a Kreg Jig into the underside of the bottom side supports.
  2. Then we screwed each bottom side support into the vertical legs using the pocket hole screws.
  3. For the top side support, we drilled a countersunk hole at the top so that we could screw that piece into the front leg.
  4. Then we set the back leg in place and used a longer screw (we used 3-1/8" star-drive wood fasteners) to screw the back into the top side support. It's important to note that the longer screw is towards the bottom of the top side support piece since the countersunk screw to attach the same piece to the front leg is at the top.

Cutting the Shelves

  1. Once the legs and supports were assembled, we determined how high we wanted each shelf to be. Then we marked where the top of each shelf should be on the back leg, and from there measured the depth of each shelf.
  2. The plywood was then cut into the dimensions required for each shelf.
  3. Then each shelf had to be sanded.

Attaching the shelves to the legs

  1. With the first assembled leg + support piece laid down on the ground, we propped up each shelf perpendicular to the legs, used the speed square to make sure it wasn’t crooked, and then set the 1x2 braces below the shelf and screwed them in using pocket hole screws.
  2. Once all the 1x2s were screwed in, we set the other leg + support piece down next to the assembled piece, flipped over the first one, and marked the second leg to mirror the markings we made in the first leg. We could have just marked both legs at the same time, but we were figuring out how to assemble this thing as we were making it. Remember, plans optional = winging it.
  3. Then we repeated step 1 – used the speed square to make sure the shelves were perfectly square and screwed in each 1x2 brace with pocket hole screws.
  4. Once all 1x2 braces were screwed in, we set the bookshelf upright and spread the wood glue along the tops of each 1x2 and set the shelves in. Then we clamped them down to ensure the wood glue adhered the shelves to the 1x2s. (Note: you can use nails here instead, but our shelves ended up fitting so snugly that we had a hard time getting them on and off once the legs and braces were all assembled that we knew the shelves would be totally fine with wood glue and some clamps.)

Finishing

  1. Now the fun part! Once the wood glue was dry, we brushed on a coat of wood stain, then used a dust-free rag to wipe off any excess stain. When the excess stain is wiped off and the grain of the wood shines through, it is seriously one of the most beautiful things we’ve ever seen. We let the stain dry according to the directions written on the can.
  2. Once the stain dried, we brushed on a coat of polyurethane. You don’t want the layer of polyurethane to be too thick or too thin, and make sure there isn’t any debris. Do at least 2 coats (3 is ideal), and let each coat dry according to the directions written on the can.
  3. Polyurethane usually takes several days to fully cure, depending on the temperature and humidity of your work area.
  4. Once it’s cured, bring it inside and decorate with your favorite décor items! For tips on how to style your bookshelf, I’ve found these videos to be helpful:

Some tips for our fellow DIYers:

  • Sanding is seriously annoying. The dust gets everywhere, so make sure you wear a mask (ear plugs don’t hurt either), and also cover up all the stuff you have stored in your work area, especially if you’re working in a garage like us.
  • Pocket holes can be your best friend. Invest in a Kreg jig to be able to make pretty things and not have screws and nails showing. If you’ve never heard of pocket holes, check out Ana White's nifty video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrIFHMEPkXs
  • Be consistent with your cuts and try to get everything as square as possible. Once we finished assembly, there was a slight wobble but we were able to attach felt furniture pads to the bottom of the feet which solved the issue.