DIY Banquette Kitchen Bench – Finishing Touches

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series DIY Ikea Kitchen Banquette Seating

After adding our spacer panels and putting the doors on the cabinets, we added a few finishing touches.

At this point, the top of our banquette looked like this (we were still missing that door on the end thanks to the damaged piece). We wanted to cover the top of the banquette with some sort of finishing panel for the top.

Top Panels

We purchased two 80 inch Ikea Perfekt panels and put them on top of the benches to get an accurate measure of where to cut them. We wanted a slight bit of overhang on each side, so we took that into account.

We took the panel over to our sawhorses and cut the panels to size.

We put them back on top of the banquette, and we thought it looked great.

We positioned the panels so the cut edges faced the “inside,” and you wouldn’t have to see the raw edges.

Then we screwed the panels from inside the cabinets using very short screws and fender washers for fear of going right through the top of the panel. (Not pictured, sorry).

Toe Kick

Next, we needed to add some sort of toe kick to hide the banquette’s base frame. We decided to use Ikea’s toe kick edging, called the Perfekt Plinth.

We had to cut the plinth to the appropriate length and height. So we took some measurements.

We cut it lengthwide using a miter saw.

Then cut the height using a circular saw.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that cutting Ikea pieces generates an insane amount of sawdust. The plinth was no exception.

You’ll notice that the cut was not the cleanest cut in the world, but since it would be hidden, we didn’t really mind.

We made sure the cut toe kick fit, then we repeated cuts for each of the four toe kick pieces we would need.

Then we placed the toekick, and repeated it for all the edges. We did not attach the toekick to the banquette or frame. Instead, we just created a sturdy “L shape” with the toe kick pieces and placed it around the frame.

We originally hot glued the edges together, but that didn’t work well at all. The glued pieces came apart within about two weeks. Instead, we recommend using something like this to attach the toe kick pieces in an L shape.

We have base moulding as well as shoe moulding (quarter round) in our kitchen. So, using a coping saw, we cut out some pieces of the toe kick so that it would fit flush against the wall.

Top Trim Piece

We don’t have any pictures for this next part. I was out of town for the weekend and Ken was feeling ambitious, so he did this without me around and he forgot to photograph the process!

For a more finished look, we wanted to add a top trim piece, which is pictured here.

He cut another Ikea Perfekt Panel and simply affixed the trim to the wall using Command Mounting Strips. . The trim is not actually attached to the banquette part, but it is directly above it, so the mounting strips really aren’t holding that much weight. It’s mostly to prevent the trim piece from tipping forward.

Future phases?

And that was about it! We took advantage of our new storage and put some items in the bench. In the future, we may try to caulk some of the small seams between some of the more visible pieces, like the two top panels and the top trim pieces, but for right now we’re happy with it as-is.

We also may explore making (or buying) cushions for the banquette. I’m not exactly a seamstress, so it seems pretty overwhelming to make fancy custom size cushions, but I might give it a whirl someday.

There you have it.  All about our DIY Banquette Kitchen Bench Seating we made using Ikea upper cabinets.  We’ll have a few other posts, including a list of some of the key tools we used, as well as an “outtakes” post, which outlines all the things that went wrong during the process.

Spacing our DIY Ikea Banquette Cabinets

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series DIY Ikea Kitchen Banquette Seating

This post will cover some important steps that will made our upper cabinets start to appear more like a single uniform bench!

Spacer Panels and End Panels

We realized that we did not want to put the cabinets flush up against one aother. We had some additional space to fill along the wall (i.e., the cabinets would not, as expected, take up the entire length of the walls. We knew this in advance when we were determining what size cabinets to purchase.

So we wanted to add a little “filler” between the cabinets to add an extra inch of width. Also, the sides of the cabinets themselves are not terribly pretty. In fact, when you’re installing these cabinets as, well, kitchen cabinets and not banquette benches, you add Ikea “Perfect” cover panels to the ends to make the exposed edge of the cabinet more finished and aesthetically pleasing.

Therefore, we wanted to add cover panels to separate the cabinets (I’m calling them spacer panels), as well as cover panels to cover the ends of the cabinets that would be exposed (I’m calling those the end panels).

We purchased two of the Ikea Perfekt Cover Panels for this purpose. We wanted the panels to be 15 inches high (the exact hight of the cabinets), so we had to cut the panels into 15 inch pieces (sorry, we didn’t take pictures of that step! We used a circular saw) Then we just placed the cut panels in their intended spots to ensure that they fit.

Although the cut edges of the panels are unfinished, we didn’t have to paint them or anything, because everything would be covered with another separate top panel (discussed in a future post).

(In the above picture, don’t mind that the side panel goes all the way to the floor. That was something we tried, but it didn’t work, so we eventually cut it shorter to match all the other spacer panels)

When everything looked good, we screwed the cabinets to the side panels! We used fender washers when screwing the cabinet to the panel to avoid the risk of the screw going all the way through the wood.

We clamped the side panel and cabinet together and screwed them together from the inside of the cabinets.

We repeated this for all the spacer panels.

Power Outlet Issues

Our L-shaped banquette would be blocking two power outlets, so we wanted to make sure they weren’t covered. So, just using a drywall saw, we cut holes for the outlets. There are probably a million other tools that would make this cut neater and more efficient, but we already own a drywall saw, so it was readily accessible, and we went with it.

We repeated this for the other outlet as well.

Installing Cabinet Doors

After the spacer panels were screwed together and the holes were cut out for the power outlets, we decided that this would be a good time to install the doors on the cabinets.

If you recall from our Introduction post, we opted for the Ikea Lidingo doors.

But, if you notice, the “corner” cabinet of our L-shaped banquette would be inaccessible and almost entirely hidden.

Since that cabinet would be blocked, so we opted for the smooth (and much MUCH less expensive!) Ikea Harlig Doors. (Which we had already installed in the above picture).

For the rest of our cabinets though, we installed the Lidingo doors. Installing the doors is quick and easy. We just followed the instructions in the package.

Here was the door hardware.

And installing the door hardware.

The doors then snap right into place on the hardware.

We were annoyed because one of the doors that Ikea sold us was damaged and we had to return it, but use your imagination that all of these cabinets had doors.

It’s looking a lot more like a banquette and not just some random cabinets sitting on the floor now!



Building Seating Supports for DIY Banquette

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series DIY Ikea Kitchen Banquette Seating

After we assembled the cabinets that would be used as our banquette, we realized that we wanted to add a little more support. These cabinets are meant to be just that, cabinets, and not necessarily designed to be sitting on. They’re not like lower cabinets that are designed for having heavy granite or marble placed on top of them.

When we sat on the cabinets / bench, we didn’t notice any clear bowing, but something about it didn’t seem quite as solid as we were hoping. We saw some potential for the cabinets to bow after many years of sitting. So we figured we’d just take care of it then and add some supports.

Here is the banquette without supports inside of the cabinets.

And here it is with the supports (note the 2×4’s) in the front (there are also some in the rear, pictured later).

First, we measured the interior height of each cabinet, and had two pieces of 2×4’s (for each cabinet) cut very slightly smaller than that interior height. We then placed them in the cabinet. We placed them different directions to maximimse the storage space inside the cabinets.

We filled in the tiny gap at the top with some shims.

First we pushed them in by hand.

Then took a rubber mallet and gently pounded the shims in more to ensure that the 2×4“ piece was fitted tightly. (We repeated this process for both the front 2×4” piece and the back 2×4″ piece)

Now it was time to secure the 2×4 pieces to the cabinet. We wanted the screw heads to sit flush with the cabinet, and not slightly elevated like when you normally screw something. So we decided on an improvised countersink approach (Here’s a Wikipedia article on countersinking, and a YouTube tutorial on countersinks). We don’t own a countersink bit and didn’t feel like spending the money to buy one. Since the top part of the cabinet / banquette would eventually be covered by a finishing panel, we didn’t need the countersink to look pretty, we just needed it to work (meaning the screw to sit flush).

What Ken did was use a small bit to drill a hole that would fit the screw.

Then we used a ShopVac to clear out a lot of the sawdust. (These Ikea pieces make SO MUCH SAWDUST when you’re cutting them. It’s unreal).

Then we used the larger bit to drill just down just very slightly (not nearly as deep as the first hole we drilled with the smaller bit.)

And then we cleaned up with the ShopVac again

Then it was time to attach the screw.

We used these #12 x 2 1/2 Flat Head Phillips Wood Screws from Home Depot.

After we attached the screws on the top of the cabinet (to both pieces of 2×4’s, we attached them on the bottom of the cabinet as well, using the same countersink approach.

Then that was it! We put the cabinets back in their intended location in the kitchen. When we sat on them, they felt much sturdier!

The pieces of 2×4 do cut into the storage space a little bit inside the cabinet, but it has not been a major annoyance. It is still a HUGE gain in the amount of storage!

In retrospect, I wish we would have painted the 2×4 pieces white before we decided to screw them in there. The unfinished wood is a little unsightly. But since they’re eventually covered by cabinet doors, nobody ever knows!


DIY Kitchen Banquette Bench Seating Using Ikea Cabinets

Building a Frame for a DIY Banquette

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series DIY Ikea Kitchen Banquette Seating


Last week I gave an introduction to how our DIY kitchen banquette that we built using Ikea kitchen cabinets.

After assembling the cabinets and making sure they fit properly in our space, we needed to build a frame for the cabinets to sit on. Unfortunately, you can’t just put the cabinets right on the floor for a few reasons.

1) If you’re building a banquette, you probably want to take advantage of the new storage space inside those cabinets. If the cabinets sit right on the floor, the cabinet doors will scrape the floor every time you open them.

2) Like it or not, the floors in your house are probably not level, so you need some sort of mechanism to level the banquette cabinets, otherwise they’ll wobble.

3) The cabinets alone, at 15 inches high, are a little low for the normal seating bench height of about 17–18 inches. So you need something to prop them up higher.

As I mentioned in the introductory post, we’re not uber DIY people. In fact, this project was the first time we had used tools like a circular saw and miter saw. Scary stuff. So, perhaps it was to our benefit that we wanted to make this frame as simple as humanly possible.

So, this is what the finished frame will look like.

We actually had the folks at Home Depot cut several pieces of this wood to the sizes we needed, minimizing our use of saws at home. Since we don’t have a garage or other dedicated workspace (including outdoors since we only have a very small yard), getting the wood cut right at Home Depot was helpful in cutting down on all the sawdust we had accumulating in our living room and finished basement!

You’ll want the overall size of your frame to be a little smaller than the base of your cabinets. If you’re using multiple cabinets side-by-side, you’ll just need one framed base. Since our banquette was an L-shape using four separate cabinets (two cabinets on each side of the L), we built two frames.

The shape of the frame was a basic rectangle with two small-ish “spacer” pieces of wood to keep the frame away from the wall.

So, we assembled the wood using just a drill, some screws, and a clamp that helped keep the wood together and steady while screwing it together. We had everything set up on two saw horses that we covered with a largish piece of MDF that we purchased from Home Depot.

Don’t mind the mess

Here are some photos of our very basic assembly process.

Screwing the pieces of the “rectangle” together (repeated for each side for each frame).

Then screwing the smaller “spacer” pieces on one end of the rectangle:

Now comes the all important part of the frame – the elements you’ll need to ensure that the frame is level when it is sitting on the floor. We went through a LOT of trial and error with this process. A LOT. Shims, little “feet” that are used for lower Ikea cabinets (even though ours are upper cabinets and not meant to have feet attached), and probably several other failed widgets that I’m blocking from my memory at the moment.

Trust me. What I’m about to described worked the best and was so simple and quick once we figured it out.

You’ll want several packages of T-nuts:

And an equal amount of these Threaded Stem Glides … or as I liked to call them … “Feet.”

We used twelve Feet on each frame (four on each of the longer sides and two on each of the shorter sides). How many you’ll need will depend on the size of your frame. There is no exact science to figuring it out, but we just wanted ours fairly evenly spaced apart, so we just took a guess and figured twelve would be best.

First, pre-drill some holes in the frame at the location you want the little feet.

Then, using a rubber mallet, pound the T-Nuts into the holes.

Now, the Threaded Stem Glides (feet) can be screwed in easily by hand into the T-nuts.

Repeat this for all the holes that you made.

Once all of the feet have been screwed into the T-nuts, it’s time to take your frame to its intended location and tinker with the feet until the entire frame is level on the floor.

This will require screwing (or unscrewing) the Threaded Stem Glides (feet) to adjust their height.

And keep making adjustments until everything is level

Then go ahead and put the cabinets on top of the frame and make any additional adjustments as necessary, making sure the cabinets are now level.

And there you have it! You’ve just successfully built your frame for your Ikea Banquette!

In the next post well explain how we added supports to the cabinets to make them sturdier for sitting!

DIY Kitchen Seating Banquette Bench from Ikea Cabinets

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series DIY Ikea Kitchen Banquette Seating

When we were in the process of planning our kitchen renovation, we struggled with what we wanted to do with this corner.

Presumably, it should be an eat-in area, but we had a nice dining setup in our living room area. We tinkered with a few ideas for the corner, including a desk area, some sort of high countertop bar seating, and a banquette. But we were being very indecisive. So we decided to just renovate the main “galley” area of our kitchen and then we could always revisit the nook in the future.

About nine months after the kitchen renovation concluded, we decided that a banquette would really be ideal for a couple of reasons.

  • Now that our kitchen wasn’t a poorly lit and terribly depressing space, we wanted to eat in the kitchen! We had moved our dining furniture into that nook right after the renovation was done.
  • We enjoyed eating in there and quickly took advantage of the reclaimed space in our living room by installing some floor to ceiling bookshelves that have a lovely built-in look. However, our dining furniture was not working out in the new kitchen, aesthetically and functionally. It took up too much space, and the buffet, which I loved having when it was in the living room suddenly no longer worked. We’d have to move the table to access anything in the buffet, and we weren’t able to access one side of it at all because it was butted up against the wall.
  • We realized that a banquette would really maximize space. We could easily seat six people on the L-shaped banquette benches, plus three chairs on the other side. Seating nine people any other way in that space, such as through the use of chairs alone, would be very impractical.
  • Although we had plenty of kitchen storage now thanks to our renovation, we could create even more storage by having the banquette seating double as low cabinets.

We are not uber-DIY people, but we can hold our own on some things. We are more “Let’s hire a contractor who knows what he’s doing!” type of people than we are, “Hey, let’s DIY this!” We’re typically tired on weekday evenings, and we don’t like spending multiple weekends in a row on a single project.

We checked out a few tutorials and realized that building the banquette actually would probably be a bit more “DIY” than we’re used to. We knew we could use Ikea upper cabinets as the banquette “benches,” but there was some sort of framing required beneath the cabinets. Why? Because if the cabinets just sit on the floor, you can’t open the cabinet door. Instead, the cabinet door would hit and scrape the floor any time you wanted to open the cabinet. We didn’t know anything about building any sort of framing. But, we decided to proceed with DIY-ing it. We actually had a lot of the tools that would be required and we figured if we messed it up too much, we could just hire our original Ikea contractor that installed our kitchen to finish the banquette job.

All told, we spent $652 on this job, not including some various tools and screws we had to buy along the way.

This tutorial will be presented in multiple parts and we’ll talk about what worked for us (and what didn’t work) during the process. But here are some quick and dirty steps.

  • Take measurements of your space. Drawing out your plans would be very helpful. Ikea kitchen cabinets only come in certain sizes, so you may have to accept that the benches do not fit perfecftly in your space. In our case, there’s about one inch of empty space along one wall, and about three inches on the other wall.
  • You’ll want to buy the Akurum Wall Top Cabinet frames that are 15 inches high. We oped for the 24 inch depth because our space could accomodate it. But, everyone’s cabinet quantity and width of those quantities will vary. For our space we needed
  • Two 30w x 15h x 24d (29 7/8 “ x 15 1/4 ” x 24 1/8 “) Akurum cabinets in White
  • Two 36w x 15h x 24d (35 7/8 “ x 15 1/4 ” x 24 1/8 “) Akurum cabinets in White

That combination of cabinets would best fit the L-shaped bench we wanted to build in our kitchen.

  • Pick out a door style. Ikea has TONS of door styles. We weren’t sure what style we wanted, so on our first shopping trip for the banquette, we purchased three different styles, with the intention of returning the ones we didn’t like. We purchased Lidingo (which would match our existing Ikea kitchen cabinet doors), the Harlig, and the Abstrakt. Ultimately we decided on the Lidingo.
  • Some pieces of 2“x3” wood at Home Depot / Lowes, or other home improvement store. This will be used for the frame of the banquette. We tinkered with these dimensions SO much. 2“x4” wood made the bench too high for normal height people to sit on. 1“x3” wood wasn’t quite even enough. So the 2“x3” wood worked perfectly.
  • Some pieces of 2“x4” wood to build some extra supports inside the cabinets. This is optional, but highly recommended. Since these cabinets aren’t necessarily meant to be sat on, we added some support in the middle of the cabinets to prevent any bowing.
  • Everything else can be purchased as you go along. But these are the things you’ll need to get started. We’ll talk about our other tools and parts we used as the tutorial progresses.

I would like to point out that Ikea has a very generous return and exchange policy. So, if you’re not sure about something, buy it and you can always return it later. They even take back damaged items (even when it was due to our own carelessness). So, don’t be too scared to take on this project.

After buying those pieces, take a day to rest. Have a beer. Or several. Those Ikea kitchen parts are REALLY heavy when you’re carrying them from your car into the house.

Then, when you’re ready to make a mess in your living room, assemble the cabinets according to the instructions.

Then, temporarily place them in your desired spot to confirm that the dimensions work in the space. We’ll talk more about building the “frame” for the cabinets in our next tutorial.

Then, take a step back, admire your work, and take another break. Because, let’s face it, carrying those assembled cabinets from your living room to your kitchen was not only heavy, it was very awkward to carry them!


Part 2: Building a Frame for your Banquette