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!

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Part 2: Building a Frame for your Banquette

Celebrating One Year of our New Kitchen!

It’s pretty darn hard to believe that it’s been a year since our kitchen renovation wrapped up.  We spent almost a year planning and designing the kitchen, including about five months of slowly buying appliances when they went on sale, leveraging shopping portal bonuses for points and miles all along the way.

We purchased our kitchen cabinets at Ikea.  When you search the internet about Ikea kitchen cabinets, you’ll find a lot of haters.  “They’re not real wood,” “They’re not custom” and things like that.  But, here’s what we had to say to that.  We LOVE our Ikea Kitchen.  Even a year later, I have not a single complaint about anything we purchased from there.  (And for the record, the cabinet doors are real wood!)

I think even if I won the jackpot tomorrow and could spend any amount of money for kitchen cabinets in a brand new home, I’d still choose Ikea cabinets.  Everything is so durable and customizable, easy to clean, and very stylish with countless options to choose.  And no, I’m not a paid spokesperson for Ikea.  We just love our cabinets.

I thought I’d start with the begin before and after “reveal” to get you all sucked in.  Then, over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll talk about our kitchen renovation in detail, including tips for designing an Ikea kitchen, pros and cons of DIYing the cabinets vs. hiring a contractor, the cost of our entire kitchen renovation, and some of our best (and worst) decisions.  (Spoiler alert: we only have one regret … not splurging on a french door refrigerator and buying a side-by-side one instead.  So cramped!).

 

Before: View from the Hallway

Eat-in area of kitchen before. We never actually ate in here though, because it was always just too depressing of a space. So we had a separate dining room table in our living room/dining room combo area and just used it for bike storage!

Kitchen entry from hallway before

Another view of a lot of the wasted space in our kitchen

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AFTER: View from the Hallway 

Such a transformation!  Please don’t mind the broken and hideous venetian blind.  We recently changed that to curtains!  We also added a spot for a light fixture, and moved the light fixture from our living / dining room into here.  Eat-in area of the kitchen after. We moved the fridge to this end, and extended cabinets all the way down the wall, what was previously completely wasted space. Also installed new black hardwood floors in the kitchen and the foyer area of the house.  We considered removing framing in the sliding glass door to just have a large window, but since live in an HOA community, we couldn’t change the exterior that dramatically.

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BEFORE: Looking down our galley style kitchen 

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After:

Looking down our galley style kitchen.  Kitchen area after. We now have a separate cooktop and moved it to a new space in the kitchen. We also finally have ventilation! Our old kitchen had NO fans, no hood, no ventilation whatsoever. If we burned food, we’d smell it for days

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BEFORE: View towards the Hallway / Dining Nook

Strangely enough, we never ate in here.  This dining room table set was a hand-me-down from my family that I used in my old apartments.  Our “real” dining room set was in our combined living / dining area.

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Closet areas with awful and non-functional (disfunctional) bifold doors that made it impossible to reach into the far right side of the closet.   

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After: View towards the Hallway / Dining nook

After the renovtion, when our kitchen was no longer such a depressing space, we moved the dining room set in here. It didn’t match all that great and it was a bit large for the space, but we did something about that just a few months ago that I’ll be blogging about soon! We also removed the hideous bifold doors to the pantry closet. We’re still deciding what types of doors to put on the closet.

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(Okay, I think you guys get the BEFORE and AFTER gist now)

Looking down the kitchen galley. (and the dining room table we moved to the eat-in area

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View of the kitchen before

 

View of kitchen after. Newly extended countertops and cabinets on the left, and a double oven where the fridge used to be. Also so happy to be rid of the old ugly fluorescent lighting. We love how much taller our upper cabinets are in the new kitchen. These old ones were terrible. They should have been 8 inches closer to the lower cabinets (according to today’s standards), and they didn’t even come close to extending to the ceiling. So we have so much more upper cabinet storage space now!

   

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Closer view of the kitchen area, including the double oven and microwave

Closer view of the kitchen area, including the double oven and microwave 

View of the kitchen (before) from the other direction

View of the kitchen (before) from the other direction

View of the kitchen after. Nice new double sink and a touch faucet. The dishwasher was the only appliance to stay in the same place.

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Old stove, oven, and dishwasher. It was so gross because there were gaps between the stove and countertop and the stove and the wall. So food crumbs were always falling into the cracks.

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View of the new cooktop. No gaps for food to fall into! We also converted it from electric to gas.

 

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And just a few more afters for good measure!

 

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More photos of the kitchen after