Happy End of Summer!
The kids are about to go back to school (here in the PNW, they still start after Labor Day) and summer is winding down. That said, we barely used our back porch this summer, mostly because it was always a mess. That bums me out because I love having the outdoor space and in the past, we’ve eaten quite a few dinners out there when it’s dry. I finally decided to whip it in to shape last week as I struggled to make it look nice before my parents came for a visit. Here’s what I created (and below, I’ll share the journey):
Time: 5 Days Cost: $250 Difficulty: Medium
Now let’s back up the truck a bit. It occurred to me to stop and take a picture about halfway through the process of clearing this wall. This is where backyard stuff gets stashed because no matter how much our patio roof leaks (and it does, sigh), this area stays pretty dry. So, bearing in mind this is halfway through tidying up, you can imagine how bad it always looked:
To make matters worse, that shoe holder there was visible from the dining and living areas so we were constantly looking at the backs of the pile of shoes. Yuck!!
I measured the space and realized that I could custom build 10+ feet of cabinets along that wall. I was going to build 100% from scratch using scrap lumber and 2x3s for support but upon measuring, realized that standard base cabinets would fit great in the space. I wanted a really uniform, custom look across the front and knew I didn’t want to spend the money on a set of custom cabinets so I headed to my local Habit for Humanity building materials reseller and picked out three base cabinets to suit the space. They were all different and not quite what I wanted but I saw their potential.
The 9 year old and I got right to taking off all the doors that evening.
Next, I cut out a few cross beams, created a new center beam for the middle cabinet (it’s centered based on the entire cabinet unit, not based on the opening which worked out well), paneled the side using tongue and groove cedar planks, and painted that section.
Creating the doors was pretty simple. I used pre-primed 1×2 wood (not MDF, actual wood for this outdoor application) and more of these cedar planks. This is the same product I used for the fireplace surround build.
As you can see, I did a lot of the work in the evenings after the kids went to bed. Lighting isn’t ideal for photos but it’s when I have time to work.
Seeing that I had enough scrap cedar, I measured and cut all the custom pieces to re-face the cabinets. This made them look like one big unit AND gave them a more polished look. It also gave me a better surface to paint. I used my nail gun to attach them then filled each hole, sanded, and prepped the surface for red paint. You’ll likely notice some don’t go all the way to the top edge, that’s because if I’d cut them to the right length, I wouldn’t have had enough full length pieces so I opted to make them all a little short.
I painted the base cabinets red like our front door and shutters and the doors the same grey as our fireplace.
I let them dry over night then put the doors on the next morning. Woohoo!!
I topped the cabinets with some scrap OSB (possibly not the right product for the job but it’s what I had) then to give it extra stability in our damp environment, I screwed down cement board before using tile left over from my bathroom remodel 8 years ago to give the top a durable surface.
The thinset needed two days to fully set so I left it alone until it wasn’t squishy anymore then used the last of the grout powder from the bathroom to grout the tiles just in time for us to put everything away to make our patio useful.
I moved the stick-and-jar hanging chandelier over from above the table (I never really loved it there after I made it) and love it in the new location. I also turned 4 of the old cabinet doors into chalkboards to hang above the new cabinets. The second cabinet from the end now holds our plug-in cooler for entertaining (and secret beer storage, shhhhh). It really all came together nicely in the end and the porch is so much tidier with places for all the shoes, toys, and grilling accessories we had piled along the wall.
Materials I used for this project:
Cedar (home depot)
Cabinets (Habitat for Humanity)