Kitchen Before & After: A Hand-Built Shelving Unit Fills a Blank Kitchen Wall

Reader Kitchen Project

Pin it button big

Catharine, an architect, and Jonathan, a industrial designer, live in a one-bedroom, 550-square-foot apartment in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood. When they moved in, they decided that everything in their apartment had to be either handmade or free. "While we do have one or two things we bought (like an IKEA shelf for $15), most of the furniture is either handmade, a street find, or a hand-me-down," says Catharine. "Not only have we saved money, but the apartment is specialized for and by us."

The kitchen shelving unit you're about to see is the result of this commitment to handmade. No more empty, unused wall space! See what this stretch of wall looks like now:

Pin it button big

Fun, colorful, but still functional! Here's a little more about the project, in Catharine's words:

Featured here is a shelving unit above a fold-up table in the kitchen, which stores our plates and glassware, giving us more cabinet space for food goods. The piece is supposed to be playful and functional — it follows the line of the chalkboard (painted on the wall) and is placed high enough on the wall to allow the table to fold-up (a feature useful for floor cleaning and larger parties).

We use the top shelf to hold some oddities found on the street (an old fashioned coffee grinder, which we retouched using brown shoe polish to restore its rich wooden color) and some less-used pieces (platter, large bowls and pots). As a way to relate all the hand-built elements in our kitchen to each other, the corners of all the objects share similarly filleted edges.

Pin it button big

So how did they do it? With the help of a jigsaw, drill, and table saw:

The shelf is made of 1/2" Birch plywood (the long planks), 1/4” MDF (shelf backing), 3/4” oak veneer plywood (the short vertical walls) — where there is color, those surfaces were finished with spray paint. The fold-up table is made of 3/4” birch ply, finished with Tung Oil and is supported by a diagonally cut 4X4 which is pinned to the wall using bolts and butterfly anchors.

Thanks so much for sharing, Catharine!

Have a kitchen tip, project, or renovation you'd like to show off? Every week we feature a reader kitchen project, and we're always looking for submissions. To submit your own project, follow the instructions in this post and you could see it end up here on The Kitchn.

* See more home Before & After surprises at Apartment Therapy! *

(Image credits: Catharine P. via The Kitchn's submission form)