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Dean Johnson

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Kitchen Cabinets & Lighting

Often the most expensive room in the house to remodel is the kitchen -- and our addition was no exception. We spent the majority of our budget on custom-made kitchen cabinets. To complement the cabinets and provide working light, we also used a combination of lighting fixtures in strategic areas of the kitchen.

Cabinet Layout & Costs

img Once the walls and ceiling were done, we moved on to the kitchen cabinets. We chose solid maple with a clear finish for the doors, drawers and face frames. And we upgraded to plywood (rather than particleboard) for the cabinet sides.

imgThe cabinets, along with all the finish pieces and accessories, came to about $10,000. That included a little more than $1,000 in upgrades.

The manufacturer came up with these two layouts after talking with us several times about our ideas and getting our dimensions. A few things ended up being different from this drawing -- like cabinet doors, the window, and the appliances were black instead of white.

Main Area


Rear Wall

imgCorner Cabinet Options

img We put the corner cabinet in first because it's almost impossible to place the other cabinets first and leave just enough room for the corner one. If you get the corners in right, the rest fall in line pretty easily.

One of the corner treatments for our upper cabinets was called a blind corner cabinet. This cabinet has two openings, but is designed to have one of them covered up by the cabinet coming in from the other wall.

Our corner cabinet came with the flexibility of extending from 36" to 39" away from the wall, depending on our plan.


Usually when you use a blind corner cabinet, you have to put a filler strip along the edge of the cabinet that butts into it. The filler strip, in this case, helps to visually balance the wide piece of wood on the corner cabinet. In most cases, a filler strip is used to give enough clearance between cabinets; this way the doors and drawers don't bump or scrape into the cabinets.

imgIn the other corner of our kitchen we had special corner cabinets for both the uppers and bases. This type goes all the way into the corner and makes the best use of the space, although sometimes it's hard to reach things in a corner cabinet.

Some people use a "lazy susan" option in these cabinets. We put a spinning rack in our base cabinet with three cans for recycling.


Full Height Cabinets

imgOn the wall leading out of the kitchen we have two full height and full depth cabinets. We wanted shelves in one to serve as a pantry, but it's hard to make good use out of this space because the cabinet is so deep.

Instead of shelves, we opted for sliding drawers so we could pull them out and make use of all of the space.

The manufacturer sent along brackets that we could put wherever we wanted. Rails fit into the brackets and then the drawers went in.


Trimming Cabinet Tops

img If you have soffits in your kitchen, the cabinets usually butt right up to them. But if you don't have soffits, it's nice to dress up the top edge with some type of trim.

We ordered two types of trim pieces for along the top of our cabinets. The first was a 3/4" thick piece with a bevel along the edge. To secure it to the cabinets, we had to add a couple pieces of backer along the top.

The second piece of trim was a 3/4" piece of crown that went along the top and covered the backer.



Cabinet Shelves

img We worked a couple of interesting spaces into our cabinet design. One of these was a little area of open shelving in the middle of the uppers.

imgFor this we put a valance across the top between two upper cabinets. Then we put a "skin" along the drywall in the back. A skin is also called a finished panel; it's a piece of 1/4" plywood with a prefinished veneer that matches the cabinets.

Then we took two prefinished maple shelves and used one to create a top for the area, and one as a shelf in the middle.

We also have a special baking area. where we installed a lower base cabinet that we're hoping to put a butcherblock on. Above it is a cookbook shelf made of extra shelf pieces.


Three Types of Kitchen Lighting

img There are three types of kitchen lighting that you'll hear designers talk about and we used each type in the kitchen addition:

  1. General Lighting
  2. Task Lighting
  3. Accent Lighting

For our general lighting we installed five recessed cans in the ceiling.

For our task lighting we put in five mini fluorescent undercabinet lights. These put light on the countertop and range work areas. Each light has an individual switch on them, except the one over the range which has a wall switch.

imgAccent lighting is usually used for a decorative effect. We put two little halogen lights inside our cabinets with the glass doors. They'll shine down and highlight things inside the cabinet, like some crystal or china. The transformer sits on top of the cabinets and the low voltage wires run through small holes in the cabinet tops.


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