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Dean Johnson

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Built-in Woodwork

img The biggest challenge we faced in this project was to give the addition the same look and feel as the existing house, while using modern materials.

The main reason we built the addition was to expand and update the kitchen, so we didn't want to put the same dark oak cabinets in the new kitchen just to match the rest of the house.

We decided to go with the lighter wood finish in the kitchen to keep it bright and clean-looking, and to match everything else to the existing stained oak trim.

Matching Trim Work

imgIn order to match the elaborate woodwork in the house, and stay within our budget, we had to use a less expensive oak substitute wherever we could.

To mimic the solid 1x6s that were used for the baseboards, we ripped pieces of oak veneer plywood down to a width of 5 1/2". The cap piece and base shoe, that went on after the tile was installed, were also oak veneer.

The trim detail above all the doors and windows would have been impossible to match perfectly unless we had them custom-milled, which was too expensive. We did our best to replicate them instead. Here's what we used for the window trim (from the bottom up):

  • an oak veneer apron
  • a solid oak stool
  • oak veneer casing on the sides
  • for the top (shown on the right), a piece of princeton-style door stop with a quarter inch cut off the back.
  • a wide band of veneer oak with side pieces "wrapped" around the ends.
  • a piece of crown molding that came pretty close to matching the old crown.
  • You do have to be careful of what type of veneer you use. Ours was made from logs that were cut flat so the wood grain looked as if it were a solid strip of oak. Some veneer is cut differently and won't look as real.

    It was difficult deciding what to do with the window trim in the kitchen, since the rest of the trim was a stained oak, but the cabinets were clear maple. We decided to put oak trim in the kitchen, the same as everywhere else, but gave it a clear finish so the color would be closer to the maple.



    Old & New Doors

    img Adding to our already complicated wood scheme, were three different doors from three different sources. One was from the old part of the house, one was new, and one was salvaged from a place in Chicago. And we had to treat each one individually to blend them into our different wood schemes.

    imgFor the powder room we used an oak door that was once between the kitchen and dining room. Since this door was stained like the original house, we had to make the trim around it the same stained color. But we still wanted the trim in the main kitchen to match the cabinet's clear finish.

    The door leading outside was a fiberglass reinforced composite door, which is great for an exterior door because it won't warp or peel like a regular wood door. The surface has a wood grain texture stamped into it.

    We painted the outside to match the siding, and stained the inside to match the oak trim. We used what's called a "gel stain" on it because the surface won't absorb stain like wood. Once it was all done it really looked like wood.

    imgOur French pocket doors came from a salvage company in Chicago. We needed a pretty specific size so we called them up and told them what we were looking for, and they sent us pictures of what they had.

    We ordered the doors and they worked out pretty well, however, they are made of fir which threw another wood type into the mix. We stripped and stained them so the sunroom side matched the oak, and the kitchen side matched the maple.


    Selecting Radiator Covers

    img We ordered oak covers for the cast iron radiators in this house. The cabinetmakers stained them to match the existing woodwork.

    Since the heat from the radiators would cause a solid piece of oak to warp or expand and contract, the large flat top piece is made of medium density fiberboard with an oak veneer. The MDF is a very stable material. The covers are insulated under the top with a piece of reflective insulation board. It directs the heated air out into the room, so it doesn't just rise up.



    Creating Built-in Bookshelves

    imgMost of the houses in our neighborhood had some type of solid oak built-in buffet or bookcase. And we wanted to incorporate that look with our addition to keep it consistent with the style of home.

    Our gas fireplace could have been installed flush to the wall, but we chose to pull it out some so we could give our bookcases that "built-in" look.

    Unfortunately, solid oak isn't as plentiful or affordable as it was 90 years ago. To build our bookcases out of solid oak 1x12s would have cost us about $6 a lineal foot. So to save some money, and still create the look we wanted, we used 4' x 8' sheets of oak veneer plywood and ripped them down to 1x12s to build the bookcases and the mantel.

    Then wherever there was a cut edge of the plywood exposed, we covered it with solid oak. We did this for all the front face edges of the bookshelves and the mantel pieces. So we ended up with the "look" of solid oak without the cost.


    Making a Window Seat

    img We created a window seat using an upper cabinet. Since the cabinet was only 12" deep we couldn't secure it to the wall, so we had to do a little improvising.

    On the right side, we attached a little cleat to the wall and nailed back through the filler strip into it. On the left side, we screwed through the inside of the base cabinet into the filler strip.

    To support the seat itself, we put a nailer along the back. And for the seat, we used some maple veneer plywood.


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