My cousin and his fiance recently moved into a new house that has a good size bathroom, but was lacking storage space for towels and toiletries. They came to us with an idea of either a bench or shelf that could hold storage baskets to help keep everything organized. First of all, I was thrilled that they even thought of us, and second, as soon as Dan saw the space, he was filled with ideas for how best to use it.
Each project we work on is unique and fun in it’s own way. This one was especially fun because it involved family and gave Dan creative liberty to make just about anything he wanted to fit the space.
Because the bathroom was long and narrow, Dan used a short bookcase as inspiration, and modified the design to best fit the space. The design would include two shelves plus a finished top that would overhang on all four sides. The front would be open, and the three sides would be framed and contain a fun, inset feature. The legs would run from top to bottom, tapering off at the bottom to add another fun element to the design.
Here were a few shots for inspiration, taking design elements from each and then making it completely our own.
Get to work
First things first, Dan had to build the frame. Because the legs would run continuously from top to bottom, and the sides would have an inset feature, he was able to build the entire shell of the cabinet in one go-round using 1×2 select pine wood. This was also the point where he tapered off the bottom of the legs, adding detail while simultaneously adding function to the cabinet.
With the frame built, he could now move on to enclosing the three sides by adding ¼ plywood to the inside of each frame. This is what gives you the inset picture-frame look and adds a fun design element to the cabinet. Dan then built in the actual shelves themselves. The 1×2 pine framing runs across the front of the cabinet as well, providing stability and giving the illusion of thicker shelves.
The final step of the build phase was to create the top. For this part, Dan got creative and used biscuit joints to combine three separate pieces of wood – 2 pieces of 1×8 wood, centered by a feature strip of 1×4 wood down the middle. By using two different types of wood for the top, the hope is that the stain we use will bring out different color and grain in each piece, making for another unique feature of this cabinet. With the top piece hanging off the edge by an inch on all sides, Dan used his router to round out the edges, giving it a more finished look.
With the hard part done, it was time for me to swoop in and bring this storage cabinet to life. I gave my cousins a few stain options, and was so happy when they decided on MinWax Honey. Mostly because I feel that it highlights wood grain the best, making it my favorite stain color.
And while staining usually makes the biggest transformation of a piece, I have to say that adding the semi-gloss poly to this cabinet really made the inset features and mixture of wood types on the top piece stand out the most.
Building this storage cabinet allowed us to let the creativity flow and once again turn a pile of wood into something both functional and fun. And it made it that much more exciting knowing that our family trusts us enough to build something to help make their new house a home.