My 3 Monsters: What to Do With an Exposed Cabinet Back

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What to Do With an Exposed Cabinet Back

Let me give you a little background on the project I want to share with you today.  Our house has a very small galley kitchen that is separated from the dining room by a peninsula with a bank of cabinets above it.  I have a real love/hate relationship with that peninsula.  I love that I can stand at my sink and see out into the dining room, and heaven knows I need the storage area those cabinets provide.  I hate that from my dining room I can see the back of those upper cabinets.  It has always seemed so  . . . blah and unfinished and closed-in to me. 

Here's the best Before picture I could find to show you what I'm talking about:

Create a Chicken Wire Memo Board on the back of your kitchen cabinets at /
Almost from the first day we moved into this house ten years ago, what I REALLY want to do was remove those cabinets and the soffit above them to open the space up a bit and use the cabinets to build a banquette in the dining room like I imagined here in Photoshop:

Create a Chicken Wire Memo Board on the back of your kitchen cabinets at /
That is still the long-term plan, but I needed an "In the Mean Time" plan. I knew that I wanted to do something with the back of those cabinets that would serve a purpose and be decorative.  I had considered chalkboard paint, but then I painted my chalk wall so that was out.  Then I thought about some kind of magnetic surface.  When I added the chicken wire to my kitchen cabinet doors, I knew I wanted to make the back of those cabinets into a giant chicken wire memo board to tie those two spaces together.  Yes, it took me ten years to make the simplest decision and actually act on it.  Whatever.

2014 is going to be my year of DOING, rather than WISHING.  I'ma get some stuff done y'all!  Starting with those dumb cabinets.  Here's the silliest part of it all -- it was so stinkin' easy!  This is what we're going to end up with:

Create a Chicken Wire Memo Board on the back of your kitchen cabinets at /
Here's what you'll need to complete this project:

a roll of chicken wire
wire cutters
staple gun
miter saw
casement moulding {enough to frame out the area}
1" finishing nails and hammer -or- nail gun
nail setter
wood filler
paintable caulk
fine grit sandpaper
a friend to help hold things in place while you staple and nail

That seems like a lot of things, but it only took me about an hour {plus drying time} to complete this project and I have only basic woodworking skills. Begin by cutting a piece of chicken wire to fit the cabinet area.  Use your wire cutters and snip, snip, snip away until you get all the little wires cut.  There was a thin piece of flat moulding all the way around the edges of my cabinet back.  I stapled and nailed into that so that things would hold firmly and I wouldn't have nails protruding into my cabinets.  Using your staple gun, attach the chicken wire to the back of the cabinets on all four edges.

Next, we'll cover up all the staples and rough edges of the chicken wire with a frame made out of the casement moulding {aka casing}.  Casing is usually thicker on one long edge and thinner on the other.  

Create a Chicken Wire Memo Board on the back of your kitchen cabinets at / 

We want the thicker edge to be toward the outside of the frame and the thinner edge to be on the inside.  Start with the top edge of the cabinets and measure the length from wall to wall. Miter one end of the piece of casing with the back of the moulding piece laying flat on the bed of the saw.  Measure along the thicker edge and mark the correct length, then miter the other end in the opposite direction.

Create a Chicken Wire Memo Board on the back of your kitchen cabinets at /

Attach the moulding to the cabinet back using the small finishing nails.  The edge of the chicken wire will be sandwiched between the cabinet back and the moulding.  Use your level to get this piece straight or you will have trouble matching up your corners.  DON'T just assume your cabinets are square and level.  Ask me how I know that . . .  I put a nail in each end of the piece of moulding to hold it in place, then went back and put about 3 nails evenly spaced in between.  

Do the same thing for each side piece and then the bottom piece.  

Use the nail setter to sink the head of each nail below the surface of the moulding.  This will ensure that you have a nice smooth surface with no visible nails when you're done.  Fill all of the nail holes and any gaps on the mitered corners with wood filler and allow to dry.  Sand off excess filler to get a smooth, seamless finish.  

Caulk any gaps between the moulding and the walls and allow the caulk to dry.  Finally, paint the frame your desired color -- I chose white to match the cabinets and other trim in the room, but a different coordinating color would be a cool accent.

Create a Chicken Wire Memo Board on the back of your kitchen cabinets at /
That's it!  It's an easy project to complete with just minimal DIY skills.  It really gives the dining room a more finished feeling and gives me another place to add some color and decorative accents in that space to make it feel a little more special.  I'll show you some fun things that I plan to do with my new display space in the weeks to come! 

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