Admittedly (and not surprisingly) I own a lot of books and with publishers continually sending me new books to read and review I needed a spot to house my 'paper babies' as well as have a spot to decorate with some personal items. Mama needed a LOT of sturdy shelving because books be heavy. We could have gone to a box store or IKEA for options but we decided to go the custom route. It's a big expense but something that we were adamant that we wanted for the feel of our space, amount of storage we needed, quality and the increased value for our overall house.
We didn't look around much for a cabinet maker. We initially went to one local guy (he did our kitchen cabinets in our current house) but he didn't even bother to call us back for 2 weeks. Not cool or professional. So we went to the kitchen designer we had used at our previous house who had designed our beautiful cherry kitchen. Their quality and workmanship was outstanding. Like in the past we were able to plan everything out with the designer to ensure that we got something that would suit our needs and fit our space like a glove. She also gave us some great tips and design ideas which took the cabinets (especially our wine rack) to over-the-top gorgeous.
The designer told us that since we were painting our cabinets she suggested we use MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard). Say wha? If we're paying a LOT of money for these cabinets I wanted real wood. But as she explained real wood can warp but MDF doesn't and paints like a dream. No knot holes, no odd grain just beautifully flat surfaces. After seeing the finished product I'm a firm believer in the MDF cabinets/doors.
So what cabinetry did we get? Let's start with the bar, shall we?
As I showed you in my first basement renovation blog post, we opted for more of a wet bar feel. In the picture below you can see our bar area that is at the back of our media room. We planned a wet bar because A) walk around bars take up a LOT of floor space, B) we didn't want people sitting at a bar with their backs to the rest of the room and C) because it suited our style.
We were happy to go the custom route for cabinetry for one very good reason. This bar area is directly under our laundry room on the first floor so there's a slightly lower head room due to plumbing and venting. Using standard store-bought cabinets would cause the upper cabinets to be too close to the counter. Our designer made the uppers slightly shorter (they still have three levels of shelving) and really maximized the space that we had to work with.
As you can see, the cabinets (which we did in a simple Shaker style) fit like a glove and because we went custom they painted them the colour we chose (Sherwin Williams Cityscape 7067). Originally we had wanted to do a tall wine rack beside the fridge (right up to the ceiling) but after talking to our designer (and figuring out that we wouldn't be able to afford to stock such a big wine rack) she came up with the double 'X' shaped wine rack and we love, love, luuurve it. Not only is it more stylish but it can hold small and bigger bottles of wine. Mmmm, wine. The extra fridge at the bar (just out of view) is imperative for this family of five and frequenter of Costco. White isn't my colour of choice for downstairs but it'll do until this one conks out.
With this long bar we now have more than enough counter space (great for serving food/drinks), storage for items that I can't house up in the kitchen, oodles of space for various glasses, chip bowls, napkins, snacks, mixes, my home canning supplies and bevvies of all kinds. Tis a bar keep's dream! All that's left is to do a white subway tile backsplash and perhaps one or two rustic wooden shelves over the sink. Can I tell you how much I love our deep, square bar sink!? So much!
Belly up to the bar, y'all!
Next up was the vanity in our basement powder room. We knew we wanted a 48-inch vanity and looked all over hell's half acre at various box stores. When we looked at the cost of bathroom vanities from these stores it would cost us slightly more to get our cabinetry people to whip up a custom vanity for us while they were building our entertainment unit and bar cabinetry. It was money well spent. The vanity fits perfectly in the space, gives us lots of storage, we know it's well built by a company who will stand behind their work.
One simply cannot have beautiful cabinetry without gorgeous counter tops. We have granite in our kitchen and laminate in the three bathrooms upstairs. In the basement we opted to use laminate counter tops instead of the costly stone options for a few reasons:
- Laminate has come a long way and we could get the look we wanted for a lot less
- By eliminating the laminate back splash we could give it a more expensive look
- Did I mention cost?
With the omission of that back splash piece and the square edges it really modernizes the look and it may even trick you into thinking it's real stone. My sister Jennifer (who is very detailed oriented and knows her way around home decorating) came over to see the basement and asked how we liked the marble in the bathroom. When I started to snicker and told her it was laminate she quickly hightailed it to the bathroom and touched the counter top. Yup, she was surprised and impressed. Laminate has come a loooong way, baby.
|Bathroom Counter Top: Formica - Cararra Bianco (6696-46) We kept the background light for the bathroom|
and love the gray veining to give it a marble feel to it.
|Bar Counter Top: Formica 'Jet Sequoia' 3476. A black background with beautiful gray striping |
gives this counter a very stone-like look.
Last but certainly not least is the entertainment unit which consists of 6 feet of bookshelves/cabinetry on either side of the fireplace. So much storage!! We decided to build our bookshelves really sturdy so they are 2 feet each in length and the height of the shelving can be adjusted. This spacing makes for a LOT of different shelves to decorate which is not my strong suit.
I appreciate bookshelf decor but putting it together was tricky for me. Armed with Pinterest and Google I figured out some tricks from the experts. I persevered and bit by bit, trip by trip to Home Sense and scavenging from my main floor for items I already owned, I think I did a bang up job with my book shelf design. I opted to bring in some of the light teal from the powder room into the main space with some jars and even some of my book choices.
Due to the scavenging, sadly my main floor looks rather plain now with no cute odds and ends. But I'm proud with how the basement shelves have come together with homey things like family pictures, books, glass jars, a little wood, a little metal - I think it looks great.
|We plan to add thin stonework to the front and sides|
of the fireplace. All in due time (says Brad).
|Left-side of entertainment unit.|
|Right-side of entertainment unit|
Also behind the scenes, as I've mentioned before, Brad used conduit piping to run cables out of sight to keep things nice, neat and out of the way. Our network, HDMI cables connecting the laptop, Wii, Steamlink, AppleTV, Blu-Ray, Bell Box etc run through these conduits to the receiver in the right-side cabinet behind our fireplace and up to the TV. The right-side cabinet has similar receptacles and conduits.
Ok, back to the pretty stuff. You can see that the top of our cabinets as well as our mantle are a dark wood to go with the wood grained flooring. Originally we wanted a 'dinged up' rustic look to the wooden top/mantle but the designer said they don't 'do rustic' since it's so subjective. How many hammer and chain dings/divots etc make for a perfect piece? Too hard to determine. We could have opted to do it ourselves or get someone else to do it but it wasn't a deal breaker. We just wanted it done. We can add rustic elements on the shelves.
You may notice that four of the doors are different and appear to have cut outs. Those were done with a purpose. See, we were concerned that the electronics, like the receiver and Wii, that would be housed in the lower cabinets (I did not want them on the shelves!) wouldn't be able to 'speak' to the remotes if the doors were solid.
Soooo, I contacted our designer gal (she must LOVE us by now) and asked her about adding metal radiator insert panels for the doors on either side of the fireplace. It would have function and add some panache and interest to the fairly plain Shaker cabinets. She came back with the idea to get the pattern cut out of MDF and I'm so glad she suggested the switch. It looks awesome and I was able to choose the pattern I wanted! Does it work with the remotes? Um, sort of ... but they look really pretty so I'm happy.
So, that is where we stand for our custom cabinetry. Was it costly? Of course. Was it waaaay costlier than going to a box store? Not as much as you'd think when you add it all up. Does it look like a built-in and fit perfectly in our space? YES! I am so glad we went the custom route. We got exactly what we wanted and had fun working with the design team for something that fits our family and needs in a basement that is already becoming 'the spot' to be in our house.
Next up for home renovation blog posts?
To gas or to plug in? Deciding on a fireplace.
Doors, trim and stone fireplace surround. Will I be collecting old age security before these things get done? How much nagging is too much?
If you'd like to look at some of my earlier basement renovation posts you can find them HERE as well as towards the top of my main page along the black ribbon under my blog's title.