Two Projects Customize a Kitchen
A spice shelf and a decorative steam-bent dish rack improve the looks and the utility of any kitchen.
Synopsis: A cabinetmaker shows how a spice shelf with dovetailed drawers and a steam-bent dish rack spruced up a kitchen.
Don’t take this the wrong way, but odds are good that your kitchen could use a little spicing up. I’m not talking about anything major like a complete overhaul, or anything as minor as a new set of knobs and pulls. No, I’m thinking of something in the middle. Something that takes a moderate amount of work but that yields a clear improvement both in looks and in function.
As a custom cabinetmaker, I see a lot of kitchens, and most have become monotonous runs of cabinet doors and drawer fronts in order to squeeze out all available space. I grapple with such issues in almost every kitchen I design and build, so I came up with a couple of useful fixtures that would perform a task, add a little bit of dimension to the kitchen and be fun to look at.
Thanks to downdraft range vents and whole-house ventilation systems, range hoods can be eliminated from a lot of kitchens. So to take advantage of that space wherever possible, I eliminate the range hood from my designs to give the kitchen a more open look.
In place of the range hood, I designed a shallow, open shelf unit to display plates or useful cooking items. Somewhere within the unit I install small dovetailed drawers that not only show a high degree of craftsmanship but also hold spices, recipes, teas or anything else that needs to be convenient to the stove. The shelves are open and decorative, so I build them of solid wood.
I install this unit over 30-in. ranges, which means the width of the unit is 30 in. The height of the unit can vary, rising above or falling below the horizontal lines of the upper cabinetry, or blending with the cabinetry through the use of custom molding. Ordinarily, I use two shelves and make the four equally spaced spice drawers 3 3/4 in. high by 6 9/16 in. wide. I keep the maximum depth of the unit a shallow 6 in. so that the drawers and the shelving don’t interfere with the operation of the cooktop.
The joint I use to connect the shelves to the sides depends on where the shelf will be installed. For example, if the unit will sit alone, I dovetail the four corners of the carcase and dowel the shelves and vertical divisions for the drawers. If cabinetry will flank the unit, I simply drill holes with a countersink bit and screw it together with drywall screws. Should price be a factor and the sides be exposed, I drill, countersink, screw and then plug the holes.
Regardless of construction technique, building this shelf unit with spice drawers is a simple way to enliven a kitchen.
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