When you’re renting, you can get by with that plain kitchen table from IKEA, but once you’ve purchased your own home you can’t do that anymore. One Imgur user, Midnight XII (we will call him Mark for the purpose of this story), thought just that, when he finally decided to ditch his lame kitchen table for something far more functional, not to mention unique.
It Started With A Problem
With most of the world still under some degree of quarantine, do-it-yourself projects have become all the rage lately. But one Imgur user (who for this article we’ve dubbed Mark) decided to embark on a DIY kitchen project five years before it became fashionable. It all began with a hand-me-down kitchen table that simply had to go. The furniture was awkward, and quite frankly, everyone was sick of the dining area looking like a Masonic lodge.
Mark and his growing family enjoy entertaining and frequently have guests over. It was a major problem for them to not have enough space in the kitchen for everyone to feel comfortable. Little did Mark know just how far the plan he had in mind would go — and who would hear of it.
Mark began planning his new project: “Create More Kitchen Seating”. Along with some help from his family, he began working. The first order of business was to throw out the old eyesore of a table, and then to take the measurements of the room. In total, the room measured about nine feet by six and a half feet, and he needed to maximize every last inch for his growing family.
More room around the table, means more food and happier people; that’s the mantra that Mark kept in mind when he started his project. But before he could begin working, the family pup wanted a chance to explore the previously crowded space. Once the dog was safely out of the way, Mark completed step one, stripping the baseboards from the wall.
Although the angle of the photo might make the foundation beam appear crooked, it is in fact completely level. Mark’s house is old, and the wooden floor is uneven. It’s important to make sure that you’re properly measuring whenever building something from scratch. The slightest miscalculation could throw off the whole project and force you to double your efforts later on.
Even worse, it could create an unstable and potentially dangerous finished product. The last thing Mark wanted was his family or friends falling through their seats during dinner. With that in mind, he measured twenty inches between each beam using a tape measure and a level to make sure that everything was perfectly in line. Now, it was time to begin adding.
It was time to complete the skeleton of the seating, what Mark had termed ‘the ribs.’ He attached vertical and horizontal wooden beams to add extra support to the first set that he had already nailed to the wall. Because Mark had prepped the walls by stripping the baseboards first, everything fit flush against the wall, making for an easier build.
On the two smaller walls, it was not possible to use a foundation beam because there were no studs. One wall was actually part of the cabinetry that housed the stove, and the other wall, a glass door to a sun room. Mark definitely did not want to drill into the cabinets and accidentally hit the gas line, or to ruin the cabinets. He needed to come up with a creative alternative.
What Mark thought would be the trickiest part of the project actually turned out to be quite easy. Because there were no studs to use on the cabinet side, Mark simply decided to use one extra piece of wood to make square supports. Since all the wood pieces were the same size, he assembled four squares and fastened them them to the wall with a nail gun.
The extra vertical beam provided much needed stability and durability. In the end, the seating needed to be able to stand up to the high volume of traffic in the kitchen, and also to support the weight of multiple adults and children at the same time. Just one beam breaking could send the whole structure crashing to the floor. He had to be cautious.
All Three Sides Completed
Once the support squares were completed for the side of the room that bordered the kitchen, the process was replicated for the opposite wall. And while it might have appeared to be difficult, considering it bordered a sliding glass door, it really wasn’t. The same sized squares were used for the opposite side, and Mark measured carefully so he would not block the door.
With all three sides completed, Mark was feeling good about his progress, and the end result was starting to take shape. It was already apparent that the new setup would utilize the space much more efficiently than the previous table, which could only seat six people. But the best part was over. The rest of the project wouldn’t come as easy.
Things Are Starting To Shape Up
After all three sides were completed, it was time to add the plywood covering over the foundations. Mark decided to use half inch-thick panels, and initially thought about using hinges to create storage space in this spacious new dining area for his family.
But after a second thought, it wasn’t worth the effort. The family had plenty of storage space already, so they went ahead and laid the covering directly on top of the supports. For those that do decide to try this at home, it’s something that can easily be added. However, take a look at the vent slightly hidden under the plywood on the back wall. That would require some fixing later on.
A Soft Touch
With the hard construction complete, the only thing left to do was to add some finishing touches. Of course, no one would be comfortable sitting on hard, unfinished wood. Mark needed some cushioning for this breakfast nook. He purchased two-inch seating foam from the hardware store. Surprisingly, this proved to be the most expensive part of the project. If you’re on a budget, you can just use old foam from a retired sofa or chair.
It cost Mark around $90 for the foam. While the final cost of all the materials remains a mystery, you can get an idea of just how much money was saved by building the breakfast nook from scratch. Most prefabricated tables typically cost several hundred dollars, even at discounted stores like IKEA and Goodwill. And that doesn’t include labor costs to build something like this. So how would he spruce the space up?
Mark and his family needed to use an outdoor fabric to cover the seating, as it’s easy to slide across, waterproof, stain-proof, and durable. To attach the covering, the foam was laid on top of the fabric, followed by the plywood. Then, it was stretched around and stapled to the underside of the wood.
Thankfully, Mark’s mother was willing to help out with this phase of the DIY construction project. She measured and folded the fabric just right, so that none of the material would be wasted. In the end, they might have gone a little bit overboard with the nail gun, but it was important to make sure that everything stayed in place. But the project was far from over.
Facing And Seating
Once the seating was covered and secure, it was time to add the facing to the wooden foundations so that the walls would not be exposed. The facing was made from bead board paneling, which is extremely cheap and easy to find at any local hardware store.
Mark also used white trim that he had purchased to separate the cushions from the wooden base. Not only did the trim keep the cushions firmly in place, but aesthetically, it created a nice contrast and professional look. All it took was a few small nails and a hammer to do the job.
Challenges Along The Way
The entire time that Mark was building his new breakfast nook, he knew that he would need to find a solution for the pesky air vent that was inconveniently located on the bottom part of the wall. He cut out a square in the bead board that was the size of the vent, and extended it using pipes and a lot of duct tape. Hey, whatever works!
On the positive side, anyone sitting there would now get their own personal foot warmer (or cooler). On the down side, Mark’s family would need to make sure that during the winter time, the air coming out of the vent is not too hot, otherwise someone could burn themselves, being so close up to the vent. And that wasn’t the only problem.
The other main issue that Mark experienced was getting the trim to match up perfectly. For any gaps, he used leftover trim to fill the void, plus a lot of caulking and his power tool of choice — the nail gun — to keep everything secure.
Other Imgur users were inspired to start similar projects at their own homes, and experienced the same problem with the trim. If you’re going to attempt a project like this, it’s best to buy enough trim so that there is still some left over to fill the inevitable gaps. It’s also important to not be frustrated by the awkward look of the unfinished bordering — since it can easily be fixed.
Two Fresh Coats of Paint
To match the home and the rest of the cabinet work in the kitchen, a fresh coat of white paint was added to the wooden facing, giving the space a nice contrast between the black seat cushions and white woodwork.
A second thick coat of white was added to the bead board facing to make sure that no brown from the wood showed through. A tip so you’re not spending to much of your time watching the paint dry (literally!) is to use a fan to speed up the process. Also, make sure to use a plastic tarp or canvas so that no paint spills on the floor. Mark could now reveal the other project he’d been working on.
A Brand New Space
Secretly, in addition to the lovely breakfast nook, Mark had been working on a side project all along. While building the custom seating for his dining space, he also constructed a square table to fit the room. A simple base and a distressed finish on the table top made for an awesome look!
It’s safe to say that this project was well worth the hard work. Overall, the space looks much better utilized than it had, and practically speaking, it can fit so many more people. The space went from a six guest-maximum, to being able to seat twelve to fifteen. The only thing left to do was throw a party to break in the new dining space.
A Finished Breakfast Nook
After purchasing a couple of accent pillows, the DIY breakfast nook was finally completed! The finished space was much more natural-looking and practical than it was before. Not only was it a great value-add to the house, but by doing the project himself, Mark saved thousands of dollars that he would have had to pay a contractor.
This project is an inspiration to anyone that has ever wanted to fabricate their own home furniture. It’s something that his family can enjoy for years to come, and more importantly, a memory that they will cherish every time they sit down and enjoy a meal.
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