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Building a Shaker Style kitchen

My sister Marcia has been after me for a couple of years to build her new kitchen cabinets. I resisted for a while as she and her husband John are EXTREMELY particular and the thought of building cabinets for them challenged the limits of my abilities. I finally gave in and agreed to start building. They had furnished their home with Amish built furniture, buying a piece every couple of years from a builder in Holmes county. The entertainment center pictured here was her inspiration and she wanted her cabinets built like it; inset doors, door panels raised inside and out, drawers in all of the base cabinets and all door and drawer fronts built with mortise and tennon construction. The bar was set VERY high.

Their home is a 1960's ranch near Columbus, Ohio. The kitchen is original to the home, but the lighted soffet extensions were added by the previous owner, and they were one of the things Marcia hated about the kitchen. The soffets seemed to encroach on the room and had to go!! I spent a day with her and her husband taking measurements and pictures, and discussing what their options were for some of the construction details and hardware. John agreed to do the tearout, update the lighting and drywall work. They had a local firm install the oak floor.

Project start:

An outdated 30 year old kitchen with laminate counter tops, vinyl flooring and old cabinets.

Marcia and John stripped and refinished these cabinets shortly after the moved in. Still in good shape after years of her scrubbing and bleaching, they had to go.

This kitchen has lots of potential, given it's large counter top area and ample space for cabinets.

John removed the soffet extensions and installed the recessed lights. The room is starting to open up!! I was in the shop building.

The sink base is gone for now. One of Marcia's coworkers said she just HAD to have under cabinet lighting, making John swear and spend a few more days rewiring!! The location of the exposed wiring is based on the dimensional drawings I sent her. The upper cabinets aren't even started yet.

John did a nice job in keeping the kitchen useable while his part of the rebuild progressed. He also did a nice job finishing the drywall.

Johns part almost complete. A little sanding and primer and its ready.

Marcia is miffed. One day while shopping John and their sons moved the kitchen out to the garage!! John's blank canvas is a perfect start.

I arrived the next day and started installing. All of the doors were fitted back at the shop, but need a little tweeking after the cabinets were hung. I cursed at every door (there are 38 in her kitchen) but came to appreciate why she wanted them. The look is timeless.

Here's a close up of a finished cabinet. Marcia and John chose the stain from a color board I prepared. The stain evens out color variations that occur in natural wood.

John installed the range hood, and cursed me during the process. He had to cut through three layers of 3/4" plywood to connect to the exhaust pipes in the attic.

Gorgeous black granite and a HUGE 42" sink was installed by a local company. Hardwood floors give this kitchen a great look

I had the cherry crown moldings milled at a local supplier. They were stained finished along with the rest of the kitchen to assure a good color match.

New appliances really make this kitchen a showplace! The new stove is a dual fuel model; gas cooktop and electric convection oven. You can see from some of these photos how the color of the cabinets varies depending on the time of day and direction of light. The camera flash makes them look different, but trust me that they are all the same!!

Another shot of the finished sink area.


Here's a picture of the Marcia's Amish entertainment center. It's the piece that inspired the whole look of her kitchen


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