A Handbuilt Vintage Country Kitchen

Cue angels singing, this kitchen is DONE! I started building the cabinets over a month ago, and now everything is installed and working and fabulous. I hope you’re ready to ogle dozens of photos, because I’ve got about 22 to share with you. Which is technically less than 2 dozen, but who’s counting? Let’s get started!

This wall was our toughest spot. The sink was tricky to install since it’s a wall mount and the faucet can only be in one place. After a few days of finagling, it’s now leak-free and gorgeous. If you recall it’s a vintage cast-iron sink I found on Craigslist and had resurfaced and is pretty much my heartsong. It’s amazing and I love it. Plus we were able to find an adorable throwback faucet with 4 pronged handles with the little H and C on them.

It’s pretty much the most adorable thing ever. That “curtain” is actually just a throw folded in half over a tension rod, but I’m in love with all those colors so it’s staying. Anyway, back to the sink. My love. It was actually kind of a bitch to get in there. The faucet plumbing was set to the standard dimensions because like a spaz I didn’t tell Tilson exactly where I wanted it. So when we went to install it we were left with an odd 12″ gap to the left of the fridge. Instead of leaving it open, I used a few 1×12’s to build a six-shelf veggie cabinet so the whole wall looks custom and built in.

Happy accidents, right? I’m actually really glad it worked out like this because it makes the wall look really fancy. Those open shelves are another fave feature in this room. I ordered the minimal shelf brackets from the Container store and they were an absolute breeze to install. My dad had some amazing 1×12 oak in his barn which we cut down to size and sanded. I’m definitely no pro at staging, but it’s a great spot for wine glasses and coffee mugs and all our miscellaneous knick knacks and decor!

These two cabinets are both made from a 21″ carcass, and plans will be found on Ana White’s website shortly. The double drawer cabinet is my favorite of this size. I’m planning to build a removable divider so I can store all my silverware upright instead of in those obnoxious organizers.

The bottom holds all my tupperware and such. Though the cabinet next to it looks standard, it has a little surprise.

I decided to make the drawer face a flip top and use it for concealed paper towel storage! I bought a simple closet rod hanging system (just two circular brackets, nothing fancy) and used a scrap dowel to hang my paper towels. It’s so nice to have them close by and handy without cluttering up the countertops!

The oven wall was also custom built, with 30″ standard bases. I decided to leave out drawers and opt for larger doors and shelf space. It helps with all those tall pots! The uppers were supposed to be 27″ but due to some mathematical errors on my part they’re actually 29″. Whoops! Oh well, extra storage, right?

I decided to use vertical dividers on the left for my baking sheets, and horizontal shelves on the right for dishes and glasses.

Since we had a very basic, boring vent hood, I chose to build it in with plywood and trim to match the cabinets. It came out even better than I expected! It’s interesting without overpowering the true star of this show, my 1950’s Magic Chef gas range.

This was also a CL score, and I honestly could not be happier. I get more compliments on the stove than anything else in the kitchen! Plus it’s cooking great so no complaints there. I need to make some french toast on that griddle soon.

I have to say, I’m really surprised with how well the island turned out. It’s composed of 4 separate cabinets, two 24″ bases sandwiching two 21″ standard bases. We “built them in” by using 1/2″ plywood strips between the carcasses and screwing them together. Once they were attached I added on beadboard backing and 1×4 trim and kickplates. It really does look like one cohesive unit.

For this 24″ base we decided to leave off doors and have two shelves, one that would fit our countertop microwave. Jacob ran the electrical wiring so that we can plug in the microwave and added an outlet to the side for mixers and phone chargers. I totally love that it looks like we have built-in appliances. I guess in a way we do!

This is also a 24″ base, with three shelves for cook books and cutting boards. The two 21″ cabinets are your typical “standard” cabinets. Nothing frilly, just a drawer for cooking utensils and hot pads and a door with a shelf inside.

For the legs, we just bought three 35″ table legs from Lowe’s and cut them down to cabinet height. Then we topped it with a sheet of plywood reinforced with a 2×4 frame for strength. I took that to a local welder and he made a stainless steel sleeve for it. Once we got it home we screwed the plywood directly into the legs and cabinets, covered the top with liquid nails and set the sleeve down on it. Then we topped it with a spare blanket and set large rocks on it so the glue would set. And voila! A gorgeous custom island.

This kitchen was a vast labor of love. A lot of planning, tons of sweat, quite a bit of salty language and an overwhelming amount of love and care went into it. I am so, so proud of it. I literally cannot stop smiling when I’m in the room. I hate to turn the lights off at night. Sometimes I just sit and stare at what we did. Because we did this! Not some pricey contractor or big box store. Two people with a little bit of know-how and a lot of determination. Now I sound like a cheesy DIY ad 😉 But seriously, it’s been the feather in my cap to have a hand-built kitchen. Something I can really be proud of building!

I know you probably have a lot of questions, but since this post is already a mile long I’m going to get into the dirty details tomorrow. Things like prices and sourcing and all that jazz. But for now, do a little ogling for me and tell me what you think!

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61 thoughts on “A Handbuilt Vintage Country Kitchen

  1. Absolutely beautiful! You guys have a lot to be proud of! I love the vintage sink. What’s a good price for that? I’m definitely gonna keep my eyes out for one. Are your countertops butcher block? I’m looking at doing my own wood countertops soon. I was debating on butcher block or plywood or 2×8 planks. Any thoughts? Great job! Enjoy!

    1. Thank you Heather! I paid $50 for our sink and it was pretty rough looking. Lots of rust and grime. Just make sure that it has not rusted through in spots and you’re good. I paid $225 to get it polished and surfaced, which seems to be a steal. It didn’t need to be re-enameled which was key. I LOVE this sink!!

      As far as countertops, I think the butcher block is worth it. I paid $300 for 14 feet from IKEA and it looks and feels luxurious, not budget at all. Plus it was so easy to install, even with the sink cutout. You can also customize it by routing the edges or staining it.

    1. It’s called Burning Bush from Olympic. I’m also obsessed! I told my husband that it’s probably my favorite paint color of all time

  2. Killer you have really outdone yourself. It is really beautiful and it will offer you many days and nights of enjoyment, especially around the island. I was going to ask a stupid question “What stain did you use on the island top?” but decided you would see through my try at funny. Keep up keeping us posted.

    1. I totally chuckled Jake. And thank you for the kind words! Its already been a great space for cooking and hanging out. I live it

  3. I absolutely love your kitchen! From the beautiful colors to storage space its awesome! I hope I can do this when we build our house. 🙂

  4. Congratulations, what an incredible job! Love the island in particular! How are you liking the countertops- both the butcher block and the stainless steel?

    1. So far I’m loving them both. Though if I were a perfectionist the stainless would probably drive me nuts. It’s already scratched and dinged, but that’s what I like. Im actually more excited about getting it to look more worn in than brand new!

  5. It’s gorgeous! When you get to the sourcing part, please tell me all about the products used on your floor. This is exactly how I want my basement floor to look after we install the radiant floor heating.

  6. I really love it! And I want to know what it looks like on the other walls… is it an open kitchen? It looks huge! It’s so much bigger than what we’ll get in Switzerland. I’m jealous of your island. Hubs wants one some day for a breakfast bar. (That’ll probably only happen when we have kids and can’t fit at a breakfast bar…)

    Seriously hot kitchen Brooke!! 🙂

    1. Wow, I need to do some posts soon on the rest of the house! Yes, it’s an open concept. There’s a dining area and a living area abutting the kitchen without any walls in between.

  7. So gourgeous! I love all of it but especially the cubby shelf with the baskets by the fridge! Totally doing that! Not sure I would urn off the light either. What a great accomplishment as well. You should be proud.

  8. I love it!! You are amazing and I totally love your style. What an inspiration to me as I face a kitchen remodel in the near future. Thank you for posting and sharing!

  9. I’ve been waiting to see this ever since you posted about the sink and range a while back – man would I love to have those! What an awesome job, it looks AMAZING!

  10. Oh my! So beautiful! I love, love that you incorporated vintage items and brought them back. That sink is priceless. Nice job!

  11. Brooke, it seriously looks amazing! I especially love the island, something we’ve been wanting to add to our kitchen for a few years now. Our flooring is terrazzo, a bit like your finished concrete in that it’s solid. Did Jacob run the electrical for the island before or after the floor was poured? {Other than dropping it down from the ceiling, we can’t figure out how to electrify a future island without damaging the floor.} Sending my husband the link to this post right now!

    1. Thank you so much Debra! I totally feel the same way. Sometimes I get a touch of disappointment that it’s not a “Pinterest Kitchen” per se, but then I realize it’s mine and it’s awesome!

  12. Love, Love, Love your kitchen!!!! You did a fabulous job. I am so inspired! I have been braggin on you and your kitchen to lots of friends and showing them pics of your amazing work and realized I never told you how impressed and proud of the job that you did!! Thanks for being so amazing!!

  13. I love this kitchen and that you guys did it yourself. Gives me inspiration to build our own when we build! Thank you!

  14. I will be renovating a bare room off the side of the house, the plan is to push the walls out a bit and move the kitchen in, and I havent done any carpentry since I was 16! More than a decade! I really nervous but this kitchen is truly inspiring! I would love to know what you did with the flooring, I am not sure if I would go the exact route, but I would love to know the technique, so I can consider more options. Your kitchen is definitely Pin worthy, Ive pinned a couple of pictures for reference myself! And I might print some of the pictures out and glue onto my planning board! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you, that is a huge compliment! We paid to have our concrete slab stained, and it is so beautiful. I love it. Very easy to keep clean and maintain. These cabinets are one of the easiest things I’ve built! The finishing took much longer than the actual building.

  15. This is really, really amazing, and you have actually really inspired me to try to convince hubby to let me take a stab at building our own cabs. One question – how did you do the vertical dividers? Is it just plywood?

  16. Wow, nice job! Can you talk about the cabinet doors, hinges, lessons learned, etc? Also how did you do the other countertops? Congrats. I’ve had plywood in my garage for almost a year and only one cabinet made so far for my DYI kitchen. My delay has been saving to hire an electrician and a plumber. My husband and I just don’t have those skill sets. I LOVE the color you chose for the island. Beautiful floors too!

    1. Hi Katie, I just updated the post to include the links for my tips and tricks on each cabinet and my lessons learned. I hope that helps!

      1. Awesome, thanks so much! I’ve show your blog to so many people. Would love to photos of the rest of the house. Thanks for sharing your story with us!

  17. You built the most awesome, wonderful, comfortible looking kitchen I have ever seen. Just amazing!

  18. I have a question for you Brooke – How did you join the cabinets together so the face frames stay snug together? I’ve asked the question on Ana’s site too, but so far, no one has answered. I’m in the middle of building my cabinets for my laundry room and I really need to know! 🙂 Thanks!!

    1. Hi Tracy! Sorry you haven’t gotten a response yet, but I’m going to tell you my “secret”. The Kreg Jig! It is a MUST for any builder. That thing is awesome. It makes pocket holes and the hold is tighter than any I’ve had with traditional build methods. It’s $100, but totally worth the investment. Don’t waste your time/cash on the junior, get the full sized jig setup. I used the jig to put my frames together, then glue and my nail gun to hold them onto the cabinets.

      1. Thanks Brooke, I have the Kreg jig (as well as lots of other Kreg products) 🙂 But, what I’m wondering is if you use a special screw i.e. cabinet screw to hold the face frames to each other… So… if you set them all up next to each other, how do you keep them staying together… make sense? I’m not sure how to explain it. I saw once on tv someone using a special type of screw to keep all the base cabinets together so they didn’t move around and I wondered if you did something like that. Besides screwing them into the wall .. ;-/

        1. Ahhhhh! Now I get it. You mean the boxes (or carcasses). The face frames are the 1×2 square frames that go over the boxes to make them “pretty”. I did attach the cabinets to each other. I used 2″ drywall screws, since that’s what we had on hand. Worked just fine. I drilled straight through one box, through the gap, then into the other. On the island I used 1/2″ hobby wood (it’s in the board aisle, below the boards) to fill in the gaps so there wouldn’t be any shifting, since they’re “free floating”. But again, 2″ screws. I didn’t want the screws going all the way through the second cabinet. We didn’t have any problems with them.

          1. Thanks so much for that little piece of info! I’m done building my base carcasses, I have yet to install them, but I’m going to get some uppers built first and install those first. So excited though!!! Thanks for all the input!!!!! 🙂

  19. Beautiful kitchen! I just have 1 question: WHERE DO YOU STORE YOUR DRY FOOD GOODS – CANS, BOXES, PACKAGES, etc., and SPICES, TOO????

    1. Hi Teri, I actually have a large walk in pantry for all my food storage. It’s just to the right of my range. I have a very fun vintage teal screen door that blocks it now. A great reminder that I need to post about the pantry!

  20. I would love to know how to build that range hood cover! I’ve got an awkward space over my microve (an over-the-cooktop venting model) that would be perfect for a range hood. PLEASE post those plans? Pretty please?

  21. Your kitchen looks amazing! I am in the process of renovating our kitchen (though right now it looks my like I’m in the process of demolishing it!) Anyways I have a question about the range hood cover. The controls for basic hoods are sort of high on them how do you access them once you’ve covered them? Do you blindly reach up in there, or does the front of the cover lift up or something? I’d like to design and build one for my kitchen but I guess this is just something I can’t figure out on all of these neato hood covers I see online! Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Racheal, my controls are actually on the bottom of the unit, so even without the cover, I’d have to look and reach up to turn the fan or light on. I think a few may have controls on the front but that’s probably rare. The trim only overlaps about 1/2″ so it’s really no difference overall.

      1. Okay thanks! Mine has controls on the front and they are quite high up which is why I couldn’t figure out how I would build a cover for it and still be able to use it. It’s quite old though so it won’t break my heart to by a new one that will work better with a cover…or maybe I’ll get creative and make the cover front liftable

  22. Hi there! You kitchen looks great. I’m thinking about buying a very similar stove from craigslist, but I can’t find a lot of info about it. That big flat spot in the middle of use top is a griddle? How do you light it? How do the ovens work? Did you have o have it restored at all or was it alrey waking well? What type of fuel does it use?

    Thank so much in advance!

    1. Hi Molly! My range is a gas Magic Chef from the 1950’s. The center is a stainless steel griddle. Ours is hooked up to our propane line, and the burners have pilot lights lit so I just turn the knobs to light the burners. The pilots are clogged on the griddle and oven, so I just use the burner pilots to light a matchstick then light the griddle or oven as needed. No big hassle. The only servicing mine needed was to call out the gas company to convert the orifices from natural gas to liquid propane and clear out the burner pilots. It cooks evenly and works like a champ, which is pretty impressive when you realize it’s over 60 years old!

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