Do you have one of those little desk nooks in your kitchen? Do you actually use it as a desk?
This is the first home we’ve lived in that has had one, and we never actually used ours as a desk.
Instead, we used it to hold and hide a whole bunch of things that we should have just taken the extra minute or two to put away.
It was simply there to catch our clutter.
It was the land of messiness, where things would go to be hidden away for a moment only to remain for weeks or months at a time.
It wasn’t serving our family, that’s for sure!
So when we decided to renovate our kitchen, I decided that desk nook should become a coffee bar instead.
I would remove the upper cabinet, build out a cabinet underneath the desk, and make it functional.
And you know what? I’ve never loved it more!
So here is the step by step process of how I transformed my desk nook so you can transform yours too (you know, if you don’t actually use it as a desk!).
HOW I TRANSFORMED OUR KITCHEN DESK NOOK INTO A FUNCTIONAL COFFEE BAR
STEP 1: MEASURE & GATHER YOUR MATERIALS
First things first, come up with a plan! Decide what you want to do with your desk nook and now you want to transform it.
For me, that meant several things…
- Ripping out the upper cabinet
- Tiling to the ceiling
- Adding a mug rack, coffee appliances, and decor
- Switching out the hardware to match our kitchen
- Building a lower cabinet
- Adding caning to the doors for a fun, natural pop
For you, this all might look a little different! You don’t have to build yours out exactly like I did – make it your own! And make it functional for your home!
Once you know what you’re doing, take your measurements so you know exactly how much of everything you need.
Then, gather your materials.
Here’s what I used…
- Sanded plywood (1/4″ thick)
- 1×2 select pine boards
- Pocket hole screws
- Bulls Eye Primer
- Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel, Color: SW Pure White 7005, Finish: Satin
- Cabinet Door Knobs
- Cabinet Drawer Pulls
- Plastic Wood
- Wood glue
- Concealed door hinges
- Cane webbing or plywood to fill your doors
- Riad Tile – Zellige 2×6 tile in Snow
And here are the tools you need…
- HART Tools Drill
- HART Tools Miter Saw
- HART Tools Jigsaw
- Foam Paint Rollers
- Wooster Paint Brushes
- Hardware Guide
- HART Tools Multitool
- Kreg Pocket Hole Jig
- Kreg Hinge Jig
- Finish nailer
- Utility knife
STEP 2: DEMO ANYTHING THAT NEEDS TO BE DEMO-ED & REPAIR ANYTHING THAT NEEDS TO BE REPAIRED
We decided to remove our upper cabinet, so we unscrewed the cabinet and removed it! It was a lot easier than I expected it to be, and I managed to do it by myself.
But it did leave some things that needed to be fixed!
For example, our pony wall had been carved out to fit in the cabinet, the trim work on the neighboring cabinet would need to be finished and painted, and the tiny tile backsplash that we had put in would need to be extended to the ceiling.
So before I moved forward with anything else, I decided to focus my attention on these things!
I saved all the materials from the upper cabinet I took out, including the trim and face frame to reuse for this project.
I cut down the upper trim from the cabinet and repaired the trim on the side cabinet so it looked complete.
I did this by simply cutting it down to size and nailing it into place! Then I caulked at the seams and painted the whole cabinet so it looked seamless.
Next was the pony wall.
It had some damage and the top piece needed to be replaced with a complete board – not one that was cut out for the upper cabinet to fit.
So I removed the old board, added a 1×6 select pine board instead, trimmed it out with pine lattice strips, and spackled around the edges where any drywall needed repairing.
Then I painted everything our wall color, Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore.
Once that was done, I moved on to the tile! For more on tiling, head to this blog post!
I used leftover tile from our kitchen renovation to continue the backsplash to the ceiling. Then I grouted it and let it cure before I moved on to actually building out the desk nook.
I didn’t go into too much detail on our repairs since it’s unlikely you’ll have the same things to repair. But if you have questions about any of the above, don’t hesitate to leave a comment!
Now let’s move on to the details on how I built out the desk nook, shall we?
STEP 3: BUILD A PLATFORM FOR YOUR LOWER CABINET
First things first, start by building your platform! Remove your baseboards or at least your quarter round trim.
To remove your baseboards, score the caulk line with a utility knife, then use a crowbar and mallet to slowly pry them from the wall. They come out pretty easily!
If you don’t plan on removing completely, you might need to use a multitool to notch out your trim to fit your boards in so they look built in!
Then add 2x4s to the back wall, the front of the desk nook, on both the left and right sides, and in the center for a support.
Use pocket hole screws to secure them together if you want them to be extra sturdy! I used nails to hold ours together since the cabinet wasn’t going to get super heavy use.
Next, cut down a plywood sheet to fit exactly on top of your 2×4 frame. Sand down the edges, then nail it into the 2x4s to hold it in place!
Go ahead and caulk around all the edges and where the plywood meets your 2×4 frame. Then go ahead and prime and paint this platform before you move on to the next step. It will make your life way easier!
STEP 4: BUILD YOUR FACE FRAME
Now that your platform is done, it’s time to move on to your cabinet face frame. These are the boards that frame out your cabinet where the cabinet doors are attached.
I saved my face frame from my upper cabinet to reuse for the lower (of course I had to cut the pieces down to size first).
If you don’t have leftover materials, you can use 1x2s for this!
Frame out the open area with 1x2s – one board on the bottom, one on top, and one on both the left and right.
Then add one vertical board directly in the center of your face frame where your doors will meet.
I secured mine with nails and wood glue, but again, pocket hole screws would be the sturdiest option here!
Once the face frame was secure, I caulked around all the seams, primed, and painted it!
STEP 5: BUILD YOUR CABINET DOORS
Now for the doors. This is the part that scares most people, but I promise it’s not too difficult!
Measure your face frame openings to get a sense of how big your doors need to be. Plan on your doors overlapping your face frame by about 3/4″ (or halfway).
Look at the other cabinet doors in your kitchen or around the space in which you’re building. Mine were built with 1×2 boards so I planned on building my new doors with 1x2s.
If yours are different, you might want to match the size of the wood you use for your door frame to the size in your current cabinet door frames.
Next, use your miter saw to cut down your cabinet door frames. Plan on your left and right sides (vertical pieces) to extend from top to bottom while your horizontal pieces (top and bottom) will connect the vertical pieces.
These cuts need to be exact!
Then, drill pocket holes into your horizontal connecting pieces with your pocket hole jig. Make sure you set your jig and drill bit stop collar to the width of your wood!
Secure your door frame together with pocket hole screws and wood glue, and use a corner clamp for exact 90 degree angles.
Allow your frame to dry completely before moving on!
**Now you need to figure out how you’re filling the center of your doors. I used cane webbing which I simply stapled in the back of my doors. If you don’t want to go that route, cut down some plywood sheets to wedge in the center of your frame. Wood glue and caulk around the edges to secure it into place!**
Once your doors are built, grab your hinge jig and your hinges. Read the instructions on BOTH to make sure you know how to set your hinge jig. This will be different depending on the hinges you buy.
Get your jig set, then carve out holes for your hinges on the back of your door frame (2 per frame).
Secure your hinges with the screws they come with. Then measure where you need to secure your hinges to your face frame.
For this part, I usually just hold up a door where I want it and mark where the hinges hit the face frame.
Drill pilot holes where you made your marks, then secure your hinges to the door. Adjust your hinges as needed to ensure your door is straight!
Measure for your next door based on where you installed the hinges on the first. Install, and adjust as needed so the doors are even and level.
STEP 6: DECORATE!
Now for the fun part – decorate and accessorize!
Here are some of the things we have on our coffee bar…
But make it your own! The whole goal of this build is to make this space more functional for you and your family.
Questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!