We are over the moon with our new butler’s pantry! Today, I’ll share how we created custom inset cabinets from Home Depot stock cabinets. Here’s our simple tutorial on how to convert stock cabinets to inset cabinets.
I’m so excited to share this post with you all! Last week I shared our butler’s pantry reveal and I’ve had questions about our cabinets ever since. You can see the full pantry reveal here. There were so many of you surprised to learn that they’re simply stock cabinets from Home Depot. Today, I’m going share how we converted them into custom cabinets with inset doors.
We originally planned to build our own custom cabinets for our new pantry, but after making cabinets for our laundry room, we opted for a quicker solution. We decided to purchase a few stock cabinets instead. There was nothing wrong with the doors that these cabinets came with, but I had always envisioned inset cabinet doors for this space and I just didn’t want to give up on that charming design detail. We knew that there had to be a way to convert the doors. After telling Josh just how much I’d love inset doors, he got to work.
Here’s how the cabinets looked before –
Create A Cabinet Base
Our pantry is very narrow, so we used wall cabinets as our bases. We made boxes out of 2×4’s on their sides to sit the cabinets on. We attached the 2×4″ bases to the studs of the wall using wood screws. We made our bases the same length as our cabinets, but 3″ less deep than the cabinets for a toe kick. We sat our cabinets directly on top of the 2×4’s and attached the cabinets to the wall as directed in the cabinet instructions. I almost forgot to take a photo of this step. I remembered just before we installed the last cabinet. It’s just a simple box, nothing fancy.
Make The Feet
I knew I wanted the cabinets to have cute scalloped feet. Mt first thought was to use my jigsaw to cut them from a 1×4″, but after installing our wall shelves I realized that the cheap shelf brackets would work just as well! I cut the top of the brackets off using a miter saw. The size of the brackets/scalloped feet are personal preference, so I recommend creating some cardboard cutouts in different sizes to see what you like best. I then attached my cut brackets to 1×2″ pieces that were cut to the height of my cabinet from the floor. I used our Kreg Jig and some wood screws for this. (Note – Measure the gap under EACH cabinet. Rarely is a floor ever 100% level.)
I apologize for the dark basement photo. At times we were working on this pantry into the late evenings.
Installing The Trim & Feet
Before we installed the feet we glued and brad nailed small decorative trim to the bottom of the cabinet face frame. I used this cove molding from Lowes. I made sure to keep the trim flush with the bottom of the cabinet frame. Next, I dry fit my feet under the trim. At this point I also measured from the back side of the feet to the cabinet toe kick. I then cut a 2×4″ to that length to serve as something to secure my feet to. To attach the 2×4″ to the cabinet base, use brad nails and glue or a Kreg Jig and wood screws. Make sure to also attach your feet to the decorate trim using some wood glue and a couple of brad nails. Fill all the holes with wood filler and paint.
Creating Inset Doors
We decided to start with the smallest door in case we made a mistake, since it would have been the cheapest door to replace. We started by carefully measuring the opening of the cabinet. We then measured the thickness of our non-mortice cabinet hinges. (Note – the hinges that come with the cabinet doors will not work with inset doors.) We wanted about an 1/16” gap between the door and the cabinet facing on all sides. For instance – our cabinet opening was 9” wide and our cut door ended up being 1/8” shy of that. Also, be sure to label each door before cutting so that the doors go back to their correct cabinet. Just because the cabinets are stock doesn’t mean they all have the exact same measurements.
To cut the doors, we used our table saw. I wouldn’t recommend using any other saw. You want a very smooth and consistent cut. We measured every door and every side before making our cuts. There is not a lot of room for error with this project. We took off about 1/4″ on each side of the doors.
I was a little worried that trimming off the sides of the doors would make the slates and rails too narrow, but it turned out just fine. If that’s something that would bother you, this method wouldn’t be a great option. Once you’ve measured your openings and made your cuts, dry fit your doors. Don’t be surprised if you need to shave a bit off here or there. Once you dry fit the doors, you can paint them. Make sure you do not leave any paint drips or runs, especially on the sides. This can cause your doors to stick or scrub once installed.
For the hinges we used these non-mortise hinges. I was unable to find the hinges in an un-lacquered brass finish, so I used Rub n’ Buff in gold leaf. I’ve found that gold leaf is the closest to the color of un-lacquered brass once it patinas. The new hinges have to go just above or below where the old hinges were. The hinges that come with the cabinets are bored out. You can fill that hole if you choose. We just left them. We’re the only ones going into our pantry, so we weren’t worried about it. This might be the only con to this project.
We chose the same knobs that we used in our kitchen. You can find those here.
Everything turned out just how I had hoped it would! I’m so glad we took a chance and cut that first door. Stock cabinets are a very convenient and affordable option, so I’m thrilled that we were able to make them our own. When people see our pantry they always think the cabinets are custom.
I hope you find this tutorial helpful and that it gives you hope if you’re renovating on a small budget, but love inset cabinets as much as I do. It just proves you can have a timeless space with custom touches on a budget. Have a great rest of your week, friends!