Updated on October 14, 2013
One of the things that concerned us most about our kitchen renovation was what we would find in the soffits when we tore them out.
Lucky for us the only thing that posed any sort of issue was this little pipe. Easy enough!
Or so we thought. After considering our options I quickly realized that I had no idea how I was going to cover that thing up. It happened to be right where we wanted to put a row of cabinets so we definitely needed to find a solution. And quick.
Solution 1: Build a new soffit around it. Buy small lindingo doors and liquid nail them to the drywall as faux “upper upper” cabinets. Then put a 30×30 below.
Issue: It would throw off the overall look of the kitchen. The cabinets would not line up perfectly. And these would be the only cabinets with “upper uppers”
Solution 2: Move the pipe.
Issue: Sure that’s ideal… also costly. Not so ideal anymore.
Solution 3: My dad recommended we look into building a soffit inside the 39″ cabinet. So that from the outside it appeared to be normal but inside it had a 5″ soffit built into the top.
Issue: Uhm… none? Score. Let’s do this thing.
I began thinking of how I was going to go about doing this without destroying the integrity of the cabinets. Ikea cabinets hang on the wall mount from the top. So I couldn’t just go cutting into the top of the cabinet.
Then it hit me. Hack the cabinet so that the top sat 4.5″ (the needed clearance for the pipe) lower than the 2 side walls.
This was actually much easier than I thought and only took a couple of hours and minimal cutting to complete.
First I measured the distance that I would need to clear the pipe and marked that on my 2 side pieces.
Then I rummaged through my drillbits to find two that worked. One for the philips head locking screw and the other for the wood dowels. Then I measured, marked, and drilled.
Then I inserted the top piece as you normally would but at the new point. Locked it in place and boom! We had ourselves a hacked cabinet. Then I repeated the process for the second cabinet since the pipe was going to be sitting in the middle of both cabinets.
To test everything out I measured the difference from the other cabinets and lowered the Ikea bracket to mount at the newly hacked top of the cabinet. In other words, the cabinet would look like it was the same hight but was actually from a bracket mounted 4.5″ lower than the others. After making sure the bracket was in the right place I held both cabinets up to the pipe and roughly marked where the pipe would sit. I busted out my jig saw and cut out the shape of the pipe.
To my surprise it only took 2 cuts for me to get it right! I hung them in place and BOOM (again) we had ourselves 2 cabinets with an upper soffit built in. Now it was time to actually hide the soffit by putting the doors on.
I thought I had planned ahead for the door holes but quickly realized that I had put the new top of the cabinet directly where the hinge needed to sit. I freaked out for about 30 seconds and then realized that I could just drill a new hole 1.5″ higher than the original hole and we should be in good shape. I did a bit of research and found this little guy – a 1 3/8″ Forstner Bit:
Apparently these are used for European cabinets and it was a perfect match for cutting new holes in our Ikea doors. I first popped in a couple of extra hole fillers that we had from the pantries drawers so that there was something for the brackets to sit against. Then I measured a million times and cutting once.
Surprisingly, it worked!
And we hung the door in place.
And there we have ourselves an in-cabinet, hidden soffit hacked into an Ikea Akrum Frame.
Eventually we’ll probably cover it up so you can’t see it even when you open the doors but in the meantime, I must say, I’m pretty impressed with how it all came together.
Here’s a little one pager instruction guide to how we did this. Hopefully this helps someone else out there. It was one of the most seamless solutions to an ugly problem. If this helps you, let us know how in the comments below.
More to come. Countertops are being installed tomorrow!!
If you want to play catch-up and read all about our journey to a new kitchen check out some of these good (or so we think) reads. Let us know what you think!