Creating Faux Varied Height Cabinets and a Shelf Over a Stove | i should be mopping the floor
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Creating Faux Varied Height Cabinets and a Shelf Over a Stove

Want to give builder grade cabinets some character?
Creating faux varied height cabinets and a shelf over the stove
can help take basics to ba-bam!

Creating stacked height cabinetry with builder grade cabinets. Includes tutorial to add a shelf above the microwave, too.
Brace yourself, dear reader. This is a long tutorial. I just couldn't see a way around it with all the steps needed for this.


I know I sound like a broken record, but this kitchen makeover has been a doozy. It was because of combined reasons...but, yes. Stick a fork in me. D-O-N-E. Done. Part of the reason it was such a whopper was timing. I have no clue what in the heehaw I was thinking in creating a "one-week" completion timeline. My husband gets two weeks off in the summer. We vacation and play the first week. And we DIY the second while kids are in camp. And I seriously thought we could knock this sucker out in a week. Lies, I tell you. LIES.

Creating stacked height cabinetry with builder grade cabinets. Includes tutorial to add a shelf above the microwave, too.
So along with this tutorial should go the disclaimer that we're now adding crown moulding to the list of things we should never {ever} install together as a couple...that is, if we want to be a happy couple. The other items on the list include ripping out linoleum and installing blinds. And quite frankly, I'm so over blinds right now. So until that one comes around again, we're good to go for a bit.

The reason I was able to keep my sanity {relatively keep it, I suppose} is that I knew I was getting rid of the oak. From the moment I set foot in this kitchen over six years ago with our realtor, I knew I wanted to paint the cabinets white. So, that's what spurred me on. Oak-ie overload was the carrot in front of this horse.

Over the last six years, the goal extended from white paint to include adding bulkier crown moulding to the tops of the cabinets as well. And then I decided I wanted the staggered-height cabinet look, too. And then, I decided I needed a "stove shelf". If I had waited much longer, I probably would've added moonbeams shooting out from the soffits and glass doors encasing slim-design fish tanks. It's a good thing we got moving when we did.

So, this beast, I'm proud to say, was built entirely by this girl. The one typing. I know, right? 

I was kind of in awe of my determination on this one {determination doesn't always readily appear at my disposal}. It came out of a moment of..."oh, noooo!". That "nooooo" was preceded by the hubs stating that we needed to just hire this job out. And a part of this DIY blogger died a bit inside. While I'm well aware that I don't have all the mad skills of a mega handyman, part of my thang on this little 'ol blog is to let others know that anyone can do these projects and gain the necessary skills to keep trying harder projects over time. Anyone. These projects may take lots of time {weeks, people} and blood, sweat and tears {this kitchen has a nice amount of each of those.}

What I did here was create a 3-sided box out of 1x6 boards, measured to fit the spot over the middle section of cabinets. I attached my crown moulding to it. To see my crown moulding on cabinetry post, click here.

I then puttied like crazy and sanded like a mad woman. And made a mess of the island... but a wipe-able one. No worries.

I then attached it {again, flying solo on this one...wahoooo} to the tops of the cabinets with "L" brackets. Pre-drill those holes to avoid splitting the wood, friend.

This is the actual moment that I realized I wanted a stove shelf. The mess of the cabinet was because we never used it. The lightbulbs were moved to the other lightbulb cabinet. Um, yeah.

Then we cut a piece of the insulation board left over from the Chalkboard Backpack Station {which we were actually working on simultaneously}, to fit the space above the microwave.

I did need the man's assistance on this one. I can fly solo like a champ on the compound miter saw all day, but hand me the circular saw and I pretty much wet my pants and awwwww, FREAK OUT {le freak, c'est chic}.

So, King Tut's tomb was walled up. Don't think I didn't leave some surprises in there for whoever remodels this kitchen one day {I can guaran-tootin-tee you it will not be me}.

Please keep in mind that if you take on this type of project, there's some things to take into consideration. The "grill" above our microwave acts as the outflow vent from our stovetop. If you have a vent that goes through your cabinetry and up through your ceiling, you may not be able to do this...because it could block your access to that vent. We did block the actual plug for the microwave in doing this. But, I created an "escape hatch" through the side of the cabinet to reach my hand through and unplug that thing should we ever need to.

I used my compound miter saw {the one I can work} to cut two boards for the the width of the walled-up tomb, the other about 2/3 its length. Your length on the "top" board is the width of the tomb. Is it weird that I just call it that now? And does that length/width thing make sense? In my head, it totally does. But sometimes that doesn't translate, so leave me a comment if you need some 'splainin'.

And this part is purely so you won't do this. I had originally wanted decorative corbels to hold up the shelf. However, the height of most corbels is a minimum of seven inches... which would have been halfway to the ceiling. Ree-DONK-ulous. So I thought I'd make my own. What I should have done was use a 2x4 to cut the traingles...instead I created one by cutting triangles out of 1x4s and stacking them. Why? Because I had already been to the big orange store four times that day. I was determined to not go back. I just created a whole new thing to have to work on in the endless list that was our kitchen. I squirted them with Liquid Nails and sandwiched them together. Stupid. 

Then I spent an hour of my {very limited time} the next day filling and sanding these things. An hour. And they still aren't quite perfect. Really stupid.

I took the smaller of the two long boards and mounted it to the board with wood screws. I made sure to "catch" the screws on the cabinet's wood that's under this front piece we installed. This is anchoring the entire shelf, so I had to get it right.  

I took the longer board and laid it on top of the attached board, at a 90 degree angle. Then I predrilled my holes {as pictured above}, making sure they went into that attached board underneath. Please excuse my arm...I was feeling quite accomplished predrilling and photographing simultaneously. But now, this just looks a little weird.

Then I drilled my screws in. I sunk them in, so I could fill them with spackle later and have a seamless look. 

So, technically, these faux corbels are purely decorative. The shelf is already attached to the board. I just Liquid Nailed these in place.  

And then kept tape on them for 24 hours so they didn't wiggle on me. 

Filled. Sanded. Wiped. Painted {tutorial on the cabinet painting coming soon}. 

 Whatcha think?

Here's how I decorated it for David's birthday last weekend. 
The big four-ohhhhhhh.

And here's my everyday of right now, anyway.
The ceramic doggie was a Goodwill find that I gave a coat of spray paint and a little sanding. The tea cup was from my mom's collection and the recipe box {filled with amazingness} is from my late uncle who was a baker at The Manhattan Cafe in San Antonio back before God was a boy. The of the faux nature.

 I originally fell in love with the stove shelf concept when I saw it over at
Hers is amazing!

Neglect your chores like me and don't miss a thing:


  1. Love this! I hate that tiny storage space above my microhood. I'll have to keep this in mind and try it myself some day. I have cabinets similar to yours in their original color, but mine are raised panel. I'm thinking about using chalk paint and then waxing them. But that sure seems like a LOT of work. That's the only reason I haven't done it yet. LOL!

    Again, awesome job, Kristi!!

  2. You are AMAZING! You did such an awesome job in here. You're motivating to get my act together in our kitchen. I need to finish my 832 billion other projects first, though! haha :)

  3. Marvelous dahling! You totally rocked that thing. I wish I could paint our cabinets. Well, I probably could, but we're renting (the landlords gave us carte blanche on the whole house tho), so why?

  4. Wow! I am so impressed! It looks great & I think you're going to LOVE what it adds to your kitchen!

  5. Seriously... that shelf looks Ah-mazing! Great work! And I love the red framed artwork. Red is my favorite color and it always makes me happy.

    Thanks for the inspiration!
    Ashley @ 3littlegreenwoods

  6. Amazing!! It's beautiful!! I love it!! You did a fabuluous job!! Thanks for sharing!! Pinning :)

  7. Completely FAB-boo sista girl! What a complete and total job of awesomeness! So very impressed with you and am feeling the whole blood, sweat and tears. Also can appreciate the fact the determination can be quite fleeting in my world. Actually though, I find that it's probably being determined to actually start, because once I take the step, I will finish. I may need psychotropic drugs (or those around me may need them!) but I will finish. Isn't it just so worth it though?

    And? Just so ya know? I'm now going to have the song 'FREAK OUT' in m head all night. Hope you're quite happy with yourself! Bad girl! bad, bad blogger!

    1. I sorry about that one!! It's still in my head, too!! :)Thanks bunches for your sweet words!!

  8. Looks amazing - I love taking boring stock cabinets and making them into something amazing! Going to send this to my sister!!

  9. It turned out amazing! I really like the shelf about the microwave...looks like these cabinets have always been this beautiful. :)

  10. LOVE this project!!!! Im deff keeping this in my idea file for our "work in progress kitchen makeover"!!!!! Come share this on DIY Sunday Showcase!!!!!! It opens tomm at 5pm.


  11. oh I LOVE how this looks!! you did a GREAT job Kristi!

    Thanks for linking up! I featured your post in my wrap up
    Have a great rest of the weekend!

  12. Gorgeous, Kristi! What a difference that makes!! Pinning:)

  13. Kristi this turned out amazing! You're hard work really paid off! I love when the simple changes can make such a big difference! I would love if you would share this over at our blog hop!

  14. Your cabinets look gorgeous - sooo much better! We did the same thing too with our cabinets and hubby made them on their own brackets so I can actually take down the upper trim part to clean the tops of the cabinets (not that I've actually cleaned up there in like, a really loong time). I really liked your varied height look, it's like it was meant to be!

  15. UNBELIEVABLE!!! What a great idea to do a shelf. Smart smart smart! Pinning this baby!

  16. Stupid. It looks really homemade and it's a bad design to just have that big blank box there. You should have just left the cabinets in. You are in good company though, most people have shockingly bad taste.

  17. My kitchen cabinets are so BORING and I thank you for showing me they could be soo so much better!! I love how custom this is too.

    As for the comment above, I don't even let my children use the word "stupid" so maybe if you are offering constructive criticism (which this doesn't appear to be) you could make a better choice.

  18. Kristi I can't believe how great this looks talk about drab to fab! You made builder grade look like custom cabinets! Great job!

  19. Looks great. On the lower cabinets, how did you do the edge of the crown molding to but up to the raised cabinet. The crown molding I bought leaves a gap on the sides.

  20. Looks great. On the lower cabinets, how did you do the edge of the crown molding to but up to the raised cabinet. The crown molding I bought leaves a gap on the sides.

  21. Although, all our carpentry needs can be easily handled with the help of modern machines, but we still use the time tested method of joining the wooden pieces manually, so we use hammer and nail to ensure strength of joints.