OK, so I’m super excited to share this progress with you today! Just know it’s not done yet so there won’t be any perfect after picture just yet – but I’m SO happy with how the bench in the mud room is coming together so I had to share the process so far.

I gathered my materials before this weather hit and spent most of Sunday working on it. I was in a zone and was having a blast. It’s been awhile since I’ve worked on something like this!

The only materials were two wall cabinets and a few 1 by 6’s. Oh, and some scrap wood, but more on that in a bit. Here are the cabinets I used:

wall cabinet as mud room bench

These were from Lowe’s but you can find them anywhere – Menards, Home Depot, etc. We have a little “nook” where our washer and dryer used to sit where I am building the bench, so I measured that spot and determined two 30x15x12 cabinets would work.

I think the cabinets were $30-something? The Lowe’s website says $20 and I know I didn’t pay that little. Maybe they were more than $30, I honestly can’t remember. I’ll try to find my receipt and let you know for sure.

Anyway, this isn’t my first rodeo with the cabinets-as-built-ins. I’ll share more links at the bottom of the post, but for now let’s just say this is the fourth time I’ve done this type of thing. I give all credit to my Dad who showed me how to make this happen years ago. :)

I started by flipping the cabinets over and measuring the inside area underneath. I cut down my 1 x 6’s so they made a base:

 bench out of kitchen cabinets

Does that make sense? This gets the cabinets off the ground. I knew I wanted them about 20 inches off the floor so that’s why I used the 1 x 6 size and the 15 high cabinets. They have 12 inchers too.

I used my nail gun to secure the boards to the sides of the cabinet, all around, then used longer nails in my gun and nailed down the sides of each where they meet in the corners for extra stability. You can add braces in the corners if needed too, but when I was done they weren’t budging a bit so I called it done.

I did that for both cabinets and then started figuring out how to make the bench deeper. You could make it just 12 inches deep from the wall to make it really easy, but I wanted more room for the tushes. (Not that mine needs anymore room…ahem.)

I pulled them away from the wall and hung coats and bags behind me to figure out what was comfortable. I wanted to be able to sit without having the stuff behind me pushing me off. I sat on it and then had hubby do the same so I could figure out a good distance. I determined 20 inches out from the wall was best, so this is where the scrap wood came in:

building a mud room bench

I went around the wall with scrap wood that I measured at the same exact height as the benches. (I pushed them up against the wall and marked on the wood where to cut.)

I secured each one into studs in the wall. So now, when I get the butcher block that will be the top of the bench, it will rest right on top of those boards (with glue and nails to secure it, plus screws from inside the cabinets) and on the top of the benches as well. I hope that makes sense?

Now it was time to secure the cabinets to the walls. This is where I had to sit in front of all of it for a second and figure out what I was going to do. I knew I’d have about three inches of space left to fill between the cabinets. (Or 1.5 inches on either side if I placed them together in the middle.)

Because I wanted them really secure I went with the space in the middle of the cabinets, so I could install them into the walls. I used long drywall-like screws – these are my favorite with any woodworking project because they grab the wood so easily:

installing cabinets

I think installing cabinets is hard. I’ve done it a few times and getting every angle level is a pain in the butt, really. Sometimes it happens fairly easily (our dining room built ins weren’t bad), sometimes it takes forever. I used shims to get these as level as I could and then secured them to the wall into studs:

IMG_7866 So these will be used for our shoe storage, if you haven’t figured that out quite yet. ;) It’s not a TON of space so I’ll have to be selective with the shoes we keep down here. In the summer it will be easy with sandals and flip flops. In the winter we’ll have less room to work with with boots and all.

My plan all along has been to make the doors into drawers – I was going to build drawers and install them so we could just pull them out, but I realized I’d lose a lot of space by doing that, so I think we’ll just keep them as is and throw shoes in there:

kitchen cabinets as mud room bench

So anyway, I had that area in the middle of the two cabinets to fill. It just so happened I had a piece of scrap wood that fit in exactly – YES! But I couldn’t figure out how to secure it in there. I couldn’t get my nail gun in between the cabinets to nail at an angle, and the wood had just a smidge of space on the sides so wood glue wasn’t going to hold it well enough. I could have used the long screws through the frames of the cabinets but didn’t want to risk splitting them.

So I sat and stared at it for awhile and came up with an idea. I cut more scrap wood that I nailed into the cabinets (there was a little lip I could nail into – I put arrows to show what I’m talking about) and then just placed my scrap filler piece on top of it:

filling space between cabinets

To give the bench even more stability I added another scrap piece to the back of the bench as well, as you can see above.

THIS is my favorite part of a project like this. I love sitting there and trying to figure out a solution and using what I already have to make it happen. It’s like a puzzle for me and I’m so in my element when I’m doing something like this. Love it!

So this is what it looks like from the front – still a mess but when I’m done with it it will look much better:

mud room bench with kitchen cabinets

If I can’t get it smooth with putty and sanding, I’ll just put some trim over it to hide it.

So that was it for the bench! When it was done I started on finishing up the beadboard around the nook area. I’ve finally found a fool-proof way to get a good cut around my outlets. I’ve always used a jigsaw and still do for some of it, but I can’t cut a straight line with that thing to save my life. So now, I trace around the outlet cover:

cutting beadboard around outlets

Then hold the beadboard up and mark where my cuts will be. like always:

cutting beadboard around outlets

You want the cuts to be under your outlet plate so they aren’t seen.

Then I used the jigsaw for the smaller cuts, but then hold up a straight edge and score the wood with a razor for the longer cut:

cutting beadboard around outlets

I usually do it on both sides of the wood, you don’t have to go that deep. Then I use my wrench to grab the wood and snap it off:

cutting beadboard around outlets

It works EVERY time and gives me a nice, clean cut. It doesn’t have to be perfect since it’s under the plate anyway, but this way is just easier in my opinion. It’s hard to get the jigsaw in there to cut angles.

Like I said, this is still not done, but there’s not really that much left to do (it just looks like it:

building a mud room bench with cabinets

I need to get something to use baseboard across the front. What I got is too tall, so I need to either find something that fits or have it cut down. (I still don’t have a table saw so I’m really hoping I can find something.) I need to paint the bench of course, and then I’ll just need to get the butcher block I’m using as the bench seat. Of course the only place I know of to get that is IKEA, and that’s a two hour drive away. Not happening in all of this snow, but I’m hoping I can get over there later this week. I’m SO excited to get this done!

I need to paint the rest of the beadboard now too, but I’m trying to decide what I’ll do. The painted beadboard (instead of white) has given me a bit of a problem – do I do the wall of the bench in white? The bench will be white. Will it look weird having it all the deep color, then in white there? I don’t know what to do, I’ll have to think about it for a bit. That’s what I get for trying to be all different with a color on the beadboard. Hmmm…

Anyway, what looked like this on Saturday:

Looked like this as of Sunday:

building a mud room bench

Even though the bench is almost done there’s still a lot to do in the room – I need to put spacers in the outlets so they are flush with the beadboard, install the trim around the top of the beadboard, install the upper cabinets and then most likely shelves between them.

But having this part almost done makes me feel like I’m in the home stretch! So excited!

I’ll be sure to update you when I get the bench done. :) Have you attempted this type of project? I had grand plans for awhile but decided in the end but simpler would be better (and easier!).

To see how I’ve used kitchen cabinets to make built ins before, see our wall of bookcases in the dining room here, the ones we did in my son’s room here (a video of how we made them here) and a peek at the one in progress in the new laundry room here.


P.S. Go here to see the finished product!