Ever since the first time I saw it, I’ve wanted vertical storage in an upper cabinet for my cookie sheets, cutting boards, serving trays, and other narrow kitchen items. My parents had it in their last house, and I was determined to get shelving like this for myself someday. So when we were house hunting last summer, I made sure to check all the deep upper kitchen cabinets for vertical storage dividers. I don’t think I found a single one. We still managed to find a house we love, despite the lack of this key feature. But I had plans. Big plans. 🙂
Our new house has double ovens, with a deep cabinet above the oven unit that was just screaming for vertical dividers. (My husband didn’t hear it, but I promise, I could hear the cabinet screaming for organizational help.) So I devised a plan to add the dividers myself. I could have bought wire dividers like these from The Container Store, but I wanted them to be a little more substantial and look like built-ins. My project went really well, so I thought I’d share the steps I took here in case anyone else wants to do the same thing in their kitchen.
Here’s what it looked like before my big project… A mess, right? Mostly I had just been sticking things up there that I didn’t really use, since it was such a pain to actually get things down. I know it’s not a great picture — I was in a hurry to pull everything out and get started. LOL
My idea was to install strips of wood along the bottom and top and leave a space between them to slide dividers in and out of. This way it would be adjustable for smaller and larger pans. Once I had my plan, I went to Lowe’s and bought a few different boards to see what would work along the top and bottom. After getting them home, I decided on 1/4″x2″x24″ poplar boards from the craft wood section of Lowe’s for $1 each, so I went back to Lowe’s to get more. (My cabinet is 24″ deep, so that length was perfect.) I needed thirty boards to fit the cabinet, but they didn’t have enough in the 24″ length, so I also bought several 48″ long boards that I sawed in half with the circular saw when I got home.
For the vertical dividers, I bought eight 24″x24″ squares of 5.2mm lauan plywood, cut to size at Lowe’s (my upper cabinet is 22-1/4″ tall inside, so they just had to cut a little off one side). There are a lot of other material options you could use for the vertical pieces, but the lauan was cheap and easy and matched the interior of my cabinets pretty well. If the cabinets were white inside, I would have probably used something else. But most of the other thin board-like material I found came in 8’x4′ sheets, which seemed like more of a pain to get cut to size. TIP: If you use lauan or other plywood, make sure you get it cut it to size along the grain of the wood, or it will splinter badly on the edges. Fortunately, I found this out on the one I had Lowe’s cut as a test to make sure I got the size perfect. Then when I went back to buy the rest of the lauan, I knew to specify which direction they should cut it.
The only thing I wasn’t sure of was the best way to install the poplar boards into the cabinet. My husband immediately suggested we buy a brad nailer. (He’s been angling for one ever since he found out his small air compressor was enough to power one.) We didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a brad nailer, so we ordered this onefrom Amazon for only ~$30. And then even though he’s the one that wanted the brad nailer, he let me use it to install everything! I wanted to at least help since this was my project, but it turned out it was easy enough to do all by myself.
I nailed the first boards in on the top and bottom, flush against the wall of the cabinet. Then, at my father’s suggestion, I put a piece of lauan up against the first pair of boards, so I could get the right spacing between each pair of boards. I nailed in the second pair of boards by pushing them snugly up against the lauan. This made the lauan a tight fit, but they still slide in and out with little effort. I kept sliding the one piece out and moving it over by one board until I didn’t have much room left in the left side of the cabinet to maneuver the brad nailer in there. Then I started using a scrap of the lauan from when they cut it at Lowe’s to do the spacing for the remaining boards, because that gave me room to hold the brad nailer.
Here’s what the cabinet looked like when I finished installing the poplar boards. Then I just slid in the lauan dividers every 2-3 boards.
Here are the final results. I basically just put all the same stuff back in there, but I already know I need to re-arrange things now that this cabinet makes things so much more accessible. I need to move the serving trays and other stuff I rarely use to less convenient storage locations, and put more frequently used items up here.
I’m linking this up to the weekly One Project at a Time link party hosted by A Bowl Full of Lemons!