Burnin’ the Midnight Oil

Part II: DIY Dry Bar Installation (Part I and Part III)

We have been so busy around here guys, I have lots of stuff coming your way...if only I can find the time to sit down and write about it!!

I shared the planning process of our dry bar and left off with a pile of boxes on the floor. When we got them in the door we immediately started ripping everything apart. We first had to clear the wall we would be working on. Fortunately that only entailed emptying our kitchen storage armoire and relocating it into the office.

With that out of the way we could start building cabinets.

Safety first: fire extinguisher at the ready! I was actually slightly annoyed that we were left with the holes from the fire extinguisher mount. It would have been nice if they were covered up, especially knowing how many holes we put in the wall…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The very first thing we did was pull off the base boards because we assumed that the cabinets would be hitting the top and they would need to be removed for the cabinets to sit flush on the wall. Well, we were wrong on that one. The cabinets have adjustable feet and by the time they were high enough for the kick plate to be installed, the base of the cabinet was above the base boards. So we put them back on. At least we got to clean behind them. That’s what we get for thinking we were being smart and doing things in the right order!

We stared off with the easy stuff and assembled all the cabinet bases. There were 4 units so to speak and from left to right we had: a 12-in end unit (this was open shelving on the end of the bar), a 12-in pull out drawer that will house our new recycling can (yay!), one 18-in cabinet, the gap for the wine cooler, and one 30-inch cabinet.

With IKEA stuff it’s the same assembly over and over so this part went by really fast. We left the inside components of the cabinets and doors for later to make it easier to move things around. Moving to the wall portion, we built the one upper cabinet and while I worked on the door The Engineer started to hang its mounting bar. This is where we hit our first road block. It wasn't a major problem but it did cost us a trip to Home Depot. I think deep deep down we knew that this was a masonry wall, but neither of us really remembered. Thus, when The Engineer tried to drill pilot holes in the wall he didn't get very far. That was fine because we picked up the appropriate mounting hardware and bits to mount the cabinet, the floating shelves, and secure the lower cabinets to the wall. I also got some paint for another project.

Once we were back on track we got the cabinet up pretty easily.

(At this point you will have to excuse the grainy pictures…it was dark and our lighting was limited)

What wasn't so easy was dealing with those floating shelves. Granted, most of the problems we created for ourselves with our modifications.

These were 12” IKEA LACK shelves designed to hang by two screws from the back. That’s fine, but before we mounted them we had to attach our lights to them. We used the GRUNDTAL spotlights from IKEA which came in a 3-pack, so we bought three 3-packs. One light for each of the 6 floating shelves and two lights for the inside of the wall-mounted cabinet. We might by another single light so later when we finish the wine storage below the cabinet we can mount two more lights on the bottom of that. We like it bright at our house!

The first obstacle was mounting the top two shelves. We couldn't use the mounting brackets they came with since they were the kind you hang over a screw and pull down to tighten (you can see these in below photos). This would have left about a ¼” gap between the shelf and ceiling which was unacceptable. Our first idea was to cut the back of the shelf out and build a frame on the wall that the shelf could then slide on to. I've seen this trick on many DIY tutorials for floating shelves. This solution was still a little complicated directly on the ceiling and would require some precise measuring and fabrication time. Then we realized that we had to drill a hole in the bottom of the shelf anyway to pass the cord for the light through…so we could just go through that hole and screw the shelf directly into the ceiling. Bingo! This was such a simple solution and it worked perfectly since it was only supporting its own weight ant the weight of the light, which didn't amount to much.

With a 1” hole drilled in the bottom and back, and a small pilot hole in the top of the top two shelves, The Engineer got to work mounting the top two shelves while I drilled holes in the bottom and back of the other four shelves so I could string the lights in.

I had a 1” hole to run the cord through and two small pilot holes so I could screw the light on.

I ran the wire through the hole in the bottom and out the hole I drilled in the back. I could then attach the light to the bottom of the shelf. Running the cord through the shelf was pretty straight forward once you got it through the honey comb paper inside.

We planned on running all the wires for the lights through the wall but our masonry wall was still giving us trouble. The drywall is appropriately attached to furring strips that are attached to the block, but one of those furring strips runs directly across the top of the wall. In other words, between the drywall and block, the furring strips create a space that we could run the wires through. In the case of the top two shelves though, we were stuck hitting the furring strip and couldn't get to the open space. We tried to drill at the lowest possible spot that would be covered by the shelf but couldn't get below it. We sucked it up and decided we would run the cords for these two along the ceiling and the rest through the wall.

Bam! One shelf down.

For the rest of the shelves The Engineer measured and pre-placed the mounting screws with drywall anchors while I was working on building the inside shelving and doors for the lower cabinets since the two-man operations were intermittent. For each shelf we used a wire snake to feed our wires though the wall and came back out behind the lower cabinets.

This worked very well until we got to the lights in the center cabinet. About 6 inches below our hole we were hitting something horizontal. We soon realized a window was formerly located back there and we were hitting the top valance (this was originally an exterior wall and is now an interior wall). Yikes. We ended up snaking inside the wall under the mounting bracket for the cabinet, coming out of the wall over the window valance, and back in the wall behind the cabinet and then the rest of the way down. It got complicated, but it worked!

I told you we ended up with a lot of holes in the wall! Even more exciting was that all the lights worked after they were installed.

It was about this time that we hit a stopping point and pushed the lower cabinets back in and called it a night.

We are so excited with how the area is looking. We need to find the right wine cooler and we really need our counter top to be in stock and we will be onto Phase III of the install...coming soon!