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To be honest this has been somewhat of a roller coaster of a project with a complete redesign and at least two cock-ups on my part right in the middle of building it. That said despite it taking way longer than expected we’re both really pleased with the results so it’s been worth it.

As I’ve mentioned in a couple of earlier posts we’re been having a bit of a switch around in our apartment and this project is part of that. As with many of the things I build, or renovate, the inspiration for this came form a picture my wife tore out of an interior design magazine.

bed room shoe cupboard 001

The original wasn’t in a bedroom but she really liked the shape of it with open shelve’s either side and a central cupboard which we could used to store shoes. We have really high ceiling here, over 3.5 meters (12 feet) in fact, which we thought we could make good use of that with a really tall unit but it turns out there’s tall and too tall.

Shabby 011

The plan was to take a 2.3m tall 100cm wide PAX cupboard we had in our bird room (we always call it the bird room as the previous owner kept birds in there but we use it as storage for coats and shoes so why we do I’ve no idea) and add a Faktum kitchen unit, also from the bird room, to the top to create a central cupboard which was 3m (10 feet) tall. These two were already built in this fashion in the bird room and hacked in a shabby style which worked well – although you did need the big ladders out to use the top section. Then I’d place a Faktum kitchen units each side, these were coming from our old TV room where they’d already been hacked into shabby chic CD storage (can you see this getting complicated yet?). Lastly I’d place a new PAX wardrobe onto of each Faktum upside down to create the open shelves. They’d be upside down so the bottom shelf would be flush with the doors and the bases, now at the top, would allow me to attach coving to create a cornice. Still with me? Didn’t think so here’s what I mean….

Shabby 024The problem is as you can see it just didn’t work at all. It loomed monstrously tall over the whole bedroom like some odd tribute to the Chrysler building. So we went back to the drawing board. I could point out that at this point I’d almost killed myself  carrying a Faktum base unit to the top of a ladder and fixing it to the wall balanced on the top step or that I’d spent ages building a plinth around the bottom of the whole unit but I wouldn’t want you to share my pain as I took it all to pieces again.

Shabby update 001The new plan was to just use the three pax units but on the bottom of the two at the side to use the two 50×70 doors that we’d had on the Faktum kitchen unit that had been sitting on top. This would give us the doors at the bottom with the open shelves at the top we were looking for.

Shabby update 002So with the units secure to each other and fixed back to the walls the next step was to build a timber frame around the top of the whole unit so I could create a cornice later. I used 20x45mm (3/4 x 1 3/4 in) which I simply screw down to the tops of the units. You don’t have to be too tidy or accurate as this will be hidden later by the cornice.

Shabby update 005The next step was to position the lowest shelf flush the door tops, as per above, and add a wooden profile along the front of the shelf and around the side of the unit to hide the shelf front and break up the flat side of the units. I also added a thinner moulding to the front edges of the unit to hide the flat Pax edges. I did this to each of the shelves too as you’ll see in later pictures.

CorniceNext it was time to create a cornice to the top of the units with coving which is usually used around the join between the wall and ceiling. I  don’t mind admitting I’ve always hated doing this as I’ve generally really struggled to get them right and that’s when it’s been simple square units with only two outside corners to cut. This unit had four external corners and two internals (plus I also had to add a cornice to the top of a unit in my daughters room I’d been putting of for ages). So with 16 cuts to make and over half of those on were cuts at both ends of the coving it looked like I was going to be left with a lot of off cuts.

At this point I did consider booking us a surprise holiday so I could put it off for a week but instead I watched half a dozen video’s about cutting coving on YouTube.  Now to be honest each video left me slightly more confused than the next as tradesmen with years of experience explained how you make the cuts but never actually demonstrated them.

Then after hearing it a dozen times it finally clicked that the trick with getting the cuts right was to consider the base of your saw (or mitre block) as the ceiling and the backplate as the wall, I even wrote wall on the backplate of the saw. Although I wasn’t using the coving around the top of the walls as it’s intended you get the picture. Once I had that down everything just fell into place and the cuts all came out right first time.

The coving I’ve always used to create these cornices is extruded polystyrene and to attach it I simply use small panel pins to nail them onto the timber frame at the top of the units. You’ll need to use a punch to tap the nail all the way in without damaging the cornice.  At the corners I apply adhesive then pull them together and staple them from behind to hold them in place while the glue dries. I’ve experiments with a couple of methods  but this is the simplest and the easiest in my opinion.

I’ll split this project into two posts as it’s getting quite long and there are still some major mistakes to cover!

Thanks for reading the Shabby Side of Chic

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