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“People love not having a lot of small appliances on their counter,” says designer Tracy Cimba. “Hiding the microwave behind a cabinet has been a big trend.”

Enter a unique pocket door system that Semihandmade customers can create on their own or with the help of a pro. 

“On a scale most easy to difficult, [creating an appliance garage] is at the higher end,” she says. While it’s technically a DIY project, she warns that you have to be savvy to correctly place the pocket hinges, plus have access to a table saw to cut the cabinets correctly. Get Cimba’s best advice below.

Appliance Garage 101

Design by Tracy Cimba; Photography by Hannah Pniak

Eighty percent of the Chicago-based designer‘s projects now include some kind of appliance garage, thus she “developed tricks using IKEA and Semihandmade,” she says.

To begin, one must understand the structure. To create a full-height “garage,” use a 30′”x 20″ IKEA fridge cabinet at the top. Mount on the wall with 26″ x 95″ side panels (cut to size as needed) and connect at the sides with screws from the interior of the cabinet.

Design by Tracy Cimba; Photography by Tetiana Sokolova

The middle section does not include an IKEA cabinet, but rather 40″ Semihandmade pocket doors with two sets of pocket hinges attached to side panels. Here, one can create custom internal shelving for a coffee bar, storage, and more.

Next comes the base with a 30″ x 30″ IKEA cabinet. Cut this cabinet down based on countertop thickness. For instance, if your countertop measures 1.25″ thick, then you take that same amount off the base cabinet so the doors can slide in and not hit the counter. 

The counter will sit on top of the base cabinet and drawers can be installed as normal. The top of the drawers or doors should align with the top of the internal counter.

 

On-Counter Storage

Design by Tracy Cimba; Photography by Brandi Schutt

“You can use similar instructions if you want to do an on-counter pocket door system,” Cimba says. “Take two side panels that come down onto the counter and attach the pocket doors to the left and right of the panels.”

When planning a pocket door installation, consider the width of the doors and depth of the pocket to determine how much the door will remain outside the pocket. 

Make It Yours

Design by Tracy Cimba; Photography by Ryan McDonald

Appliance garages aren’t just for appliance and pantry storage. Customize it with floating shelves, internal tile, or wallpaper. 

“We’re currently doing a double-sided pocket door system with a walnut coffee bar on one side and a cocktail bar on the side that faces the living room,” she says. 

Hide your TV within a media center, use Cimba’s technique for a simple work-from-home set-up, and more. “You can use it for everything,” she says. 

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Renovation

We don’t believe that renovations should be daunting. The key is to arm yourself with the right knowledge, people, and products to achieve your goals. It also helps to ask the right questions: How much does it cost to renovate a kitchen? How do I find the right general contractor in my area? Where do I even start if I’ve never remodeled before? This is where we come in. Through hard-to-believe before and afters, first-person renovation accounts, and step-by-step DIY projects, we demystify every aspect of remodeling and give you a ton of full-house, bathroom, and kitchen renovation ideas. Semihandmade was built on a strong make-it-yourself spirit and we’re carrying that legacy beyond DIY kitchen cabinets (though we’ll certainly touch on those too) by bringing you a ton of weekend projects for novices (have you ever tried making your own planter?) and experts (try your hand at a full-wall media center). What do people really mean when they say a house has “good bones”? Before and after projects show first-hand what’s possible in a transformative remodel. How do you make the most of a narrow galley? Should you swap your upper cabinets for floating shelves? What would it look like if you opened up your small kitchen? Renovation ideas abound in our spotlighted projects. A lot goes into a kitchen renovation, but it’s usually hard to tell from a beautiful “after” shot. Our monthly series “Island Hopping” is about getting a behind-the-scenes account of what the process is like through honest conversations—you know, the kind that typically take place around a kitchen island. We’ll chat with designers, homeowners, and architects about their projects, hoping to peel back the curtain on picture-perfect spaces.