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Built-in Kitchen Shelves

Do you love your kitchen? really love it?

If you just gave an enthusiastic YES; in my best Napleon Dynomite voice, "LUCKY!"

I don't hate my kitchen, but it's hard to like. I guess I do hate it!

It's one of those small prefab kitchens and I think the previous owner picked it out by closing his eyes, shuffling through a catalogue and randomly pointing to a page.

"I'll take this one!"

"I don't care that it's atrocious!"

Nothing at all against prefabs, but my kitchen...yeeesh!

Dang, Bryan! Just remodel and stop all the whining!

It's difficult to throw away construction and demolition waste in Japan.

There are laws to protect builders and prevent illegal dumping. Silly laws.

Here's a little story: My house was originally an office building and there was a little office style kitchen located directly in the middle. (This prefab kitchen in the pics is kitchen #2.) You can't just rip out a sink and cabinets and throw em' away; you'll need to pay a waste company to take it off your hands. It's expensive, so the previous owners left it. I unknowingly tore it all out and tried dropping it off at the trash dump.

They were like, "Hey, why are you bringing that trash to the trash dump!"...wut?

You can't do it! As a matter of fact, you can't throw away big appliances either.

Appliances like:


-washing machines

-Air conditioners


or demolition waste like:

-roof shingles,




Large appliances cost around $50 and more to dispose of. It's an expensive hassle so some folks illegally dump their junk. You often see appliances on the side of the road, especially in the country. There's a forest nearby my house full of washing machines and TVs and it's more expensive if you live in the city. In Tokyo, you need to pay for anything that won't fit in a city trash bag. Chairs are around $4 to pitch and a sofa will cost $20.

This is the main reason DIY remodeling isn't popular in Japan.

The first jigsaw cut

My tiny kitchen has this non-load bearing wall separating it from the living room area.

Perfect for built-in shelves!

I didn't have any plans going into this. I'm a DIY rebel folks! Watch out!

I drilled a hole big enough to fit my jigsaw blade in and just started cutting around the studs.

*Use a stud finder with wire tracing mode to check for wires. These are available at hardware stores and all you do is flip the switch on the stud finder to "AC" mode. The stud finder will have some kind of indicator when it is directly over a wire.

Jigsaw action
"Cut it out." -Dave Coulier

Installing trim over the curvy cuts
Cutting out the trim

Cutting out the wall was easy, but messy. I needed to cut everything down into little bits to sneak it into the trash dump. I was terrified the trash dump workers were going to know I was trying to pull a fast one and say something! I'm as cool and collective as Pee-Wee Herman. It's a hand to hand transfer of garbage at the ol' dump, so they're actually waiting there with their hands out..staring into your eyes.

The trash was delivered!

That color is called black-brown
Trimming and painting

I trimmed everything out with cedar wood and painted it black-brown.

Jacobean Briwax
Wax on, Wax off

Jacobean Briwax! I love Briwax and use it often. It goes on smoothly and buffs to a gorgeous shine. Just look at it.

The backs of the shelves are pieces of thin plywood glued into place and oil stained with Watco Spiced Walnut. I stained the wood before gluing it in.

Those shelves are not moving
Nice cleats

The shelves are made out of cedar wood and attached to cleats. These shelves are not adjustable and the cleats are pieces of trim screwed into the studs.

Check out the my large logos! I used to think humungous Bryan's Workshop logos were cool.

The finished shelves!

I now officially..kind of like my kitchen. Well, I like this side of it.

Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking. What about the dust? These built-ins are now five years old and dust hasn't been an issue.

Full of charm
You know I didn't forget the whiskey!

The built-in kitchen shelves


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