Sunday, January 4, 2015

(Jan 4) Kitchen Counter Build and Install

Hope the new year is treating you well! We decided to brave the cold (stop laughing, those of you that are north of Kansas!) and come out for the weekend. After having spent the entire day out in freezing rain (I went to the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth Friday. Miserable day, amazing finish to the game!) I still wanted to go out to the property and work on the cabin some. We only have a small propane heater and I was skeptical whether it would keep up with the near freezing weather, so we stopped and bought a gallon of Denatured Alcohol to burn.

We got to the cabin late Friday night and it was about 35° inside. We poured up 2 quart sized metal cans full of alcohol and fired them up. We also got the propane heater cranking. Yes, I left a window open for plenty of circulation. I can only imagine how quickly 3 sources could burn up all of the oxygen in our little space. We got the temp up to the low 60s which was very comfortable and only a few degrees lower than we keep our large house in the winter. Problem was, we burned up all of the alcohol that night and the propane heater wouldn't keep up the next night. Saturday, we did good to keep it above 40° through the night. It was a bit chilly but still better than last year when we were sleeping in a well ventilated tent through the winter. Those were some cold nights!

We picked up some supplies to finish insulating the walls and looked for some options to improve the alcohol heater. Finally came to the conclusion though that it's just really expensive to burn alcohol. It was $16 for the gallon at HD and it probably only burned 4-5 hours. I can get 10 hours of electric heat by running our generator for less than $10 now that gas has fallen in price. We really need to work out a permanent solution. Good thing winter is only 2-3 months here.

We finally decided that we would install the countertop that Kim found on clearance ($30) at IKEA. We laid it face down and built a frame inside the opening.  Took that out and built a second. (We cut all of the steel and dry fit the pieces before we attached them just to make sure.) This way we knew for sure that they would fit and be identical. Next, we connected the two frames with some legs. All-in-all, it took a couple of hours to complete. I had all of the steel left over from the house build. It's just been sitting in the woods providing a home to the spiders and bugs for a year!  Anyway, the countertop now gives us a good work space in the kitchen and provides a place to keep all of the cooking supplies out of the way. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

When we end up with a full sized fridge at some future date, I can take the legs off and shorten the cabinet to accommodate. Great thing about steel, you can just unscrew it and adjust it later!

We turned the countertop over and used it was a template to build the cabinet base. 

Here's the corner of the kitchen where it will go.

Bottom of the base done with legs attached 

Attaching the top of the base.  

Base, completed and in place 

Countertop installed on base 

Can you believe it fit next to the fridge without any trim or adjustment?! Beats cooking on TV trays like we've been doing! :) 

Yes, that's a bottle of Maker's Mark on the fridge. Our reward for working in the cold all day was a large, hot whiskey sour with our grilled pork chops. Sorry for the noise in the video. That's dinner cooking!

We're hoping to buy some more building supplies by the end of the month and finish up much of the project. We've got a Murphy bed to build. (We worked on the design last week and feel we have the concept down.) I think we'll be able to get the Tongue & Groove for the ceiling, finish the sheetrock, trim (already purchased) the windows and doors and get the flooring (already purchased) down over the next couple of months. We've also got Hardi siding to finish outside as well as soffit as soon as the weather cooperates. Next after that will be the cistern and water catchment/filtration system. Right now, it's still too easy to bring a couple of jugs of water from town. After that, we'll have to make a decision on electric service. It'll be good to make some significant progress again!

Take care and stay warm! 


  1. Jay, I would love to do a story on your tiny home journey! Curious about where you guys are located? Please email me when you can

  2. Thanks for sharing. You have done a super job. I'm considering something very similar except in aluminium as I live in a very damp place - Ireland. Could you please share more about the pre-cast foundations? Thanks.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Woody! It's been a lot of fun. If you're talking about the concrete footings for the frame, those are sold here at our local hardware store, Home Depot. They're about $6 ea. At 35 pound each, my back was killing me by the end of the day. I think you would be fine with the steel. It's galvanized and should hold up to the rain. I would paint the exposed ends that have been cut just to seal them up. Best of luck with your project. Send me pics as you go along. I would love to visit Ireland one day. Been to Europe but didn't make it that far north.