As much as we love the stone we chose for our counters, I’ll start by saying that I was a little confused after the fabricators left. I snapped some photos for Scott (they’re done, and they’re gorgeous!, I texted), but the more I looked at them, the more I felt they were – too high? It seemed as though they were floating above the cabinets, leaving too large of a gap between our drawers and counters. I showed Scott what I meant when he came home, and at first we thought, well, this is just us not being used to having counters, right?
I’m shooting down low so you can see what I mean, but here is how they looked after installation:
It doesn’t look terribly funny, but it just felt a little off to us, and after looking through way too many kitchen photos online to see if we were losing it (totally possible, by the way), we realized that – surprise, surprise! – there was miscommunication between us, our cabinet maker and the fabricators. This is why:
- Our cabinet maker created the measurements based on our old laminate counter. That countertop had a lip, which brought the front edge down by an additional 1/2″ – at least.
- We didn’t think or know to tell him that our new counters wouldn’t have a lip, and I imagine there was the assumption that we would be mounting new stone in a similar way. As a result, while the spacing between each drawer and door is 1/4″, he left a sizable front face at the top – approximately 1″.
- When we hired our fabricators, we wanted the most simple edge available. They said, great! And when they came to measure, we let them do their thing.
- The installation went as smooth as possible, but I was called down once to confirm that yes, our floors are sloped a bit. (Our floors are just plain, old crooked. There’s a difference of almost 1″ from the left end of the wet wall counter to the right, plus a little dip in the middle for good measure. This isn’t visible in person, but it’s very noticeable with every single DIY!) They let me know they’d need to shim more than normal to keep things level, and I agreed. The cabinets were also shimmed from below, so imagine a shimming bonanza to keep everything straight and level.
- This new countertop edge, as you can see, comes straight out from the cabinets,with no lip. As a result, we have a look that felt as if it was “floating.”
You can see the most shimmed section of counter here, which is only visible if you’re, say, of the four-legged variety (while you can see the shims in this photo, it’s caulked behind clear silicone):
All this to say, this is no one’s fault, it’s just something we didn’t know to point out or ask of anyone. We could absolutely let this go, but we really think that it’s all in the details (hello, 5%!). We’re sharing this because while it may not be the most obvious in photos – especially if you’re taller than 3′! – we thought it might be helpful for anyone else who doesn’t know all the questions to ask. Every single decision in this room has been heavily considered more than we delve into here (we’re sparing you, we promise), and as with any renovation, there will be slips – and that’s okay. The good news is that we were able to fix it inexpensively with a little trim in an afternoon!
First, we picked up a 1″ x 4″ x 8′ piece of select pine, and we ripped it down to thin sections on our table saw. This had to be done in a few sections, with some needing to be 3/4″ tall and some being 5/8″. A quick dry fit ensured we were on the right path.
Our cabinet maker gave us leftover touch up lacquer, which is only meant to be applied with a sprayer. For ease of use, we went to a local Benjamin Moore location, showed them what we had, and they recommended a quart of INSL-X Cabinet Coat in the same color (Distant Gray) and finish (satin), which could be applied with a brush or roller.
After I painted all the strips, we used our nail gun to put them in place. We realized that the thickness of a paint stir stick was the closest match to the drawer spacing, so we used a couple of them as a guide during the install.
A dab of spackle and paint covered the holes created by the nail gun, and then it was time to caulk. In the lowest spots, there were still some 1/4″-or-so gaps between our trim work and the underside of the counter, but caulk backing is a time saver for things like this:
The backing helps to fill any gaps that are abnormally large (this would also be a great way to fill any space between your floor and wall before baseboards!), and it allows the caulk to have a place to rest. This also prevents the need to apply layer after layer of caulk.
Once that was in, I used white silicone caulk to create a seamless transition from trim to counter. The biggest difference is the former blank space above our dishwasher; that alone felt worth it! Despite the additional trim, the dishwasher can still be pulled out in the future if necessary, and all the drawers and doors open and close no different than they did before.
We chose to stop the trim where the drawer ends, rather than carry it around. Below on the left is without trim, and on the right, you can see how that finished end looks:
This was purely an aesthetic change, but one that helped to pull those counters back down! If we hadn’t done a thing, we doubt anyone would notice, but now that we’ve finished the task, it feels so much better to us. You know how baseboards finish a room? These little strips finished the cabinets, er, counters. Both, really!
With the exception of some finicky under cabinet wires, we’ve almost completed the lighting, and next up? Tile!