This is how we created a large L-shaped sideboard using two separate pieces of furniture – and gained an entirely new room in the process.
When we first started helping our friends, Nithin and Rachel Kalvakota, turn their home into a reflection of them, their biggest concern was the open concept layout. In Chicago, open concept homes in new(ish) builds are as open as they get – typically, a large rectangular box of a building to maximize every inch of the 25′ wide property. One look at these photos of their first floor, and you’ll get it. Their home is the very definition of ‘open concept’!
If you’re new here or simply catching up, we’re helping our friends Nithin and Rachel transform their first floor from dark + heavy into a space that’s a reflection of who they are – bright and upbeat! You can see where we started right here, and here’s an in-progress post. #YBHxKalvakota
Rachel initially asked if we could build a wall from floor to ceiling to close off the kitchen, half-joking. I want it to feel cozy in here, not cavernous, she said. I said, I hear you!, but I had an idea that I couldn’t shake, which would give Rachel the warmth she craved without the construction of a wall. How about an L-shaped sideboard?, I asked. But first, let’s travel through time:
Wall | Before
Wall | During
Wall | Today!
The Idea for An L-Shaped Sideboard
I don’t think a floor-to-ceiling wall would have solved much, aside from giving them a larger living room, which they didn’t need. Before, this dead space between the living room and kitchen housed a too-small cabinet that was under utilized. Nithin’s turntable sat on top, but there was no where to hide the cables. And when I asked them how they saw themselves using this space, they said they’d love to have an area for the girls to play.
Enter: the L-shaped sideboard! I searched high and low for something that already existed, but I continued to strike out. (L-shaped desks, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen. Storage? Not so much.) I turned to our partners at Article, knowing that their furniture collection is full of handsome straight lines and built to last. For my idea to work, I needed a boxy shape, and I found that in the Dako sideboard! I pitched my idea to Article, and they enthusiastically wanted to take part.
The Dako sideboard is built from solid wood and Article continues to surprise me with their outstanding quality. These are HEAVY, with adjustable shelves and soft close doors. As soon as they arrived, we pushed them into position, with one sideboard floating between the living room and kitchen, and a collective aaah filled the room. Now we see it!, everyone agreed!
For my idea to work, we would need a custom top made to bridge the gap in the back corner. I knew Norman Leigh would knock it out of the park, and they did! They were able to match the stain exactly for the most seamless look. Each sideboard has a piece that sits on the top and meets in the corner at a 45-degree cut, joined with dominoes. There is a lip all around the top that allows it to stay perfectly in place. Here’s a top detail:
We chose not to glue or nail anything in place, so they tops could be pulled apart if needed – say, if they every want to reconfigure the sideboards, or simply need to access the electrical outlet in the corner. Don’t worry, to pull them apart takes quite a bit of muscle, so there’s no shifting. The entire execution came together better than any of us could have imagined!
View From the Back
As I shared the process in real time on Instagram, I received a lot of questions about the back of the sideboard. What does it look like from the kitchen side? The back of the sideboards have a finish panel, completing the look:
We added rubber bumpers on the back feet to keep everything level, as seen below:
Adding a Floating Shelf
We also asked Norman Leigh if they could make a matching floating shelf, adding height and defining the space further! It’s hard to tell in photos, but this shelf is over 6′ wide, 10″ deep and very strong. For now, I placed a few frames on the shelf and a couple of plants, but we still need to fill them with memories (most of the black and white photos came stock with the frames).
Now the sideboards are filled with the girls’ toys, and we tucked away the cords for Nithin’s turntable and speakers. A scented candle and a framed photo of Nithin’s mom keep the top simple and clutter free, because the real clutter (so many toys!) are tucked away behind closed doors. Before adding the L-shaped sideboard, this empty space had little purpose. Now, the Kalvakotas gained an entirely new room!
Layering In Texture
To complete the look, I laid down a soft braided rug with this thick 1/4″ rug pad. Rachel found the faux fur at Costco(!), and Scott picked up the green ottoman from a thrift store. I love how it’s the perfect height for the girls’ to sit on and read, or for an adult to join in on the fun.
One of the last big (and very crucial!) hurdles is adding art to the walls! We have a lot to choose from (Rachel’s grandma was an amazing painter, and she inherited several paintings), but we’ll also be adding a lot of favorite family photos, too. Although the changes we’ve made to this point have been huge, hanging art, I think, is when a house becomes a true reflection of the people who live in it.