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How We Created An L-Shaped Sideboard and Gained An Entirely New Room

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.

L-shaped sideboard with floating shelf above, white oak and neutral colors | play nook inspiration in an open concept home | via Yellow Brick Home
sideboards | custom floating shelf | lamp (similar)

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

Living room walls before were dark and heavy, not a good use of space | play nook inspiration in an open concept home | via Yellow Brick Home

Wall | During

joining two sideboards together to create an L-shape | play nook inspiration in an open concept home | via Yellow Brick Home

Wall | Today!

L-shaped sideboard with floating shelf above, white oak and neutral colors | play nook inspiration in an open concept home | via Yellow Brick Home
sideboards | custom floating shelf | lamp (similar)

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.

L-shaped sideboard with floating shelf above, white oak and neutral colors | play nook inspiration in an open concept home | via Yellow Brick Home
sideboards | floating shelf | lamp (similar) | braided rug

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:

L-shaped sideboard detail from the top | play nook inspiration in an open concept home | via Yellow Brick Home

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:

L-shaped sideboard with floating shelf above, back detail looking into the living room | play nook inspiration in an open concept home | via Yellow Brick Home

We added rubber bumpers on the back feet to keep everything level, as seen below:

L-shaped sideboard with floating shelf above, back detail | play nook inspiration in an open concept home | via Yellow Brick Home

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).

thick floating shelf with photos | play nook inspiration in an open concept home | via Yellow Brick Home
L-shaped sideboard with floating shelf above, Ralph Lauren lamp | play nook inspiration in an open concept home | via Yellow Brick Home
detail of lamp and family photo | play nook inspiration in an open concept home | via Yellow Brick Home
lamp (similar)

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!

L-shaped sideboard detail of lamp and floating shelf | play nook inspiration in an open concept home | via Yellow Brick Home
lamp (similar)

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.

L-shaped sideboard with floating shelf above, white oak and neutral colors | play nook inspiration in an open concept home | via Yellow Brick Home
sideboards | floating shelf | lamp (similar) | braided rug

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.

PS: Here are a few other makeovers for friends, if you’d like to see! Family room | kids room | small den | rental living room | vintage bathroom charm | rooftop pergola

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  • Thora1.18.22 - 9:51 AM

    Wow, the change here is amazing! And I love how the warm wood really warms up the room. The Norman Leigh top really looks just like part of the piece and I love that it can be taken off making these sideboard flexible for future uses too. Just one question: does the vent in the corner still work well? Is it a return vent or a blowing vent? I can never figure out what my options are for covering up vents in rooms, or what is enough space to still be able to warm/cool a room. I can see the sideboards are up off the floor, so perhaps the air just makes it’s way out?ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.18.22 - 10:07 AM

      Oh, good question! We put a vent deflector on the vent to allow it to blow sideways, instead of straight up. That combined with the raised legs helps to let the air blow out in an efficient way. :)ReplyCancel

      • Thora1.19.22 - 11:35 AM

        That is so smart! I need to look into vent deflectors.ReplyCancel

  • Danielle1.18.22 - 11:01 AM

    How is the clearance between the back of the piece and the kitchen island and refrigerator?ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.18.22 - 12:25 PM

      It works great – no issues whatsoever! I made sure the Kalvakotas were happy with the spacing before we even moved forward with the idea.ReplyCancel

  • Nicole Minkoff1.18.22 - 11:08 AM

    This is gorgeous! I keep wondering how much space is between the consoles and the Kitchen island – does it make the kitchen feel small at all? ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.18.22 - 12:24 PM

      There’s 3’ – the same space between the island and the sink. It feels very symmetrical!ReplyCancel

  • Julie1.18.22 - 3:50 PM

    I’m glad picture ledge shelves aren’t dead! The shelf really anchors the L part of that big room. Open concept rooms are so over rated and kuddos for how you divided up the space in a cozy way.ReplyCancel

  • Tara C1.18.22 - 7:01 PM

    Gorgeous! I love seeing how to rethink open concept to make it more cozy.TaraReplyCancel

  • Emme1.19.22 - 2:44 PM

    That rug is a great choice. I have 2 (area rug and hallway) and it’s very durable. 5 years of foot traffic and pets and it’s held up very well.ReplyCancel

  • Courtney1.19.22 - 11:18 PM

    The phrase “less is more” is want always comes to mind when I see your designs.  Clean, simple- so amazing.   I’ve been following you all for so long- and I just can’t recreate your work- but Ima still try:). great work again!  ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.20.22 - 8:53 AM

      Courtney! This is the best compliment, thank you so much.ReplyCancel

  • Arunima1.25.22 - 10:11 AM

    May I ask for recommendations on where to find similar vintage ottomans? It is just such a great piece that ties it all together and I would love to find one for my home.ReplyCancel

    • Scott1.25.22 - 10:43 AM

      Hi! We found it at Brown Elephant resale here in Chicago. If you do a search in your area for ‘mid century modern vintage’ that should be a good start. Hope this helps.ReplyCancel

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