Dining Room Cabinetry

by Alissa
6 Days

Alissa HaganDining Room Cabinetry

When we built this house, six years ago, an open floor plan was a must have. However, after living here and raising kids for six years, I definitely would have chosen to have a few more walls. But we don’t so we work with what we’ve got. One of the biggest things I remember learning in design school was how to define a space as it’s own room without using walls. This lesson has served me well with an open floor plan. Therefor, we chose to install cabinetry in our dining room to define the space without walls and also provide more function.

We use our dining room for a lot of things, well when it’s not being used as a laundry hamper. We needed more storage for office type stuff as well as to store homeschool supplies, craft supplies and a few serving pieces.

This little buffet and open shelving was a temporary solution using furnishings we already had. It was also helpful to visualize what cabinetry could look like and how much storage we actually needed. My realization was we needed wall to wall cabinetry.

Before with a different table and different rug


After looking at cabinetry options and getting a few quotes we decided that in-stock cabinetry from the home store was going to be the best option for our budget. I chose unfinished oak cabinets from Lowe’s. Initially I left the cabinets natural, which is why I chose unfinished, however they do carry other pre-finished cabinets in a few stains and paint colors. Below are the unfinished cabinets we chose.

We were able to fit 4 cabinets on our wall. Two 36 in. cabinets with top drawer and two 18 in. three drawer cabinets. I prefer drawers over open cabinets for easier organization. Cabinets with all drawers do cost slightly more.

I am not going to cover how to install cabinets in this blog but there are videos all over that you can learn how to install cabinets.


I chose a butcher block countertop with waterfall feature for this space. My dream would be to have soapstone to coordinate with our island and maybe some day we will, but again this was a budget project and butcher block counters are

budget friendly and beautiful.

A waterfall countertop is where the counter continues over the side of the cabinets. They are typically mitered edges so that the countertop looks seamless. We chose a butt joint because we wanted to see the end grain of the butcher block.

I finished eating countert dark furnire wax.

Waterfall counter butt joint
Waterfall countertop

The countertops were finished with Minwax Paste Finishing wax in dark. Its not for heavy water areas but works well in this area. When it starts to show wear you simply hit it with some fine sandpaper and add another layer of wax.

Backsplash Tile

We carried the subway tile from the kitchen into the dining room. I had just enough tile left over to add a small backsplash. This is a handmade brick tile from Fireclay Tiles. They have an amazing selection of handmade tiles in several different colors and shapes.

Floating Shelves

My husband built these floating shelves with tube steel and white oak to go on top of the counters. The shelves really completed the space by drawing the eye up and making it feel bigger.

Hardware is from Rejuvenation.

And then I decided I wanted the cabinets black. My options were to paint or stain. I chose stain since it was raw unfinished wood and I didn’t want to prime then paint. I had forgotten how much work it takes to stain or paint cabinets. Neither one is a quick process.


I chose to use the minwax polyshades stain in black. It is stain and polyurethane in one step! It comes in a gloss and satin finish. I initially chose gloss, hated it and did the top coat in satin.

As with any project the outcome is all in the prep. The cabinets did have a layer of furniture wax so I began by sanding with an 80 grit sandpaper. Followed that up with 120 grit sandpaper. If you have stain and/or a clear coat you might need to strip the finish before sanding. I highly recommend citristrip for stripping furniture.

Once done sanding and cleaning your cabinets you are ready for stain. I set my doors and drawer fronts on scrap pieces of wood with screws ran through them.

This set up allowed me to stain the back, flip them over and stain the front all in the same day. It takes at least 6 hours for the stain to dry. If I hadn’t used these stilts it would have taken me four days to stain instead of 2. Be mindful of drips on the sides and bottom as you’re staining. The polyshades has a more paint like consistency than other stains I have worked with. This is because of the polyurethane. You will apply this stain with a brush. I found the inexpensive chip brushes worked well.

The picture above shows the drawers after the first coat in the gloss finish. They looked good but the sheen was too shiny for me. Instead of sandpaper, between coats, this stain recommends steel wool. If you use sandpaper it will gum up the paper and the stained cabinet.

Top: Gloss Bottom: First coat Satin

The first coat of satin actually looked very flat once dry. I believe it was from the wood soaking up the stain. The finish coat was slightly shinier.

The stain takes 6 hours to dry, but I recommend letting it dry and cure for a day or two. I found it to be a bit tacky in places after only 6 hours.

Final Reveal

I love the finished product! There was a time during staining, when I stained the frames, that I had that thought of “oh no what have I done”? I usually question every project at some point. The cabinets look great, almost like a professional, manufactured finish.

Do you see it? I have yet to install the last two drawer pulls. I have actually installed them wrong, twice! Ugh! But after patching and staining they still need another coat of stain.

Follow me on Instagram @haganhomestead to see the reel of me styling these shelves!

Happy DIYing!


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  • Terre Tulsiak Terre Tulsiak on Jul 11, 2021

    also is there a reason you didn't use solid tube for metal supports?

  • Cso51108026 Cso51108026 on Jul 26, 2021

    Hi, Alissa! I'm really glad I saw this post - but what actually intrigued me is the post in the corner! (For real!) We are doing a period-historic remodel on a 1909 Craftsman Bungalow, and when a bathroom got added in about 1930, upstairs, the plumbing stack got run down the inside wall of the dining room (!); better than in an exterior wall... I suppose... *rolling eyes* BUT, we had to rework all the ducting for the HVAC, and are creating a "grid" system of faux beams on the dining room ceiling and I suggested to my husband that we enclose the plumbing stack in a vertical beam; he thought that might look a little odd, but yours looks great!!! Did you guys do that? Was it to hide something (plumbing!) in the corner? What kind of wood is that - it looks nice and rustic!! Is it butt joints or is it mitered? Sorry for all the questions, but I've never seen anyone who actually has what I had just proposed to Keith! Too funny!!! Appreciate your help, ~Chrissie PS I agree with you about Butcher Blocks - we put walnut ones in the kitchen; made the mistake of polying - long story about poly and non-kiln-dried wood, so we'll be sanding it off and oiling... what a pain. But STILL even with the additional labor, so much more cost-effective than natural stone, and simply beautiful!!!

  • Kim 'Kiewatt' Waknitz Kim 'Kiewatt' Waknitz on Jul 11, 2022

    Turned out nice, but I don’t have room in my dinning room. I’m think this would work in a den (do they even call them dens anymore?) Bar above and games below.

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