Instructables
Picture of Build a recessed storage cabinet
13-art.jpg
My wife wanted somewhere to store her spices so they wouldn't be all piled up in a cabinet. Since I'm fond of "secret compartments", I decided to build some shelves in a cavity of the kitchen wall and build a door that would double as a picture frame. The shallow depth of the wall cavity helps keep everything in front where it can be easily seen. 

**Before you finalize a location, determine if there will be any electric lines, plumbing, heater ducts, or any other obstruction that may pass through the wall cavity that you'll be working in. This cabinet will fill the entire depth of the wall cavity.

There's no set way to do this. It will vary from house to house. Here's a couple guidelines to help determine if its a safe location.

Electrical wires:
Some of the commercial stud finders also have a non-contact voltage detector built into them. You can also look lower on the wall to see if there are any outlets close by. Wires typically run horizontally through the studs from one outlet to the next, but sometimes the wires will be fastened to the studs to run vertically either up to the attic, down to the basement, or even over doorways.

Ductwork:
Ductwork will always run parallel between the studs (or between floor joists). If ductwork runs perpendicular to the studs or floor joists, it will be outside the studs or under the joists. Look for any heat registers nearby. They can be in the wall, ceiling, or floor. In a multi-story home, you also need to be aware of any vents that may be in the same general location on the floor above you.

Plumbing:
Again, be aware of your location. If you're in a family room and don't have a bathroom or kitchen in close proximity you're probably safe. If there's a sink directly above you up stairs, you may want to investigate some more.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
TamS117 days ago

I love this idea for in my front hall : flashlights,extra keys, documents and/or the odd weapon for self-defense. You could put on an unobtrusive locking device to keep it childproof. Perfect idea. Thanks for this ;-)

Phubert858 months ago
Ok...so we have a question - we cut the sheetrock from between the studs and then we used some chevron contact paper to "line" the inside of studs and the back. We have a framed mirror that will be our door. Our question is, the contact paper looks great inside the shelf... Except the raw edge of the sheetrock is exposed... Your picture looks like a finished edge on the sheetrock...how did you get such a perfect edge?
earz_cd (author)  Phubert8527 days ago

Nick Ferry on Youtube just posted a video showing a great method of finishing one of these hidden storage spots.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bt6z9EIP-A

earz_cd (author)  Phubert858 months ago
I was just very careful when I cut the drywall. The wooden box fits tight enough that you don't really notice the gap and the box is flush with the face of the drywall.

Are you using the existing studs as the sides of your compartment? The only thing I could suggest is to get some clear platic corner protectors (like these - http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B002MFUACO) and frame the opening with, then reapply the contact paper over one edge of the corner protector so the contact paper comes all the way to the face of the drywall.
YerGramma8 months ago
Really a useful project--thanks! I know just where I want to install this in my house, and it will solve a long-time problem I've had finding a convenient place to store oils and spices. One minor suggestion I have is to extend the dadoes for the shelves across the board used as the back of the cupboard. This will give additional support to the shelf and keep it from bowing over time.
earz_cd (author)  YerGramma8 months ago
That back dados are a good idea, if you have the room for it. I used 1/8" hardboard for the back, so it wouldn't work in my example.
kidharris8 months ago
Nice work, while the recessed cabinet idea is as old as the hills, this is the first one I've seen disguised as a picture frame.
Bettybstt8 months ago
I really like how you "hid" the spice cabinet. I did a similar project for DVDs a few years ago - see photos
P1040949.jpgP1040950.jpg
GrumpyOldGoat8 months ago
I just LOVE hindsight.

Since you already have studs on both sides of the box, just use 1/4" Luan for top, sides, and back. The back side of some sheets of Luan have an awesome grain pattern.

Using pegboard is another great idea, just don't forget to leave a gap on the backside for the hooks to fit in.

My wife is a BIG Bob Ross fan and I'm always looking for new places to hang a painting.

Since I live in a 'manufactured house', few if any of the interior walls are considered "load supporting".

Is a .45 ACP considered a 'Spice"?
earz_cd (author)  GrumpyOldGoat8 months ago
spice - verb, add an interesting or piquant quality to; make more exciting.

I think it qualifies... :)
sharpstick8 months ago
Good plan. I've been planning a similar spice rack for a few months, but haven't started yet. It's all in my head so far. My plan is to use the studs themselves for the frame. I will make it two or three stud spaces wide, leaving the center stud or studs intact, so it will consist of two or three 13.5" spaces. This way the shorter shelves won't have as much stress as longer shelves would. I can nail quarter round or 1x2s to the studs for shelf support, or drill holes every two inches or so for shelf pins like storebought book shelves use. A coat of paint should hide the fact that it is the inside of a wall. Some wood putty and Dark paint would hide any knotholess, loose nails, etc. My location is pretty firm. There is an outlet just below the location and I'm not sure if it is fed from above or below. Worse case, if it has romex feeding down through my shelf area, I plan to relocate it to the back corner and hide with 1/2" pvc pipe cut in half or quarter and hot glued.
I'm just going to hide the cut drywall edge with a mitered frame of purpleheart flooring material to match the other highlights in the room. This will also hide the shelf ends. An optional front ledge on the shelves will help prevent stuff from falling off the shelf from people walking by. (It's in a well traveled area.)
My plan is a bit simpler than yours, and not quite as pretty, but with all the stacked up projects I have, it has a better chance of actually being done someday!
earz_cd (author) 8 months ago
@ak49er - good point, but this is the newest house I've ever lived in, and it was built in '69. I've had one entire wall gutted to replace damaged drywall and there were no fire blocks. Maybe I should have put some in. :)
Trebor15039 months ago
As an additional step: You should brace the drywall horizontally just above and below the hole with 2x4s so that you don't accidentally put pressure on the drywall at some future point and break it. You need to frame this out the same you would if you were placing a window.
ak49er Trebor15039 months ago
More importantly, you MUST frame above and below the openning with horizontal 2"x4"s, otherwise you may have violated fire code. By cutting a hole in the drywall, you turn your stud wall into essentially a chimmney. The 2"x4"s act as a fire & smoke stop (along with the dry wall) in the event of fire.
Quanah9 months ago
We have one of these in our bathroom as a medicine cabinet. Good job.
vfx Quanah9 months ago
Also when measuring between studs check the top and bottom. Construction crews can get sloppy with inner walls sometimes and your box may not fit if the studs skewed on a diagonal.
jtechian9 months ago
I have also did this on my sisters house when we remodeled her bathroom.
Beside her new shower we made a recessed shelves to store her shampoo soaps etc., with a trim frame rather then door.
Thanks for sharing..
jtechian9 months ago
I have done this in my bathroom to store towels etc. On a note to this, I would not do this for an outside facing wall as you will compromise the insulation at that point.
stanwitham9 months ago
Great idea! I may well use this in my shop for extra space for small tools, paint cans, glue, etc.instead of having shelves sticking out into the room. If I did that, I would place a thin sheet of insulation on the back side of the opening. Thanks for sharing!
chuckyd9 months ago
A BIG WORD OF CAUTION

Use a metal detector to verify that there are no wires in the wall. After that, go very easy to avoid any possible PVC pipes.


To finish the opening, place an edge bead around the new wood box and spackle up to the bead.
earz_cd (author) 9 months ago
@SnazzyBot - I added some guidelines that may help in the intro and added another suggestion in step 2.
earz_cd (author) 9 months ago
@flapper - I've done that before but the screws I was using were a little rough. I've picked up steel splinters in my hands from them on multiple occasions.
SnazzyBot9 months ago
Just a quick question: You mentioned to check for electrical wires, pipes, ducts, etc before you cut into the wall... what's the best way to check for those things?
flapper111uk9 months ago
Save using wax on screws. I find holding a couple in my mouth as I work helps. A good gob of saliva worx too lol.
Great job though always wanted to do this in bathroom and use panels as decoration and storage hiding
earz_cd (author) 9 months ago
Good tip Trebor1503.
Pretty rad!