Upgrade Cabinets by Building a Custom Plate Rack Shelf

Our guest today is sharing a project that just fits so perfectly with our Remodelaholic “builder grade to beautiful” motto. She took out the cabinet above her sink and built a wall-mounted plate rack with a shelf and mug hooks to display her pretty dishware!

Upgrade Kitchen Cabinets: Build a Custom Plate Rack | Blue Roof Cabin featured on Remodelaholic.com #upgradecabinets #buildergrade #buildit #platerack @Remodelaholic

Upgrading builder-grade cabinets is one the projects that is first on many homeowner’s project list. Replacing a cabinet with an open shelf and plate rack is just one way to improve blah cabinetry. Giving those oak cabinets a good cleaning might help you love them a little more. Adding new hardware is a quick and easy update. We’ve featured plenty of painted kitchen cabinets, and, when we couldn’t paint our cabinets, we installed crown molding (and showed you how!) to upgrade even without paint. Here are some other ways to upgrade your basic kitchen cabinets:

upgrade cabinets by glazing, Measured by the HeartGlaze Cabinets | Measured By the Heart

upgrade cabinets by staining using gel stain, Monica Wants ItStain Cabinets Darker | Monica Wants It

upgrade cabinets by adding furniture style feet, Plum DoodlesAdd Furniture-Style with Feet and Skirt | Plum Doodles

upgrade cabinets by adding beadboard and trim and painting, Nest Nesting Nested on RemodelaholicUpgrade Cabinet Doors by Adding Beadboard and Molding | Nest, Nesting, Nested on Remodelaholic

upgrade cabinets by making open cabinet, SAS InteriorsCreate an Open Cabinet | SAS Interiors

upgrade open cabinet by adding fabric to the back, Pretty Handy GirlBack an Open Cabinet with Fabric | Pretty Handy Girl

upgrade open cabinet by adding decorative molding, The Kim Six FixAdd Corner Molding to Open Cabinet | The Kim Six Fix

upgrade cabinets by adding glass, Everywhere Beautiful on RemodelaholicAdd Glass to Cabinet Doors | Everywhere Beautiful on Remodelaholic

Phew! Lots of options to upgrade cabinets, right? And now, here’s our guest Mimi to show you how she built her lovely plate rack cabinet!

Build a Custom Plate Rack Cabinet and Shelf

Upgrade Kitchen Cabinets: Build a Custom Plate Rack | Blue Roof Cabin featured on Remodelaholic.com #upgradecabinets #buildergrade #buildit #platerack @Remodelaholic

Hi I’m Mimi from the Blue Roof Cabin blog. I write about my passion for all things DIY whether it’s projects for our home or my furniture business. Our home started out as a log a cabin and over time had a few additions added on. It’s unique & quirky and there could not be a better place for me. Some of things I have built for our home are a Ship’s ladder (stairs) to connect the dining room to the original cabin, a banquette out of an old door and a faux fireplace mantle.

Today I am sharing a recent change I made to the kitchen. I replaced a builder grade cabinet with a custom plate rack cabinet. Our kitchen was upgraded in the late 90’s and I want the old character back. Since starting my furniture business last year my Kitchen remodel plans have gone nowhere. I decided it would be best to start small to get this thing going. cabinets before building the custom plate rack shelf and cabinet

Here’s the before. Dark ceramic slate looking tile back splash and counter with standard 30″ cabinet above the sink. The ceiling is very low because the kitchen is part of the original log cabin our house was built around. It was too dark and the cabinets have really yellowed. I plan to paint them eventually and replace the counter top, but baby steps right?

At first I thought I would just remove the doors on the old cabinet and add decorative brackets underneath. I didn’t want the center support in the middle of the cabinet though. I thought about cutting it out but then decided against ruining the cabinet. Why not just build exactly what I want? tearing out the cabinets

I removed the cabinet easily by unscrewing the four screws that held it up. Then I worked at removing the tile. Thankfully it came off pretty easily. We had installed it on a backer board that was screwed into the wall. To install the new tung and groove back splash I nailed into the groove side using my nail gun so the nail holes aren’t visible. There is only one outlet to cut around so it was pretty easy. I primed with oil based primer before installing.

diy plate rack cabinet with mug hooks and storage shelf

I painted with two coats of semigloss white. It really brightens up the place. I know it seems weird to replace the back splash before the counter but I wanted the back splash to go behind the bottom rail of my new cabinet. I left a gap between the counter and the bottom of the boards so hopefully there wont be much damage when we pull the counter out. I plan to use quarter round trim to finish it off which will cover the gap. For now it’s just sitting there.

cutting the decorative sides of the plate rack cabinet

Now for the fun part. To build the cabinet I started by cutting two 1 x 12 x 34″ pine boards for the sides. (Keep in mind 1 x 12 pine is actually 11.25″ wide x 3/4″) The bottom 9″ I cut out a decorative bracket shape with my jig saw. Deciding what shape was the hardest part. building the plate rack cabinet

Total cabinet width is 30″ so I cut a 1 x 12 to 28.5″ for the bottom shelf and glued and screwed it to the sides. Then I stopped taking pictures for some unknown reason. So I will attempt to show the rest by typing all over the finished picture. dimensions of plate rack cabinet diy

I wanted the top portion of the cabinet to be deeper than the lower plate rack section to make the cabinet look more interesting and custom. To achieve this I glued and nailed a 1 x 2 x 12″ piece to the top of the 1 x 12 sides. Then to make the top shelf the right depth I added a 1 x 2 to the back of that 1 x 12. That way the seam was in the back so you don’t see it and the constant sliding of plates wont bother it. staggered shelves on the custom diy plate rack cabinet

For the top of the cabinet ideally I would have used a 1 x 12 and a 1 x 2 like the shelf but I didn’t have anymore 1 x 12 so I used what I had. For support I added a 1 x 4 to the top back so that I would have something solid to screw into to mount it to the wall. For the coffee mugs pegs I added a 1 x 4 underneath the bottom shelf and drilled five holes evenly spaced for the pegs. I finished the cabinet off with 1/4″ plywood on the back. update builder grade kitchen cabinets with a plate rack cabinet and storage shelf and crown molding update builder grade kitchen cabinets with a plate rack cabinet and storage shelf

I didn’t think I was going to add crown molding so I hadn’t planned for it. When I installed the cabinet it looked really plain. My solution was to make a little crown molding hat to sit on top of the cabinet. add crown molding to cabinet using a separate piece

Above the cabinet there is a beam so the sides of the crown don’t go all the way back. I haven’t nailed it in yet because I eventually want to paint the ceiling. Once I do that I will attach it and caulk the seam.

mix builder grade and custom cabinets with a custom plate rack shelf and cabinet

To build the plate rack I cut four 1 x 2’s to 28.5″. I drilled the holes 2″ apart on center except for the end spaces are 2 1’4″. The dowels are cut slightly shorter than the opening size for ease of installing. I didn’t use any glue because they fit tight so they don’t move. I spaced the two racks with the dowels 6″ apart and screwed into the 1 x 2″s from under the bottom shelf and above through the top shelf. To install I screwed two tung and groove boards to the wall to shim it out even with the back splash then screwed through those into the wall. Total project cost was under $100 and was done in a weekend.

I really like having a plate rack it is very functional and I love the way they look. We use the plates and bowls everyday the Ironstone platters are just decorative. It’s getting closer to the cottage kitchen look I am going for. I almost don’t mind the yellowed maple cabinets anymore. Almost. I will be able to live with them a little longer.

I love this plate rack, Mimi! Such a great solution to upgrading custom cabinets and making the space work for you. Thanks so much for sharing with us! Be sure to hop over to Blue Roof Cabin and see Mimi’s other projects!

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Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.

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  1. I love plate racks. Of course I don’t have one. This one seems so easy too. Trying to talk hubby into
    swapping our Kitchen and LR. If i’m lucky enough to make it happen i’m having one of these. 🙂

    Jake’s a Girl

  2. Kitchen looks good when the owner of it keeps it neat, clean and well maintained. Nothing is impossible. Even if you add some designer custom cabinets and modern kitchen appliances then also you can make your kitchen look smart.

    1. This post actually is a tutorial on how to make the cabinet. There are dimensions in the images, and the whole post explains how it is done. If you read it and still have questions, then you can visit Mimi over at Blue Roof Cabin She may be able to help you.