Bringing Back the Hoosier: The All-in-One Kitchen Cupboard

A close-up of a wood cabinet.
What You'll Need
Basic non-assembled store-bought kitchen cabinets (3 base cabinets, 2 smaller wall cabinets), Inside hinged doors if possible.
Four 2x4s
Decorative crown molding
Countertop (laminate is far less expensive and well suites this specific project)
Cabinet knobs and handles
Screw driver
Wood saw
Wood clamp
Sandpaper or belt sander
Conditioner, wood stain, oil-based polyurethane

Do you know what a Hoosier cabinet is? Around the turn of the 20th century, every kitchen had something in common—a distinctly shaped piece of cabinetry called a Hoosier. Comprised of three parts, the piece served as a cupboard, a countertop, and an appliance holder. It even sported drawers and nooks to display dishes and tiny knickknacks. Though largely fallen out of style in modern kitchens, it still holds value among antique and vintage lovers.

Yet, here is the problem: because Hoosiers are commonly found in antique shops and specialty stores, getting one today is costly. For a finished piece, a quick Google search proves the range of prices fall from 800 to well more than 1,000 dollars. So what is one to do? If the look or convenience of this piece of cabinetry suits your taste, but not necessarily your budget, this article may be for you as I will explain how you can craft one of your own at home.

Step 1 - Some Assembly Required

For this DIY, one should begin by assembling and arranging individual store-bought cupboards. The general construct of a Hoosier features predominate base cabinets that hold large appliances (blenders, toasters) with smaller cabinets placed on top of them to conceal dishes, mugs, and other small items. Using wood clamps, clasp three base pieces together before solidifying with screws.

The same should be done with the upper pieces. (The connection of lower and upper pieces will be occurring the next step.)

Step 2 - Add Structure

To the back of the bottom cabinets, screw four 2x4s so that they stand perpendicular to the height of the structure. This will act as support and a means of backing to which the upper cupboards can be fixed. Using screws, drill through the back of said cabinets, into the studs placed behind. This single step adds ensured safety and stability to the project for all future use.

Step 3 - Stain

Using sandpaper, lightly sand wood surfaces with 120 grit paper. For an expert look, try the process for a second time before staining, but this time with an even finer paper (220 grit, for instance). This gently removes imperfections (or prior sanding mistakes) from the finish, which show considerably more when stained.

Next, using a brush, apply a thin layer of wood conditioner (to act as a sealant) and a layer of stain. It is always advised to brush in swift, circular movements, ensuring the area is fully camouflaged with color. Be sure to wipe off any excess and apply an oil-based polyurethane for durability when happy with the color.

Note: Toward the end of the project, decorative crown molding will be applied to the top of the Hoosier. When staining, be sure to color this to match the rest of the wood’s finish

Step 4 - Add Countertops

Laminate generally is available for purchase by the slab in hardware or home improvement stores. This means that it will generally require trimming either at home or by a professional to best suit the needs and look of your project. The following is how to do it for yourself.

After measuring the parameters of your bottom cabinets, apply masking tape to the edge of your slab and draw in measuring marks using a pencil. Using a saw (some experts push hand saws, but should power tools be handy, it makes for significantly lighter work), cut 1/8 of an inch out from that mark and sand your way to the line. The tricky part of customizing laminate countertops is its tendency to splinter and crack. This technique works to avoid that. Glue on matching laminate edge. To adhere counter to cabinets, glue cabinet corner braces to the bottom of the laminate, and screw into the base cupboard's sides.

Step 5 - Doors, Hinges, Finishing Touches

Finally, the fun part! To conclude this DIY, apply the door hinges to cupboards using the screws provided. Also, as most antique Hoosiers display lovely wooden crown molding to the tops of their pieces, screw your crown molding to the top of your piece.