Movable Cabinets

Movable Bathroom Sink and Cabinet.
Movable Bathroom Sink and Cabinet.

Why is cabinetry in the home expected to be built-in? When attending architecture school, I designed a rather inventive duplex where most everything was movable. This included the walls, the cabinets, the closets, and even a second story bedroom. Due to regularly placed pluggable drainage and snap on, snap off plumbing, sinks, bathtubs, and toilets could be moved. The walls were a steel mesh that allowed for hanging pictures and objects but a metal cleat system hung wall cabinets while kitchen cabinetry all sat on the floor as ordinary furniture with any backslash attached to the cabinets and not the wall without the need for special carpentry. One could change the entire floor plan. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, or any room was only limited by the number of square feet of the structure. Since I still have the architectural drawings and plans for this duplex, perhaps I will include that in a future article because of the various space-saving ideas that would work in small or tiny houses.

One of the great ideas involved in the house mentioned above is the use of mechanisms to allow the movability of cabinets and storage. One such mechanism utilizes the French cleat.

The French cleat is a strong, simple wall attachment mainly known by those who run a workshop of some sort. Woodworkers, carpenters, auto shops, and all sorts of workers affix shelves and carpentry to walls making use of the French cleat.  Why it is not taken advantage of in the home more often is beyond me but it permits cabinetry movement and flexibility in arranging.

The other great thing about the French cleat is how simple and cheap they are to make for those into DIY. Simply take a 1 x 4 or a long section of plywood and cut in the center at a 45-degree angle and voila! Attaching one piece to the cabinet and another piece to the wall and one has a system.

 

French Cleat Cut.
French Cleat Cut.

 

French Cleat Cut and Separated.
French Cleat Cut and Separated.

 

Showing Articulation in the Proper Orientation.
Showing Articulation in the Proper Orientation.

 

Connected.
Connected.

 

Beginning Attachment.
Beginning Attachment.

 

The top part of the cleat will connect to the cabinet, while the bottom will connect to the wall.

 

Attached to Cabinet Showing Articulation.
Attached to Cabinet Showing Articulation.

 

I haven’t bothered trimming the cleat to the width of the cabinet simply because that would be unimportant to the illustration. Also, normally one would only need a cleat at the top of a cabinet with a leveling piece on the bottom. However, if the cabinet will hold a lot and/or heavy objects, two cleats will secure the cabinet even more.

 

Further Illustration of the Articulation.
Further Illustration of the Articulation.

 

Bottom Articulation.
Bottom Articulation.

 

Top Articulation.
Top Articulation.

 

Wooden French cleats are not the only strategy. Metal ones are readily available at hardware stores.

 

Metal French Cleat.
Metal French Cleat.
Metal French Cleat.
Metal French Cleat.
Metal French Cleat.
Metal French Cleat.

 

 

Cabinets are not the only thing to work with French cleats. Shelves or anything meant to mount on a wall can utilize the French Cleat.

 

Showing a Wooden Shelf Support.
Showing a Wooden Shelf Support.

 

 A French Cleat Shelf System.
A French Cleat Shelf System.

 

French Cleat Board.
French Cleat Board.

 

French Cleat Board.
French Cleat Board.

 

Now, as far as free-standing cabinets go, one can find them at IKEA and other modern furniture stores. As long as a cabinet is well-built, one meant to attach to a wall can be slightly modified and find a place on the floor not attached to a wall. Credenzas and sideboards will work as free-standing cabinets.

 

Kitchen Unit. (From a DIY Project of Mine.)
Kitchen Unit. (From a Credenza DIY Project of Mine.)

 

Sink and Cook-top. (From a Credenza DIY Project of Mine.)
Sink and Cook-top. (From a Credenza DIY Project of Mine.)

 

Sink!
Sink! (From a Credenza DIY Project of Mine.)

 

The following IKEA free-standing cabinets are used just as an example of what is available in many places.

 

Ikea Varde Kitchen Cabinet.
IKEA Varde Kitchen Cabinet.
IKEA Free Standing Kitchen Surfaces.
IKEA Free-Standing Kitchen Surfaces.

 

IKEA Varde Sink Cabinet.
IKEA Varde Sink Cabinet.

 

IKEA Varde Kitchen Storage Cabinet.
IKEA Varde Kitchen Storage Cabinet.

 

 

Stainless Steel Free Standing Sink.
Stainless Steel Free Standing Sink.

 

Unless for safety reasons, a cabinet does not need to be attached to a wall and made a permanent fixture. For a small dwelling, the ability to move appliances, as well as cabinetry, gives an invaluable flexibility to account for changing needs and spaces. Sometimes, the best places to look for such things includes restaurant and office supply companies that aren’t wrapped up in conventional notions of what residential cabinetry is all about.

 

 

 

HBosler

Self-Portrait in Red.
Self-Portrait in Red.

Building a Container House

I thought I might write an article on the methods and procedures for building houses from shipping containers. I live in a city where a large project of condominiums utilizing shipper containers was quite successful and inspiring. Nevertheless, I can not compete with some of the information available on the Internet and so have decided to provide some useful links that one might explore how to build them as well as the various configurations and design ideas.

Now, I do not like to use too many links because they tend to disappear over time. However, I will make an exception this time and hope that you, the reader, will be helpful and let me know when they no longer work.

 

Tin Can Cabin.
Tin Can Cabin.

 

First of all, one of the best explanations of the various things needed for construction of a container house comes from Tin Can Cabin. This website covers many of the basic details of putting containers together and offers excellent advice on safety. There are aspects to the proper outfitting of a container home that might not be readily apparent. Yet this site covers them.

 

 

 

Container Home Plans.
Container Home Plans.

 

Another essential article to read is “5 Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Shipping Container Home.” This covers the necessity of checking local building codes as well as something I have read over and over again; that of the removal of too much structural steel. When designing a container house, as part of the design, one must include strategies for reinforcing large areas removed for doors and windows or when removing an entire side to affix to another container, for instance. As a general rule, easy designing is hard constructing.

 

 

 

Architecture Daily.
Architecture Daily.

 

 

An excellent article on one of my favorite publications, Architecture Daily, is “11 Tips You Need To Know Before Building A Shipping Container Home. ”

 

 

 

Markasaurus
Markasaurus.

 

Even though quite negative, this article, “What’s Wrong With Shipping Container Housing? Everything”, and considering this article mainly refers to mass housing, provides some insight into things to consider. One thing in the article, though, not accurate is the dimensions of a shipping container. Some shipping containers are higher than those mentioned, although the width is the same. The width is not necessarily restricted depending on the design.

 

 

 

Popular Mechanics.
Popular Mechanics.

 

On Popular Mechanics’ website appears an article on 45 shipping container buildings, many of the tiny house variety.

 

 

Image result for container homes

 

Residential Shipping Container Primer.
Residential Shipping Container Primer.

 

Another excellent list of what one needs to do to build a container home is on Residential Shipping Container Primer. This post covers subjects such as structural integrity, foundations, and permitting, for instance.

 

The Ultimate Guide to Shipping Container Homes.
The Ultimate Guide to Shipping Container Homes.

 

The above link purports to be the ultimate guide to shipping container homes on the website, Home TuneUp.

 

And, of course, a couple of videos will help, as well:

 

 

 

 

Container Homes On HGTV.
Container Homes On HGTV.

 

This is a link to some videos on container homes on HGTV.

 

Article On Web Urbanist.
Article On Web Urbanist.

 

This link leads to a site that contains 10 films on the construction of container homes. 

 

Obviously, many find a fascination with the many designs coming from the use of shipping containers. Yet there are pros and cons in utilizing them. Hopefully, this article provides a starting point for information in pursuing such an unusual building.

 

HBosler

Self-Portrait in Red.
Self-Portrait in Red.

Chicken, Cheese, and Vegetables.

This is the first in a series of recipes for small spaces. These recipes will feature the use of few kitchen tools, pots, and pans. Especially considered will be the occupation of space by ingredients. Also, aesthetics will factor in the recipes.

If you have a recipe that fits with the scheme of cooking in small spaces, please feel free to let us know at howard@midcenturymoderngroovy.com.

 


Chicken, Vegetables, and Cheese in a Crust

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Take a bag of frozen stir-fry or your favorite mixed vegetables, from 12 oz to 1 lb and saute them in a small amount of oil.
  • Season with salt, pepper, garlic, onion, a little paprika, and oregano.
  • Cook them until they are still a little crisp and then pour them into a deep dish pie crust.
  • Add from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups pulled or shredded chicken. You can use a large can of chicken. (You can make this crustless in a casserole dish.)
  • Cover with a generous amount of your favorite cheese (2 cups shredded), and as an option, sliced black olives.
  • Cook at 325 degrees until the crust and edges are a nice brown. Serve while hot.

If you want side dishes, try hash browns or rice. This is simple, veggies, chicken, and cheese in a crust. Delicious!

You can also use sausage instead of chicken or sausage and chicken.