5 Steps to Install a Medicine Cabinet

When we first worked with our architect we never thought to explicitly request medicine cabinets in our bathrooms.  All of our small NYC apartments have had them as a means of maximizing space.  We’ve learned the hard way that when you don’t ask you don’t receive.  Because they were not in the plans, the contractor put a plumbing vent straight down the middle of where you would install one i.e. the middle of where the vanity was going.  We had to pay extra for them to change it in one bathroom and decided to leave it in the other.

Before the drywall went up we got a quote from our contractor of a few hundred dollars to install the cabinets. Since we hadn’t purchased it yet, we let them close up the walls figuring I could come back and install the cabinets later. Which is exactly what I did this past Saturday in my daughter’s bathroom. Here’s how.

Tools you’ll need:

  • 3 Foot Level
  • Pencil
  • Utility Knife
  • Drywall Saw
  • Scrap 2x4s
  • Hacksaw, snips or grinder if you have metal studs
  • Sawzall or handsaw if you have wood studs

Step 1: Mark the wall opening with the level and pencil. The cabinet’s instructions should indicate how large of an opening you will need. Be sure to carefully make all the lines perfectly level or the cabinet will be crooked.


Step 3: Remove any wall studs in the way. We have metal studs and sure enough one was in the way so I went to work with my grinder and cut it out carefully. For wood studs you’ll need to do the same with whatever tools you have on hand.


Step 4: Add in some additional blocking for support. I cut three 2x4s down and mounted one on each side and one to the bottom. Most cabinets will have screws which mount into the blocking on the side from inside the cabinet, at least the three I’ve installed worked this way. The stud that was cut out in step 3 will support the bottom of the cabinet but I mounted some more against the drywall for good measure. 


Step 5: Slide the cabinet in and put in the final mounting screws and you are all done.


As projects in my house go this was by far one of the easiest.



We’ve Been Framed.

First, let us apologize for the title.

The crew started the interior framing on the garden and parlor floors. It was great to get a feel of the room sizes. Some feel bigger, others smaller.  One disappointment (and there is always disappointment in renovation) was that the square footage calculation for the master bathroom did not account for about a foot and a half of space taken up by the old brick fireplace–this was not drawn on the plans.  This fireplace will not be removed because they are concerned that it provides structure for the fireplaces on the two floors above it.  There goes the dream of a two sink vanity!  Expectations adjusted.

On a positive note, we were able to catch a mistake we made in the plans. In our second bedroom, the opening to the closet follows the plans exactly but we realized that there is about  one to two feet of space on either side. We thought about how annoying it would be to dig in the side of the closet to reach stuff. Our architect suggested we use part of that space for shelving and move the doors over and re-center them. Hopefully we will be able to offset the cost of this oversight by finding areas that we can cut that save the contractor work.

They also started the framing for the parlor floor hallway.  This will be where we separate our duplex from the rental unit.  The first plan was to try and save the original railing in case some day we, or another owner, wants to turn the house back into a one family home.  The contractor put up the framing to see how it would look.

We decided that the gap between the wall and the stairs would be too weird and went with option number two–the wall right up against the stairs.  It will look a little institutional but at least it won’t look wonky.

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View from the 3rd floor

View from the 3rd floor