How to Hide Your Dishwasher in Plain Sight
Dishwashers are great, but can sometimes be an eyesore. Here's how to build a custom cabinet for a hidden dishwasher, and keep your kitchen pretty.
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Dishwashers are wonderful devices that save tons of time in the kitchen, but they’re not always beautiful to look at. In fact, depending on your taste you may never want to see it at all, except while using or repairing your dishwasher.
As someone who designed and built my own kitchen to look as beautiful as possible, I can certainly understand the impulse for a hidden dishwasher. As helpful as they are, dishwashers have a way of making an otherwise elegant kitchen design look tacky. That’s where this hack can help. It introduces the idea of a hidden dishwasher inside a kitchen cabinet that blends seamlessly with other kitchen decor.
How to Create a Hidden Dishwasher Cabinet
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There are two basic methods for hiding your dishwasher in a cabinet: Buying ready-made flat-packed cabinets from a company like IKEA or building your own cabinet from scratch. The IKEA option allows you to plan out your kitchen ahead of time using an online 3D tool. You can build a cabinet virtually, designing a portion of it to fit perfectly over the dishwasher you have in mind. This is certainly the easiest approach since IKEA cabinets don’t require much skill to assemble. That said, this is Family Handyman, so you’re probably open to the idea of building your own cabinet for a hidden dishwasher.
What You’ll Need
- Exact measurements of your dishwasher
- Enough MDO plywood (membrane coated) to build the walls and door of your cabinet (or perhaps all your cabinets, if you’re building or remodeling the entire kitchen)
- 1/2-inch hardwood for rails and stiles of cabinet door (or fake drawer faces)
- Tape measure and pencil
- Eye and ear protection
- Table saw
- Chop saw
- Drill with regular bits and European hinge jig
- Carpenter’s square
- Set of European cabinet hinges
- Cabinetmaker’s glue
- Primer and paint of your choice
- 18-gauge brad nailer
- Wood filler
- 1/2-sheet sander with 80, 120, and 220-grit paper
- Quick Grip clamps
- Cabinet feet
- Wood screws with cup washers
- Draw a detailed plan for your dishwasher cabinet, then take measurements to determine the exact dimensions of all pieces.
- Use a table saw to cut pieces of 5/8-inch MDO plywood for the sides, back, bottom, top, door, and toe kick of your cabinet. Don’t cover the entire back of the cabinet with plywood—leave the bottom 1/3 or so open for water and drain connections, plus your dishwasher’s power cord.
- Use a table saw and chop saw to cut strips of 1/2-inch thick hardwood for the rails and stiles (bordering pieces) of the sides and door of your cabinet. This creates a nice, simple frame-and-panel look that isn’t too challenging, but feel free to cut the hardwood into different shapes depending on the look you’re after.
- Assemble the cabinet box with glue and 18-gauge brad nails.
- Join the hardwood accent pieces to the cabinet box and door with glue and clamps. Let everything dry overnight.
- Drill holes on the inside face of the door for European hinges.
- Fill all nail holes with wood filler.
- Sand, prime and paint the cabinet and door.
- Install the cabinet feet and kick plate using screws and 18-gauge nails respectively.
- Install the cabinet in your kitchen using wood screws and cup washers to join it to the wall and adjoining cabinet.
- Install your dishwasher inside the cabinet.
- Install the door with European hinges.
- Enjoy not seeing your dishwasher!
Things to Keep in Mind
Building your own cabinet isn’t easy. It takes lots of tools and know-how, and if you’ve never done it before it pays to have an experienced cabinetmaker nearby to lend a hand. Even if you know how to build a cabinet from scratch, matching the design and color of the one you’re building to any pre-existing cabinets in your home isn’t easy. If you have any doubts about your ability to pull it off, consider going with the IKEA option.
Don’t try to save money by using MDF or some other substandard sheet material to build your cabinet. Since the cabinet will be holding a heavy dishwasher, 5/8-inch plywood is the only appropriate choice.
Once your dishwasher concealing cabinet is built and installed, make sure you open the door every time you run a wash cycle. This ensures vibration and moisture buildup won’t damage your handiwork.
Keep in mind that this could make doing things like fixing a smelly dishwasher harder! And for more hidden around the house ideas, take a look at this hidden laundry room.