DIY Floating Buffet (with or without IKEA)

DIY Floating Buffet (with or without IKEA) | Saltbush Avenue

Variously known as: a floating buffet, a floating sideboard, a floating credenza, the infamous “fauxdenza.” If you’ve ever read a DIY/decor blog in the past five years, you’ve probably seen one of these. (Think Door Sixteen, The Brick House, and countless others.) We’re all a bunch of copycats, each trend working its way through the masses until it arrives at a house somewhere at the butt-end of Australia.  Has the floating buffet, or “fauxdenza”, had its day???

That said: the appeal is obvious. They’re easy to assemble. They’re versatile and fit in a variety of spaces. They’re modern, yet neutral. And let’s not forget — they provide tons of storage for cheap! I don’t care if they’re done to death, I need one. So I made one.

If you’re not familiar with these DIY floating buffets, the cabinets are just ordinary wall cabinets, but hung lower. Simple as. IKEA is the standard port of call for building a fauxdenza, but some of us don’t have one within driving distance. (There are rumours of IKEA trialling a ‘small format’ version in Tasmania but that feels like a long shot, to say the least.)

If you’re in the market for a fauxdenza and have an IKEA nearby, you’d want METOD wall cabinets (with the doors and handles of your choosing) plus a handy-dandy suspension rail to hang them on.

Meanwhile…

Bunnings cabinets
Bunnings flatpack cabinets

The rest of us can use flatpack cabinets from Bunnings.

These utility cabinets aren’t designed to be part of a broader whole, like IKEA kitchen cabinetry, so you don’t get the nice gloss finish on the doors. They’re hung for extra storage and that’s it. I got two for my floating buffet, to be hung side-by-side — 2m of storage sounded pretty great to me.

Blank wall at the start

What you will need:

  • Cabinets (IKEA METOD, Bunnings Marquee or similar)
  • Handles (I got these mini matte black knobs)
  • Pencil or chalk
  • Tape measure, studfinder, level
  • Timber screws (at least 75mm)
  • Another set of hands, or something to set cabinets on (a stool worked well for me)
  • Sealing caulk
  • Timber slab, oiled and cut to size, plus screws and clamps

DIY Floating Buffet - shells

1) Determine where the cabinets should go and mark accordingly. (Mine are off-center on the wall because we’re building out the adjacent laundry… someday.) Use the tape measure and level to draw a line where the tops of the cabinets should sit flush.

2) Use the studfinder to mark where the wall studs are.

3) Assemble the cabinet shells.

Floating cabinet assembly

4) Hang the cabinet shells using the suspension rail (if you’re using the IKEA system) or by drilling directly into the studs like some kind of caveman, like I did. That little stool was miraculously the perfect height to set my cabinets on, so hanging them was a breeze.

DIY Floating Buffet - timber top | Saltbush Avenue

5) Get your timber slab ready. I had a slab of Tasmanian golden sassafras hanging around in the crawl space, just waiting to be used. I cut it to size with a circular saw, but it wasn’t as wide as I’d have liked, so the live edge had to remain on one side. I sanded it, gave it a coat of matte poly (for durability in the kitchen) and finished it with steel wool and two coats of tung oil.

Attaching the top slab

6) Clamp the slab to the top and screw into it from the underside to hold it in place. This will also pull the slab level if there’s any warping.

DIY Floating Buffet

7) Attach the doors and pulls, and adjust the hinges to make everything line up neatly. Hooray! Fauxdenza!

DIY Floating Buffet (with or without IKEA) | Saltbush Avenue

Let me say that again. HOORAY, FAUXDENZA. (And a smaller, but equally sincere hooray for homegrown tomatoes and garlic. The 2016 veg patch is going strong!)

DIY Floating Buffet (with or without IKEA) | Saltbush Avenue
DIY Floating Buffet (with or without IKEA) | Saltbush Avenue

That’s the nuts-and-bolts of it, but I added a few other fixes:

  • I painted the sides, doors and outer trims on these cabinets. This was done to match the buffet to the upper kitchen cabinets (Taubmans Winter Mood semi-gloss) but it didn’t hurt to cover up the blah-looking melamine either. Painting made them look so much nicer.
  • This particular wall is uneven, so I had an obvious gap along the back of the timber slab that needed to be filled. I used foam gap-filler rod and Spakfilla to make it flush, with a touch of paint to hide it completely.
  • Because the chipboard didn’t seem especially durable: I ran a bead of clear waterproof caulk around all joined edges to keep out moisture. This room can get humid, due to the kitchen and laundry, and if water gets into the chipboard it’s ruined.

(And yeah… that floor. If you see me or Jamie, feel free to ask us why the kitchen floor isn’t tiled yet, sigh.)

DIY Floating Buffet (with or without IKEA) | Saltbush Avenue

So that’s my buffet. I had tried out a retro set of drawers against that wall, but it just wasn’t enough — we needed cabinets, not drawers. I assembled the whole thing while Jamie was out of town, so it felt nice to surprise him with a brand-new floating buffet when he came in the door. So far I’ve been using the cabinets to store cleaning products, kitchen linens and serveware. Exciting, I know.

I’m not much of a stylist, so I’ve just set some little thrifted ceramics on there at the moment, along with the air planters and a few sprigs from our hedgerow of bottlebrushes. Let’s be honest: the kitchen is our true exit/entry point, and that long landing strip is going to catch all the mail and junk that we shrug off when we walk in the door. It doesn’t need decor-clutter to crowd out the life-clutter.

DIY Floating Buffet (with or without IKEA) | Saltbush Avenue

Speaking of this buffet as a landing strip: this is our entry organiser, catch-all, go-station, whatever cutesy term you can think of. (No, seriously. I really don’t know what to call this.) The LUNS magnetic chalkboard from IKEA is crazy useful for lists, keys, and a place for Jamie to empty his pockets when he comes home. The bottle of sunscreen lives there during the summer months.

The box underneath holds mail, because nobody likes sorting mail and it tends to pile up. It’s just in a kraft paper box from Officeworks, which I quickly dressed up with a water-based non-poly varnish for protection. (Bonus: it feels like lacquer and not kraft paper.) The mini calendar was part of the hot-sauce-filled care package my parents sent us at Christmas from their new home in the Bay Area (thanks guys!).

DIY Floating Buffet (with or without IKEA) | Saltbush Avenue

There’s a hundred and one things we need to do with our kitchen, so futzing around with cabinets on one wall (while the gross vinyl floor, windows, light fixtures etc desperately need attention) feels somewhat pointless? But at least the kitchen now has extra storage, as well as one awesome-looking wall out of four.

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12 thoughts on “DIY Floating Buffet (with or without IKEA)

  1. Thanks for the shout-out. Like the cabinets very much, especially the live edge top. Love the drawing of Jamie & the cat. Does she bring you mouse-presents?

    1. Thanks again for the gift package. 🙂 Mishka only finds mice outdoors (three in two years), gets bored with them when they stop moving and leaves them to die… pretty cruel but I’m not going to be shedding tears over pests.

  2. I am terribly impressed! Since I’m not much of a design blog reader these days you get all the credit for the faux-denza in my book (and you’re undercutting your abilities saying your not a stylist!). Oh and brilliant to seal against moisture. We are lucky (?) to have an IKEA bathroom cabinet. Nothing says class quite like bump of expanding sawdust along an otherwise smooth white cabinet…

    1. Aw, thanks Loree! I know that feeling of seeing bulging particleboard. :/ We’ll probably get IKEA bathroom cabinets ourselves whenever our bathrooms are re-done, some of their cabinets look quite nice for the price point.

    1. Thank you Vanessa, I appreciate it! We got seed garlic in late autumn from a guy at the farmers’ market that I can only describe as a “garlic enthusiast.” People here call it Tasmanian purple garlic. I’m super impressed by that guy’s garlic and will have to visit again this year!

  3. while the buffet is gorgeous,do you realize what a live edge slab COSTS? not everyone will be as lucky as you to just have one “hanging around in the crawl space, just waiting to be used. “.you were very fortunate to be able to save a couple of hundred dollars there.

    1. Hi Sheryl, thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment. You’re right that I was lucky to have that timber slab lying around. It was a seconds-grade slab that cost me $75 AUD from a local auctioneer (Gowans Auctions) – I really should have mentioned it in the post, and will go back and add that bit of context. Less ‘pretty’ slabs of live-edge timber like macrocarpa commonly run about $20-$50 at that particular auctioneers.

      It can be worth checking out local sawmills, auctions, timber suppliers, even Gumtree/Craigslist. I live in a state that is known for its timber industry, so I’m probably spoiled on that front.

      If you’re looking for alternative suggestions, you could use IKEA butcher block, or project panels from the hardware store, or a thick plywood wrapper. Daniel at Manhattan Nest used plywood on his floating cabinet, and I’d have done the same if I didn’t have that slab.

      Sorry about that mini-essay in response to your valid concern! Whew. Hopefully anyone else reading this can feel like there are affordable, accessible options out there.

  4. Love your writing style, kinda makes me want to pop over and have a beer 🙂 and your fauxdenza is awsome

    1. Hello and thanks for stopping by!! I’m sorry I didn’t reply straight away (winter colds are showing up bang-on-time, ugh). Thanks for your comments – I’m super flattered! Cheers from Australia 🙂

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