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