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Bathroom alcove cabinet with Maximera drawers

A bathroom alcove cabinet with counter-mounted basin and three MAXIMERA drawers

The two working upper drawers appear to be close together as normal, but they’ve been modified to accommodate the basin waste in between them.

IKEA items used:
  • MAXIMERA drawers x 3, with the upper drawers being less deep in the horizontal direction than the lower drawer
  • EKESTAD oak veneer drawer fronts
  • LANSA handles  (since renamed Kallrör)
Other items:
  • Planed timber for frame
  • Slab or surface – I had a piece of Radianz ‘Mirama Bronze’ synthetic quartz cut to size
  • Basin (surface mountable)
  • Tap / faucet
  • Water pipes and braided hoses
  • Waste pipes, trap and fittings – see further for details
  • Foil-backed insulation board (if exterior wall present)

I wanted to replace a bathroom vanity situated in an alcove. The old unit had hinged doors, as is typical for this type of furniture.

Really, I preferred to have some drawers on the upper level, at a convenient height to reach when using the basin.

bathroom vanity before

Before – photo of the old unit

The difficulty with this type of furniture is providing space for both the waste trap and a functioning upper drawer.

IKEA do now in fact have a good solution which is a low-profile horizontal waste run, that may be sold under the names ‘Rinnen’ or ‘Lilleviken’ (and used in their HEMNES and GODMORGON vanity units).

When I planned my project I was unaware of this item, or maybe it wasn’t yet available.  If I was doing the build again, I would certainly consider it, as it might be possible to eliminate the drawer modifications that I made.

My own solution was to install two functional upper drawers, spaced wider apart than normal, and place a horizontal waste pipe running in between them.

IKEA do very well, in my opinion, to offer good quality storage furniture at affordable prices. I selected the MAXIMERA drawers for their ball-bearing slides and soft closing action, which give something of a luxury feel to them.

Also they have mechanisms to adjust the alignment of the drawer fronts after assembly, which is all the more useful on a non-standard DIY build.

Start with a plan

Within the MAXIMERA range there are several width and depth options for the drawers, and fortunately there were some that would fit my alcove space well.

The IKEA website is informative in stating the dimensions of the products, but I made a visit to my local IKEA store, armed with a tape measure, to confirm a few important things before buying.

On this project it was important to measure everything and plan the design in advance.

the plan

The plan

The vanity framework

For a few reasons I decided not to buy a carcass for the unit, but to make up my own framework.

Firstly, it would fit perfectly into the alcove space.

Secondly, I could make it strong enough to support the quartz countertop which I’d had made to size.

And thirdly it meant that I could space the upper drawers more widely apart than normal, allowing sufficient extra gap for the waste pipe.

The framework didn’t involve any very skilful joinery, being made from pre-planed timber and modesty blocks. Attention was still required to get the openings to the required sizes, and squareness.

frame construction

Frame construction

For the drawer fronts I chose EKESTAD oak veneer. They are pre-drilled on the rear side to fit the MAXIMERA drawer box, using the stubby screws provided.

Modifying the drawers

However, for my project these holes are not in the correct position, so I had to drill new ones in order to offset the drawer front from the drawer box.

This places the drawer fronts neatly side-by-side, while the drawers themselves are spaced apart.

Great care is necessary when drilling these holes, as the required depth almost breaks through the front surface. I used a brad drill bit as it cuts more slowly and with less grab.

Tape the bit so you know when to stop, or better still use a collar or drill press.

drawer mounting holes

Repositioning drawer front mounting holes

drawer fronts

Fixing drawer mounting blocks to repositioned holes

Here, I laid out the three drawers in position, and offered up a length of waste pipe between the upper ones.

waste pipe clearance

Offering up a waste pipe between the drawers

The overhang at each side of the drawer front allows this modification, but only to a certain extent. The resulting gap accommodates a 1.25” (inner) diameter pipe, but not the water trap which is needed to prevent sewer smells from entering the room.

The solution is to move the trap elsewhere. By choosing upper drawers which were shorter than the depth of the vanity, I made space behind the drawer for a running trap, which is a U-bend having two horizontal ports.

Creating the trap

So now I needed to connect the basin to a horizontal pipe run. Normally a basin is connected directly to a trap, and I couldn’t find the type of fitting I required, which would allow me to fit a 90 degree bend immediately underneath the basin. (As mentioned at the beginning, IKEA do now make such an item, but I was unaware of it at the time.)

Fortunately, I still had the bottle-style trap out of the old vanity. This had the necessary screw fitting for the basin waste, and I was able to cut this portion out, careful to retain with it a piece of the inner pipe that a bottle trap has. This inner pipe happened to fit quite neatly into a 90-degree solvent elbow.

waste pipe fitting

Making a 90-degree basin waste fitting

I connected up the waste pipe run, having to knock away some plaster in order to pass the vertical section behind the deeper, lower drawer.

waste pipe run

Waste pipe run and drawer runners

Now the wooden frame is painted and all the drawer runners are in place.

alcove cabinet

Painted frame with waste pipe and drawer runners

The right-hand side has an exterior wall, so I insulated that with some 25 mm foil-backed foam board in order to reduce condensation inside the unit.

alcove cabinet - process

Insulation and braided hoses

Adjusting the drawers for the alcove cabinet

I checked the functioning of the drawers, and that there is adequate space for the trap. In places where the drawers didn’t run freely at first, I packed out the slides with washers to make them more parallel. They are somewhat forgiving of small misalignments but will stick if not aligned reasonably well.

alcove cabinet - process

Arrangement of drawers and pipework

alcove cabinet - process

Arrangement of drawers and pipework 2

The left-hand upper drawer has no plumbing behind it, and could have been longer than the other if I had thought about it.

This view from above shows clearly the offset modification of the drawer fronts.

alcove cabinet - drawers fitted

Arrangement of drawers and pipework

Now I could fit the quartz slab, and connect up the basin to water and waste.

alcove cabinet - quartz top

Installed slab and connected basin to water and waste

Finally, the completed bathroom vanity alcove cabinet.
bathroom alcove cabinet with IKEA MAXIMERA drawers

Completed bathroom vanity alcove cabinet

bathroom alcove cabinet with IKEA MAXIMERA drawers

Completed bathroom vanity alcove cabinet with drawers open

~ by Magnus