APT: Washington Heights

Fauxdenza update.

Remember when I first shared my horrible Frankenword, “fauxdenza”? At the time, there were no other mentions of such a term anywhere on the internet. Now, a mere four months later, there are 323 search results. Take that, Merriam-Webster! Of course, I’m sure every single one of those search results is a referral of some sort to my post, but still. Fauxdenza! You heard it (and hated it!) here first.

More importantly, though, the fauxdenza is no longer topped with a too-long, too-wide, perpetually dusty table runner. As of this weekend, it now has a wood top! And it only took us 15 months!

The great thing about mounting IKEA wall cabinets at credenza-height is that they offer a huge amount of storage while taking up very little space in the room (and they don’t require any legs, of course), but the downside is that the top is seriously unattractive. IKEA designed these cabinets to be mounted high on a kitchen wall, so these screws, joints, and gaps would never show under normal circumstances.

We debated buying a length of butcherblock-style countertop from IKEA to fashion a top, but the logistics (How would we get it in the car? And would we have to then lug it up to Newburgh to cut it, and then bring it back to the city? Ugh…) proved too complex. In the end, we just went to Home Depot and bought a ¾”-thick length of pine. It was 6′ long, the exact length of the fauxdenza, so we just needed to have them cut the width down by a few inches. The waste was minimal, and I think I can even use the scrap to make a shallow shelf for…somewhere.

We decided to have the wood cut to the exact depth of the handles. They stick out quite a bit, so this makes the overall look much cleaner from above.

I was hoping that the wood would magically lie flat, but of course it’s warped a little bit. We still have to make a decision about how to finish the wood (I’m leaning toward wanting to live it pale pine and just sealing it with non-yellowing, matte poly, but we’re also considering an ebony oil stain…), and then I’ll put some screws through from the inside to pull the top down.


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  • Reply Romana March 28, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Anna, you are so right! I have read “fauxdenza” pop up all over the place (and not just your blog!). And even more importantly, the fauzdenza is looking great!

  • Reply MKH March 28, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Weight the wood down and much of the warp could come out, try out both sides to see where the warp is the worse. I think natural color would be perfect!

  • Reply April March 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    It looks great! I also think sealing it with a clear sealer would look good.

  • Reply Jason Hudson Dot Com March 28, 2011 at 7:26 pm


  • Reply Lauren @ chezerbey March 28, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Looks great! Were you able to get by with a 1×12 board?

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 28, 2011 at 7:58 pm

      No, since we decided to make the top the same depth as the handles, that required a depth of 13 5/8. I think the board we bought was 6×16, so we have a little scrap left over.

  • Reply Dan @ Manhattan Nest March 28, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    yay, you did it! And it looks great! Ebony would look great too, but the pine looks lovely. If you decide to leave it untreated, does it make sense to oil and wax it rather than poly?

    So glad “fauxdenza” is catching on like it should be.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 28, 2011 at 7:56 pm

      I did a test with oil on the bottom, and it darkened the wood so much. The pine is really knotty, and I’m just afraid it’s going to look too yellow if I oil it. I hate poly so much, but I think it’s the only thing I can use to seal the wood while keeping it light, right?

  • Reply Lauren March 28, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Yay! I love this idea! Randomly, my brother did the same thing at his place, but around the entire unit are ikea door panels that frame it, to make look finished.

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1493871121669&set=a.1493860121394.57965.1680799368&theater (hope that picture works)

    I feel like an ebony stain would look beautiful in your place.

  • Reply PhillyLass March 28, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Looks great, Anna! And ebony stain would be so lovely with your pops of black.

  • Reply lauren alane March 28, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Brilliant. The fauxdenza looks awesome.
    Do you think that ebony stain would work on the other natural wood Ikea sells? We bought a Trofast storage system and I’m wondering if I have to sand it first–I can’t tell if it’s coated or not. I just love the ebony stain on your planters in the garden and wanted to try it. But I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to sand.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 28, 2011 at 9:39 pm

      The description on the IKEA site says that those units have a clear acrylic lacquer on them, so I think you’d have to sand them down before staining them. Paint would work fine, though, and you could probably get away without sanding if you use a good primer.

  • Reply Ryan March 28, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    the top has just finished it off nicely. sooooo impressed and jealous!

    the fauxdenza would be the perfect solution for me in my lounge, if only i owned my place and didnt rent! aaaaaaah!

    (loving the term ‘frankenword’ too btw haha)

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 28, 2011 at 9:52 pm

      Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for “Frankenword”…but I love it so. :)

      Oh, and this is in our studio apartment! It’s a rental! We’re just going to take the cabinets with us when we leave. Hanging IKEA uppers is pretty painless and relatively temporary—just a few screw holes from the mounting rail that will need to be patched when we go.

  • Reply lau March 28, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    GORGEOUS. you are brilliant, anna.

  • Reply donna March 28, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Walnut coloured stain would be my pick. Does anyone love minwax in Jacobean as much as I do?

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm

      I like that color too, donna, but there’s already a lot of dark brown stain in the room (the inlay on the floor, the coffee table, the runners on the rocker…), and I don’t want to add even more brown to the mix…

  • Reply seminar tables March 28, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    That turned out really nice! Great work. I like the simple color scheme and the breaks in the white of red and black.

  • Reply Gaidig March 28, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    I think it would look super sexy stained the same color as the inlay on the floor.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 28, 2011 at 11:11 pm

      You can’t see in the photo, but there’s already a coffee table a few feet away that’s stained that color, so I think it would be a bit of dark-brown overload!

  • Reply jbhat March 28, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Maybe get some Sally Hansen Insta-Dry in CLEAR for the fauxdenza!


  • Reply Matt March 28, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Looks so great! I really like the light pine look as it is now too, but I’m excited to see how you finish it.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 28, 2011 at 11:42 pm

      What would you seal it with if you wanted to keep it looking natural/not yellow? We’re constantly putting stuff down on this thing, so it really does need to be sealed or it’s going to look gross in no time.

      • Reply Matt March 31, 2011 at 4:00 am

        I’d say water based poly or just a wax. Poly would be stronger of course… Wax would have to be applied more often.

  • Reply Fionnuala March 29, 2011 at 3:55 am

    Ebony it. EBONY. Great work, Anna. But ebony.

  • Reply Etet March 29, 2011 at 4:13 am

    Hello Anna,

    have you ever heard about pigmented wood lye ? It prevents light woods from yellowing – completed with white pigmented oil it will maintain the freshly sanded look. I like it very much, I did all the pine wooden floors in my house like that, it looks very “clean” an soft the same time.

    Like your blog very much!

  • Reply julie March 29, 2011 at 5:04 am

    It looks great Anna. We unknowingly created a fauxdenza out of Ikea kitchen cabinets many years ago. But it was using the tallest wall cabinets so the proportion never really felt right. It had glass doors and we used the cover panels to cover the top and sides. We gave it to my mum a couple of years ago. I always thought that the shorter 35cm high cabinets would look great as a wall-hung tv unit.

    By the way thanks so much for your help with the wallpaper on the weekend. I ordered the Bindweed wallpaper for our bedroom and dressing room. We decided not to wallpaper the living room wall for now.

  • Reply Johanna March 29, 2011 at 7:41 am

    That looks great! We’ve got one, too…pretty much built our house around it. I think I was inspired by something I saw Lotta Jansdotter do? I love ours, though it has a “walnut” finish to match our floors and has a thinner top (wish we’d gone thicker) and we added some tapered “mid-century” legs (also walnut). The best part, though, is that it holds an insane amount of toys.

  • Reply Gracie March 29, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Fab! I wouldn’t have thought this originally but looking at it in the pic I like it pale.

  • Reply Ceci March 29, 2011 at 8:25 am

    I love the way this looks! I’m concidering a Fauxdenza in my apartment. There is a long wall that always looks empty. Its a great space.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply tiny.k March 29, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Anna, that looks awesome!!!! And I LOVE the photo you took of it at the bottom… so pretty!

  • Reply patty March 29, 2011 at 9:24 am

    It’s PERFECT with the art hanging above.

  • Reply Sashira March 29, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Sooo…. How many people went and googled “fauxdenza” after reading this? I did!

    Looks great. I vote for the pine colour.

  • Reply L March 29, 2011 at 10:16 am

    I vote pale also. And although I’ve never heard of Etet’s suggestion, it would be worth looking into. I have some beechwood bookcases that I Minwax Natural finished many years ago, and they now look completely yellow and grody. But then, they are almost 30 years old and have lived a hard life . . . .

    Your fauxdenza, both the word and what it describes, are awesome!

  • Reply Lori March 29, 2011 at 11:34 am

    looks great!

  • Reply dean March 29, 2011 at 11:39 am

    add my vote to the natural pine look.
    also, more photos of the apt, please!

  • Reply wendy March 29, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    I see you already did a test stain spot on the “bottom” of the wood, but if possible, i’d flip that board over, so the high spot due to the warp is in the middle of the board, not the ends.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 29, 2011 at 12:27 pm

      The warped spot is actually only at one end, and it’s lateral—so flipping it just moves the high spot to the back end. The center and opposite end lie flat regardless of position.

  • Reply Dave Bobrowicz March 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    It looks fantastic Anna! I also love that print above it. Did you mention it in a past post?

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 29, 2011 at 12:24 pm

      Thanks! The print is from Banquet — there’s a link in the first “fauxdenza” post. :)

      • Reply Dave Bobrowicz March 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm

        thanks :)

  • Reply Anna March 29, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Love it. We have just had great success with a warped piece of beech that we’ve made into a desk top. It is sitting patiently waiting for our new Mac to arrive!

    We gave it a good oil (as this was the finish we wanted anyway) and then added some gym weights to the warped end. We have left it now for 4 days and the warping has nearly disappeared. Might be worth a try?

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 29, 2011 at 12:28 pm

      Screws will work just fine to close the gap (it’s only about 1/8″)…I’m not worried about it!

      • Reply John/Semihandmade April 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm

        With a solid top (as opposed to plywood or veneer-on-MDF), it’s always best to over- drill the holes through the cabinet top (so the screw actually wobbles a bit). The screws will still pull the top down tight to the cabinet, but it allows the lumber to move a bit without the risk of cracking.

  • Reply Grumble Girl March 29, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Excellent, as usual! Looks really clean, Anna… I love it!

  • Reply Mary-Ellen March 30, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    I love it and would keep it the light pine. I am wondering if butcher block wax would do the trick to preserve it.

  • Reply Nina March 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    The fauxdenza looks great and I really like the natural pine! It may also look good if you bleach the wood to make it look a even lighter. Did that once with hydrogen peroxide but I can’t remember what I used to finish it off and not make it look yellow.

  • Reply Lena March 30, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Where did the ampersand go? I would love if you could share more pictures of the apartment (the living space) right now I can’t really figure the layout out.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 30, 2011 at 5:44 pm

      The ampersand is in the kitchen now, still waiting to be hung up!

      I’m not sure if I want to show photos of everything in the apartment, but it’s really just a rectangle. :)

  • Reply susie March 31, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Hey Anna! Where did you get that cool bear print?

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 31, 2011 at 9:55 am

      Susie, the print is from Banquet—there’s more info about the other stuff in the room in my earlier post about the fauxdenza (linked above). :)

  • Reply Jamie March 31, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Hey Anna, I absolutely love your blog and your style! I stop by often to see the beautiful things your are doing with your house! right now our whole living area is painted light blue, but I have totally been inspired by you, and to just follow my heart and paint it all white! We have light terrazzo floors as well, so I can’t wait to see how it turns out. My question for you is, how do you pick the right white? I’m looking at bm cloud cover right now, but I just thought I would see what your opinion is before I jump in. Thanks!

  • Reply Monica March 31, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    I love the natural pine. Black would be nice, but would show dust more. Not that I am saying that you wouldn’t clean it.

  • Reply Jesse Lu April 1, 2011 at 1:48 pm


    I don’t think I’ve ever commented before on your blog before, Anna (if I have it was a long time ago)… So I just wanted to come out of the non-commenter pool and say how much I enjoy your blog. Your projects are so neat and your pups are so cute. This fauxdenza idea is so awesome and I hope I get to use it one day for myself. I will proudly call it by it’s proper name to all who inquire. Ffffaudenza!

  • Reply Emily Henderson April 1, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    yep. stealing this idea. coming to a secrets from a stylist episode near you. its genius. totally genius.

  • Reply tracy April 3, 2011 at 11:21 am

    love this. we’ve been humming and hawing about doing something similar. must take the plunge!

  • Reply Lori April 4, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Where did you get the pulls for your fauxdenza, are they STRECKET from IKEA?

  • Reply John/Semihandmade April 9, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Looks great… we are launching a RE-DO line at Dwell on Design this year that includes optional legs, tops and side panels.

  • Reply Desiree April 12, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    very inventive you should sent it to IKEA flickr ;P

  • Reply Sam April 14, 2011 at 1:19 am

    I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog. I love your style! I also love your fauxdenza is awesome! Such a great idea.

  • Reply Crystal May 28, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Hi there, I wanted to let you know I linked to this post on my blog. We were so inspired we built our own Fauxdenza and it rocks! Thanks so much for the great idea!


  • Reply Miss B. August 20, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    This is so smart. I love the ‘after’ and although the word is like nails on a chalkboard, you still get props for being so creative;)

  • Reply becky September 23, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    We have butcher block counters in our cottage and use a beeswax product on them. The wood retains its natural colour and is protected.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 September 23, 2011 at 9:01 pm

      I’m not sure wax is recommended for pine…

  • Reply jasi December 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    i like this idea. my hubs and i wanted a computer in the main floor without a huge bulky computer armoire. so we took ikea upper cabs and floated it in the corner, installed a slide tray and an outlet. totally unique computer desk for about $80.

  • Reply Sandy June 4, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Hi there, just found your blog. I have the Ikea butcher block kitchen counters and was confused what to put on them too as I didn’t want mine to darken so I used Mineral Oil, (the food safe or if you’re not going to be eating off of them, then you don’t have to get the food safe kind) yes just walk into your local drug store to the laxative section and get you a bottle of it. It didn’t darken mine and protects them like crazy. Google: mineral oil on Ikea butcher block and see what you find! It’s the ultimate solution. I put three heavy coats on and then let it soak in and rubbed it off with an old tee-shirt and then broke down and bought some cloth diapers at Wal-mart for $12.00. They work perfect too! I think you love the look of the Mineral Oil! It’s food safe too. You will have to keep putting the oil on every few months or so, but I don’t mind. I love that it’s not toxic and I didn’t have to smell any offensive toxic chemicals. Hope it helps!

    • Reply Anna @ D16 June 4, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      Hi Sandy, I use mineral oil on all of my butcher block counters and cutting boards (and everything else made of wood in my kitchen), but this actually isn’t a counter top—it’s a piece of raw, soft pine. Mineral oil would have changed the look of this surface considerably. If you scroll up through the earlier comments, you’ll see that I actually did do a test on the bottom with mineral oil—the result was terrible. It’s great for beech or oak counters, but not for something like this. Untreated pine is too absorbent. Thank you for the suggestion, though!

      Regardless, this post is from over a year ago. I no longer rent this apartment, and the fauxdenza no longer exists. ;)

  • Reply Mary March 19, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Where do I buy the cabinet fixtures that are shown on this cabinet

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