The Philippine system is a concrete skeleton; base, end panels and under counter. In basic homes, the countertop may be tiled and the bare concrete painted. The part of the concrete base inside the cabinets is usually tiled. We’re using the same concrete core, but with applied wood cabinets faces and end panels, factory-made doors and drawer fronts, granite countertops and, inside, some of the stainless steel kitchenware shelving systems available here — slide-out baskets and so forth. The wood framework may be of mahogany which is beautiful and cheap, about P25 per board foot. We can go to the local sawmills and pick though the stock to find the best lumber.
The above photo also shows the tiled bathroom. In retrospect we made mistakes with the bathroom sink and cabinet. Unlike in the kitchen, we did not install tiled concrete cabinet bases. The problem is that when the bathroom floor is washed (or flooded) water can seep into the cabinet and anything stored on the floor will be soaked. The reason for not building the bases was that we did not want to pour concrete for the bases over the newly tiled bathroom floor. That was a mistake! The second problem is that the sink was installed too far back in the counter. It would have been easier to use if it was further forward.
Skip ahead several weeks. We were uncertain about what we should do about kitchen cabinets. The prefabricated cabinets which were available in Iloilo City were mostly flimsy and overpriced. We knew that others had obtained nicer cabinets in Cebu City. In the end, for reasons of speed (we wanted to move in) and cost we decided to let our carpenter try his hand at the cabinets. If we were unhappy with the result we could hire a cabinet maker to redo the work. We bought planed lumber (mahogany and acacia) from a local sawmill and doors, hinges and other hardware from Citi Hardware.
Cabinet bases, as is typical in the Philippines, are tiled with the same tile as the floor. This makes the bases impervious to bugs, rodents and rot — a real plus. They are easy to keep clean. The plastic racks inside the cabinet are temporary. They will be replaced by slide-out shelves.
Having suffered with lousy hinges on cabinets in our rentals, we bought the best ones we could find. These Home Aid hinges were about P110. They work well. Cheaper hinges are about P30.
The cabinet carcass is of 2″ x 2″ mahogany. The facing is 1″ mahogany. Wood is attached to the concrete cabinet sides, top, and bottom with nylon “tox” expansion anchors and screws.
We used three-section ball bearing drawer slides, again because we had struggled with cheap drawer slides elsewhere. Cheap hardware is one of the banes of Philippine houses. These slides allow the drawers to be fully extended. The drawers are made of acacia lumber, which reminds me of the butternut found in the US — a pretty, fairly soft wood.
At the upper right of this photo you can see screw heads where the cabinet face is attached to the concrete cabinet frame. Of course, these will be filled.
We bought very nice stainless steel handles for the drawers and cabinet doors. These were P209 each at Citi Hardware. We thought they were a much better deal than the handles offered at Ace Hardware.
This cabinet holds the appliances. Eventually, there will be an 8′ wide, glass fronted cabinet above this unit. Once all the cabinets are done they will be finished and spray painted with automotive enamel, probably white.
Originally we were going to install built-in closets but we ended up buying free-standing wardrobes. We delayed the construction of closets because they were not absolutely necessary to moving into the house. Once we had moved in we wanted to avoid the mess of further construction. We looked at wardrobes, but most of them were so poorly constructed we could not bring ourselves to buy them, even though we lived out of boxes and suitcases for two years. Finally we saw some big wardrobes at an Iloilo City store which sells surplus furniture imported from Korea. They were constructed of entirely of pine and we found them to be attractive. We bought all three for P35,000. Two are shown above. It was a delight to move our clothes from the boxes to our new closets!