How to Make a Recessed Medicine Cabinet From a Picture Frame


If you really want to be innovative, install a hidden medicine cabinet. Pick out a picture frame that fits the bathroom decor, and use that as your medicine cabinet door. Because the cabinet is built into the wall, no one will ever know there's a medicine cabinet there, unless they move the picture frame. For the example used here, a recessed medicine cabinet was removed, and the new one was built to match a 16-by-24-inch hole already framed into the wall.

Things You'll Need

  • Saw
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Hammer
  • Framing square
  • Drill
  • Drill bit 1/4 inch
  • #2 Phillips screw bit
  • Caulking gun
  • Caulk
  • Carpenter's level
  • Coarse-grit sandpaper
  • 2 1/8-by-16-by-24 inch paneling (or similar)
  • 2 1-by-4-by-24-inch boards
  • 2 1-by-4-by-14 1/2-inch boards
  • 2 1/8-by-4-by-14/1/2 shelves
  • 1 16-inch piano hinge
  • 1 16-by-24-inch wooden picture frame
  • 8 1/4-by-1-inch dowels
  • 12 1 1/2-inch #2 Phillips wood screws
  • 20 3/4-inch #2 Phillips wood screws

Build a Hidden Medicine Cabinet

  • Choose the frame you will use carefully. Use a flat-backed picture frame. Frames with angled sides present additional challenges for mounting. The best picture frame to use on a medicine cabinet door is a rectangular frame that fits flush against the wall.

  • Lay one of the 1-by-4 by-24-inch piece boards flat. Measure 8 3/4 inches and make two marks, inset 1 inch from each edge. Measure to 16 3/4 inches and make two more marks inset 1 inch from the edge. Using the drill and a 1/4 inch bit, drill 1/2 inch deep at all 4 marks. Repeat the same process for the other 1-by-4-by-24 inch piece, so that they each have four identically placed peg holes. Insert dowels into the holes.

  • Stand the two longest pieces of 1-by-4 material on edge with the dowels pointed inward. Between them place one of the 1-by-4-by-14 1/2-inch pieces at the top and the other at the bottom. Fasten the pieces together using two evenly spaced 1 1/2-inch screws through each corner joint, forming a rectangular shell for the cabinet.

  • Lay the largest piece of 1/8-inch material across the medicine cabinet frame. If the corners do not match the frame, center it so that the shortage is distributed across both sides or ends. If the material is too large, cut the excess off. Starting 2 inches from every corner, place 3/4-inch screws every 4 inches on all four sides.

  • Turn the medicine cabinet over. On the left side, measure down 4 inches and mark the wood. Place the piano hinge on this mark so that it will open flush with the outer edge of the medicine cabinet. Install the screws in the medicine cabinet side of the hinge.

  • Locate the wall stud or brace you will be mounting the medicine cabinet against. Keep the hinge on the left side and slide the medicine cabinet into the wall. If the fit is too tight, use a coarse-grit sandpaper to shave the edges. Insert two screws on each side of the cabinet, one 10 inches up from the bottom and the other 5 inches down from the top.

  • Hold the picture frame at a 90-degree angle to the wall and line it up with the medicine cabinet. Insert the top and bottom screws in the hinge. Close the door to verify it lines up with the cabinet, and then install the remaining hinge screws.

  • Use a silicon caulk to seal around the edges of the medicine cabinet. Apply a thin bead of caulk all the way around the outside perimeter of the medicine cabinet. Be careful not to get caulk in your hinge, and remove any excess from the wall.

Tips & Warnings

  • Install a magnetic door latch to keep the cabinet closed properly.
  • Install the picture frame on the hinges when the hinge is first installed, and then remove it until after the cabinet has been mounted.

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