To start the cabinetry, he bought a jig and a router, setting them up with his old reliables—table saw, miter saw, sanders—in a makeshift workshop under a tent-pole cabana in the backyard. Relying on books and online tutorials, he went through "lots of trial and error" to make the first full-inset dovetail-drawer prototype. "I found out then why people more often do overlay doors and drawers," Aaron says now. "It's a lot easier!"
In retrospect, the sheer volume of work was staggering: He crafted every kitchen cabinet and drawer, including lots of custom pullouts and appliance garages and, later, all the bathroom vanities, every master-closet organizer, a media wall, and a full mudroom of built-ins. Meanwhile, for nine months his "kitchen" consisted of a refrigerator in the dining room and a stove in the middle of the new concrete slab.
Shown: Homeowner Aaron Cover relaxes—at last! in his new open and airy 15-by-20-foot kitchen, surrounded by proof of his DIY chops.