Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
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DIY custom straight-sided vent hood with Zephyr insert

This is the LAST tutorial of our kitchen reno!! We've done the whole project ourselves so there are lots of DIYs to share with you, but this one was a brand new skill for us and I admit I was a little nervous before starting--but it turned out to be one of the most straightforward projects!

We wanted a modern, sleek, straight-sided built-in vent hood over our range, with an attractive insert visible underneath (as opposed to an independent, up-the-wall stainless steel vent hood like at our last house OR one that looked like part of the cabinets). After collecting lots of inspirations and ideas, we built this hood cover from scratch and used a high-end but affordable insert from Zephyr!

Thanks to Zephyr for providing the hood insert for this project! They have a huge selection of kitchen ventilation options and great quality. They are very innovative in their products and technology and I am proud to use one of their hoods!

Remember you can also check out other posts on this DIY kitchen reno:

Nowadays I see a lot of statement vent hoods and often they don't quite match the cabinets (or they are a big contrast, like wood or tile!). The kind that comes from the cabinet company is often a little too traditional/common-looking for me... I guess I wanted a challenge! If you do a totally custom kitchen with custom cabinets made by a skilled carpenter, you can have any beautiful shape you want! We're not professional cabinet makers but wanted something unique.

I love the look of the straight-sided vent hoods on my Pinterest kitchens collection... I think some are made of plaster, sheetrock, paneling... I got the idea of MDF from this post on Instagram. I also drew from this tutorial which used tongue-and-groove paneling. But I couldn't find a tutorial for exactly what we wanted, and I couldn't tell how to finish the edges and corners... well, we figured it out!

DIY built-in straight-sided vent hood with Zephyr insert

You will need:

  • Vent insert (we used the 30" version of this model by Zephyr [the 30" doesn't have the updated photography]). A hood vent insert has the controls on the underside, unlike a standard wall or island hood. See the other features/options Zephyr has for inserts here.
  • 2x4s
  • MDF (we used this 1/4" thick stuff--lighter weight and fit better between our cabinets)
  • Corner trim
  • Scribe molding
  • Nail gun
  • Table saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Standard tools/materials--drill, screws, tape measure, paint, wood filler, caulk, etc.
  • Crown molding like in the rest of your kitchen, if using

Before you start: I wish we'd done a better job of this, but now we know and can give this important disclaimer. Most range hoods are 30" or 36", just like your range. Ours was a the 30" Monsoon Mini insert, which fits above a 30" range like ours and is actually 28.5" wide. We actually had a 31.5" wide opening above our range and between our upper cabinets, thankfully... (we had used some tiny filler pieces on either side of the range inside the base cabinets). But that means only 3" to play with for the 2x4 frame and MDF.

We used the thinnest MDF option (1/4" on each side), but 2x4s are 1.5" deep (3" on each side), so we had to plane down the 2x4s to 1.25" deep. You'll see.

It all fits like a glove now, BUT we didn't install any filler pieces on the insides of the cabinets so we couldn't use any base trim around the frame because then the cabinet doors wouldn't open. It's fine, it works for the more modern look we're going for, but point is you should do these measurements (to the 1/4"!) before you install the cabinets!


1. Build the frame. If you have enough room, this may be as simple as assembling the bottom and top frames of 2x4s and screwing them together.

For us this involved ripping all 4 side 2x4s (2 bottom, 2 top) with a table saw. Look at the tiny shadow Jason is cutting down! It was about 1/4" once he got it adjusted.

Screw straight through the sides for the bottom and top boxes, then drill diagonal pilot holes and screw in at an angle to attach the vertical sides.

Dry fit! Check for level-ness up/down, side-side, and front-back.

2. Paint the MDF. Prime first. Our finished box was only 22.25" deep so I didn't have to paint the full width of the MDF, except the front piece.

I use these little high-density foam rollers when I want a smooth finish. If you had a paint sprayer, though, this would be its time to shine!

I used 1 coat of primer and 2 coats of semi-gloss trim paint, then we touched it up with even more once installed.

You could also paint your corner trim and scribe molding at this point but we hadn't decided on ours yet.

3. Cut the MDF to size and attach 2 sides of the box. Cut VERY precisely and carefully. We had to be extra careful about this because we didn't use molding at the bottom edge of our hood, because of the cabinet door clearance issue. We needed a perfectly straight, smooth edge on the MDF. Table saw again.

Install the left and right sides, nailing in a few places with your nail gun.

IMPORTANT: Leave 1/4" lip on the bottom so the edge of the bottom MDF piece (the one with the big hole for the vent hood) is hidden by the side pieces. (This would not be critical if you were putting trim at the bottom.)

Also add shims if needed... our wall was uneven so we added a couple pieces at the top of the frame.

Just like you would do installing cabinets... find your studs, drill pilot holes, hold up/level, screw in. (2 photos up you can see we started the screws in the frame where we knew the studs were.) We used extra long screws (4.75") to make sure we got all the way through the 2x4s, shims, and plaster.

There's that 1/4" overhang on the sides.

4. Install insert! Hold it in place and level it; then screw in with the screws/holes provided. It's really very simple and straightforward and the insert comes with instructions for installing into a cabinet or frame. 

You take the covers off for installing like you would to clean them, so the screws are easy to access.

5. Wire and vent the insert. The electrical and ducting will be concealed by the front panel, so make sure it works now.

6. Install the front and bottom MDF. Nail gun again.

Cut the bottom frame piece exactly to the opening of the vent hood insert using a jigsaw (that's easy, since it's a rectangle and they give you the dimensions in the manual, and you can measure).

Also make sure you paint the inside edges--you can see at the back there we missed a couple spots and it's harder to touch up later.

7. Install crown molding. I didn't take any pics of this phase so here's a shot of it finished: you can see the crown molding is attached straight onto the flat planes of the insert, and the corner trim butts up against the crown.

8. Install scribe molding, then corner trim. Nail gun again. Now you can fill ALL the nail holes with wood filler.

Caulk all the edges like against the wall and up to the insert itself.

Here are some labels showing the pieces that make up the finishing trim.

That's it!!!!!

We are honestly both so proud of this project, and love using the vent!!

It has multiple settings for fan and lights. I use the lights on it more than the rest of the lights in the kitchen right now cause it's light so late, but I want focused lighting on where I'm cooking.

Vent hood inserts are not as common as the basic stainless steel wall vent so you can't buy them at IKEA or other discount retailer. I love the Monsoon Mini since it has all the features we needed but not too many bells and whistles so it's still affordable. (Again we used the 30" version of this model [ the 30" doesn't have the updated photography]).

Our old kitchen had a microwave/vent hood combo that was LOUD and didn't seem to do much to move the air around. Also the covers were hard to remove to clean so it was usually greasy and gross. This vent is a huge improvement in so many ways, we are just pinching ourselves!!

Thanks to Zephyr providing our insert in exchange for this post! 

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