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How to create custom built-ins

Ever since we moved into our house a year ago - I had plans to do living room built-ins. I knew this probably wouldn't happen right away - so I decided to purchase some cabinets from IKEA. If you know anything about IKEA furniture - it's not always the best quality and so my plans to put off the built-ins were short lived.

With 2 boys 5 and under - the drawer bottoms had fallen out storing their arts and craft supplies. So we made a plan to sell the Ikea cabinets - and I got started on planning the built-ins of my dreams!

If you're wanting to plan your own built-in build and not sure where to start - then this post is for you. I'll walk you through what I did! Also - doing a project like this can be very overwhelming if you don't break it down into manageable bite size pieces. So make sure you don't try to think about everything all at once!

The first thing I did was measure each side of my fire place. Each side had 42" of space. I knew I wanted to use stock cabinets (the kind you can purchase from Home Depot, Lowes, etc), and so I was limited by the sizes sold. I could have purchased 2, 21" cabinets, but I was worried I would have trouble squeezing them in next to the brick since it wasn't perfectly level, so I opted to choose a 36" cabinet for either size. Also - I used wall cabinets as opposed to base cabinets since they are 12" deep versus 24" deep - and that's what fit my space better! When you choose your cabinets - make sure you choose the right width/depth. I would opt for something slightly smaller than your opening that you can trim out!

After choosing my cabinets - I knew I needed to build a base for them. I used 2x4's to do this. I made my base 12" by 42". I mounted my bases slightly off of the floor and screwed the bases into the stud. I could have yours rest on the floor, but I didn't want to do that because we have a floating floor in our living room. This also would give us an easier time when and if we ever decide to swap out our orange toned flooring in the future!

After making the bases - I trimmed out the side of my cabinet boxes to almost the width of the cabinets! I used a 2x3 for each side of the cabinet and secured it with pocket holes so that there wouldn't be any screws showing. Then I set my cabinets on the bases to make sure it fit!

Thank the Lord in heaven they fit! Now - I had outlets on either side of my cabinet box, so if you don't have outlets just ignore this section. I cut out holes on the inside of my cabinets so we could still access the outlets and plug things in. I also cut out a square on the top of my cabinets to create a drop down for cords if we wanted electronics on the top of our shelf etc.

Below is what it looked like after I added my oak shelf board, and trimmed it out with these cord covers from amazon!

After that, I secured my cabinets to the wall by screwing them from the back into a stud. I used 2 screws per cabinet and that seemed to work great! Next up was adding my faux oak "shiplap". I purchased .25" oak boards that were 7.25" wide. I used a couple pennies to space in between the boards to create a paneled look.

Next up - I used 1x12" pine to create the frame of my bookshelves. I used pocket holes to secure the side next to the fireplace into my 2x4" base. On the wall side - I simply screwed the boards into the wall on a couple places - of course aiming to hit a stud. Then for the top I used more pocket holes to screw it into the sides. It worked great and the shelf felt secure.

After that I started cutting my shelves. I made the shelving out of 1x12" oak boards. For these, I decided to secure them using peg holes/shelf supports. I have a bit for my drill that allowed me to screw holes without going all the way through the board which came in handy! I just set my oak boards on top of that.

What was left after that as far as building was trimming out the whole front with 1x2s". I used oak 1x2"s to trim out the shelves, and pine 1x2"s for the rest that would be painted!

I opted to paint the shelving unit Black Beauty by Sherwin Williams, and then stained all of the oak components in Dark Walnut by Minwax. I sealed all the wood with Poly as well - using matte.

Here is the finished product:

and that's the built-ins! I love the moody vibe they create on our living room wall. :) Let me know if you have any questions! Until next time-




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