Category: Woodworking

Built in Cabinet Shopping

Last week we talked about our plans for the new built ins in the family room, and how I’ve been dreamily staring at this picture…

and trying to figure out how to turn it into this picture…

I eventually got here, with the help if the Ikea kitchen planner tool.

And first things first… where to get the cabinets. We decided that would would choose between Ikea, Lowe’s, and Home Depot stock cabinets.  These are built ins, so they’re not going to be used heavily everyday, and we’d like to do this on a budget.  I’d much rather splurge on quality kitchen cabinets than this area.

So first, let’s talk about the look.  From some of my Pinterest research, most built ins seem to be pretty narrow, about the width of the upper cabinets in most kitchens (~12″). For example:

Love the look of these, but we have the space in our family room for larger cabinets, AND I wanted them to look full and incorporated with the weird bump out that we’re dealing with.  If we went with narrow cabinets like these, then the bump out would definitely stand out.  Ha.

So, we decided to go for typical base cabinets which come in about 24″ depths.  The area we needed to fill was about 166″ long.  We got really stuck on doing the same sized cabinets all across, and the maximum we could do with not going to crazy on filler pieces was five 30″ cabinets across.  That would put us at about 16″ leftover to figure out with filler pieces.

Then, the more I played with the model, the more I realized that I was being stupid.  Not all of the cabinets had to be identical.  We could make the 2 cabinets on the end larger to fill up the extra space.  So we ended up with two 36″ cabinets for the ends, and three 30″ cabients for the middle.  This gives us about 4 inches to play with in the spacing.  PERFECT!

So, with Lowe’s and Home Depot stock cabinets, we had really only one option in the style:

This is a typical kitchen cabinet with working drawer (although there is an option to go for a false drawer for it to be a sink base cabinet).  But, hey, if we’re going to have space for the drawer, why not have it actually work?

From Lowe’s and Home Depot, we could have gotten cabinets that were stock, but already white, but from what we saw, they were marked up about 60% more in price.  Lowe’s also offered white in a shaker style cabinet, which I think is pretty, but I wanted to stick to a more traditional style for our colonial style home.  Plus, I want these cabinets to match the molding in the rest of the room, so what if they were slightly off white, and I had to paint them anyway? No thanks.

Now, Ikea offers a ton of different styles. Here is just a small snippet of the styles you can choose from, and many didn’t even fit on the page.

I was getting all excited about these possibilities until I realized how it would just start to add up.  The more drawer hardware you need, the pricier it will be.  I went back to some of my inspiration pictures, and realized that most built in cabinets don’t actually have drawers, they’re mainly just the two doors that swing open, like in some of the inspiration pictures I showed above.  So, that cut back all my crazy ideas and helped me make sure I wasn’t going with anything too over the top.

So I narrowed it down to the following:


  • 30″ Base Cabinet: $127
  • 36″ Base Cabinet: $148
  • Doors: Oak
  • Frame: Particle board

Home Depot:

  • 30″ Base Cabinet: $117
  • 36″ Base Cabinet: $137
  • Doors: Beech
  • Frame: Particle Board


  • 30″ Base Cabinet: $195
  • 36″ Base Cabinet: $226
  • Doors: Fiber board and acrylic paint
  • Frame: Particle board

Price-wise, Home Depot won. For our needs of two 36″ and three 30″ cabinets, the totals came to:

Lowe’s: $677

Home Depot: $625

Ikea: $1,037

Ikea was pretty much eliminated when I found out that I couldn’t quite get the style door I wanted in a pure white.  It said it was an “off-white” and no way was I going to try and paint them.  Plus, if I was going to end up painting them anyway, why not get cabinets that were made of real wood doors rather than fiber board?

Home Depot ALMOST got our business. However, their website wasn’t showing any reviews for these cabinets.  Also, Lowe’s happened to be having a 25% off sale that ended the next day. LOWE’S WINS!  The total came down to $507.75 for all 5 cabinets.

I headed to the store near us that showed the most in stock online, the next day with my little helper, and we got the associates to help us rummage through the cabinets.

The thing with these stock cabinets is that they’re not always in the best of shape, and the doors may not line up exactly even.  So I had some of the associates get the cabinets off of the top shelves that had been pretty much untouched by customers and inspected them myself.  They helped me pull which ones I wanted to the side and wrapped them up for me on some pallets. I wish I got more pictures of it all,  but it was a lot to deal with along with a toddler at my side.

The Lowe’s associates were SO amazingly helpful.  It was all probably because Connor was with me.  😉  I paid, and had my amazing husband and awesome truck owning friend, Dan (thanks again Dan!!) come by later to pick them up and take them to our house, because cabinets were not fitting in the back of our SUV with a car-seat in it. Plus, I would have had to take 5 trips. Ha. Nope.

The boys dropped them right into place, and we can’t wait to get started on them!  We (David) has some electrical work to do before we start installation and painting, as there are a few outlets currently sitting behind them.  So, we’re probably going to have to run new outlets higher up so they’re still accessible and we can work them into the book shelves.  I kind of wish we thought about that when we had the room torn apart earlier this year, but oh well, live and learn.  We (David) did run electrical for some lighting in the top though, so we did prepare in that respect!

So enjoy the sneak peak!  Don’t mind the mess of toys everywhere.  Or the fact that I now need to shift the couch to the left a little.

BUT. We are now one step closer to looking like this!

And then this!!


The Wall is Down!

Since the load bearing wall removal is finally complete and now we’re just working on the furnishing and room design, I figured I’d do a post summarizing all of the posts and work we’ve done over the past few months. Plus, I like being organized and having things in one place, much to the annoyance of my husband, but who still reaps the benefits of this trait anyway.

We started with this mess of a never used room:

And are now here, to a beautiful, open, family room:

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This Wall is Coming Down! – Recessed Lighting, Molding, & Paint

For the last few details of the wall removal posts, we just wanted to go through some of the finishing touches on the room.  Starting with the electrical and recessed lighting:

The room is pretty large, and we knew it would be our main gathering area in the evenings after dinner.  It’s so large though, that for it to be properly lighted, we would have had to have way too many lamps, and I knew that just one ceiling light on each side wasn’t going to cut it.  We wanted some lighting that was soft (cue a dimmer!) but lit the area evenly and well, so we (I, haha) decided on recessed lighting. The rest is David’s department, so I’ll let him do the talking:

We didn’t realize how many decisions we had to make on the recessed lighting in the room. How many? What size? How far from each other? How far from the walls? How far from the beam? Should we treat the room as one huge room and space evenly, ignoring the beam? Or is it two separate rooms? It was a lot more difficult than we expected. There is so much conflicting advice online. One thing became pretty clear though, since the beam is not exactly in the center of the room, ignoring it to space the lights would have looked very strange. One row of lights would have been very close to the beam.

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This Wall is Coming Down! – Flooring

This would have been an easier job if I weren’t particular about our flooring.  There I go, making things difficult again. 🙂  The existing wood flooring in the formal living room area was still in pretty good condition, but my need for consistency won over the opportunity of reusing or refinishing.  The carpeted area in the family room was trash from the day we moved in.  It had a huge stain on it in the main walkway from the previous owners, and it was always embarrassing to have someone over and see them look at it.

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Shiplap vs. Nickel Gap: Making Your Budget Work For You

This is going to sound weird, but I’m just going to come out and say it; one of my favorite renovation projects so far was the powder room in our Charleston house. Really? A bathroom? And not even like a master bathroom with a waterfall shower and a huge tub? Yeah, really, just a powder room. And I can sum up why in one word: “shiplap.”

Actually it’s really two words: “Nickel Gap”. So what’s the difference, and why does it matter? Well, technically shiplap is a type of board with a rabbet joint which allows the boards to overlap. The bathroom above did not use real shiplap, but it essentially looks like it. Instead we used a method called “Nickel Gap” which is simply spacing the boards the width of a nickel. This method is more time consuming, but can be done for significantly cheaper and yields a similar result.

For the boards, we used 5mm plywood, which is about as thin as plywood comes. At about $13.50 for a 4’x8′ sheet, you can really make a room interesting for cheap.  We bought 5 sheets at Lowes and had them cut in-store to 6″ wide strips lengthwise. I think the guy who did the cutting probably still breaks out into a cold sweat when he hears “Customer assistance needed in the board cutting area… bing bong… board cutting area.” I don’t know if they have rules about a number of cuts they’ll make per board, but he did seven cuts for us. He cut all five of the boards stacked, which definitely saved time, though. I could have cut the strips with my table saw, but I never would have been able to cut them as straight and even as in the store.

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Nursery Crafting

In our posts about Connor’s nursery, here and here, we glossed over a few projects that we worked on for the decor, so we figured we’d go back and talk about them, assuming you’re interested 😉

I grew up as a total cheapo.  My family made fun of me for everywhere we went I always claimed that I “forgot my wallet.”  I’m sure this has some crumb of truth in it, but I won’t give them that satisfaction to fully admit to it right now haha.  Now that we bring in steady paychecks and can live comfortably, and aren’t struggling, broke college kids, we’ve definitely loosened up on our spending habits.  At heart though, I’m still a cheapo.  I had a lot of ideas for the nursery, that big box stores don’t typically sell.  They’re more the types of decor that you find on Etsy.  As much as I appreciate supporting someone to do that type of work, some of the prices are crazy.  So I researched and pretty much decided that I would do them all myself.

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Building The Shelves That Weird Nook Was Meant to Have – Part II

Check out Part I of this post to see the building of these shelves!

We wanted a dark wood stain for the shelves.  We’re a little atypical with painting and staining in that (except for walls and ceilings) we apply finishes to everything before the final install. It just makes it easier to pull together the final project without worrying about taping and touching up already painted walls. This means I had to deconstruct the shelves for staining and mark each piece inconspicuously with it’s location so I could rebuild it easily.  It’s extra work, but we think it’s worth it in the end for a high quality finished product.  We’ll probably write a blog about our reasons one day.  Carolyn did all the staining and top coats because she’s way better at finishing touches than I am.  In case anyone is wondering we used Minwax Dark Walnutfor our stain color.  It very closely matches the hardwood flooring color we chose for the house.

Staining the shelves

Just look at this beauty… and the stain looks pretty good too!

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Building The Shelves That Weird Nook Was Meant to Have – Part I

Let’s face it, sometimes houses have weird, little nooks that make you wonder what the builder or contractor was thinking.  We have one in our basement.  One of the previous owners had the basement finished and created a strange cavity between a support post and a closet.  Ever since we first looked at it, we thought “That nook needs some shelves.” Our plan for this section of the basement is to make a bar area, so we thought the shelves would be a good place to store the growlers we’ve been collecting from our favorite breweries.

We also inherited a TV from my Dad.  It’s the only other TV we have besides our projector, and its on the smaller side, so we figured the shelves will also be a good place for a TV.  A bar needs a TV, right?

Carolyn found some “pinspiration” from these shelves, but couldn’t find a tutorial, so we decided to improvise.  She loved how they had a slight rustic, but built-in look to them, without actually cutting into the walls.

First, we measured everything and decided how many shelves to build.  We decided to go with four shelves, which would comfortably fit the growlers and the TV on top.  We went to Lowe’s and looked at the standard size pine boards and decided that it would be much cheaper to buy a sheet of 3/4″ plywood and cut it into sections for each shelf.  I had them cut the shelves to an approximate size because we brought our smaller car that day.  I over-sized the cuts by 1/2″ in each direction because although their cuts are super straight, their measurements aren’t always accurate in the store and I could easily do the final trimming at home.  If you don’t have a table or circular saw at home, you can have Lowe’s do all the cuts for you, but you’ll want to double-check the measurements before and after cutting.

Our design was a floating shelf so we wanted to see as little support or screws as possible.  To hide the screws I used pocket-hole joinery, a technique used in woodworking to join pieces of wood together with a screw drilled in at an angle. The screw can even be covered by a wood plug.  This was a perfect practice project for the Kreg Jig Kit that Carolyn bought me for Christmas.  The Kreg Jig is a tool to make pocket joinery simple. The kit she got me is amazing and is a bit of overkill for this project, but I plan to do a lot of built-ins with it in the future.  Kreg has plenty of jig optionsto match any budget.  Even the Mini Kreg Jig Kitcould get this job done. No, our tiny blog is not sponsored, I just really love their tools!

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