*This post contains affiliate links*
My friends Jen and Kevin had this blank wall in their dining room that she saw so much potential with! She wanted a built-in unit to be able to store things and also be able to use it as a drink/snack station for get togethers. So we came up with a game plan. This is the wall we were working with and we drew up some plans so I could bring her vision to life.
I started by removing the baseboards using my multitool and built a base for the unit out of 2×4 framing lumbar. These are tile floors made to look like wood so I could build on top of them. If they were floating floors I’d have to remove the area I planned to build on because floating floors need to be able to expand and contract and they can’t do that if they have something permanent sitting on them.
I would have loved to use pre made cabinets from Home Depot or Ikea and built them in, but these needed to be very thin and they didn’t have them the size that we needed, so I built them from scratch. Cabinets are pretty simple to build, you just need to make sure they are square. She didn’t need a back on them because it didn’t bother her that when you open the cabinets you’d be able to see the back wall and that way we save on material and time.
The sides and bottom are solid pieces of plywood. The top we just used small, thin pieces to save on material. There will be a countertop on these so this part will be hidden. I also put a back support on, this helps keep the cabinets square. I connected all of this with pocket holes and gorilla glue. ALWAYS use glue!
Pocket hole screws have a tendency to shift the wood from where you put it by a little, but I saw a trick from another DIYer. You just use your brad nailer and shoot a couple nails in the side before you screw it into place to hold the wood right where it should be without shifting! This worked like a charm!
I got the 2 side cabinets up first and then built the middle one to make sure I had the measurements perfect by 1/16 of an inch, you don’t have to do it this way, it’s just how I feel comfortable measuring everything. Some people cut all their wood at once and then put it all together, I measure as I go. Jen determined where the shelf went in the middle based on what she planned to put in it.
I had an assistant for the middle one! Jen’s husband, Kevin! I wish I had an assistant all the time!
I put the drawers together with wood glue and brad nails.
I installed the drawer slides and then put the drawers in.
Before attaching the drawer fronts and the doors I did add edge banding onto the drawer tops and shelf fronts to hide the ugly plywood edge and make it look like a solid piece of wood.
You just iron it on and trim it off with a razor knife. This is real wood with an adhesive on the back that activates with heat. You can paint it or stain it.
I caulked these around the edges of the brown board using paintable caulk and then installed to make sure they fit. I used these hinges instead of regular cabinet door hinges because they were easier.
I caulked the back of the unit where it met the wall before painting. I use painters tape for caulking so it’s a nice clean line.
I painted the built in unit Alabaster by SW and removed the doors to paint them as well. I use solo cups to set the cabinet doors on to paint them. But they also make triangles specifically for this, I just always seem to have solo cups on hand.
Once the bottom was done, it was time to start planning the countertop. Jen liked the herringbone pattern on my my coffee tables and entryway table so I drew out some different designs and let her pick what she liked most.
She picked the 3rd down on the left so that’s what we went with. I picked up some particle board as the base since it’s inexpensive compared to plywood. I used pocket holes to put it together because of the size this thin piece of particle board came in it wasn’t quite wide enough and I didn’t want to buy a whole 4×8 sheet.
I used 1×3 common board for the herringbone pattern and attached them to the particle board with wood glue and brad nails. Back then I had this brad nailer that required an air compressor. If you already have an air compressor this nailer is a good deal, but now I use this Milwaukee brad nailer that’s battery operated, and while it’s a bit of an investment, it is so worth it because it’s so much easier! You don’t have to lug around an air compressor with you! If you don’t already have an air compressor though it would be about the same cost to buy one and a nailer.
This was very long so my neighbor came over to help me take off the edges with the table saw using a jig I made.
Then I used 1x3s for the edges and sanded it all down with my orbital sander and this is what it looked like!
I built this at my house and then took it over to Jen’s to install and we love the way it turned out!
I also added this hardware.
What do you think so far? The bottom half is looking sooo good!
Next up, the top half!