DIY Built-Ins I: No Going Back

True to form, I’ve been thinking about building a bookshelf/window seat piece for months. I’ve found inspiration on Pinterest (so addicting), read magazines, done some research, talked it out over and over with everyone…


And now I’m finally committed. There’s no going back. (Well, if I really wanted to I guess I could. But I don’t.)

I did some measurements and doodles… and lots of scratching out and price checking online.


Then I grabbed my pink tools and attacked the chair rail and baseboard on the wall of the future built-ins.


It was scary. And much more difficult than I expected!


It’s not pretty. And I damaged the wall more than I liked in places. (Good thing it will all be covered up!) I’ll have to take out the chunk of chair rail and baseboard on the side walls, but I have to cut it and don’t have the tools–and I want to be sure to cut the right amount!



And I “found” my concrete slab floors:


As you can see from my little sketches above, I DO have a plan. In my online research I found an amazing how-to article on the Family Handyman website. I totally scored in that find! It’s almost exactly what I want to do! I’ll be making some adjustments, of course–some I have to, others I want to.

The general idea is to use pre-made cabinets and build around them. I’ll use 36″ x 30″ wall cabinets (so they don’t have the toe-kick like base cabinets do) on either side of the window, and two 30″ x 12″ cabinets under the window for the bench seat. I found some unfinished cabinets at Lowe’s, which are less expensive than the finished ones and I plan on painting it all so everything should blend quite nicely. Then the bookcase shelving components will be built on top of the cabinets.


The project done for the Family Handyman article cost about $1000 for a 12′ x 8′ wall. I’m hoping I’ll be able to save significantly by purchasing the unfinished cabinets, less-expensive wood (I’m not staining so it can be different types as needed), and by using some of what I already have (paint, the baseboard, other miscellaneous scraps for spacers, etc). I’ll keep a better record of my costs for this project so I can give you a better summary when it’s all finished!

So far the cabinets I’m looking at will set me back $310 (before taxes): $97 for each of the 36″ x 30″ cabinets and $58 for each of the 30″ x 12″ cabinets.


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