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How To: Built Ins with Repurposed Cabinets part 1

Hi friend! I am so excited to share our DIY built ins with repurposed cabinets with you today! This is part 1 of a 3 part series! Stay tuned to see how we transformed this wall in our living room!

How To: Built Ins with Repurposed Cabinets part 1

The Thought Process

We have had 2 different pieces of furniture on this wall of our home in the last 3 years that we have lived here. However, nothing fit the bill for both functional and beautiful. With 3 small children we need something that can store all the extra toys and gadgets. But I also wanted something I can decorate and make beautiful.

We decided to finally just put in a built in but we wanted this to be as budget friendly as possible.

Lowes and Home Depot sell unfinished cabinets in various sizes but they’re still about $120 a piece. We looked on Facebook marketplace for cabinets but didn’t have any luck. I have seen them on there before just not at this time. Another great place to check would be your local Habitat for Humanity Restore. They have so many different home improvement things constantly coming to their store. It’s hit or miss each time you go!

We thought about what we could use and thought about the cabinets we had hanging in our garage just storing junk. My parents had renovated their entire home and gave us their old kitchen cabinets. We actually have some in our laundry room as well!

We went out to the garage to measure the total length of them and they were exactly what we were looking at purchasing new! Score! We just needed to clean them out and then we would pretty much have the base of the built ins for FREE!

The Prep

This is something we have never done before but after doing this we will be doing this for every project from here on out: tape off your design.

It’s one thing to envision something in your mind but it was so helpful to really get a real life visual. We ended up changing the upper section quite a few times before we settled on this design. We wanted something that would be able to house a variety of decor. Nothing too small or too big. I think we accomplished it perfectly.

Over the weekend we headed to the garage to clean up the cabinets. They were pretty dusty from all the woodworking we end up doing in there, LOL.

We took the cabinets off of the wall and blew them off. Then I mixed up a bucket of hot water and TSP. I wiped down the outsides of the cabinets just good enough to get them inside.

While I was doing this, Robby my husband, was building the cabinet base out of 2×6 boards. This would give us enough height so we could match the baseboards to truly give it the built in look. Once the frame was finished it was time to head inside.

The Build

We scored the caulk lines with a utility knife then used a multi-tool to cut the baseboards where the base of the cabinets would fit in.

We pulled the baseboard off and slid the base in.

We made sure the base was perfectly level before we attached it to the wall. We had to make a few adjustments and add some shims to accomplish this. Once it was level we attached the base to the wall putting screws into the studs. THIS is the stud finder we have. It is worth the investment!

Once the base was attached to the wall, it was time to bring in the cabinets!

We attached the cabinets to the wall by driving screws into the studs. We had already marked on the wall where the studs were from when we attached the base.

When we installed the cabinets we knew that an outlet would be covered by the back of the cabinets. We cut out a hole and used outlet extenders to bring the outlet forward so we could use it inside of the cabinet. We decided this would be the perfect place to put our kid’s tablets and keep the chargers right there for easy access but also hidden away when not in use.

After everything was secure we labeled the doors and removed hardware so we could prep for paint. This is a crucial step that will save you so much time down the road. Taking 5 extra minutes to label and sort everything is definitely worth it.

We set up the cabinet doors outside on a table and I scuffed the finish up with a sanding block and then wiped everything down again with TSP. Once they were dry, it was time to start painting.

We use THIS Graco sprayer. It is hands down the best one we have had. And we have had A TON! I love using this cabinet enamel paint. It truly cures unlike wall paint and you won’t find yourself having to touch up paint in a few years down the road. This paint is also self leveling so the results are amazing!

For the base of the cabinets I just rolled them inside and followed the same steps as I did with the cabinet doors.

Once everything was painted and cured, we reinstalled the cabinet doors and it was time to start the baseboards.

We used a simple craftsman style baseboard and added some quarter round at the bottom to match the rest of the house.

After we nailed all of that in we filled the holes with spackle and caulked all the seams. Caulk is your best friend. It truly helps you create that beautiful finished piece. Once the caulk was dry I brushed the paint on so everything would match.

The Countertop

We decided not to do everything white on this piece so it would have some dimension. We went with a maple countertop.

Maple is such a gorgeous wood. It is very light in color and has a soft grain to it. If you have not built or seen any true hard woods, find a local lumber yard and get ready to be amazed. Our lumber yard carries an assortment of different woods and it’s always so fun to see everything. They have some wood that is over $50 a board foot!! We can do a whole post all about lumber yard tips and tricks and how pricing works there. Let me know if you would enjoy that! I know how intimidating it can be to go in there but I promise the employees are passionate about wood and are always more than happy to help you.

We picked up 2 6/4 boards and jointed them together and glued them up to make a solid countertop.

Once the glue set overnight, we cut the countertop down to about 13 inches. That is all that fits in our planer so it was a perfect fit. This helps get the boards flat and to the same thickness.

Once we were happy with the countertop, we used a chamfer bit on our router to give it a polished and modern edge on top.

We sanded the countertop using a 120 grit sandpaper on our orbital sander. We applied a furniture wax that would protect the wood but keep it a natural color.

After letting the product cure, we attached the countertop to the cabinets by using screws through the top of the cabinets to the bottom of the countertop. We caulked the seam where they met to completely finish the piece.

Part 2

Stay tuned for part 2 of our DIY Built Ins coming soon!

I hope this post has inspired you to try something you haven’t done before and that you feel that doing a project like this isn’t as intimidating as it seems.

As always, I hope I have shown you how you too can make your house your haven with a little determination and grit. Thanks so much for being here! Let me know in the comments what you thought about this post and if you are ready to see part 2!!

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