How To: Built Ins with Repurposed Cabinets part 2

Hi friend! Today I am excited to share with you part 2 of our built in project using repurposed cabinets that we had in our garage. Our living room is truly being transformed with this budget friendly project.

If you haven’t read part 1, you can do so HERE!

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

How To: Built Ins with Repurposed Cabinets part 2

Where We Left Off

Since the last time we chatted, we have actually added a different finish on the maple countertop. Looking back, I am SO GLAD we did this. I love the look of pure maple but I just felt it looked too unfinished for my personal style.

We used Rubio Monocoat Oil plus 2C in the color ‘Bourbon’

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

It is the perfect warm, but not too warm, mid tone brown.

It applied like a dream and was so different compared to your normal big box store stain. We are definitely impressed so far!

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

Don’t worry, we don’t use that spoon for our children! Once we applied the product per the instructions we moved it back onto the cabinets and secured it through the top of the cabinets to the bottom of the countertop. We let the piece stand for the recommended amount of time to let it cure.

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

I love how the color just brings the piece back to life and in the end it was the perfect choice! We have so much white in our home, I love to bring color back in through different decor that I can change out and natural wood tones. I am definitely going to be using this color combo again in the near future!

The Shelving

Thinking back to our original plan, we went ahead and roughly wrote out some measurements and referred back to the original tape drawing and got a game plan together.

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

Once we had our general game plan it was time to head to the store.

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

I don’t know if any of you are experiencing this where you are or its just our area, but we have had such a plywood supply shortage. Granted the prices have skyrocketed but we can no longer find the plywood we used to build everything out of! We have found that you need to be careful with your choice of plywood because some are insanely grainy and even if you sand to perfection, you will still see heavy wood grain after you paint.

Since this happened to be the case for us, we went with using MDF. I wouldn’t say its the same quality as plywood at all but it gets the job done. You just have to be extremely careful with it because screws and nails can rip through it if you don’t have any extra bracing on it. We have learned the hard way before!

Building the Frame

Once we got home with all of our supplies, it was time to rip down the MDF boards into the depth of what we needed. We decided to do 12″ deep shelves and we were adding a face front that was a 1×2 so we needed to rip the MDF down to 11.25″ pieces.

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

We needed to cut down 4 pieces that served as what we call ‘risers’. The 2 outside risers measured 11.25″ x 54″. We wanted the entirety of this piece to sit at 54 inches tall. The middle 2 risers were 11.25″ x 52″ which would give us something to set the ceiling piece on later that would be pocket hole screwed into the outside risers and the back of the face frame.

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

We knew we wanted the shelves a certain width across so my hubby cut those according to size. He added pocket holes to the bottom so we would be able to attach the shelves to the risers. All we would have to do is fill in the pocket holes after assembly with either spackle or joint compound.

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

Once the frame pieces were cut, it was time to take it inside to assemble. We measured and marked on each piece where we wanted the shelves to go starting with the middle section. We ran a line of wood glue along the line where we wanted the shelf to be and then attached the pieces together using pocket hole screws.

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

Always double check that whatever you are working on is level!!

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

We built our way out from the center to each side being extra careful on our measurements. Once the frame was together, it was time to start the face frame which gives the built in it’s grandesque look and feel.

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

We used select pine 1×2″ boards for all of the face frame except for the top header piece which was a 1×8″ board. This covers up all the joints and bulks up the piece. We put some wood glue on the MDF boards and then used our brad nailer to attach them. Be sure to place your nails in the center to avoid coming through the wood on the other side on accident.

As a general rule of thumb you want to keep your vertical pieces the longest so attach those first then work on your horizontal pieces by measuring between the vertical pieces.

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

After the face framing was done it was time to fill the pocket holes and nail holes. I use joint compound and a putty knife to pack it as tightly as I can and then scrape the extra away. Using the putty knife in the first place makes for less sanding down the road.

By this point it was 10pm so we called it a night and let everything set and dry until morning.

All the Details

The next morning we took the piece outside to sand down the entire piece and attach the crown moulding.

We used a 320 grit sandpaper on our orbital sander which is the grit you want to use when you’re going to paint. Optimum smoothness!

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

Crown moulding is definitely a learning curve. Every time we build something and use it we have to go back and watch a youtube video on how to do the angles right. It’s nothing like normal wood. But, I wanted to throw that tid bit in because we don’t know everything but we are not afraid to try and mess up. Which trust me, we have done many runs back to the wood store just for more crown moulding because we messed up. Rome was not built in a day!

Once everything was sanded, we attached the ceiling of the unit. Remember we cut the 2 middle risers to be shorter than the outside ones so the ceiling would have something to rest on. We attached the ceiling using pocket hole screws as well.

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets
how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

After the ceiling was attached it was time to caulk all the seams. Looking back, we should have attached the back of the shelves before we caulked so we could do every seam, but lesson learned! We ended up caulking the seams to the bead board once it was mounted to the wall.

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

After the caulk was dry we attached the bead board to the back of the unit using brad nails.

It was finally time to paint! We used the same tools and paint as the bottom cabinets in part 1.

I did 2 light coats to prevent any dripping and then we let it air dry throughout the day.

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

The Install

This was the most awkward piece to transfer and install. There was no good place to hold onto it to pick it up and we busted out laughing at each others faces as we slowly moved it inside. It weighs at least 100 pounds!

It took several attempts to lift it up onto the countertop. In the back of my head I knew it was going to fall apart because I dropped it. But we got it up there!

Robby screwed the top ceiling lip into the studs using 3.5″ construction screws. This sucker isn’t going anywhere!

Finishing Touches

We caulked the shelves to the countertop very carefully and taped everything off so we would get the smoothest lines. We also caulked the sides of the shelves to the wall to completely finish it. All of these extra steps seem to take forever but they are so worth it in the end.

This is when we also went and caulked all the seams to the beadboard. A little step backwards, I know. But with every project we learn so much!!

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets
how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets

I rolled 1 more coat of paint on everything once that caulk was dry and we were DONE!

Well, for now.

We have lighting and hardware coming right now and I cannot wait to show y’all what we went with and then of course how I style this space for Christmas! I’m getting in the Christmas spirit and I’m currently writing this by the glow of my living room tree. I might not have anything other than my tree with some lights on it up but it’s perfectly cozy for me now.

how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets
how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets
how to: built ins with repurposed cabinets
Tools You May Want:

We have used these tools for years and would not recommend them to you if we didn’t love them. I may receive a small commission should you chose to purchase anything through these links at no extra cost to you. Shopping my links helps keep me bringing you more content but don’t feel any pressure! Click on the photos and that will take you straight to the product 🙂

Table Saw
Stud Finder
Cabinet Paint
Paint Sprayer
Impact Driver Set
Brad Nailer
Router
Pocket Hole Jig Kit
Skil Saw

Stay tuned for part 3 of this built in journey. Thanks for being here! Head on over to Instagram and follow me @thesimplecozyhaven so you can see more of our projects and day to day life. I hope you have an amazing rest of your day and we will chat soon about the final phase of this project!

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