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Custom Built-In DIY

When we bought our home, one of the first projects I wanted to tackle was building a built-in in the living room. As you will see in the before/after, there was a perfect cut out for one right next to the fireplace, so we didn't have to start cutting into walls to make one.

As beginners in home DIY, we were quite excited to get in and start on this project but we had to really think through all of the measurements and functionality of the space.

Below is a general step-by-step outline for our built-in project. I didn't provide exact measurements since everyone's space will be different.

STEP 1: Measure the space. Be sure to get EXACT measurements. You don't want to have estimates here.

STEP 2: Determine the functionality For example, our built-in is right next to our fireplace where our TV is mounted above the mantle. We wanted to hide all of the wires from the TV, sound bar, etc. There was already a hole in the wall to string through all of the wires, but we wanted to make that hole and the wires as invisible as possible so we patched that hole and drilled a new one underneath the built-in cabinet.

STEP 3: Outline a design plan. Based on the functionality and the space area, sketch out or find a design plan for your built in. We chose a traditional style and added intricate molding to inset the built-in and tie in the molding from the fireplace mantle.

STEP 4: Purchase and prep your materials. Home Depot is our second home..literally. We're there all the time buying materials, including wood. Lots of wood! We chose to cut our own measurements using our own tools, but Home Depot can make cuts for you as well. We also purchased the molding pieces to finish it off.

STEP 5: Begin building. We started off with the cabinet area on the bottom of the built-in first. Then we worked our way up to the shelves after. We painted the back of the wall before attaching the shelves so that we wouldn't have to paint around it. We kept going back and forth on how to hang the shelves. My husband wanted to make sure they were sturdy enough but were also able to be removable in case we wanted to change up the back one day or do something different with the shelving (genius, right?). He measured and nailed in these long wood strip pieces that the shelves would sit on. We painted the shelves separately. Once those were all dry (at least 24 hours to dry) we inserted them into the built-in and put a coat of thin wax over the entire built-in.

I'm sure I'm missing many steps, but this gives you a general idea on where to begin for a project like this.

STEP 6: Style away! Once the entire built-in was completely dry, the fun part (to me :)) was styling! I'll be doing a separate blog post on shelf styling tips, so stay tuned. For this built-in, I wanted a mix of wood, greenery and personal pieces to accent the shelves. One point to keep in mind is not to rush styling. If you don't have all the pieces you need, wait till you get the right ones to complete your styling. You can also switch out pieces for new ones once you get them, so don't feel like you're glued to one item. For example, I got these beautiful pieces from Magnolia Market during my visit and swapped them out for a few other pieces that were already on the built-in. This is your chance to have fun and draw attention to this beautiful piece you just built.

This project definitely took some time but it was SO worth it.

Key learning: Don't be afraid to take on projects like this. If we can do it, you can do it! OR we can do it for you :)

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