How did we create that built-in in the family room?

If you’ve ever felt like decorating your home is just too damn hard, I’m about to take you on a little walk down memory lane today in hopes that you will realize that creating the home of your dreams takes time, even for those of us who are literally obsessed with it (this girl right here.)

I’m also answering one of the most common questions I get which is how did you create the built in in your family room?

I’ll admit it has taken me forever to get around to answering, but I had to really dig through old photos for this one. (As in dig out old computers that are currently sitting in the old computer cemetery in the garage kind of digging.)

Worth the wait, I promise. Not to mention super fun to see where we started, and how far we’ve come!

We got the keys to our home when our first born was just  a few weeks old. In fact the hubs did the walk through the day after she was born, while I was soaking up baby snuggles in the hospital . It was a short sale which took twice as long as planned to close and we had absolutely no control over the timing, but were so excited to have our patience finally pay off.

Our family room didn’t always have a personality. Or storage. Or color.

This is what it looked like when we got the keys (minus the baby seat, the paint samples, and the mayo and mustard?- no clue why those are there.)

It was builder white, on builder white, on off white, on cream, on more off white with off white berber carpet. Not cool, but a clean slate!

IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves (2)

Before we moved in we painted all of the main living spaces a perfect shade of greige, and called on the help of our family and friends to put in new baseboards, and install some beautiful, dark wide plank laminate flooring.IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves

Then we moved our furniture in and slowly started accumulating more kids stuff than we could ever imagine and used what we had.

It made perfect sense to make this long wall the media area in our family room so we used the modular shelves that we had in our previous home to hold our TV and all the components until we could figure out a more permanent solution.

We knew we wanted to make this wall a focal point and have a built in, but when we heard how much custom built-ins cost we knew we had to come up with our own solution. (We had just transitioned from a 2 income household of 2, to a one income household of 3 with a mortgage!)

Not to mention, I wasn’t a fan of sweeping up dog hair from behind this make-shift media center, nor was I a fan of no where to put the toys (and I knew there would be more to come.)IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves

So I guess building our own built-in was the answer! Or at least piecing one together was!

We wanted closed cabinets below to hold the TV components, and have storage for blankets, toys, and movies.

Up top, I wanted there to be open shelves to display decor and do some tricky hidden storage for things too. Plus, since we don’t have a fireplace, I wanted this space to act as my sorta “mantel” that I can change out with the seasons. (See how it looks in fall or winter!)

We found that IKEA kitchen base cabinets were perfect for the lower cabinets and installed them all the way across with a white laminate kitchen counter top (also from IKEA) on top.

IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves

Then we painted the back wall a deep blue and secured LACK open shelves on each side. (These are no longer available, but there are similar ones at IKEA that would work the same.)

We cut off the bottom shelf on each unit so that the counter top was the bottom shelf, plus it made it so that they fit height wise.

Finally we installed a long LACK floating shelf across the middle to frame the TV and give me my mantle.IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves

Having all of this open shelving space has really allowed me to let my color palette and my decor in general evolve over time. (We recently refreshed this room, you can see what it looked like before right here.)IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves

And I love to play around with the styling on my shelves and switch the art out for a fresh look.IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves

IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves

Absolutely crazy that what once looked like this…

family room built in before 2

Now looks like this! Say whaaaaat!

I hadn’t looked at those photos in so long and can’t believe how much we’ve been able to transform our home into a space that is a perfect backdrop for our lives.

This is the room we hang out in the most and it absolutely nails it when it comes to how we want our home to feel!
IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves

Thanks for coming along this journey with me today! Since discovering the file with all of the original photos of our home, I’m excited to share more then and now stories with you!

IKEA hack- how to create a built in out of IKEA cabinets and shelves (10)

Thanks for stopping by!

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About Corey

Corey is the creative behind Hey There, Home where she shares easy-to-follow and beautiful home decor and entertaining ideas. Her mission? To make home decor accessible to everyone, even if you don't consider yourself crafty, and to empower people to decorate their homes in a way that they can actually be lived in, not just looked at.

25 thoughts on “How did we create that built-in in the family room?

  1. Caitlin says:

    Hi there, I’m trying to recreate this this weekend and I found the SKETION GRIMSLOV off-white cabinets that you appear to have used but I’m wondering if the “off-white” of the cabinet doors matched the “white” Billy shelves I found to go with it on top…did you run into that problem? How “off” white are they compared to other whites at IKEA?


    1. Sara says:

      What was the total cost of the built in?

    2. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Caitlin, They aren’t a perfect match, but it isn’t noticeable at all because the countertop we used (also from IKEA) matches the bookcases. I’ve never noticed it and details like that would normally drive me nuts 🙂

  2. Pleasant B says:

    Hi, Corey. I would love to know what you guys used for the base (white piece across the bottom front – and how it was installed. Lovely set up! Inspired! 🙂

    1. Corey Willis says:

      So happy you find it inspiring, Pleasant! We used the same base board as the baseboards in our home (5 inches tall.) The ikea cabinets come with a toekick that snaps onto the legs. We attached the baseboard to the toekick and then put it in place. Because the baseboards are 5 inches tall it was important to put the cabinets at exactly that height for a seamless finished look. Hope this helps and thanks for reading!

  3. Blanaid says:

    What colour is back of shelves

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hey Blanaid, it is Distance by Sherwin Williams. For my info on my house colors, check out this post

  4. Karin says:

    do you have the model numbers from ikea for the counter, doors and cabinets?

  5. Pamela says:

    Where did you get the doors from? IKEA too?
    Looks awesome!

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Thanks so much, Pamela. I did indeed get the doors from Ikea!

  6. Jodie says:

    where is that little chair from so cute?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      I love that chair, too, Jodie! It was originally my grandmother’s and covered with white faux fur hahahaha! I had it reupholstered. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Elyse says:

    How did you secure the lack shelving to the countertop?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hey Elyse, great question! We used L brackets secured to the wall in inconspicuous spots.

  8. Heather says:

    Thanks for sharing! What a great hack! You did a great job! Just wondering where you purchased your rug as I especially love it!

    1. Hey Heather! The rug is from Rugs USA. You can find all of the sources for this room in this post.

  9. Andrea says:

    I like it! But, why did you leave the 1″ (?) space on each side of the upper shelves? Why didn’t you just go all the way to the wall with them? I’m thinking from a cleaning aspect, here. Doesn’t it get dusty in there? And spider webs? Ew. 🙂

    1. Hey Andrea. It was a dimension issue and originally we thought we would add molding there to hide it, but it hasn’t happened yet and doesn’t bother us at all so it has stayed like that.

  10. Gina Gearhart says:

    Love it!!!

  11. Kyra says:

    It’s so beautiful! You have really worked hard on creating a beautiful and comfortable home.

    1. Thank you Kyra! It has definitely been worth the effort 🙂

  12. Elizabeth says:

    Love this!! Turned out awesome! I love that blue!! Will you please share the color and brand? Thank you!

  13. Great transformation! You are truly inspiring! Thanks for sharing and glad you found the photos!

    1. Thanks Kathryn!

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