Inside: How we created a large built-in on a budget using IKEA kitchen cabinets and IKEA shelving.
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’ll 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’s 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. –oh wait, the computer cemetery doesn’t exist now that we’ve completely decluttered and organized our garage!
Worth the wait, I promise. Not to mention super fun to see where we started, and how far we’ve come since moving into our home.
The family room before our DIY built-in
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.
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!
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.
Then we moved our furniture in and slowly started accumulating more kids stuff than we could ever have imagined and used what we had to organize it.
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.
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 kids toys –and I knew there would be more to come.
Wait is that a cardboard box we’re using to organize the toys? Oh, no it just happened to be our baby girl’s favorite toy…go figure.
So a built-in with closed cabinets for hidden storage for toys, TV components, and movies, was a must but we had to come up with a budget friendly option.
How we created a large built-in using IKEA kitchen cabinets and IKEA shelves
We decided that closed storage down below with open shelves up top would be a nice look and give us hidden storage and a place to display things. 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 in the fall and for Christmas.
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.
We used five 30 inch base kitchen cabinets (24 inches deep) across the bottom with solid doors on the sides and glass doors in the middle so we’d be able to put the TV components in there and still be able to use the remotes. And since I know you’re wondering if the remotes work through the glass, yes they do!
For the counter top we used two IKEA laminate counters. There is a seam right in the middle but honestly you can barely see it. This is because we put the uncut edge of each counter top together at the seam and cut on the sides against the wall knowing that no cut is perfect.
You will want to take precautions when cutting the laminate though so it doesn’t chip. We use the same method we use to cut wood without splintering that you can see here.
Since we wanted to run our 5″ baseboards along the front to give it less of a kitchen look and more of a built in look we adjusted the height of the cabinets accordingly. Then instead of installing the toekick we placed a piece of wood the length of the cabinets and attached our baseboard to it for a seamless look with the wall baseboards.
We used this same method on the built-ins we did in our front room and documented the process with photos in this post so you can see what I mean.
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 LACK 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.
When it came time to place our flat screen TV we found this easy to install kit that got rid of those ugly dangling cords.
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 our family room looked like before right here.
And I love to play around with the styling on my shelves and switch the art out for a fresh look.
Absolutely crazy that what once looked like this…
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!
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!
Thanks for stopping by!
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