The DIY Built-Ins Are Done! Plus a Sneak Peek - ORC Week 7 - Pretty Real

The DIY Built-Ins Are Done! Plus a Sneak Peek - ORC Week 7

7:00 AM

DIY Built-Ins with Vertical Paneling and Media Storage!

Guys. ONE WEEK until the reveal. I can hardly believe it. Somehow we turned a corner last week and are feeling ready to wrap this thing up! This week we thought we'd walk you through how we built the shelves. I'm using "we" loosely although I did put in hours of sweat equity toward the end- but more on that later. This won't be a tutorial per se, but we'll share the tutorials we referenced, our steps, and things we wish we'd done differently. Hopefully if you're in the research phase of built-in options (hire it out? Buy ready made? DIY it?), this post will help! Also there's a tiny sneak peek of the styled shelves at the end! So here goes...


First, we decided on the look we wanted. We discussed what we used as a base here so consult that post if you're interested. We wanted 2 shelves flanking the TV, no shelf in the middle (sometimes people add one atop the TV but I think that would look awkward in our space and be hard to style), and trim wrapped around the top. We also decided on height- let's go all the way to the ceiling! Generally taller is better and we figured a) we'd get more shelves that way and b) if we're going to all the trouble, might as well utilize all the space! We also determined how many shelves we wanted- 2 or 3 (so 3 or 4 if you include the counter as one). To decide we taped out a rough estimate of how wide the shelves would be, keeping the TV in place for a frame of reference. I even grabbed a few décor items to decide if a taller space for the initial shelf would look good- it did! Take your time here, you want to be able to visualize it before taking any permanent action! You can see a lot of this process unfold in the "media shelves" highlight over on Instagram.

DIY Built-Ins with Vertical Paneling and Media Storage!


Next came the installation of the shelves.  We used 1x12 pine boards for the sides and started by screwing one directly into the wall (after marking the studs to make sure they were secure and drilling small pilot holes to avoid any cracking).  We then added a 1x3 to the top back of the wall to act as a brace and give us something to attach the other side to initially.

DIY Built-Ins with Vertical Paneling and Media Storage!

Installing the Shelves

DIY Built-Ins with Vertical Paneling and Media Storage!

Then Joe cut supports for each shelf. This was our first mistake- we dry fitted the trim piece on the front of the supports + pine piece on top and it just barely covered it. That should have been a clue that it may not fit perfectly. Nevertheless we didn't realize that until later. I'll tell you how we fixed it in a bit. He then cut each shelf to to the right length, using the same 1x12 boards that the sides were cut from. 

Next he nailed each support piece to to the side pieces and the back wall (making sure the sides and back were all perfectly level). (For a step by step for installing vertical paneling, see this post). 

Once this was done, he nailed the shelf to the supports.. Then he nailed additional supports to the shelves underneath to provide a surface to nail the thin bottom board to.  Then he nailed the bottom board on. Our learning opportunity here was this- if there is any variance in the side pieces and shelf, make sure to get the shelf flush with the front of the side pieces. It'll be much easier to hide/fill gaps in the back than in the front! He wished he would have lined up the shelves and tested with the front trim piece before nailing the shelves and bottom down.   

DIY Built-Ins with Vertical Paneling and Media Storage!

DIY Built-Ins with Vertical Paneling and Media Storage!

Trimming it out (and Problem Solving):

Next he added a 1x4 to the top front of the shelves, as seen in the photo above.

He also filled in that little gap on either side of the shelves- where the cabinets meet (or don't meet) the wall. We could have bought a filler piece from Semihandmade but I didn't realize that (oops!) so he just used a 1x2 there and nailing it from inside the cabinet. He ended up cutting it so it was even with the bottom of the cabinets after.  

DIY Built-Ins with Vertical Paneling and Media Storage!

Now that all the shelves were in place, Joe cut 1x2 trim pieces to size and nailed them to the shelves- sides and front. Once this part was done we realized our error- there were pretty sizeable gaps in-between the shelf and the trim. We didn't get a photo but it's all detailed on Instagram.

DIY Built-Ins with Vertical Paneling and Media Storage!

Joe used shims to help with some of this (see stories for details!) but some were too big for that. After doing some digging, I learned about backer rod (thanks Lake and Lumber!) and ended up shoving as much as would fit into the tracks and then covering with this wood filler or caulking (this is my favorite one)- depending on placement. I was less careful with high shelves you can't see and more careful with those at eye level or that you'd see when glancing up from the sofa. Joe also used tons of wood filler for some of the gaps. Then I used a sander to sand down. It was a PRO-CESS and set us back a bit but by the time it was done it was fairly seamless from a distance and even up close looks pretty good. Honestly I'm ok with some imperfections. We are not professionals and WE MADE THIS!

Finishing Work

Next he added the molding pieces to the top. We used crown molding we picked out and set the table saw blade to 45 degrees to make the mitre cuts so it would all fit together.  The tip here is to buy more than you need for trial and error!  There were a couple of cuts that were ever so slightly off, so Joe did those over as we wanted this part to look good.  

Then I filled all the nail holes and painted. This was a story all its own- At the last minute sitting in the Sherwin Williams parking lot I knew white was just not the right color. I was running behind and was tempted to just go with white or grab a gallon of Accessible Beige- the first color to pop into my mind- but didn't want to drop 70-100 non-refundable dollars on it and then change my mind. So I rushed home, grabbed a sample I'd been hoarding for a year (guys I LOVE this color and have tested it several times including for last year's ORC but it was never quite right) and tried it out. I might have been too scared to pull the trigger if not for a friend pushing me along- her: "I think I love it." Me [teeth nervously clenched]: "I think I do too!" but I'm so glad I did! I ran back to Sherwin Williams and grabbed a gallon of Accessible Beige and it's PERFECT. I painted the toe kick too then Joe installed it.

I won't get into all the details on painting the cabinet and shelves, but check out this highlight for tips on painting cabinetry as well as the ORC highlight for notes on my favorite types of paint for cabinets (hint- enamel and alkyd products). 

As promised, here's a sneak peek - all of our hard work paid off and led to the MOST FUN part- styling the shelves. Like so exciting guys.

DIY Built-Ins with Vertical Paneling and Media Storage!

Guys, our to-do list is DONE. I'm amazed. I had my moments where I thought for sure we'd never make it! 

Task List:

Install Vertical Paneling

Hide all the Cords!

Build a Built-in Entertainment System ( I feel like this one needs confetti)

    - build and hang IKEA boxes

    - build DIY shelves

    - make a countertop - we  used edge glued pine panels from here.

    -add trim to media shelves

    -install semi-handmade doors and toe-kick

    -Fill gaps and add baseboards back 

    -Fill gaps in DIY shelves, caulk, etc 

Paint the Built-In/cabinetry

Paint the Room 

DIY game/side table 

Choose Art - I shared a sneak peek on Instagram but I just adore this!

Choose Accessories (hardware, pillows, drapes...)

Style and Shoot!

I CANNOT wait for you to tune in next week to see the reveal! Until then, make sure to check out the previous weeks here:

week 1 (the plan),  week 2 (all about the shelves), week 3 (how to install vertical shiplap), week 4 (successes/failures and a round up of purchased accessories),  week 5 (how to hide TV cords), and week 6 (a DIY fluted table)! 

And the other featured designers here:

(This post contains affiliate links).

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  1. Looks so good! Can you share what material you used for the countertop??