Top o’ the built-in to ya! On Monday the bases to our nursery built-ins were complete, and now (yes, you guessed it) so are the tops… well, except for some caulking, paint touch ups, and crown molding to finish things off.
We’re really happy with how they’ve turned out, and Sherry is about to explode from waiting to fill them in (I’m making her wait until we’ve finished all of our final caulking and paint touch-ups along with the rest of the room’s crown – I know, THE NERVE). But let me show you how we got to this stage, because the tops took a bit more planning than the bases did since I was building them from scratch.
We decided to build from scratch since we couldn’t find any pre-existing bookcases that would fit in that space. We went with plywood for the material – specifically, this PureBond eco plywood from Home Depot, which is formaldehyde-free (along with chunky wood trim pieces to beef up the sides and the shelf fronts). A 4ft x 8ft panel of that eco plywood is $47 so I figured out ahead of time how to get the most out of one piece. I still had to buy another 2′ x 4′ piece to get my last two shelves, but otherwise I was pretty proud of figuring out this puzzle.
I got all of these pieces cut down in the store, which made life much easier – especially since their big saw locks in place, so I had more confidence that my pieces would be consistent widths. Luckily the Home Depot guy was having a slow day so he was happy to oblige. They were small enough to fit in my car by this point, but since I was also buying a bunch of long pieces of crown molding for the rest of the room, I went ahead and rented their truck to get everything home for $19.
We tried to paint all of our pieces BEFORE installing them, since it’s typically easier to paint things when they’re laid out on the ground or leaned up against the wall (without having to worry about edging or cutting in around stuff). Here are the tall side pieces drying.
Once they were dry and the bases were finished, I attached one side piece directly to the wall (into a stud in a few places, to make it crazy secure).
Then I attached a thin brace piece (a strip of 1 x 3″ that I had cut and painted already) along the top into a couple of studs. This piece wouldn’t do anything visually (it would later be hidden) but it gave me a place to attach the second side piece. I screwed right through it into the end of the brace. You’ll note that we’re just relying on the wall to act as the back of the built-ins rather than attaching a plywood panel. We did this mainly for cost and simplicity purposes (we can always paint it a bright color or slide in foam core or cardboard covered backs with fabric or wallpaper to spice things up a little later).
That second side piece would gradually become more secure as I went along, attaching more braces and shelves. But to keep it as square as possible as I went, I temporarily attached a board across the front (which I later popped off). You’ll also note some pieces laying there at the bottom helping to keep things square down by the base of the bookcase.
With the sides in place, I could start building our shelves, so I marked along one side where each of them were going to go.
The night before this Sherry and I had played around a bit with where we wanted them to sit. We decided on doing three shelves (creating four cubbies) because it seemed like the most balanced look to us – not too cramped, not too spacious. We went for permanent shelves, rather than adjustable ones, because we thought they’d look more polished and would accommodate most things since they’re pretty standard sizes.
We typically like our shelves all evenly placed, but we noticed that this made the bottom shelf look a little small for some reason when we taped things out. Then we came across this room and really liked the spacious bottom shelf design, so we gave ours a few extra inches of breathing room too – and here’s where we ended up (the painter’s tape represents the width of each shelf). The depth of all of the shelves is 11″ by the way.
Next it was time to attach the shelf braces. I cut these brace pieces by ripping a 1 x 3″ along my table saw into .75″ wide pieces. This will make more sense in a moment, but basically any thicker than that and the braces would hang below the trim pieces that I’d be adding later to the front of each shelf.
I nailed the braces into the wall and the sides (being sure to keep things level as I went) just to get everything in place. Then to make sure they were secure and could bear weight, I went back and screwed them each into the studs in a few spots.
Here are all three shelves added (Sherry and I had already pre-cut and painted them). I also nailed each shelf down into the brace piece so they won’t pop out or jiggle or anything.
One of the continuous challenges of this build has been that our walls aren’t totally flat/level. So my perfectly cut shelf pieces didn’t necessarily sit perfectly flush in some spots. But it wasn’t anything a little paintable caulk couldn’t fix along those back edges – especially since I had to caulk all the various seams where the braces met the shelf anyway.
Once the caulk had dried, we took this opportunity to paint the back wall and ceiling to match the rest of the built-ins. We considered leaving the wall color as-is, but decided it’d look more like one unit if we painted that to match the shelves. We’re still open to adding a pop of color to the backs down the line, or even some foam core covered with fabric or wallpaper, but we want to load up the shelves to see how they look first (don’t want them to get too busy).
After our wall paint dried, I re-hung the temporary header piece that I had added before (I popped it off so Sherry could paint it). It doesn’t go all the way to the ceiling because the crown will cover that gap (and it was cheaper to buy a 1 x 6″ piece than a 1 x 8″ one). Next I attached the face trim. Since plywood has a rough and unfinished edge, we wanted to polish things off with some 1 x 2″ pieces to frame out the front and make them look chunky. Sherry likes to call this method “Restoration Hardware-ing” something, because it really is the difference between a budget look and a nice substantial and solid one.
Then I could begin to install the crown molding. We’re using the same technique that we used in Clara’s room (upside down baseboard + crown = extra beefy crown). Since I intentionally bought the shorter/cheaper 3.25″ baseboard (knowing that it wouldn’t sit flush to the ceiling, but that the gap would be covered by the crown) you can see how I used a spacer on top of the piece that I’m nailing to make sure I got things in the right spot.
There were a few questions on Monday about white vs. gray molding and whether it should match the built-ins or the rest of the room. We’ve seen it done both ways, but here’s a room where it matches the built-ins, which we liked more. We may change our minds once we see all the trim installed, but we just pictured a white stripe at the top and bottom of them looking funny – kind of like the middles are floating. So we like the idea of grounding them with same-toned baseboards and elongating them by continuing that color on the crown.
Here’s a piece of freshly painted crown just held in place so you can get the idea of what it’ll look like. I’m going to wait to install these pieces ’til I do the whole room, which will hopefully be early next week.
We still need to do some caulking, nail hole filling, and paint touch-ups. But for the purposes of today, we’re declaring them done enough. At least enough for us to start putting the room back together.
Oh and a few folks on Monday wondered if these built-ins were storage overkill, at least for a baby, but they’re just our way of playing the long game in here. Clara’s six-drawer dresser was barely full when she was born, but in a few short years she has grown, along with her clothes, and now that big double dresser is overflowing. So we think these eight drawers will be full in no time.
It would probably make for more blog fodder if we redid everything when he’s 3, but we’re trying to invest time and money into more permanent-but-flexible pieces for this guy, especially since we plan to be here long-term. That’s why we constructed these to eventually accommodate a twin sized bed (lengthwise) or even a full-sized bed (width-wise) when that time comes. So while we love easy & inexpensive Phase 1 updates for rooms that are extra pricey to renovate (like kitchens/bathrooms, especially when we’re not sure what we want to do with their layouts just yet), if we know what we want and have the money on hand for a space like a bedroom (or our recently renovated sunroom), it’s exciting to work towards that end-vision from the get-go.
As for the placement of the crib between these new built-ins, there’s about 15″ of wiggle room on each side, so we’re not concerned about Barnacle being able to reach out and scale the bookcases (we’ll drop the mattress when he’s more mobile, so they’ll be even further out of reach). And if he turns out to be especially long-armed or daredevil-ish, we can always rotate the crib 90° so the gap is even greater.
And now for some random room thoughts from Sherry, after we pushed the crib back in there:
- “Now I’m itching to paint the crib drawer since it’s a little clashy – maybe bright green?”
- “The white of the crib looks pretty out of place right now, but I think once we add curtains and frames and things on those bookcases it’ll make more sense.”
- “Colorrrrrr! Faaaaaabric! Let’s have some fun now that these studly built-ins are in the bag.”
The room’s definitely looking like Beige City right now (not to be confused with Bear City) but we have big plans to layer in lots more as we go – just like we did in Clara’s room, which started with white walls. So stuff like bedding, a mobile, window treatments, books, toys, and some colorful art should definitely add more personality.
As for the total cost of these two built-in bookcases, I spent around $60 per side (which includes the eco plywood for the sides and shelves, the baseboard and quarter-round that I used at the foot of the dressers, the lumber for lifting the dressers up to accommodate those baseboards, and the wood for the shelf braces & face trim).
In summary: I’m beyond psyched to have these checked off of our to-do list. When we first started discussing them I pictured them taking me months to finish, so I’m pleasantly surprised to have them knocked out in about two weeks. All of that priming, painting, staining, sealing, and caulking (shout out to the lady-wife for her help with that) really cuts into your pace sometimes! Speaking of Sherry, I know that she’s happy to have them done so she can unleash her decorating beast in here. Just picture her doing her best Golum impression and creepily whispering things like “criiiiib skiiiiirt” and “boooookcase stufffff.”
Mary | Lemon Grove Blog says
This post excites me way. too. much. This looks a-maziinggg!! So excited to see this room continue to transform! P.S. Loving the lighter color on the built-in!
Megan CC says
Amazing!Such an inspiration; hope you don’t mind if I totally copy this in my daughter’s ‘big girl’ room!
Just gorgeous and elegant. John, you are a true craftsman!
Those look so good! Well done.
We’re considering a more built-in look for our ikea window seat. Think I might steal some tips/tricks from you guys if ya don’t mind. :p
Love, love, love them! Great job.
They look great! I have the rugby stripe bins for our Expedit and I love them! They look great and the larger size is awesome.
Those built ins are just gorgeous. I’m glad I”m not the only one who suffers from uneven walls. Thank goodness for caulk! And I’m going to have a very difficult time getting my husband to wear safety goggles if John isn’t even wearing shoes when he builds things!
We definitely have shoes on when we’re sawing and cutting lumber out in the garage, they just get covered in sawdust so we slip them off at the door (hence the barefoot look upstairs when we’re doing lighter duty things like nailing or screwing).
We do stuff like this in barefeet all the time, but when my inlaws visit (they always end up helping us with projects) my father-in-law will take a very serious time out and say “can we all put shoes on before we proceed?”
Like you, we laid our own hardwood floors and I am VERY protective of them, so I guess I figure if my floors are safe, my feet are safe, and I am NOT letting anything happen to those floors! =)
hahaahahaha…OH SHERRY!! where is my mind? i almost spit out my soup at the last part of your reply.
Ha! How did I not see that?! Walked right into that one…
Now, I know you guys are a barefoot household and all, but don’t you even wear shoes when you’re working with power tools and heavy stuff? Not to get all parental on your butt … but put something on your feet! :-)
Thanks Nina! We definitely have shoes on when we’re sawing and cutting lumber out in the garage, they just get covered in sawdust so we slip them off at the door (hence the barefoot look upstairs when we’re doing lighter duty things like nailing or screwing).
Beautiful job on the built-ins.
Lisa @ Double Door Ranch says
I love love love these!! My wheels have been turning about installing some built-ins in my dining room. We don’t ever use that room (we’re couch eaters…for shame) So I’m thinking we could do similar built-ins and add a window seat in between which would still be seating for our dining table. That way we still have the option to actually, you know, DINE in the dining room. Wild.
Anywho…my point was…good job. ;)
looks so good! lucky little Barnacle. I would move into that room if I could.
I LOVE those! I’m a little scared of putting in anything built in (what if I feel a need to rearrange later on and they no longer work?) but I love how those have turned out! I especially love the idea of shelves over dresser. I’m wondering if something along that line would work well for my daughter’s eventual “big girl” room (well, if she ends up getting a little sibling – if not, she can keep her furniture!).
Would it be possible to add a shot of the whole wall with the crib in place? Just trying to get the whole picture….
Yes, it’s a mess right now (stuff in it, etc), but we’ll be sure to include that in our next post!
Everything is looking great! We’re expecting our first in March and I was thinking maybe our 6 drawer dresser and closet was storage overkill, but now I’m thinking I’ll be glad we made the investment in the furniture.
Also, in case you’d like to make fun of my morning brain…
When I read “but we’re trying to invest time and money into more permanent-but-flexible pieces for this guy, especially since we plan to be here long-term”, my brain read that you guys were planning for him to be here long-term. I was thinking, well that’s nice, they plan to let their son stay for a while lol.
Don’t worry Kara, it fills up more quickly than you realize! If you end up with extra room when they’re still a baby, you can also always use the space to store the next size up clothing, clothes they’ve outgrown but you haven’t gotten a chance to pack up for storage yet, etc.
I read the same thing! I read it “since he plans to be here long term” and I thought “well gee, I hope so” hahaha
Announcement: Barnacle gets to stay!
Megan CC says
You won’t be sorry to have what might seem like overkill storage now. Babies grow fast, along with their collection of stuff. We got the 8 drawer Ikea Hemnes dresser (doubled as changing table), plus have a good size closet. Like Kate said, you can always use the extra space for bigger/smaller clothes until they fit/you pack away.
amazing, john!! you really have become quite the craftsman! I cant wait to see the rest of it come together!!
Sherri Eakin says
These look incredible!! Absolutely love the color…and the finished tops…and the drawer pulls! Ok loves it all. Great job! I’m thinking paint the crib to match the built in color, and possibly do the slats in green? Or even incorporate the same stain as the built in counter tops? Get to Photoshopping, Mamasita!
Emily R says
They look so good! I love the paint color (I love anything gray, so I’m easy to please) and I think you are spot on about the the crown molding matching the bookshelves.
wowza these look great guys! john i especially love the wood grain details on wood cut size illustration
Amazing. Loving this room already! I’m drooling for some built-ins around our fireplace. It’s built out with 2 perfect nooks. Not sure whether we’re going to try to tackle them ourselves or pay an expert but I can’t wait for the day, either way!!
Lisa | Winter Heights says
Bahaha, the gollum impression, I can totally see it. Looks so good, I’m baffled that on top of all of this, you guys are doing the show house as well! I hope you guys sleep peacefully to give your minds a break! ;)
LOVE THEM. Seriously, guys. I can’t WAIT to have my own house so I can copy, I mean be inspired by, you! I have to admit, I was on the fence about the lighter color before, but now that the shelves have been added on top, I can totally see how it works. Especially once all the finishing touches are added in.
We have the same crib for our daughter and I’ve been staring at the drawer for weeks trying to figure out what color to paint it! Can’t wait to see if/how you tackle that!
Wow, they look amazing! I would have never guessed it all started with basic Ikea drawers!
They are beautiful! Dreaming of built-ins now, for sure!
Connie S. says
The built-ins look fabulous and you can NEVER have too many drawers!
Looks Great! I agree with Sherry’s random thoughts about the crib drawer looking out of place. I think bright green is a perfect option to add a splash of color. I love the direction the room is heading.
My unsolicited opinion: I think if the built-in’s were a darker color it would provide a little more much-needed contrast. Also, another personal opinion, I think the shelf on top of the dresser is a little weird. :-(
I have to agree – they look great, I just wish they were a little darker.
Funny, I LOVE the shelf on top of the dresser. I think it’s my favorite part of the built-in!
Anele @ Success Along the Weighn says
Wow, those look awesome! I can’t wait for the crown to go on there, that will be the perfect finishing touch! Maybe I’m not as adventurous but I like the white crib and do pops of the green in accents.
BTW, I like the beard! :)
I think once you get the crown molding up, the crib won’t look so out of place.
Children spaces are my favorite to watch evolve. I can’t wait to see how this works out. You guys are knocking it!
[email protected] says
I love the addition of the green. It is such a great color.
Beautiful job, John and Sherry. Or wait, should I say HANDSOME job since it’s for a little GUY? Yeah!
I know you’re planning to put sconces on the ends of those uppers. I love the idea, but I’ve been worrying about something, so I’m just going to blurt it out. I’m afraid if they’re down lights they’ll shine right into the little guy’s eyes! I bet you’ve already thought about this, but I have to mention it… Please think about not letting bright lights shine into his baby eyes… 8-)
Yeah now we’re leaning towards putting them on the wall, so they’d be like reading lights when there’s a bed in there (lots of people do wall sconces over a bed so they shine down on books and not in their eyes- but if we installed them with the crib in place they’d only be on when he’s playing in the room (not in the crib) since that would totally blind him!
How will the wiring for the sconces work? I haven’t seen any mention of hard wiring while building the cabinets. Are they going to be like lamps and a cord will hang down the outside of the cabinet to a wall plug?
We’re thinking of adding them to the back wall (above where the eventual twin sized bed will go) so the wiring will just drop down from the attic and pop out for those two sconces without interfering with the cabinet :)
These built-ins look amazing. You did an awesome job! You definitely made the right choice on the crown. I could see these working with a RH bedroom when your barnacle is older, and waaaaaay down the road they could function nicely for a guest bedroom.
Have ya’ll ever thought about making custom stuff (furniture, decor) and opening an Etsy shop? How about your own line at Target?
Thanks Justin. That all sounds awesome! We’d just have to figure out how to clone ourselves and we’d be all about it…
OMG can you IMAGINE the success of a YHL line at Target??!! Ahhh, even the mere mention of it makes me want to start a petition with Target :) What a great idea!!
Ahhhh! Stop making our brains explode. Haha!
That made me think of something… I could be remembering this wrong, but didn’t you guys use to sell some decorative prints and stuff way back when before Clara was born? I started reading YHL a couple weeks before you announced you were pregnant the first time (though I still feel like I’m a “newcomer”, haha), and I thought I remembered you two doing that.
If Sherry designed things for Target I have a feeling there would be a very high percentage of white ceramic animals, lol!
Aw, yeah! We had a little print shop! Those were the days. And yes, if Target gave me free rein to design stuff, it would be shelves and shelves of ceramic animals. Haha!
Courtney H says
Dude if John and Sherri had a line at target, or even a private line through their blog or etsy, I would literally buy every single item that came out! Obsessed with their style. They DO have their lighting line out already and one book… Hmm keep em coming J&S. We love you!!
You’re so sweet Courtney! Stop making us blush!
John–are you growing a for-realz beard?
Heck yeah, he has his winter look going on ;)
I like it! I say keep it long-term–you’ll never have time to shave with two kiddoes, anyway.
Jennie G says
I just love everything about these so much that all I can think of to say is “I just love everything about these so much!” I can’t wait for Sherry to unleash and for the rest of the room to come together! You two are the picture of class and it is truly a highlight of my day to read your blog! THANK YOU!
Thanks so much Jennie!
SO good! Where did you find the black and white baskets?
Anna Kelly says
Thanks a lot, John. Soda just came out of my nose from the visual of Sherry creeping around whispering CRIIIIBB SKIIIIIIRRRRT
That really happens. Like ten times in the last 24 hours.
I love it. It’s great how they are sort of from scratch, because building a dresser is kind of scary :) I’m to imperfect to build perfectly square things, but I could definitely handle the bookcases on a dresser.
Dang, I’m impressed! And I love the step by step descriptions – they encourage/inspire those of us who never even contemplated being able to do anything close to this. I’ve got to say, though, I continue to be impressed with John’s woodworking skills, and how he shares how he’s been learning more with each project. Thanks again!
Isn’t he awesome?! I have been gushing on him hardcore for this. They’re my favorite things he’s ever made.
Seconded! It is very encouraging! Also, Clara’s nursery shelves must seem even more precious now. It’s great that you were able to build shelves for each of the kids. Y’all are growing up! Love the blog, love keeping up with your family. :) :)
I love those dang things. I’m going to be that mom trying to hang them in her house when she’s 25 and saying things like “mom, those are my baby shelves!”
Second that skills comment. Very sophisticated colors between the rug/walls/bookcases. Lucky little guy!
Wow, I love the way these turned out to be really substantial real deal pieces. They look like they were hand crafted (which they 1/2 are) and not DIY’ed. Great job you two!
As far as “too much storage” is that even a thing?! I for one would rather have the option of storage than not. Plus as a mom of two nearly 7 year olds I can tell you that those drawers will be so handy later on in little Barnacle’s life.
Can’t wait to see what you have planned for the rest of this space.
It’s so great to hear that, Stefanie. We figure for the relatively small footprint they take up in those two corners, they were well worth all that vertical storage that we gained.
There are few feelings greater than the feeling of an empty shelf, or drawer, or cabinet. As someone who’s lived in small spaces my whole adult life, I assure you the luxury of a shelf with just one beautiful thing on it is highly underrated.
Now I just have to make one again. :/
Tara @ Sock Monkey Smiles says
Very cool – love them! I’m excited that Sherry can now do her decorating thang! :)
You guys continue to amaze me. I am one of those people who can’t seem to envision things in a blank room, but knows what she likes when she sees it and can copy the look :). I am loving how this room is coming together. I think it is just so awesome when people take something pre-made and turn it into a one of a kind and personal piece. Way to go! Keep the pics coming and have fun filling those shelves, Sherry! Nest away ;)
Holy moly!! Those look amazing!
Great job, John! I love that you’re not forgetting the attention to details with caulk, trim, etc. that really make the piece look well finished and professionally put together.
These look awesome! We bought a home with too many built-ins (if there is such a thing) and I’ve been thinking about painting them a different color than our crown molding. Excited to see the full room with the finished crown!
Christina P (NS) says
These look so great, I am about to start a built in project in my daughters playroom so I welcome the inspiration and guidance.
Just curious as to why you removed your ‘blogroll’? I used to go there after I read your posts to follow my other faves and now I don’t know who they are were :(
So sorry, we clicked a button to turn the blogroll off last week (we’ve received a few complaints about it not being updated, linking to blogs that were inactive or that people didn’t like, etc). It has always been a challenge to keep that current, so we just disabled it for the time being. We noticed a lot of other blogs seem to have been phasing them out as well, so we’ll have to see where we end up :)
Great job! Now you’ve got me sketching how to do something like this around our windows in the den….but it’s a snow day and I have two munchkins bouncing off the wall, so we’re turning potatoes into stamps instead. =)
Sounds like fun!
Those look amazing! I think the shelving above the dresser is genius- they will fill up with books and toys and trophies faster than you think. Great idea to plan ahead.
Annaliza R says
You rock John! They look great.
WOW!! Those look great~ good job John!!
I can’t wait until Sherry “colors them up”!!