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  • Writer's pictureThe Rural Legend

DIY Ikea Built In Cabinets

The front room in our home has always served as a playroom for our son, but as he grows up, we want this space to grow up too! In this post, you'll find our full tutorial to transform Ikea cabinetry and book shelves into a beautiful custom built-in wall of storage!

An interior with a couch and lamp.

See how this room has evolved over the years in these posts!

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A room with empty white shelves and a stepstool.

I love the classic, sophisticated look of built-in shelves! We dreamed of making this space feel like a collegiate library or study with tons of storage for both our beautiful treasures AND the remaining toys our 8 year old still plays with.

A room with two dogs perched on the couch.

We already owned this Ikea Hemnes Glass Door cabinet and decided to upcycle it along with other Ikea pieces to create these custom built-ins. This DIY project was much more affordable than hiring someone to build storage for us!

DIY Built-Ins with Ikea Hemnes Cabinetry

what we used

tools used

how to make it

1. Find and mark the center of all studs on your wall.

2. Prime and paint furniture and let the paint cure according to the directions. We chose the color Dark Auburn from HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams. This is much easier if you paint your furniture BEFORE assembling it! We had assembled everything months in advance thinking we would not be taking on this big project for quite a while and we still wanted to utilize the storage in the mean time.

For our tips on painting Ikea furniture, make sure you read this post about our Ikea Shoe Cabinet Makeover!

3. Determine the spacing on the wall for your cabinets. We pushed the 2 cabinets flush against the side walls, centered the middle bookshelf, and then positioned the final 2 shelves from there.

4. Level each piece and ensure all are plumb, level, and flush with one another.

How to build a framing box

For the frame, essentially you will be building 2 ladder/rectangle looking shapes and then will connect them together.

1. Measure the length of your wall and cut 4 pieces of construction framing to length.

A man at a woodworking table with construction framing equipment.

NOTE: Because our construction framing comes in 8ft pieces, we had to build 2 separate box frames and join them together. We built an 8ft framing box and a 3ft framing box. These instructions will walk you through building a 8ft box.

2. Next, measure the distance from the top of the cabinets to the ceiling and subtract 3 inches. For each 8ft box frame, cut 8 pieces of construction framing in the length of that difference. (top of cabinet to ceiling - 3") We will call these vertical pieces.

3. Measure the distance from the back wall to the front of the cabinets and subtract 3 inches. For each 8ft box frame, cut 4 construction framing support pieces in the length of that difference. (wall to front of cabinet - 3") We will call these horizontal pieces.

4. Take 2 of your long pieces and lay them side by side on a flat surface.

5. Place 1 vertical piece at each end of your long pieces to make a rectangle shape and add the remaining vertical pieces inside the rectangle, evenly spaced.

A man pointing at vertical pieces of wood.

6. Secure all pieces together with a framing nail gun. A cordless driver and screws can be used if you do not have a nail gun.

7. Repeat this process a second time.

NOTE: This next part goes easier with a friend!

A man lifting a piece of wood.

8. To connect your two rectangles, lay one "rectangle" on a flat surface and place horizontal pieces upright at all 4 corners. NOTE: you will be attaching them about 1 1/2 inches from the ends. See image.

A diagram how the wood should go.

9. Lay your second rectangle flat on top and secure with framing nail gun or screws.

A man working on a wood project.

10. Flip your box over to secure the horizontal pieces to the other side.

A man working on the shelves of a house.

11. With your framing box(es) built, place them above your cabinetry and secure to the wall at each stud location. Using a brad nailer, secure the cabinets to the box framing by aiming up through the top of the cabinet into the framing above it.

A man on a stepstool working on the shelves.

How to Install Trim

1. I like to paint all of my trim before installation but this is a personal preference.

2. Measure and cut to length your architrave. Secure directly above cabinetry into box frame.

An installation of shelves.

3. Measure and cut common board to length and width (height from ceiling to the top of architrave) Install common board above architrave piece.

Two people working on shelves.

NOTE: It is fine to have a gap between the ceiling and your common board as you will be covering this area with a piece of crown moulding.

4. Next cut your crown moulding to length and secure to the common board and ceiling with a brad nailer.

5. We then attached a piece of dentil trim directly below the crown moulding.

6. For a fancier base board, we first attached our primed MDF board directly to the legs of cabinetry and then added a second piece of trim to the front of that for depth.

7. Add your vertical pieces, making sure they securely fit between the baseboard and architrave.

An installed shelf.

8. Fill all holes with a paintable filler. Our favorite is Dap Plastic Wood-X. Once your filler is dry, sand smooth and paint!

A wooden shelf.

A close up of a shelf.

Some of the customizations we made

If I'm being honest, the glass doors on the cabinets were really hard to paint because you could still see some of the white framing behind the glass. We decided to remove the doors for open shelving.

A deep brown wooden shelf unit.

We also removed the backs of the cabinets and painted the wall behind in a contrasting color for a fun pop of cool blue called Stardew from HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams.

We swapped out the drawer knobs for these beautiful brass ones.

A closeup on the brass doorknobs.

I cannot wait to show you how this entire room comes together! Stay tuned for the big reveal! In the meantime, here are some of the other places in our home we've created the look of built-ins:

xoxo, L

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Feb 06

Hi,I love this! Thanks for sharing.

Can you the size of the room where the cabinet is located?


Jan 20

It's all just gorgeous! What is the print or textile hanging above the leopard print chair?

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