Build A Wall-to-Wall Built-In Desk and Bookcase

If you’ve been following Remodelaholic long, you know that we love built-ins! We’ve built in all sorts of storage to our homes:

wall of built-in cabinets for family room storage, RemodelaholicFamily Room Wall of Built-In Cabinets and Shelving

built-in bookcase tutorial, RemodelaholicBuilt-in Bookshelf (and Tutorial)

built-in corner bookcase tutorial, RemodelaholicBuilt-In Corner Bookshelf (and Tutorial)

built-in wardrobe closet, RemodelaholicBuilt-In Closet Wardrobe Using Existing Furniture 

We love the classic style and necessary storage that a built-in shelf, cupboard, or desk adds. So when our guest today shared this AMAZING built-in desk and bookcase at our weekend link party, I jumped at the chance to have her share it with you. Here’s Linda with all the details!

Wall-to-Wall Built-in Desk and Bookcase

by Linda of Home Is Where My Heart Is

Wall-to-Wall Built-In Desk and Bookcase | Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic.com #built-ins #storage #studyarea

Hey Everybody! I’m Linda from Home is Where My Heart is and I’m thrilled that I get to share my built-in bookcases with y’all. Thank you to Cassity for the honor. I’ve been blogging for about two years and love sharing all the fun projects that The Love of My Life (LOML) and I have fun doing together.

We’ve been married for 26 years, have six wonderful kids, and together we all try to make our house OUR HOME. I’ve always loved decorating, painting, making each of our houses beautiful. We’ve lived in our present home for 12 years so lately, we’ve started bringing each room into the 21st century.

We’ve replaced all the brass, painted over all the dark colors and lightened everything up, and painted EVERYTHING that is oak. We’ve remodeled our kitchen, gave Daughter #2 her own bedroom, and laid plywood floors in our family room. Please come by and visit my little place in blogland whenever you can. Get comfy and stay awhile! I’d love to have you!

The built-in bookcase project is our biggest one yet! Our family room is a pretty good size with a fireplace on one wall which limits where the furniture can go. The sitting area ends up smack dab in the middle of the room so I had to figure out how to fill in the two ends of the room.

Because we needed a desk somewhere in the room for homework and, even more importantly, video games, we decided to build wall to wall, floor to ceiling built in bookcases with a desk in the middle at one end of the room.

Here is the very unprofessional diagram I drew to get on paper what was bouncing around in my head: sketch of built-in bookcase and desk, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on RemodelaholicBecause we are novices at the whole “building everything from scratch” thing, the LOML had fun buying all new tools. He googled everything and found great information for each step of the way.

The first step was finding the base cabinets. We found a whole kitchen set at Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $750. We’ve used the base cabinets for the built-ins and we’re planning on using the top cabinets for a future project in our laundry room. use existing cabinets as base of built-in desk, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic

The first thing we did was replace the existing kickspace on the bottom of the cabinets with a smaller one so the trim we added later would be flush against the cabinet. replace cabinet kickplate, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic

We built the smaller kickspace using 2x4s. replace and rebuild cabinet kickspace, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic

After removing all the doors and hardware, I cleaned everything with TSP to remove the oil and dirt. I then sanded with 220 grit sandpaper, wiped it down and primed with two coats of KILZ.

The next day I painted everything with two coats of Sherwin Williams Promar 200 Extra White Semi-gloss. I spray painted the brass hardware with Valspar Satin Black. paint built-in desk cabinets white, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic

Because the cabinets were going to be built-ins, we had to remove the base molding on the wall so the cabinets would fit right up against the wall. remove base molding for built-in desk and cabinets, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic

To attach the cabinets to the wall we found the wall studs with our trusty stud finder and marked them with painters tape. We screwed each cabinet into the stud, adding shims under the cabinets where needed to make the cabinets level. screw built-in desk cabinets to wall stud, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholicuse shims to level built-in desk and cabinets, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic

I knew I wanted butcher block for the desktop. In our kitchen renovation we used butcher block for our island and we love it! We decided to have the butcherblock go all the way across the whole built-in which is 16 feet. We found IKEA had the cheapest butcher block around so we bought two 8 feet x 25 inches pieces for $169 each. What a deal!! We had to trim off a little but we squeezed it right in there. IKEA butcherblock countertop for built-in wall-to-wall desk, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic

I conditioned the wood with Minwax Wood Conditioner then I stained it with English Chestnut also by Minwax. I just followed the directions on the can. After 24 hours, I painted six thin coats of Varathane Interior Semi-gloss porch and floor polyurethane. We used the same varnish for our plywood floors in the same picture. It has held up quite well.

Next came the bookcases. We decided on three sections on each side of the desk. We built each section as a separate piece so each has two sides, a top, and four shelves. After much research, the LOML decided on using a dado cut for the shelves. We used our brand new router to cut 38 dado cuts (we got to be experts at the whole process). dado router for built-in bookcase, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholicuse dado router for built-in bookcase shelves, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholicuse router for shelf slots in a built-in bookcase, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic

After we cut the dados for the shelves, we used wood glue and nails to hold the shelves in place. We repeated each step another five times and the cases were done. We also built a bridge above the desk with one shelf. I painted all the sections then we screwed each section to each other and to the ceiling and side walls. install wall-to-wall built-in bookcases over a desk, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic

The top shelf (the unpainted ones) is where the wiring for the four sconces is stored. wire built-in bookcase for lighting, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic

We added a piece of fascia board to hide the wiring and attach the sconces. The LOML used a drill and oscillating tool to make a hole to pull the wiring through for the lights. add fascia facing to hide lighting wires in a built-in bookcase, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic

We added the sconces. Aren’t they beautiful??!! We attached picture frame molding around each section with Loctite adhesive and nails, caulked everything and VOILA!! install light sconces on a built-in bookcase and desk, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholicpicture frame molding on a built-in desk and bookcase, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholicbuilt-in desk and bookshelf, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on RemodelaholicWall-to-Wall Built-In Desk and Bookcase | Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic.com #built-ins #storage #studyareabuild a wall-to-wall built-in desk and bookcase unit, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic

The top shelf is full of my collection of vases that have been filled with flowers at one time in our lives and given to me from the LOML (Love Of My Life). decorated wall-to-wall built-in shelves and desk, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic

colorful glass and lighted sconces on built-in bookcase, Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic

They are so pretty when the lights reflect off them aren’t they?? Before and afters are always fun!! Wall-to-Wall Built-In Desk and Bookcase | Home Is Where My Heart Is featured on Remodelaholic.com #built-ins #storage #studyarea

Build A Wall-to-Wall Built-In Desk and Bookcase Cost Breakdown

  • Base cabinets $325
  • Butcherblock counter $169 x2
  • #2 Whitewood Board (shelving) $13.50 x 14
  • Fascia board $31 paint (we already had)
  • KILZ $16.13 sconces $38 x 4
  • caulk (we already had)
  • Loctite Adhesive $3.37 x 2
  • 4-5/8″ crown molding $9.42 x 3
  • Pine base cap molding (bottom of the fascia) $5.55 x 3
  • 8 ft raw whitewood molding(picture frame) $5.91 x 10
  • Beautiful brand new built-in bookshelves PRICELESS!!!

Amazing!! Love, love, LOVE it, Linda! Thank you so much for sharing and giving such great information so we can all build a gorgeous desk of our own!

Head over to Home Is Where My Heart is to visit Linda and see the other great updates she and her husband have made to their home. 

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30 Comments

  1. love love love the final look. there was obviously a lot of care and attention to detail in completing this project.

    however unless I’m mistaken, the wiring of the sconces is a fire hazard.

    The pictures show that the wire connection for the sconces are tucked into the cavity behind the “fascia” board. From the NEC wire connections must be made in junction boxes which are accessible (not covered by drywall). The safety reasoning for this is that the connection is a likely sparking point for a potential electrical fire (compared to somewhere along the insulated wire). If such an event happens, you want the sparks to be contained in an area where nothing will feed the sparks into flames. Obviously the wood of the fascia board does not meet fire proof criteria.

    My apologies if the boxes (one per fixture) are simply not pictured due to editing. Your built-ins are beautiful and look like they add a lot of functionality to the space.

    1. I love the look of the book shelves also but I have to agree that the lighting is not up to NEC code.
      As an electricianand and father, my main concern is home fire safety.
      The lights need to be mounted to an approved junction box and all wire connections need to be made inside the junction box with appropriately sized wire connectors. This keeps the risk of sparks to a confined space and provides a secure mounting base for the lights.
      Please always consult with your friendly electrician and other trades people on correct methods to safely DIY.
      Happy New Year. Keep up the good work

  2. Beautiful built-ins! We are wanting to do something similar but with stock cabinets. Kitchen cabinets are 36″ and desks are 29″. After trimming your cabinets down, what did that make your desk height?

      1. Hi Linda

        Thanks for the wonderful insight. I know this is an old post but I am beginning a similar project and wish to use kitchen cabinets.

        You mentioned you cut the cabinets kickspace down and then added your own using 2x4s. Yet the finished height is still just 33″ with the top (I assume it is 1.5 inches thick?) How tall were the original cabinets?

        The ones I am looking at are 35″ to begin with. The kickspace is 4.5 inches so adding back the 2×4 after cutting down will only save me 1/2 an inch. And I still have the top to contend with.

        Thanks,

        Robert

  3. This is absolutely beautiful. What is the final measurement on the base cabinets? I am trying to do a project like this and cant seem to find any cabinets short enough. It is my understanding that the average desk height is about 30ish inches – when you removed the original footings did you replace with a shorter one?
    thank you in advance for your help

  4. Great job. I am working on a very similar project. The question I had is how did you mount the butherblock onto the cabinets? Did you just use adhesive?

  5. Your built ins are wonderful. I am attempting something similar in our office. If you don’t mind me asking, how did you attach the shelves/hutches to the desktop?

  6. Hi Linda –
    I’m wondering about painting the walls before installing the built ins. I love the color behind the white like you have that matches the whole room but do you fear if you ever want to change the wall color if it would be impossible? Or really annoying to paint around it all. I can’t decide to paint my walls or leave them boring beige. Thanks!

  7. Hi Linda,

    My house is pretty small, and my living room wall becomes my dining area wall. Do you think it would be okay to have the built-in end where the living room ends or would it look bad?

  8. Curious about the final height of the base cabinets. (I am considering a similar approach in my home office but don’t want the base too high.) what is your final height (after redoing the toe kick area) of the base cabinet with countertop? Thank you!

  9. Hi Linda,

    Great bookshelf. I’m trying to build one like it using your example. Can you please tell me what kind of wood you used for shelving. I mean, what’s the measurement of the wood. How much did you cut for dados? 1/2 inch or less? What was the thickness of the wood? 1 inch or more?

    Thanks.

  10. While I loved what you’ve done here, I am touched that you refer to your husband as the “LOML”. That’s what I call my hubby. So touching to see it here.

  11. Gorgeous! How did you make the cabinet seams look so flawless? I saw where you had them side by side (sans paint) but afterwards, they look like one piece.

  12. This is a really helpful case study – thank you!

    One question – what were the dimensions of the whitewood board that you used for the shelving?

  13. Hi! Amazing work! I love the idea of using IKEA butcher block for the desk top. Thinking of doing something similar for a built in desk in our boys homeschool room. Any instructions on how you secured the butcher block to your base cabinets? Did you fasten to the wall as well? Thanks for you input.