As many of you will have noticed by now — we are BIG fans of built-ins! A nice built-in storage area can completely transform a room and, of course, it helps it both to feel and (hopefully) *be* more organized. Decluttering and hiding visual clutter is one of the best ways to help your home feel “magazine clean” and of course, a beautiful built-in cabinet can only help. Jennifer is here today to show you how she turned blank-slate home office into a stylish playroom, with plenty of built-in cabinets for storage, perfect for toys and games.
Especially in a room without a closet or available storage, built-ins can be a lifesaver! And obviously you’re not confined to just using cabinets: just check out these other built-in ideas, and then read how Jennifer installed her built-ins because you (yes YOU!) can do this, too!
How to Make Built-In Cabinets for a Playroom
by Jennifer from Delightfully Noted
Hello Remodelaholics! I’m Jennifer, visiting from Delightfully Noted, my little corner of the world where I chronicle all of my DIY projects and other delightful shenanigans.
My current obsession involves transforming our new-to-us-boring-cookie-cutter suburban home into a space that better reflects our style and personalities. So far we’ve completed the nursery and the playroom.
Hiring a carpenter was out of the question, so we decided to create our own!
Materials Needed :
- 4 hardware store stock cabinets (number can vary by wall size).
- 2 x 4s
- Wood screws
- HVAC aluminum tape
- Wood shims
- Cabinet mounting screws
- MDF particle board
- Paint (we took a cabinet door in to our local home store and had them match the color)
- 2.5 ” finishing nails
- Shelf pegs
- Quarter round
- Painter’s caulk
- Trim wood (optional)
- Floor vent register or decorative aluminium sheet
- Cabinet hardware (optional)
- Measuring tape
- Stud finder
- Miter saw
- Table saw (optional; can have local hardware store rip your MDF boards)
- Nail Gun
- Paint brush and roller
- Caulk gun
- Tin snips (for decorative aluminium sheet, if needed)
1) First, take your time to measure out your space and plan out your project. Keep in mind this whole project is built around your cabinets, so carefully prepare their arrangement and spacing. My hubby and I drew up a few sketches on post-it notes to make sure we were on the same page. Don’t forget to take into account the height of your cabinets, toe kick, shelves and any windows you may have. We did a lot of math to make sure that in the end the top of the cubbies came up just below the window to about a toddler’s height. And by “we”, I mean my hubby! Trust me,you really don’t want me doing any math.
2) Using a prybar and hammer, gently start to remove the baseboard from the wall. Find and mark the studs on your wall.
3) Once that’s complete, it’s time to start framing out the platform in which your cabinets will sit on. Please note we used wall cabinets, which are meant to be hung above counter tops. There is an air duct in the space where we installed our built-ins, utilizing wall cabinets allowed for us to build our own base and toe kick in order to accommodate the air duct. Using a miter saw cut your 2 x 4s to create two frames with cross supports; one for the right side of the air duct and one for the left side.
Each frame should be the length of your wall up until the edge of the duct. The short cross supports should be spaced out at the length of each of your cabinets, it’s essentially the base that each cabinet sits on. We drilled our frames together with wood screws (you may notice we had two cross support beams on the right side and only one on the left, that’s because the right side of our wall was slightly longer than the left).
IMPORTANT: Do not build the frames to be the full depth of your cabinets, create them about a quarter inch less to allow space for the addition of the toe kick later. This way the cabinets will be flush with the toe kick. Secure the frames to the wall by drilling them into the studs so they won’t move.
4) Measure and cut a piece of 2 x 4 to attach the two frames as seen in the picture below. Place it right at the back of your air duct return.
5) In order to create a makeshift air duct, we used HVAC aluminium foil tape and securely taped the wood frame surrounding the open floor vent. This will help the efficiency of your heat and air flow through out the room once the built-ins have been installed.
6) Now it’s time to hang the cabinets. First, remove all of the doors. Next you’ll want to start screwing your cabinets together. Attach each small cabinet to one tall cabinet and then position them on top of your frames. Walls aren’t typically flushed and they could bow a bit, you’ll want to make sure your cabinets are connected, leveled, and flushed prior to hanging them. Add wood shims where ever needed. You’ll use your level a lot during this part of the project! Once you’re sure everything is flushed and aligned, then hang the cabinets to the wall with cabinet mounting screws. Pssst……at this time we reattached the cabinet doors but I recommend just waiting to hang them back on at the end of the project.. You’ll see why later.
7) Measure and cut your MDF particle board to cap off the top of each cabinet. If you don’t have a table saw, your local Home Depot may rip the boards for you for a minimal fee. Prime and paint the boards first, and then nail them down with a nail gun.
8) Now it’s time to move onto the cubbie. These instructions, at first, may convince you that you’ve either been hitting the bottle too much today or that you’re losing your mind but I promise if you check out the image below it’s make a lot more sense! In order to complete this section, you will need to cut 7 more pieces of MDF board.
- Board #1 is for the top of the air duct, which will help fill in the remaining frame at the base of the cabinets.
- Boards 2 and 3 are the two vertical pieces in the middle of the cubbie, they are the height of the small cabinets plus what ever you want the height of your finished cubbie to be.
- Boards 4 and 5 are the two small pieces that will sit on top of the small cabinets but alongside the two large cabinets and will serve as support for the long, top board, which is board # 6.
- Board 7 will be the small shelf for the vertical part of the cubbie, which for some reason we added last so it’s not pictured below but you can see in the final picture. Everything was primed first and then nailed down with the nail gun.
9) To create the toe kick, measure and cut two pieces of baseboard; one for each side of the air duct. Nail the toe kick board to the base of the cabinets with 2.5″ finishing nails.
**You will also notice the entire inside of the “air duct” is completely taped with the HVAC tape at this point, including the underside of the MDF board that was installed on top of it.
I have to admit my favorite part was finally have a storage place for EVERY.SINGLE. TOY.
It’s made our main living spaces so much less chaotic. There are no more toy obstacle courses I have to endure just to get to the living room couch.
For approximately $500, we got our sanity back. Well worth it, especially considering a professional could have easily cost us over a thousand dollars!
Hopefully, you’re inspired to make you’re own built-in cabinets! They can seem intimidating at first but when using stock cabinets, they’re fairly easy to put together. In addition, you can customize them to include more shelving or even a window seat. The possibilities are endless, so go grab your tool belt now!I hope you’ll swing by the Delightfully Noted blog soon to hang out!
Jennifer, thank you so much for being our guest and sharing your swoon-worthy playroom. Love what you did with this space!