Built-in Reveal


January 28, 2013 by stpaulhaus

Last time we left off here, with the dining room built-in half complete with the trim in place and primed.


I had a little wallpaper left from the kitchen cabinets and the half bathroom.  I wanted to continue the flow between kitchen and the dining room.  From the beginning I picked colors that complement each other for the walls and I thought the wallpaper would be nice to really tie these rooms together.  Before putting up the wallpaper, I used Shields wallpaper primer.  This stuff is great.  It not only primes the walls and gets them ready for proper adhesion, but it also makes it 100 times easier to remove the wallpaper if you ever decide to change your mind in the future.  I am aware that the next owner of our home may not have the same love for damask wallpaper as I do.

This wallpaper was really easy to work with. It already had the adhesive on the back (some wallpapers come without it and you have to roll it on), so it just needed to be soaked in warm water for a minute. After it was completely soaked, I gently folded it in half loosely (stick sides together) to activate the adhesives for about 5 minutes. I then unfolded it and stuck it in place while smoothing out an air bubbles with a wet sponge.

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After the wallpaper was up, we moved the electricals up a couple of inches to make room for the cabinet underneath. We went with a matching cabinet to the window seats–15in x 30in unfinished oak cabinet from Menards.

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I came across some “Cherry” laminate shelving at Menards, and I decided that it would be a less costly alternative to the oak boards I was planning on using–approximately 5x cheaper. Yusss. Yes, a dark stained oak would be nice here, but if you recall, we have decided that we needed to rethink our plan in here a little and not put 1 billion dollars into a dining room.


I bought one 8ft shelf and cut it down into  shelves.  We do not have proper saws to really do this well, but we did get the job done with a jig saw. I’m would recommend using a circular saw with a high tooth blade for these. I did measure and make everything out on some masking tape. The tape is supposed to decrease the amount of chipping on edges of the laminate.  I made a guard out of a scrap piece of trim and some clamps to make sure they came out straight–it started off good, but I didn’t make the clamps tight enough and I ended up going a little off course. Oops. All was well though and the piece was saved without harm. Because we used a jig saw the edges was a little more chippy (is that a word?) than I would have liked, but overall they turned out very well.

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This stuff is not the most scratch resistant material in the world, but I am not too worried about scratches in this application as I am not going to be taking things on and off of these shelves very often. I would definitely recommend something a little more resilient for storing tools, craft supplies, etc. DSC_0377

I screwed the cabinet down in a few places, making sure it was level. DSC_0378 DSC_0380

Once the cabinet was in place I caulked all the edges for a seamless look. I then put on a coat of primer and 2 coats of semi-gloss paint over everything. I removed the doors for easier painting. I used a good quality brush, but I have seen people get pretty good results with sprayers and rollers.  I don’t like to use rollers for cabinets, because they can sometimes leave a weird texture that I don’t like. If you are precise and use a good quality brush you can virtually eliminate any brush strokes. If you are very concerned and want an absolutely smooth finish, then I would say go for a sprayed finish. I might try using a roller on the window seats and see how that goes.  Do not forget to sand the cabinets smooth and remove all dust prior to priming–sometimes I even do a light sanding after the primer in a couple places where I can see/feel rough spots.  Do not give in to the urge to skip some of these less fun, but necessary steps, or you will not be happy with the final product.DSC_0384


I also prefinished some 2in x 1/4in trim and put that up on either side of the back wall for a couple reasons. 1) the wallpaper was not wide enough to cover the entire back and I didn’t want to add a small strip on one side so the trim covered the open space, and 2) the trim acts as a spacer between the shelves and the back wall, leaving enough room to fit cords and wires behind the shelves for the stereo, tv, etc. I also put in some trim around the bottom.  All spaces between the wall and trim and the nail holes were caulked and painted.  I pre-drilled the nail holes because I didn’t want the thin trim to crack. DSC_0386 DSC_0387


I did buy a stain marker in a color that was close to a match and used it around all the ends to hide any chips or imperfections in the shelves.  Worked out very well. DSC_0397 DSC_0398

When I took the doors off the cabinet to paint them, one of the screw holes holding the door on was stripped out.  Damnit.  It was actually barely holding the door on. I guess I should have looked at it a little more closely at the store. DSC_0413 No worries. There is an easy fix for these types of things. I took a wood skewer and broke it in half and smothered the ends in wood glue before sticking them into the enlarged hole. Once it was dry I cut it off flush at the cabinet.  DSC_0414 DSC_0418 DSC_0420 DSC_0423

Voila! Now the screw will have something to hold on to. Worked like a charm. DSC_0443

I used the same cabinet hardware for these cabinets that I used in the kitchen.  We bought this little handy template when we redid the kitchen and it saved us so much time. They make different ones for door and for drawers and they have all the standard pull sizes, and not so standard ones, so it makes it really easy to match to your hardware. I love putting on the hardware last–kind of like putting on jewelry. 🙂 DSC_0455

I love the contrast of the cherry shelves against the white trim and the pop of color in the background. I realize that the tv covers up a lot of the back wall and the wallpaper, but oh well. This makes me so happy. Looks sooo much better, and it only cost about $70 to go from the before:


to after:


Whatcha think? Since we decided that we are NOT going to have a fireplace in the dining room anymore, a nice simulated one is the best I could do. Want to read more about the plan for this dining room? Check it out here. Slowly but surely we are starting to check things off the To Do List, which is now updated. I’m itching to start working on outdoor projects again–but we still have another solid 2 months before the ground thaws out. I could maybe also consider taking that garland down, but it is so pretty.



9 thoughts on “Built-in Reveal

  1. Heather says:

    HALF BAKED! I love that movie. And the built in looks gorgeous.

  2. Lory Perryman says:

    the contrast with the cherry and white is rich

  3. […] for the top, and this one was the best option. I also thought about more shelving like I used here, pine boards, reclaimed lumber, and plywood. I used plywood on the kitchen window seat, and I […]

  4. […] if you are at all curious, is ‘Red Mahogany’ and I thought it looked nice with the shelving in the built-in that we just finished not to long ago. I decided to stay away from the really dark (almost black) […]

  5. […] extends just beyond the side cases, and an apron below), in fact it is the same that I used on the dining room built-in and on the […]

  6. […] of time on this room over the past 4 years. My favorite things in this room are the window seat, the built-in, the floors, and the chair rail. There are still a few things I would like to add to this room, but […]

  7. […] that I have been using throughout the house on all finish trim projects like the pass-through, the dining room built-in, and the living room window thingy. Instead of attaching each piece separately as you would […]

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