Saturday, September 30, 2017

Small Pantry Gets BIG Makeover

I finally got around to organizing my small 4x4 pantry.  It only took me almost four years of living in our new home to realize I need to get organized in a big way.  My purpose was to get everything not used frequently on the top shelves and everything off the floor.  Here's a before and after pic of the disaster area.

Once I get something in my head, I search numerous blogs, websites and Pinterest until I find exactly what I want the space to look like.  Pinterest can by my worst and best friend all at the same time.  I wanted some of those canvas storage / laundry type tote baskets and a lot of bins/plastic containers.  I didn't want too many clear containers for this area.  They may keep everything organized and easy to find, but this is an offshoot of our laundry room and a heavy traffic area.  I still wanted to be able to keep all my stuff hidden from passerby's.  I store a lot of mixed items in my pantry with anything from food to toilet paper, cups, plates, cleaning supplies, canning items, etc.

The first thing I did was remove everything from the pantry, including the shelving and I painted the walls a pretty blue.  The exact shade is Blue Iris by Sherwin Williams which I picked up at Lowe's.  My entire house, (other than the kids areas) is the same neutral color, so this was my little place to add a little color and pop.  Surprisingly, I didn't have too many food items that were expired.  After the space was painted, I put all the shelving back up.

Prior to starting this project, I went to my favorite stores and started gathering my storage containers.  I found very inexpensive canvas laundry totes at Home Goods.  The medium and small size came as a two pack and the large ones were perfect to store light items on the top shelf.  I had to run to two different stores to find the same style/color and I think I bought everything they had because I have not seen them since and I'm a frequent shopper.  I also found very large glass containers that could hold my k-cups and some dry baking supplies which I buy in bulk every few weeks/months.  Those were a steal at $8 each, but again I had to run to multiple stores to find eight of them for my project.

I had a hard time finding the plastic baskets/bins.  I found grey ones with lids at Walmart, but I didn't know if I wanted grey.  I found similar ones in other colors at Target and Home Goods, but they didn't come with a lid.  I'm so glad I ended up buying the baskets from Walmart because it all coordinates so well now and the stacking option gives me so much more space on the top shelves to load up all the stuff I don't use as often.

There were so many great ideas on Pinterest for organizing cans.  I didn't want anything where the cans had to stack on top of each other in an upright position.  They always end up falling over and half the time land on the floor (or my foot).  I saw on one blog they used wood veggie crates, which were perfect.  I found nice sized wood veggie crates at Joann Fabrics and got two for $15 with my 50% off coupons.  A few coats of white spray paint and a few hours later, they were ready to go.  We're not fans of canned vegetables or fruits, so all of our cans are either soups or sauces and I can fit them all in one crate by laying them on their side.  We'll use one for canned goods and the other for potatoes and onions.

My last find was a wood three bin storage unit that I found in the children's section at Home Goods.  They had them in all different colors and they are stackable, but I only needed one.  I put some casters on the bottom and it fit the space perfect.  I'll keep all the kids regular go to stuff in there.  I was going to build one of these units, but this met my needs, was already a size that would work for the space and the bonus was I didn't have to paint anything.  Yay me!

I put everything I don't use often on the top shelf such as an 18 pack of paper towels and gigantic Tupperware. I can pull both totes down with little effort.  The grey baskets with lids worked perfectly for storing tissues, plates, cups, lightbulbs etc.

I put my medicine, extra coffee/tea/cocoa and glass jars with coffee, tea, flour, sugar, etc. on the second highest shelf.  I figured my kids won't be drinking any coffee or baking any time soon, so there will be less chance of them breaking if I can keep them out of their reach. Fingers Crossed!

Another space saver are the magazine holders I found to store Ziploc bags and various foils/wraps. Next was trying to tackle the never ending supply of sports water bottles.  I don't even know where they come from, but I had to have had at least 50 of them in my pantry prior to organizing.  The remaining 20 that made the cut fit nicely in two canvas totes.  Everything else in the pantry now has a place in either a storage tote or a basket.  Love how organized it all is.

After a week of moving baskets around to figure out where I put what, I decided it was time to add some labels.  Chalkboard labels and a chalkboard marker to the rescue and now I can easily find exactly what I'm looking for when I enter the pantry.  The one's I bought were plain black.  I added a white border around the edges with a white Sharpie Oil Paint pen.  I pried off the clothespin on the backside, drilled some holes and added some thick white string and attached them to all the totes and baskets.

Now my small pantry looks organized and one of my favorite rooms.


Materials List

Home Goods

  • Large Canvas Totes - $15 each
  • Extra Large Canvas Tote - $17 each
  • Medium and Small Two Pack Canvas Totes - $10 per two pack
  • Large Glass Jars with Lids - $8 each
  • Large - Wood Three Bin Storage Unit - $70
  • Magazine Organizers - $8 each


  • Mainstays Medium Decorative Basket with Lid #0786523871199 (choose Medium) - $6 each
  • Mainstays Large Decorative Basket with Lid #0786523871199 (choose Large) - $8 each

Miscellaneous Stores

  • Wood Veggie Crates - Joann Fabrics - $15 regular price (used a coupon for 50% off)
  • Chalkboard Tags - Michael's - $1.50 for a two pack
  • Gallon of Satin Paint - Lowe's - Blue Iris by Sherwin Williams (HGSW1326) - $24
  • Pack of small casters - Home Depot - $5

Monday, February 15, 2016

Mudroom Entryway - Maximizing a Small Space

Creating a kid friendly area for coats, backpacks and shoes was the top priority on my list when we built the house.  Unfortunately, my idea of keeping that area in the garage quickly went out the window come winter each year.  The kids were not very fond of putting on cold coats and cold shoes and I can't say I blame them.  So, the daily routine became unloading everything on the kitchen floor after school.

When we built the house, we originally planned on having a very large mudroom with lots of cabinet space and a bench with lots of storage space, etc.  Instead, we added a half bath in the corner of the laundry room which then took away all my storage space and what would typically be the "mudroom" area.  We still had a small area to the right of the garage door entry area that is 3 feet wide by 14" deep.  I couldn't carve out an area for shoes, but at least I can get the coats and backpacks in a designated area.  There is a small half bath on the other side of this wall where we added the coat area.

Starting Out

We did have a few obstacles to create this space.  First, my bead board was 1/4" thick and the top of the baseboard moulding was less than that.  The second issue was this wall had four light switches which we decided to leave as is.  It would have required an electrician to move them to a different location and we really didn't feel like dealing with the hassle of moving them.  The third issue was there were only three studs for this wall, one on each end and one in the middle.  I'll go through how we worked around these obstacles in more detail below.

We had a bag of leftover bead board from the DIY TV Built In project and didn't even use all of it for this project.  I prefer the wider Cape Cod style beadboard from Home Depot that comes in long 8 ft lengths that fit together tongue and groove.  I think it's easier to work with and make custom cuts, plus it fits under my chop saw for cutting.

The first thing we did was add a piece of trim a few inches higher than the baseboard moulding to create the illusion of higher baseboards.  We spaced this above the existing Baseboard with a 1 x 2 leftover scrap piece.  I actually love the look now and want to do this throughout the house ;).  I scoured Home Depot and bought all the materials at the same time to make sure my vertical pieces that I added on the far left and far right would not be thicker than this additional piece of moulding.

I wanted a coat rack below the light switches and a shallow shelf about 5 feet from the floor with the possibility of some more hooks.  We built the shelf out of a 1x8 pine board for the back and a 1x6 board for the top using a kreg jig.  We cut each board the exact width of the wall before putting it together.  Then we attached the shelf to the wall using drywall screws so the top of the shelf would be at 5 feet off the floor.

Overcoming our next obstacle was actually easier than expected.  As I stated above, the wall only had three studs, one on each end and one in the middle.  We used standard flat window/door casing with a slightly rounded edge for the vertical pieces we attached on the far left and far right side.  This door trim rested on top of the new baseboard trim we added and was the same depth as the horizontal piece we used for the lower coat rack.  Our horizontal piece for the coat rack was actually a piece of 5 1/4" baseboard trim with the fancier top.  We had to use the baseboard trim because it was the same depth as our vertical door trim we used.  If we would have used a 1 x 4 board, it would have stuck out beyond our door trim.  I wanted the coat rack for the kiddos under the light switches so we wouldn't be covering them with coats.  But, I didn't want to see the ends of the board from the side view.  So, we ripped the baseboard trim that would be used for the lower hook to cut off the fancy beveled top and notched out an area on each vertical just enough so we could catch the studs with the horizontal coat rack on the far left and far right.  We decided to put the lower coat rack 40" from the floor which is perfect for the kids.  We used the beveled piece we cut off the baseboard later.

Next we added a corbel on each end under the shelf.  We pre-drilled a hole in each corbel to attach to the bottom shelf and screwed the top of the shelf into each corbel.  I bought corbels at Home Depot for $10 each and we cut them to size prior to installation.  We added a piece of crown moulding under the shelf and between the corbels for a custom look.
Adding the bead board is always easy.  We cut to length using the chop saw and lined up where they would go prior to attaching to the wall.  We had to rip off the edge of the left and right side pieces with the table saw.  I glued the pieces to the wall using leftover adhesive I had bought when I added the DIY Ceiling Tin Backsplash in the kitchen.  The glue sets pretty fast so make sure you have everything lined up and measured before attaching to the wall.  We added the last few pieces of beadboard above the lower coat rack and added the leftover beveled piece on top of the beadboard just below where the top shelf sits.  It just adds a little extra character, but wasn't necessary.  I felt the shelf was still missing something, so we added some of the leftover trim we used near the baseboard and wrapped the top shelf with it.  It looks much prettier now :)


I went through and caulked and puttied everywhere there would be a gap or space between where the materials matched up and painted everything with a semi-gloss white paint that was leftover from a different project.  The paint already had a primer in it, but it still took three coats of paint.  Our light switch cover was now too big to cover the switches since we added the vertical trim piece, so we attempted to cut it with the chop saw.  That of course failed even though we cut an extra one laying around where we were successful.  Thankfully, they make nylon unbreakable covers for switches that are similar to PVC and we were able to cut that to size with the chop saw and add back in place.

We added three hooks to the lower rack.  We put one in the middle and spaced the others 10 1/4" from the center of the middle one.  This gave us 7 1/4" space between the end hooks and the corner of the wall/left side.  I decided to add two hooks onto the top shelf.  I could have added three, but then the light switches would have been covered and I knew it would be a never ending frustration of turning those lights on.  So, we added the two hooks on the top shelf and lined them up between the hooks on the lower shelf.  My plan is to find a cute hanging basket to hang there for small essentials like gloves.

This was actually a very easy DIY project.  We had a lot of materials laying around in the garage leftover from other projects, but it would have cost $130 had we bought all of the materials.

Materials List:
  • 1 x 6 x 6 common pine board (top of shelf - used 3ft) $7
  • 1 x 8 x 6 common pine board (back of shelf - used 3ft) $9
  • Primed Pine Base Cap Moulding (above baseboard trim and around shelf) $10
  • Primed Pine Base Moulding (lower coat rack - used 4ft) $10
  • 2 1/4 wide Pine Casing (verticals on left and right - used less than 4 ft on each side) $10
  • Primed Pine Crown Moulding (under top shelf - used less than 3 ft) $5.50
  • Cape Cod 14 sq. ft. Beadboard Plank Paneling (3-Pack - used two full boards) $20
  • 5 Coat Hooks $30
  • 2 Corbel Arch Brackets $20
  • Loctite PL375 Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive (1/2 tube)
  • Putty (Any putty will do, I prefer Durham's Water Putty.  It's $8 for a 4 lb container of a powder mix that you add water to.  You make a batch as needed.  I used 3 Tablespoons of the dry powder with 1 Tablespoon of water and had more than enough for this project.  It's dries very fast, can be sanded and is paintable)
  • Paintable Caulk

When we were building our house, we did a walk through of another house our builder was building and fell in love with the wall colors used.  Unfortunately, it's a custom color from Sherwin-Williams and there is no official name for the wall color.  We used this same color for our house and painted all interior walls with this color.  This is the picture of the tag on the top of the paint can if you would like to replicate. They can scan the bar code and color match from that.  The trim is just basic Bright White in Semi-Gloss.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring Mantel

Spring could not come soon enough in PA.  We have been hit with snow, snow and more snow this winter.  We even got some snow on April Fools Day.  Mother Nature sure has a sick sense of humor ;)

My first stop was Pinterest.  I began gathering ideas on how I wanted to decorate my mantel for spring.  I found lots of great simple things I could incorporate with some existing things I had around the house.  The look I was going for was just casual.  I'm tired of the formal / overdone look.  I knew I wanted to have some kind of floral arrangement with wild flowers.  Shopping alone rarely happens and when the girls are along it is not high on their list of priorities unless of course they get something.  I'm usually limited to a whole hour before the whining starts, so I make quick, efficient shopping trips. 

I got right to work with my spray paint can and painted some out dated candlesticks a fresh antique heirloom white in satin finish.  I love them now!  I don't know why I didn't think of painting them years ago.

I found a nice sized tin silverware caddy which most people would use for just that purpose.  But, I saw so much more potential and decided it was perfect for a flower arrangement.  Off to the craft store we went next to find some fake wild flowers.  Lucky for me they were all 50% off.  I bought five bunches of nice real looking wild flowers and three cheap bouquets of pink daisies for $.99.  The first thing I did was arrange some dry flower foam in the compartments of the tin container to hold the flowers better.  Then I added a thin top layer of spanish moss on top of the foam.

I put one flower bunch in the front center compartment, another on each of the front side compartments and then one more in the back.  I only used one in the back because you can spread the flowers out to still make it look full.  Then I sporadically placed some daisies mixed in with the wild flowers.

The rest of the mantel was just filler from things around the house.  I reused the white lantern from my winter white mantel and swapped out the pine cones for some pink daisies.  I put one more bunch of wild flowers in a white vase with a few daisies, added my painted candlesticks with some fun green candles and a few more items and we are done!

           Happy Spring!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Winter White Mantel

Christmas comes and goes so quick and once those decorations are taken down and put away, the space just feels empty and blah.  I couldn't quite make the change to put up all the normal decor on the mantel so I went shopping.  But, all I bought were four letters that spelled "SNOW" and a clearance burlap tree that was glitter green ($1) from Hobby Lobby.  Then I ran through the rest of the house and gathered some items to make it still feel like winter without the merriness that comes with the Christmas season.

I built a small platform to nail the letters to out of some scrap 1x4 and 1x2 boards laying in the garage.  Next I spaced out the letters and attached them to the front of the 1x2 with my brad nail gun.  I ran down to the basement and spray painted the platform white to match the letters.

It still didn't feel complete, so I picked apart some pine cone sprays I had in a Christmas bin and hot glued them to the "O" letter.  I also had a 12 pack bag of those $1 glitter snowflake ornaments so I cut the string off and hot glued a few to some letters.


I have a bunch of lanterns that I bought in black when they were on sale on Black Friday with the intent on making some gifts for people.  Well, lets just say I got busy with other things, so I have a ton of lanterns waiting for next year.  I pulled one out, spray painted it white, added a flameless candle, some pine cones and a burlap bow.

The mantel still needed a few extra things.  I grabbed some extra dowel rods and some platforms I had bought for a different project, drilled a hole in the center the size of each dowel rod and spray painted them white.  I added a glitter snowflake ornament to a few of them for filler and height on the winter mantel.  Oh, and that glitter green burlap tree I bought for a $1, also got some fresh white spray paint for a snow effect.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Kids Bath - Girl Style

Having two small girls in the house is so much fun.  Trying to keep things not too childish, but not tweenish is hard.  I let the girls help pick out the theme for their bathroom they share.  I did have a few rules though.  I really didn't want to go with anything Disney, Hello Kitty, Barbie, Monster High (you get the picture) because I didn't want to be swapping out shower curtains and towels each time the next big thing came along.

They both agreed on a shower curtain they liked with some cute large flowers along with the coordinating flower towels, toothbrush holder and trash can.  We easily matched those up with some solid colored towels and bath mats.  I added this all to their Christmas list and gave family some great non-toy ideas. Win! Win!

We were building our house at the same time and I was able to get all of the lighting on my own.  We went shopping and the girls picked out these tulip lights from Lowes.  They had bronze vines and frosted glass tulip globes.  They were already really cute, but I just knew I could make them better ;-)

Lucky for me, my favorite thing in the world is spray paint.  I rarely won't buy something because it's not the right color.  I look for things with the style and size that fits the space and turn it into what I really wanted the look to be with a few cans of the perfect color.  There are so many colors available and so many finishes.  You can use it on metal, wood, plastic, you name it.  So, why not paint some lights and stainless steel towel holders and hooks, which is exactly what I did!

I very lightly sprayed the light globes because I didn't want to block the light from coming out.  I stood directly on top of each globe and sprayed directly down.  It almost created an affect where just the part that would be attached to the "stem" and the ends of each tulip were sprayed with paint.  Of course afterwards I panicked because we were worried it might be a fire hazard to paint light globes.  I got right on the phone with the manufacturer of the spray paint company and we were assured everything would be fine.  They recommended we did not actually use the lights for 7-10 days in order to let the paint cure completely.

And, the finished room is all cute an girly, at least for a few more years!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

DIY Ceiling Tin Backsplash

Choosing a kitchen backsplash can be so easy for some.  For me, it was exhausting and still is.  We incorporated a beautiful stone range hood as a focal point.  But, choosing a backsplash to go with it and not take away from the stone was very hard.  I bought numerous samples of subway tiles, glued them to small plywood boards and placed them under the cabinets and around the stone before going all out and installing tile.  I couldn't find anything that I liked.  It was too busy with the stone and the granite.

I then began scouring the web for alternatives to the traditional tile backsplash.  I found some that I absolutely loved that used ceiling tin.  I began doing searches on ceiling tin when I came across Fasade Decorative Thermoplastic Backsplash Panels.  To my surprise, they were sold at Lowes.  And not only were they sold there, they were in stock in the Smoked Pewter color at a Lowes about 30 minutes from where I live.  They retail for $19.95 each.  I went online, began my online order and they were on clearance for $1.44 and had 30 in stock.  For a whopping $43 I bought all 30 of them.  I also bought the matching trim pieces at under $1.35 each.

Materials:  Fasade Thermoplastic Panels (18.5-in x 24.5-in), 18" Inside Corner Trim, 18" Edge J-Trim, Loctite Premium Construction Adhesive, tape measure, pencil and scissors.

I watched a you tube video on how to install the panels and trim and installed the panels in an afternoon.  I only installed the panels under the stone range hood.  Eventually, I'll add subway tile under the rest of the cabinets.  But this is now my favorite focal point in the kitchen.

The panels went up extremely easy.  I followed the manufacturer's instructions and was careful to clean up any extra adhesive immediately.  I ended up using 9 panels in total and two 10 oz tubes of the adhesive.  I installed the Edge Trim pieces on the sides that will be exposed to drywall/tile and used the corner trim pieces in the corners.

We have a pot filler above the stove, so I intentionally created a seam around the pipe that comes out of the wall in order to easily install around it.  Then I added the rest of the first row of panels based on this starting point.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Outdoor TV Cabinet

Super simple outdoor tv cabinet made for 50" TV out of pressure treated lumber and some barn style hardware.

The box frame was made out of two 2x8x8 pressure treated boards and the doors were made out of pressure treated decking and cost about $150.

We used two 2x8x8 pressure treated lumber and cut 40" off each board to be used as the sides. The remaining length of each board was about 56" (slightly less due to blade width from initial cut off of each board. We placed the 56" boards between the side boards for an overall width outside to outside of approximately 59".

We used a 2x4x10 and cut two lengths slightly less than 56" to be at the top and bottom of the inside dimensions which were lag bolted into the wall.  The box frame was then attached to the cleats using decking screws and L brackets.

We used regular pressure treated decking for the doors (approx 6" wide) . We used five - 8 foot boards for the vertical doors and cut 10 verticals at 36 1/2" each.  We ripped the remaining two decking boards at 3" on the table saw for each "Z".  Each door is 27 1/2" wide when finished.

From each 3" ripped board, we cut two lengths of 27 1/2" and had enough left over from each board for the diagonals which we cut and fit in place last.  We placed two of the 27 1/2" cut boards on the ground and started attaching the verticals from what would be the inside of the door.  We made sure everything was squared up and the spacing of the five verticals was even across the top and bottom of the "Z".  Last we cut and fit the diagonals in place and attached them to the inside.  We made the second door following these same steps.

Our doors fit inside the box frame and the outside "Z" boards are flush with the front of the box. We attached the barn style hardware on the inside of the box frame because the style we chose had a slightly wider hinge than our 1 1/2" sides of the box frame and would have stuck out on each side.  We did have to notch out a section on our inside of the box frame to accommodate the hinges being attached on the inside.  Because we had the box frame built before we added this hardware, we could not attach the hinge screw from the inside where we sandwiched the hinge between the sides and top/bottom.  Before we attached these hinges, we put the hinge on the outside to use as a guide and made a mark with the pencil where the screw should line up, then we screwed decking screws from the outside of the frame in these holes.  We attached the decorative piece to the front of each "Z" and added a latch to the front as well as some latches on the inside top and bottom of the left door.  To keep the doors from touching the TV and staying flush with the outside box, we added some 2x4 blocks to the inside of the box on the top and bottom.  Next, we added a steel bolt to the inside top and bottom of the left door.  The latch that we bought did not keep the doors closed because both doors could open.

We purchased a fairly cheap TV because it's outside and also didn't want to spend a ton in case it was ever stolen.  Depending on how deep your TV is, or the wall mounting brackets you purchase, you may need to use 2x10x8 boards for the box frame.

Materials List:

2 - 2 in. x 8 in. x 8 ft. Pressure Treated Lumber - $8 each (used for box)
1 - 2 in. x 4 in. x10 ft. Pressure Treated Lumber - $5 (used for cleats)
7 - 5/4" x 6 in. x 8 ft. Pressure Treated Decking - $6.50 each (used for doors)
4 - 8" Heavy Duty Black T Hinge - $8 each (bought from Lowes - Stanley-National Brand)
1 - Hardware Slide Bolt Latch - $5 (bought from Lowes - Stanley-National Brand)
2 - 4-in. Steel Bolt - $4 each (to be used to lock one door into box frame, other door will have Slide Bolt latch)
Decking Screws (various sizes, longer screws used to build box frame, shorter screws to build doors)
8 Lag Screws - $3-$4 each (used to attach cleats to house, buy at least 6" exterior use lag screws)
4 - 4 in.Flat Brace (L Brackets) - $3 each (to be used to attach box to cleats)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

DIY TV Built In / Wall Unit

This is my DIY Built In / Wall Unit made for 60" TV.  I used three in stock brown maple Home Depot upper kitchen cabinets (30" wide x 18" high x 12" deep), plywood, bead board, 1x2 & 1x3 boards and some decorative moulding!  The cabinets required three coats of primer and five coats of paint. I used Olympic Interior Latex paint in Satin finish.  The color is "Crumb Cookie".

Starting Out:  You have to have an idea of size, style and color.  I had a very big wall and needed something big enough to fill the wall space, but not intrude on the living space.  The perfect solution was to buy in stock wall mount kitchen cabinets because they are only 12" deep.  Now, what to do with them?  My original drawing was just scratch paper with two cabinets with a 60" TV.  We soon realized we needed one more cabinet.  Thankfully, Home Depot was having a 25% off sale on all in stock kitchen cabinets.  

Tools, Skills & Time:  Living in the Northeast with lots of expected snowfall is the perfect time to build things.  We stayed pretty close to the sketch and kept the TV on the wall during the entire build in order to get exact dimensions around the TV.  This is not our first DIY project, but was the most time consuming, mostly because I'm a little fussy and this was going to be part of our living room.  I would say we have an intermediate skill level.  We spent two weekends constructing the unit and multiple hours priming and painting.  We used a table saw, circular saw, chop saw, jig saw, tape measure, pencil, square, level, screw gun, brad nail gun and shims.  I'm sure there are better tools for this job, but this is what we had in the garage.

Cost:  Approximaty $600-$800, excluding the cost of tools depending on the detail and your skill level. We used three kitchen wall cabinets which retail for $129, but we got them 25% off. The plywood was around $35 / 4x8 sheet.  We used four sheets and had some leftover.  The 1x2x8 and 1x3x8 pine boards were around $5-$6 each. We used roughly eight 1x2x8 and two 1x3x8 boards. A box of bead board for the back of the shelving and top was $20 and finally added some knobs. 

The Base:  This was fairly simple.  We built a small frame out of 2x4's roughly 14 1/2 inches deep by 7 1/2 inches high by 7 ft 11 inches long.  Once that was assembled, we covered it with 1/2" birch sanded plywood using a small brad nail gun.  Once the birch plywood was added, the unit is 8 ft wide by 15" deep (before finish trim).  This was intentionally made 8 ft wide to use full sheets of plywood for the rest of the unit.  The overall depth at the base once the finish trim is added is 8 ft 2 inches wide by 16 inches deep.

Setting the Cabinets:  In order to space out the cabinets evenly, we used a 1x3 as a guide between each cabinet and on each end. The 1x3's were attached permanently later.  To give the cabinets a more custom look, we also ran a 1x2 above and below all the cabinets which were later attached permanently on the front of the unit.  We did not buy full overlay door cabinets and I didn't want to see the cabinet frame.  To allow for the 1x2 spanning the length of the unit above and below the cabinets, we used 3/4" plywood under all of the cabinets and on top of all of the cabinets prior to the next step.  The 3/4" plywood gives the cabinets a little height in order to have a 1/4" space above and below the cabinet doors.  We placed the 3/4" scrap plywood at 13 1/2" and placed the cabinets on top of that allowing for a 1 1/2" gap between the back of the cabinet and the wall.  We did not necessarily need a gap, I just wanted the base to look slightly deeper than the side shelving.  The overall distance from the wall to the front of the cabinet door is 14 inches.

Media Storage:  We cut two pieces of 1/2" sanded birch plywood 15 inches wide by 8 feet long.  Using a brad nail gun, we attached a small piece of plywood to each end (15 inches by 8 inches).  We then added a smaller piece of plywood to be spaced between the pieces of plywood to provide strength and spacing for the media equipment (DVD Player, Sound Bar, Cable Box).  The overall height of the media box is 8 inches, but we added a 1x2 across the top making the actual opening only 7 inches.  We also put a 1x3 over the plywood edges on the ends and spacers later. 

Side Shelving:  Two more simple boxes for vertical shelves made out of 1/2" sanded birch plywood.  The sides of the box were cut at 42 inches by 11 1/4 inches.  They were attached together by cutting another piece of plywood for the back at 42 inches by 16 inches and one piece for the top at 11 1/4 inches by 16 inches.  The back piece of plywood was ultimately covered with bead board so we used scraps for that.  To add the finished look, 1x2 boards were added to the top and sides of the shelving.  Note: we do not have a bottom for the side shelves. They rest directly on top of the media storage box created above.

The Top:  Sensing a theme here?  Yep, another box.  This was customized slightly to allow for large crown moulding around the top. We ended up piecing the top because the length was longer than an 8 foot sheet of plywood, but at 8 feet high, we didn't care.  The bottom sheet of plywood was cut at 94 1/2 inches by 11 1/4 inches in order to fit directly on top of the side shelving.  The top section/sheet was made to be 103 inches long by 15 inches deep.  The front and sides of the very top board had to overhang all three sides for the crown moulding.  The two ends were cut at 19 inches by 11 1/4 inches.  The middle spacers were cut at 17 1/2" inches by 11 1/4 inches (two in total).  The overall top box is 19" high.  However, I wanted to display items flush with the top of the 1x2, so we added 1/2" spacers, then added another full sheet of 1/2" sanded plywood.  So, the inside depth of the box is only 17 1/2" due to the additional spacers and 1/2" plywood in order to create a flush affect where the top 1x2 sits.  The spacing of the dividers in the top box follow the spacing with the media storage spacing.  

The overall height of this top box was 19 inches to allow for a light in each section to be hidden behind the crown moulding.  We bought "Hampton Bay 6-Light Black Under Cabinet Xenon Puck Light Kit with a Dimmer" at Home Depot.  The Model# is EC1333BK, SKU# 818313, $39.97.  You can connect up to 6 lights into the outlet box they provide and then plug the outlet box into the wall, which we fished behind the trim and the TV.

Adding the Trim and Shelves:  Shelving using 1/2" sanded plywood was spaced equally between each shelf.  We cut some shelf supports out of extra 1x2's to hold the shelves, but you could also buy removable shelf brackets.  We attached 1x2 boards to the sides, front and each shelf and top to give everything a finished look using a brad nail gun. 

Hiding the Wires:  We were fortunate enough to have had wiring planned for a wall mount TV, but by adding a media area, we ended up with visible wires hanging down behind the TV.  What to do?  Attach two 2x4's horizontally between both side shelves with a hole cut close to the wall in the top of the media area.  And, then cover it all with a piece of 1/2" sanded birch plywood.  We did caulk the back piece of plywood all around the media storage and side shelving after it was attached to the 2x4's.

Base/Cabinet Trim:  We added a 1/2" sanded birch plywood board to each side (13 1/2 inches deep by 19 inches high) prior to adding the 96" 1x2 horizontal boards that spanned the entire length above and below the cabinets.  We also flipped a piece of baseboard trim upside down around the top of the base that sits underneath the cabinets and gave it a little softness by running a router across that top edge.  There happened to be an outlet in the wall behind the middle cabinet, so we just cut the back out using a jig saw.  We also cut holes in the back of the media storage to fish media wires into the cabinets. 

We finished it off by adding the vertical 1x3 pine boards between the cabinets, media storage and each side/end.  We actually doubled them up by putting one 1x3 on top of another 1x3 for a little depth.  Another piece of baseboard trim was run along the floor and tied into the wall baseboard trim to give it that custom built in look. 

Planning Ahead:  Although we're calling it a Built In, we realize technology will out live this unit. The solution?  We only attached everything below the TV to the wall.  Everything else fits like a puzzle and can be removed when the next big thing is invented. 

Decorative Moulding:  Adding a few extra touches can really make a DIY project stand out.  It may even look professionally built.  We added chunky crown moulding around the top as well as some small decorative trim where the top sits on the side shelf boxes as well as the media storage/cabinets. 

Priming/Painting:  While I would have loved to have sprayed this unit, we built it in place and it was not possible.  The cabinets required a lot of sanding and priming to cover the original brown finish.  But, it turned out beautiful and looks like it was built with the house. 

When we were building our house, we did a walk through of another house our builder was building and fell in love with the wall colors used.  Unfortunately, it's a custom color from Sherwin-Williams and there is no official name for the wall color.  We used this same color for our house and painted all interior walls with this color.  This is the picture of the tag on the top of the paint can if you would like to replicate. They can scan the bar code and color match from that.  The window and floor trim is just basic Bright White in Semi-Gloss.

Materials List:

4 sheets of 1/2" Birch Sanded Plywood
8 - 1x2x8 Select Pine Boards
2 - 1x3x8 Select Pine Boards
3 - 30" W x 18" H x 12" D kitchen wall cabinets (Home Depot - Cambria Wall Cabinet - KW3018-CHR, SKU# 248306) 
1 pack of Cape Cod 14 sq. ft. Beadboard Wide Plank Paneling (3 pack at Home Depot)
1 pack of Under Cabinet Light packs (Home Depot - EC1333BK, SKU# 818313)
4-5 2x4x8 boards
10-12 feet of chunky Primed Pine Crown Moulding (under top shelf)
5-6 pieces of Decorative Trim (Home Depot - 5/16" x 11/16" x 8 feet - Model 244, SKU# 353-436)
6 Knobs or Pulls
Scrap Plywood for behind bead board (less than 1 sheet)
Paintable Caulk