Dining Room Built-Ins

I love my husband for 1001 reasons – he is literally the best human and I’m forever indebted to him for all he’s done (and continues to do, you better bet that honey do list aint complete) for our family.

So these built-ins y’all. These built-ins are pushing him to the 101/100 level cause they are sweet as sugar and I’m totally obsessed.


We’ve had some practice in this arena with the other houses (like this, and this, and this), but we’ve definitely had learning experiences as we’ve gone along and I do feel like these turned out much better than some of our other attempts. Practices makes perfect, I guess! 😉

If I could hand a few silver nuggets on how to make builts ins look sublime this would be it:

  • Sand the hello dolly out of them (in between every paint coat – sand, too)
  • Add extra pieces of trim to the shelves to beef up the front and make it look chunkier (big difference between our first built-ins here, 4 years ago, and these ones!)
  • Always add crown – gives it the zinggggg 🙂


We had a counter and cabinets in here before, so we knew we needed to order some to match when we renovated our kitchen a few months back. Although it definitely added to the cost to have a professional style base cabinet (vs the pre-fab options we’ve used in the past from Home Depot stock cabinets) but I think it provides continuity and a uniform look. Since these two rooms (our dining and kitchen) are connected to each other and in the same visual plain, it seemed important to have a streamlined look between the two spaces.

I had lots of fun styling the bookcases – and finally using some of the decorations and picture frames that we’ve had stored in closets for a year +


Jay insisted on adding a beer opener, and fridge, hehe. We had a wine fridge here in the old design, which apparently, does not get cold enough for beer 😉


Another favorite new addition is this dining light. which I got on sale for $270 (which is still steeeeepp, but I do love it!). I wanted something classic and understated in this room, and this light fits the bill. We started out with a chandelier I found on craigslist (which you can see here) and it was too low (and people kept hitting their heads on it), so after a year I updated to this light and I love it.


Another view. Smitten!

I love the brass detail on it and I think it adds some warmth to the space as well.


We also added in a kitchen for Mr. H in our dining room. Keeps him busy “cooking” for us while we make dinner each night! This was a $25 craigslist find that we painted navy for him and gift to him this Christmas. So far the paint is holding up fine (we just spray painted it…)


Right now the bookcase looks a smidge bare, but I figure in a few months we will add to it with thrift store knick knacks and family photos.


This is the before of the dining room – I love the white – it makes the space feel so much more open and bright!

Dining Room with Built in

And the full shot view once more, for comparison:


Ain’t She a Beaut?

How many coats of white paint does a built-in need? Four, four coats. My arms are weary, amigo. After we got this little beauty built, there were still some minor details to fulfill before we could check this one off the to-do list. Namely, it needed a back and it needed paint. Sounds easy. In principle. It needs crown up top, too, and a ceiling patch, but some things just have to wait for another day. Ya know what I’m sayin’? 😉

Pre-stylin’ our bookcase is looking oh so much better after those 4-coats of paint though. Don’t ya think.

DIY Builtin Bookcase

Yes. Ignore the hole in the ceiling, the lack of any finishing details (trim, etc) and the awful lighting (it’s a basement). I think I’ll eventually add some hardware to spruce it up and provide a break from the sea of white doors (perhaps something like this?) We shall see. 😉

Here it is pre-paint and paneling for some comparison action.


For the paneling behind the tv, we opted to go the easy peasy cheap route. And buy a hunka hunka vinyl siding. He he. Unconventional? Perhaps. But mission accomplished? Definitely.

We just bought an 8×4 panel, and cut that little guy down to size. The entire panel only set us back $15, so I was pretty stinkin happy with that. It’s not exactly what I was looking for (a bit more textured), but the hubby voted for it due to the ease of install, and since I knew he’d be doing most of the dirty work, I let his vote trump mine. 🙂 And it helped the cause that it was super inexpensive. Here is how it looks after the install but pre-paint.

Paneling Behind Builtin

One of the more annoying parts of painting this little buddy was getting in between all the cracks on the paneling. Since it was so textured, it took a few passes to get into all the bumpy crevices. You can see the faux grain texture a bit better in this close up shot. Faux grain, it just sounds so classy, doesn’t it? 😀

How to Paint Paneling

I’ll spare you the boring details on the painting process (trust me, it was long and not all that fulfilling). The one pointer I would give to those painting large areas like this bookcase would be to trim it out with a brush, and come through for the larger sections with a roller. Since you can often see the brush strokes when you paint the larger portions, we’ve always found we get the best results when using a roller when we’re able.

For as boring and tedious as painting this big old built-in was, it was all so worth it when I was able to bust out the long stored tupperware container of books and reunite them with the shelves they should be adorning. 😀 Here is a close up of the not-yet-totally-finished right side.

How to Accessorize Bookcase

And here is a shot of the left!

Linen Backing on Bookcase

All the little trinkets I’d been hoarding from trips to Home Goods finally found a home, too. Like my little owl bookends.

Animal Book Ends

And my stallion that guards the other stash of books nestled on the right side of the shelf.

Animal Book End

Remember little porky? He found a home too, hanging out with that fierce looking fat cat. Looks ready for a motorcycle ride.

Bookcase Styling

Here is how the whole space is looking after an evening of moving things around on the shelves. Still pretty sparse, and I’m sure I’ll continue to move things around and get rid of things that don’t mesh right. Long term, I’d love to get lots of baskets for under the TV to store all our extra goodies.

Although this project was not the quickest one to bust out, we had some pretty significant savings from doing this bad boy ourselves. Our total for everything came out to just over $400. Considering this look alike at IKEA retails for over $1,200, I’m pretty happy paying a quarter of the cost of a custom job. Here is the cost breakdown:

  • Cabinet Bases $280 (you could DEFINITELY get these cheaper at a ReStore or Thrift store that carries cabinets – we didn’t have any luck finding four matching ones so we decided to spring for it)
  • Wood for Shelving: $45
  • Crown for top: $15
  • Paneling: $15
  • Paint: $20
  • Linen Backing: $33

Bookcase with Linen Backing

Once we pop up some crown and trim out the sides, I think this bookcase is going to be a nice little addition to our basement cave. Functional and not too hard on the eyes.

Did ya notice the backs? We decided to go with a linen fabric treatment – I’ll post all the details on that DIY next week!

Linen Back on Bookcase

Tuning in for the Giveaway deets? Since we only had a few people respond – everyone’s a gettin’ a mood board!! Woooottt. Look for the virtual room renovations next Wednesday!

Thrifty Thursday