How to Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture

How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture

As part of my home office makeover, I wanted to have built-ins along two walls of the room.

I desperately needed the storage, and liked the idea of built-ins since they are an efficient use of space. (It’s not a very big room).

Mismatched cabinets | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Mismatched cabinets

Since I already owned a bunch of mis-matched furniture, I didn’t really want to go buy a lot of new cabinets, when I could use what I already had.

The problem was that the cabinets were different heights and had different styles.

So I had to come up with ways to make them look like they were meant to be together. And I ended up with some really functional built-ins for my office that didn’t cost much money to create!

The finished cabinets | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
The finished cabinets

Keep reading to find out how to create built ins from mismatched furniture.

Figure Out The Plan

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The office makeover floor plan | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
The office makeover floor plan

Measure the space where you want the built-ins to go.  Then figure out how your existing furniture can be arranged so that it fits the space.

The easiest way to do this to draw a to-scale drawing…that way you can move the furniture around without physically having to do it.

If you have any large gaps that need to be filled, kitchen cabinets make good built-ins.  Use upper cabinets for thinner sections or base cabinets for wider ones.

Remove Existing Baseboards

Remove baseboards that are behind the cabinets | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Remove baseboards that are behind the cabinets

To make the “built-ins” fit flat against the wall, you will need to remove any existing baseboards (and any other kinds of mouldings that would be covered by the cabinets).

If you want to re-use the baseboards later, try not to break them in the process.  I do this by running a utility knife blade along the top (to cut any caulk that might be there)…and then use a small pry-bar to get behind the moldings and remove them without damaging them.

Add Access To Electrical Outlets

Look for outlets behind the cabinets | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Look for outlets behind the cabinets

Check the area where the cabinets are going to see if there are any electrical outlets or heat vents that will be covered.  If so, you will need to plan how you will get access to them once the built-ins are complete.

For electrical outlets, you have 2 options:

1. Cut a hole in the cabinet where the outlet is so that you have access to it from inside the cabinet. To do this:

a. Measure and draw a box where the cutout needs to go in the cabinet.

Drill holes at the corners | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Drill holes at the corners

b. Drill holes in the corners of the box.  Make sure the hole is big enough for the jig saw blade to fit in.

c. Put the jigsaw blade into one of the holes and cut along one of the lines you drew.

The hole for the electrical outlet | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
The hole for the electrical outlet

d. Continue with the other sides until the hole has been cut out.

Make sure the electrical outlet can be seen through the hole | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Make sure the electrical outlet can be seen through the hole

e. Check it against the wall to make sure you can see all of the electrical outlet through it.  Since this is inside a cabinet and can’t be seen, I didn’t bother making the edges neat…but you could paint them to match the cabinet if you don’t like the look of it.

Raise electrical outlets so they are above the countertop | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Raise electrical outlets so they are above the countertop

2. Move the electrical outlet up so that it is above the cabinets.  If you are comfortable doing electrical work yourself, follow these directions from instructables.com to do this.  Otherwise, an electrician can do this for you very quickly.

Extend Heat Vents

Extend heat vents | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Extend heat vents

Toe Ductor, Under Cabinet Toe Kick Ducting Kit*

If you will be covering any heat vents, you will need to plan how they will be vented.  If the vent is behind a cabinet, you will need to extend the duct work and install the vent in the bottom of the cabinet, similar to this vent kit.

Cut out around a heat vent | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Cut out around a heat vent

If it’s a shelf, you can cut out a section of it to leave the vent open.  Just make sure that the board is also attached to the wall so that it can help to support the shelf weight.

Add a Countertop

Home office countertop | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Home office countertop

Adding a countertop across the top of all of the base cabinets will help unite the look of them.

Mismatched cabinets with different widths and heights | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Mismatched cabinets with different widths and heights

You can also use it to even out cabinets that are not the same height.

Add spacers to the lower cabinets | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Add spacers to the lower cabinets

Simply add some spacers on the lower cabinets so that the tops of them provide a surface that is the same height as the highest cabinet.

Then you can either install a slab of wood, stone, an actual kitchen countertop or make your own countertop.

Complete the top of the countertop | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Complete the top of the countertop

In my office, I decided to make my own out of MDF 4′ x 8′ sheets cut to size.

Home office countertop | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Home office countertop

I added an overhang that went down far enough to cover the spacers and the difference in the fronts of the cabinets.

DIY Decoupage Countertops | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
DIY Decoupage Countertops

Then I covered it with wallpaper, creating a really inexpensive countertop with some style.  Click here to get the instructions on how to do this.

Fill In Big Gaps

Fill any large gaps | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Fill any large gaps

If there are any gaps that are too small to fill with a cabinet, fill in the space with board.

Install a board to fill the gap | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Install a board to fill the gap

Don’t worry about the fact that it doesn’t blend in…we will be fixing that…

Add Baseboards

Install baseboards around the bottom of the cabinets | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Install baseboards around the bottom of the cabinets

Install baseboards around the bottom of all of the cabinets.

This will automatically make all of them look like they were built to be together. It also helps to hide any spaces if some of your mismatched furniture have legs and some don’t. Just make sure to get baseboards that are tall enough to cover the gaps.

Fill In Small Gaps

Caulk small gaps | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Caulk small gaps

Take a look at your “built ins”…are there any small gaps?  These could be between the baseboards and the cabinets, or between the cabinets themselves.

Cut the tube of caulk close to the end | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Cut the tube of caulk close to the end

Use caulk to fill in these gaps. Cutting the caulk tube close to the end will create a small hole that gives you more control over how much caulk comes out.

Use a caulk gun to run the caulk along all of the areas where gaps exist.

Then use a putty knife to remove any excess caulk.  If there is any residue, wipe it off with a damp cloth.

Wait until the caulk is dry.  Then check to make sure that the gaps do not need a second caulk application (sometimes it will shrink into the hole and need to be “topped up”).

Paint Everything The Same Color

Paint all of the cabinets the same color | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Paint all of the cabinets the same color

Paint can mask all kind of differences!  Pick a paint scheme and paint all of the cabinets and shelves the same color.

Built in cabinets | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
Built in cabinets

If you used any caulking, make sure it is dry before you start painting.

The built-in cabinet | How To Create Built Ins From Mismatched Furniture
The built-in cabinet

When you’re finished, it’s hard to tell that these used to be separate pieces of furniture!

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