How to build a custom built in cabinet

Creating your own custom built in cabinets is easier than you think. All you need is a cabinet, a few scrap pieces of wood, and a handful of tools. We’ve been working in our office for a couple of months now, and with digital learning beginning soon we desperately needed some additional storage options. Items like the printer, extra paper, pencils, and Scot’s work related items needed a home somewhere other than the top of our desk.

The goal in the office is to keep it as clutter free and clean as possible. We personally believe that productivity happens best in an organized area. Creating and building a custom cabinet on top of the desk seemed like a great option. It wouldn’t take away any foot room, and would fit in perfectly with our DIY built in custom desk that we built. We have leftover Ikea cabinets that we removed in our kitchen when we installed our new vent hood that have just been sitting in our basement.

This project was completely 100% free using leftover materials we already had on hand, all it took was a little imagination. Today I wanted to share how I brought this DIY custom built in cabinet to life. We hope this tutorial inspires you to tackle your own built in cabinet.

The first thing you’ll want to do if you’re building a custom cabinet built in on an existing desk is elevate your cabinet. These are leftover 2×3’s from our DIY $14 outdoor chairs. We elevated our cabinet for two reasons. The cabinet door was too flush with the desk, so we weren’t able to open the cabinet door without lifting up on it a little bit. The second reason is that we’re putting the printer in this cabinet which meant we needed a space underneath the cabinet to conceal the cords.

Once you have your three pieces of wood in place, grab your cabinet and do a dry fit to make sure everything looks ok before moving forward on your build. The 2×3’s fit perfectly underneath our Ikea cabinet.

It’s very important to make sure your built in cabinet is safe. Scot grabbed our stud finder to determine where we could secure the cabinet. There weren’t any studs on the left side of the cabinet, so we secured it through the back. If you’re able to hit a stud that’s great, if the spacing doesn’t work in your favor and you don’t hit a stud, grab some drywall anchors for extra security. Tip: Make sure your drywall anchors support your project load. These drywall anchors have a 75 lb load capacity.

Since we wanted this project to be completely free using leftover products and items we had on hand, I chose to wrap the side of our Ikea cabinet in this plywood beadboard. It’s the same beadboard we used in our Spring 2020 One Room Challenge. We highly recommend this product. I did a dry fit by holding all three pieces up to the cabinet, making sure they went all the way down to the desk, covering the exposed 2×3 too.

Once I knew the three pieces of plywood beadboard would work, I nailed them straight to the Ikea cabinet using our nail gun.

Next I grabbed a piece of trim and marked it on the bottom of the shelf and cut it using our miter saw. Here’s how the trim looked once it was nailed on to both the top and bottom.

I didn’t technically have to caulk after the top and bottom trim pieces were installed because I ended up adding more trim pieces, however if you didn’t need to add additional trim pieces, then you would caulk during this step. This is hands down our favorite caulk gun of all time (which isn’t the one pictured below because I didn’t want to walk to the shed at night). We used this caulk.

Next grab a paintbrush or foam brush, and paint your beadboard!

Below is how the cabinet beadboard looked after one coat of paint.

I went ahead and added caulk to the front of the cabinet beadboard as well. This wasn’t necessary as I would be adding an additional trim piece. However, if you weren’t adding a trim piece this would be your next step.

I ended up grabbing additional trim pieces for the side because I wasn’t a fan of the breaks in the beadboard. If I would’ve had a solid piece of beadboard on hand, we would’ve used that instead. However, free is free!

One thing I would’ve done differently is not bring that top piece of trim over the cabinet, giving it a little lip. It’s almost impossible to add the same height of trim on the front of the cabinet to make it match and be cohesive. This was something I noticed after all was said and done. It doesn’t bother me enough to change it, though. Just wanted to share that tip so you could avoid that ‘mistake’.

Next I needed to fill the gap on the front of the cabinet. I did this by grabbing the leftover 2×3’s from the base support, measured, and ripped the board down. I nailed it in so that it didn’t move.

We needed to drill a hole through the bottom of the cabinet and desk for the printer, so Scot grabbed our drill and wood hole saw and drilled a hole through both. (That’s fence paint from painting our fence and gate a few days ago, it’s impossible to get off!)

And now for the final look! Here’s how our DIY custom built in cabinet looks after all trim was secured, caulked and painted on our DIY custom built in desk.

We had a few items coming this weekend to help finalized the desk organization. Exited to share those behind the scenes on stories so make sure you’re following along with us on Instagram!

Did you guys enjoy this DIY project? If so we would love for you to pin the photos from this post and the graphic below. Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out our latest project.

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