Organizing the Nursery Closet

When it comes to being organized I’ll be the first to admit that I could do a lot better. My house may look clean and uncluttered on Instagram but open up any drawer or cabinet and whoa!!

I’m definitely one of those people that hate visual clutter – it gives me complete anxiety and can make a room feel dirty even when it really isn’t. I’m guilty of piling things up or hiding them away in cabinets and drawers just so I don’t have to look at the mess because for me…as long as I don’t have to see the mess, the house instantly feels cleaner . It’s my dirty little secret that’s not so much of a secret anymore…

BUT!!!!!

The nursery is the one exception to my horrible organizational ways. It’s dang organized in there! In this post I talked about how we re-worked the closet by adding some shelves and was able to improve the storage capacity of the nursery closet overall. Adding shelves allowed us to bring in bins – to house all the tiny things – and it gave everything a home of it’s own…something I’ve learned is super important in order to be and stay organized. Just ask these girls (my real life girl crushes).

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On the very top shelf of the closet (those grey felt bins) are diapers of varying sizes. When Emie was born we had NB through size 3 diapers up there – a size in each bin. It was super helpful to have not only overflow diapers in her current size but to have the next size up as well. Babies grow so quickly and you never know from day to day when they’ll wake up and suddenly outgrow something.

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As she’s gotten older and is now in size 3 diapers, we don’t keep as many diapers up there as we did before. We have 4 bins up top and here’s what we keep up there:

  • one bin is for overflow diapers in her current size
  • one bin is for diapers in the next size up
  • two of the bins are for clothing/shoes she’s outgrown

It’s super helpful and keeps me organized to have a designated area for clothing she’s outgrown, rather than letting it accumulate somewhere else or in the drawers until I have time (what is time?) to do something with it. This has worked out really well for us so far and helps keep her room mostly organized.

For the shelves that we built we brought in fabric bins and labeled them with grey chalk board tags based on what was inside.

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The 1st shelf has:

COVERS (Boba wrap / nursing covers/ boppy covers / changing pad covers)
SUN (hats / sunglasses / swimsuits / rash guards / swim diapers)
BIBS + BURPCLOTHS

The middle shelf has:

BEDDING (sheets / crib skirts / mattress covers)
BATH (towels / washcloths / bath robe)

The bottom shelf has:

WIPES
Quick note about the wipes: I could have put them up top with the extra diapers but quickly learned just how fast we go through wipes so it made more sense to put them down low where they were easily accessible.
BLANKETS (quilts / swaddles / muslin blankets)

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On the right side where her clothing lives: everything on the top rod can be worn now – organized by color. Yes, I’m fully aware of how ridiculous my OCD is.

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Everything on the bottom rod is next size up – again with the idea that as she grows I want to have the next size up washed and ready to go. I use these slim non-slip baby hangers to save on space (they now have black/gold hangers that I totally would’ve purchased had they been available when I started the nursery!). Matching hangers is a small investment that I think is totally worth it and reduces the visual clutter.

For outfits that have a set of matching bloomers, we hang the bloomers right on the hanger with the outfit – no more digging through the dresser drawers to find bloomers to match! I credit my Mom for this genius idea.

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On the shelf above the bottom rod, we keep a few décor items and decorative pillows used for her crib that aren’t meant to be slept with plus a few pairs of shoes she wears the most.

Confession: she hasn’t ever worn those pink flats – they’re still too big! There’s usually a pair of walking shoes and those suede booties that she wears daily – but the those pink flats are adorable and looked better in photos! Lest you think my daughter walks around in velvet flats all day errrday…psh!

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The empty space below the shelves / rods on either side of the closet is utilized too. On the left we keep her hamper, a tall bin of stuffed animals that she loves digging into, and on the right we is where her larger toys go at the end of the day  currently just a shopping cart that she received from Christmas. As she grows, I see this space being used to store toys like a dollhouse, baby stroller, or toy vacuum.

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We currently don’t have any doors on her closet but it’s definitely something we want to add. I thought for a hot second I could live with that open concept vibe but no. Just no. Who do I think I am? I am too OCD for that. Doors ASAP please!

Re-Working the Nursery Closet

Re-Working the Nursery Closet

One of the very first things we tackled after moving in was the nursery was the closet. The nursery actually has two closets – a regular full-sized closet and an attached smaller linen closet. Our house was built in the 70’s and by today’s standards that means our closets are considered small and storage space is limited.

I’d agree.

In fact…both apartments we lived in previously had more closet space than we do currently. So while we’re lucky to have 2 closets in the nursery, the closets themselves lacked a lot of functionality and I knew that with a few tweaks, they could offer much more storage space that our growing family desperately needed.

After the holidays I was especially feeling a little overwhelmed and a lot over indulged. Since it was Emie’s first Christmas we were inundated with gifts and I found myself getting overwhelmed with where it all would go. Luckily, it’s the perfect time of year to start fresh and purge all the crap out of our house and thankfully our nursery closet was already set up for success – keep reading to see all the changes we made to make this a more functional part of our home.

Here’s the nursery closet right after we demoed the floor and all the trim:

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The closet wasn’t set up in a way that maximized the available space so we decided to tweak the set up a bit so that we could add shelving for bins and baskets on one side and hanging space on the other side. Because if you know babies, you know that they come with so.many.things. and all those things need a place to live.

We decided to add shelving to the left side of the closet because 3 hanging rods just wasn’t necessary for one tiny baby. Adding shelves to the left side would make room for bins of baby essentials (blankets, bedding, diapering supplies, etc.) plus a hamper down below for the massive amounts of laundry that babies make on the daily. On the right side we planned to keep the 2 existing hanging rods but decided to add a shelf just above the lower rod for even more storage space. #neverenoughstorage

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Once we demoed the closet, we gave everything a fresh coat of paint – SW Tricorn Black. The ceilings too!  One of the things that really bothered me most about the closets wasn’t even their size – it was how beat up and dirty they were. Giving both closets a fresh coat of paint made all the difference. I no longer cringed at the thought of putting little baby clothes inside…in fact, I looked forward to it!

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After the closet had been painted, we used our hamper as a guide (or 2 poufs stacked on top of one another) to help determine how tall we wanted each shelf. We settled on 3 shelves at a height of 16″ each – the perfect height for a few fabric bins.

The closet wasn’t framed out with any millwork when we moved in but at the last minute we decided to add some trim around the perimeter and it was easily the best decision we could’ve ever made for this room.

Here’s the closet before trim:

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And here it is after trim:

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Bad photo, but so much better, right? Adding trim or millwork can easily elevate a room and make it look much more expensive without being expensive. It’s my favorite way to update a room on the cheap!

To make the shelves, we used cheap 1×1 pieces of wood for the shelf supports making sure to secure them into studs around the perimeter of the left side. With the shelf supports in place, we measured and cut each shelf to length – no two shelves were the exact same size and nailed them into the shelf supports from the top.

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We installed the shelf supports flush with that dividing wall in the middle of the closet and then trimmed out the face of the shelf with inexpensive 1×2 strips of wood for a finished look. Once the supports were installed, we painted them SW Tricorn Black to blend in a disappear.

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For the right side we installed 2 closet rods, making sure to add wood backers along the perimeter of the right side so the rod brackets had something to screw into and the shelf above the lower rod had something to rest on. I decided to upgrade the basic wood closet rods to these gold closet rods I found on Wayfair.

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I actually ordered the longest rod they carried and cut it in half using a hack saw because it ended up being cheaper than purchasing 2 rods the correct length. The metal rods really elevated the closet and made it look super expensive without actually being expensive. Plus the hangers slide much better across the metal rods than they ever did on the wood ones. I’ll definitely be adding these to our closet when the time comes!

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Now that you know how we re-worked the nursery closet, I’ve got another post coming to go over how we organized it – which was especially helpful to store all the goodies Emie received over the holidays!

Are you tackling any closet project in the coming year? We have 5 additional closets and most of them all of them are in horrific shape – so here’s hoping a few more can look as good – and work as well – as this one does!

 

2018 House Goals

2018 House Goals

Yesterday I recapped our 2017 house goals and today is all about looking ahead to what’s in store for our house in 2018. Before last year, we never really set house goals but by sitting down and really trying to figure out what we wanted from our house, setting house goals helped to narrow our focus in what seems to be a never ending to-do list.

Last year our needs definitely changed with the addition of a now almost one year old. How we live and function in our home is drastically different from our life before and really thinking about how we live day to day and what we need out of our house has really driven our house goals for 2018. There are definitely spaces I would love to add to our house goals list for 2018 (I’m looking at you f*ugly kitchen) but our kitchen functions just fine for now and we need to pour our time and money into other areas that will serve our family better.

For 2018 here are the spaces we hope to tackle and improve:

Guest Bath 2.0

We tackled a mini refresh just before Thanksgiving but I would really love to bring this room across the finish line in 2018. In 2017 we mentioned that we had already replaced the toilet and have already purchased a vanity so half the hard choices have already been made! Now that Emie is bathing in here regularly – we really need to address the dated, discolored tub and really make this bathroom worthy of her cute little toosh!

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Dining Room

It’s more of a dining area in our open concept living space but still…it needs a lot of help. We’re currently using a hand-me-down table from my Mom, a dated light fixture, but new chairs is what we really need. They’re wobbly, creaky, and we’re constantly tightening them. It’s time!

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And probably for the first time in the history of EVER, Sikmon agrees we need something new – so it’s full steam ahead before he can say no.

Entry

Ugh. The bane of my existence. Another tricky space in our home that I have never been totally happy with. This was the first space we tackled when we moved in and although it was a great visual improvement, it needs a lot of functional help. It’s the hardest working space in our house but the systems we have in place just aren’t working. Case in point:

 

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It looks like this 360 days a year. #sendhelp

Deck

I’d say this is my biggest want on our 2018 house goals list mainly because it’s our biggest need. We don’t have a front yard, backyard, or any parks within walking distance but we do have a pretty sizeable deck (900 sqft) and with a very active baby I really think we could utilize this space a lot better than we have a give her a place to run and let out all that baby energy. I would love to bring in some turf or other soft surface for playing and create a seating area for lounging and one for dining. I’d say this is by far our biggest undertaking but here’s hoping we can put a dent in it in 2018!

Doors

Here’s hoping that 2018 is the year we finally put doors back on our closets (we currently have 3 closets without doors plus the pass-through into the nursery)! I thought I could be the person that lived with an open concept closet but no. Just no. I am not that person. Who did I think I was? Too much visual chaos makes my head spin. I need doors – all the doors. STAT!

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2018 is already well underway and I can’t wait to get after our house goals for this year. I think we’ll probably tackle the doors first – my sanity sorta depends on it – and I’m already dreaming and scheming about that dining space. Be sure to stay tuned here and follow us on Instagram for a more behind the scenes look at our daily lives!

What do you have on the house agenda for this year? I’d love to hear!

Reviewing Our 2017 House Goals

Reviewing Our 2017 House Goals

Hey there, 2018!

Today is my first day back to reality and man…it hurts! We had a wonderful first Christmas with baby girl – even though we ALL got sick – we still managed to enjoy the extra time at home and extra morning snuggles. As great as it’s been to take a step back and slow down, I’m ready to get after 2018! Are you?

At the beginning of last year I set a few house goals for 2017 and am proud to say we accomplished most of what we wanted to do! We had to scale back our original plans along the way – hello new baby – but I thought it would be fun to take a look back at what we set out to do at the beginning of last year and recap our 2017 house projects.

2017 House Goals:

Living Room + Built-Ins

You guys! The built-ins are done! Easily our most fear-inducing / biggest DIY to date but it was far easier than we expected – makes me wonder why we waited so long.

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After I shared how we installed the lower portion of the built-ins, we wrapped the upper portion of our built-in DIY right before Thanksgiving. Expect a tutorial soon but until then, here’s how that side of our living room is looking these days:

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We still need to mount the TV but we keep going back and forth on getting a bigger TV. If we ever decide what we want, we’ll mount it and then this room will be ready to Netflix and chill.

Guest Bath

Another one of our 2017 house goals that we finished just before year’s end – right before hosting our very first Thanksgiving actually. Nothing like a little holiday gathering to kick our butts in gear.

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We originally planned a much larger, full scale renovation, but with new baby on board we opted for a less intrusive/messy refresh to hold us over until 2018.

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Phase 2 of guest bath overhaul will include new flooring, vanity, and tub – all the hard surfaces. Here’s to hoping 2018 will finally be it’s year but until then…I’m loving the in between too.

Bedroom #2 – Lila’s Room

Ugh. This room.

Tween Bedroom Update

I started and stopped this room like 156 times. It’s a room I’ve struggled with since we moved in (mostly because I dislike the yellow accent wall, I think) and although I made progress in here, it’s far from complete. I call this one a total fail.

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I still don’t have a clear direction or plan for this room so it probably won’t be revisited in 2018 so until then it’s #progressnotperfection.

Bedroom #3 – The Nursery

Also done! We finished up the nursery just in time for Emie’s arrival in February and now almost a year later, it’s still the most finished room in our house.

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As we approach her 1st birthday we’re making a few tweaks in preparation for solo sleeping! She’s been sleeping in our room (in her crib) since she was born (so much for a finished nursery, huh?!) and now we’re getting this room put back together to transition her into the new-to-her-nursery.

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I’m wrapping up a post on nursery closet organization and finalizing the tweaks we’re tackling to make this room “Emie ready” so be on the look out for those posts soon!

We made some major strides in 2017 towards a more finished home but we had some setbacks and adjustments along the way too. In 2018 we may revisit a few of these spaces to finally call them complete but come back later this week for a full run-down of what we hope to tackle in the year ahead.

What do you have on your house goals list for 2018?

A Very Merry Christmas + Tips for DIY Family Photos

A Very Merry Christmas + Tips for DIY Family Photos

We’ve never taken Christmas pictures as a family or sent out Christmas cards but since welcoming our daughter earlier this year, I really wanted to make it happen and start creating traditions as a family that they’ll remember growing up and perhaps carry into families of their own one day.

I thought about hiring a photographer for a hot minute but then decided against it knowing that the current dynamics of our family (a never-not-moving baby and a super silly 8 year old) were better suited for pictures at home where they felt comfortable and relaxed. It was hard work, but I’m so glad we committed to at home family pictures, in matching jammies no less, despite my nerves and hesitation about getting a “good enough” photo for our first ever family Christmas card.

It was definitely a learning curve to get all 4 of us with a decent enough expression at the same time but here’s a few tips for what I believe helped us the most:

Pre-Plan

Make sure the outfits are washed, ironed, and looking spiffy – whatever you need to get you and your family photo ready! It’s also great idea to think about your photo layout ahead of time. Do you want a horizontal or vertical card? Where will your holiday greeting go? Be sure to leave enough “open space” in your photo for that festive holiday greeting. Thinking about these details ahead of time will force you to think about the composition of your photo before it goes to print – last thing you want is a holiday greeting that goes across someone’s face.

Timing

Be thoughtful when choosing the time to take your family pictures. For us that meant after Emie’s morning nap. She needs that extra 1-2 hours of rest before she’s up and ready to go for her longest stretch of awake time. Make sure everyone is well feed and not hangry too – adults included!

Be Ready

This is probably my biggest tip because when good attitudes and happy demeanors are a ticking clock, you want to have all your ducks in a row and ready to go! Since the baby sleeps in our room and we were using the bed as our backdrop – I did a lot of prep work before we laid her down to nap. I cleared off the nightstands on either side of our bed to make sure our mess wasn’t in frame, straightened the bed, and removed frames we had hung above the bed for a cleaner look that would allow for a holiday greeting above our heads to be printed on our cards. We also set up the camera on the tripod, paired the remote (my phone), and situated the tripod in the best spot. Here’s Lila testing the remote:

While the baby was napping everyone else dressed in their jammies and once she woke up we dressed her, and gave her a bottle (no one wants a hangry baby) while I pulled back and drapes and took a few test shots to make sure the lighting was right.

Use a Tripod + Remote

Once you’ve set everything up – let your tools do the work! I have this tripod and it comes in handy for these exact situations. I also use this IR Camera Remote app that we just downloaded to my phone – easy peasy. We set the remote up so that it was voice controlled and we probably snapped close to 300 pics by voice only. It started out innocently enough with us adults yelling cheese! or smile! but then our silly 8 year old wanted in on the fun and started yelling poop! and fart! and before you know it, we were cracking up! But when the baby started screaming and shouting to snap a pic, we laughed so hard we cried.

Go With the Flow and Have Fun

It’s hard to snap a family picture and expect perfection especially when little ones are involved. The kids were supposed to wear matching santa hats but the baby refused to keep it on. We tried to put a bow in her hair instead but she kept pulling it out and chewing on it. You win some, you lose some but I didn’t let it ruin the mood or our pictures.

But because we knew that the baby would be more reluctant to cooperate, we did ask our 8 year old to always be ready and smiling because we knew that she was more than capable of being photo ready and that way we really only had to worry about getting one child to cooperate vs 2. For the most part she was a rockstar – always ready, always smiling:

But other times…she was just her silly 8 year old self and got a little carried away with that Santa hat.
All in all, I call it a success and look forward to many more years of family Christmas photos – but how will we ever top the matching jammies?
I hope my tips for taking your own family photos help next time you try to tackle this daunting task and if you have any helpful hints of your own, please be sure to share in the comments below! We could all use a little help, amiright?
But before I sign off I want to share a few honorable mentions and a few outtakes too because when you took 300 pictures just to get ONE shot, it just wouldn’t be right not to share…
Honorable Mentions (the ones that almost made the card)
My favorite candid moment:
Goofy face 8 year old and chewing on the bow baby:

 

Almost, but not quite:

 

The Outakes (AKA the funny ones)

 

 

From my family to yours – we wish you all the merriest Christmas! 2017 has been nothing short of amazing – we welcomed our littlest babe and we’ve continued making this house our home while occasionally sharing our progress along the way here. As we leave 2017, I couldn’t be more grateful to celebrate this Christmas with friends, family, and watch the magic of Christmas through our daughter’s eyes. If you’re an old friend or new here, thank you for all the support and encouragement along the way. See you in 2018!

XO,
Danae

Reviewing Our Couch – 5 Years Later

Reviewing Our Couch – 5 Years Later

By far the thing I get asked most about on social media or the blog is about our couch. Despite it being nearly 5 years old, it’s still all anyone ever wants to know about. I thought it might be helpful to put a post together with all the couch info in one place for all those who are always asking. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve fully vetted all the pros and cons over the last 5 years so I thought we’d pass the info along.

It took us quite a while to find the perfect couch – but not for lack of looking! My other half has a really hard time making any sort of large purchase without exhaustively seeing all the options two or three times! When we moved in together we were couch-less for nearly 3 months before he felt confident enough that we had seen everything there was to be seen and were making the right choice. By the end of it all I would’ve bought any couch just to stop the insanity.
We ended up purchasing our couch at a local store called the Design Center Furniture – a place we visited three times during our search. We chose a Robert Michael couch from the Rocky Mountain Collection and what we loved most about the couch was that it was completely customizable. The top 3 things on my couch wish list were: comfort, washable cushions, and a loose pillow back. Being able to customize our couch allowed us to tick all those boxes.
CUSTOMIZATION:
Our first apartment’s living room was over 15 ft long so we ended up going with a 2 piece configuration – a 1 arm sofa and chaise – making for an 11 foot couch! I loved that we had the ability to choose any configuration that would suit our lifestyle and a length that was perfect for our space.
We were also able to choose the couch fabric and fabric for 4 coordinating pillows. For the most part we chose a great fabric…it’s very forgiving and has worn extremely well and since baby girl has come along…it’s taken quite a beating. But there is a downside! The fabric is ribbed and directional which means it doesn’t really allow us to flip the cushions or pillow backs for optimal wear. Since the ribbing is directional and if flipped the direction of the ribbing gets a “ruffled” look…but that’s due to our choice in fabric and not about the quality of the fabric.
COMFORT:
I want our home to be and look lived-in and cozy and I think the couch really helps us achieve that goal. I think what makes our couch so comfy are the down filled cushions and one I recommend!

Aside from aesthetics, the couch is the epitome of comfort. The standard high density foam cushions are wrapped in down which makes it extra squishy and soft. I can’t remember if this was standard or an option we chose but we love it. The couch is very deep which is great for tall people (not us) and our older family members do sometimes have difficulty getting up (pregnant people too – ha) because you really just sink into it and it’s pretty low to the ground.

Next time around, we’ll definitely get a couch with legs so it’s higher off the ground and easier to get up from. No biggie though.

WASHABLE:

What I wanted most in a couch was removeable cushion covers that can be removed and thrown in the washer for easy cleaning – and after a scare with that spray hair coloring (red!!!) – I’ve never been more grateful to be able to throw the covers in the wash. I typically wash the covers 2-3 times a year but I stress less about accidental spills on our couch knowing they’re so easy to clean.
After a quick run through the wash and spin through the dryer they’re fluffier, snugger, and the couch looks brand new all over again.
LOOSE BACK:
This was also high on my list of must-haves! Loose pillow back prevents that smushed look you sometimes get with cushions that are attached to the couch – or if you have an animal who loves perching atop the couch. The loose back cushions are basically just giant pillows that can be fluffed and made to look brand new again!
It does mean that they often get disheveled throughout our every day use but I mean…how cute is this? Makes for great fort building too!
So after an exhaustive 3 month couch hunt, I’m super happy with our couch and am extremely impressed with how it’s held up the last 5 years we’ve owned it. We aren’t currently in the market for a new couch but I am sorta itching for a new one.
Here’s what we’d do and wouldn’t do next time:
Again: purchase a couch with loose pillow back
Again: purchase a couch with removeable cushion covers for easy washing
Again: purchase a couch with down filled or down wrapped cushions
Not Again: purchase a couch with directional fabric
Not Again: purchase a couch so low to the ground
Not Again: spend 3 months looking 🙂

And if you need even more couch inspo – here are a few couches that I’m really loving and would snatch up in a heart beat!

 Six Penny – Neva Modular Sectional
 Interior Define – Caitlin Chaise Sectional
 Article – Sven Chaise Sectional
 Tell me! What are your couch must-haves and what is a normal life expectancy for a couch?

Checking In: Living Room Built-ins (Nearly a Year Later!)

Checking In: Living Room Built-ins (Nearly a Year Later!)

DIY is always a slow moving train around here. Between the two of us working full time, a 8 month old, and year-round softball – life is one huge time suck and there just isn’t much time or energy leftover for house projects.

I had to scroll all the way back to December 2016 in my phone to find this photo:

Those are our cabinets for the built-in getting delivered – almost a year ago!

Man…we suck!

Anyways…it’s almost December 2017 and we’re still not done. We’re close though!

Ok, I lied. We’re about 50% done. But since the living room built-ins is on our list of 2017 House Goals list, I thought I’d show you where we’re at and how we got here.

After soliciting several quotes and dying of sticker shock (basically this project all over again) we decided to DIY. DIYing a built-in isn’t really all that hard. It’s just intimidating. So before we got started, we pulled inspiration from these DIY built-in projects here, here, and here and just went for it.

We chose to use unfinished upper kitchen cabinets from Home Depot because they were readily available, affordable, and wouldn’t eat up a lot of floor space. They arrived December 17, 2016 – see picture above.

We went with five 30″ upper kitchen cabinets for an almost 13 foot built-in unit! Hellllo storage!

After the cabinets arrived we built a base for the cabinets to sit on. We did this so that we could wrap baseboard around the base of the cabinets for a “built-in look”. We chose to have the base flush with the cabinet fronts rather than set back like a traditional toe-kick in a kitchen set-up.

 

Since we have 5″ baseboard all throughout the house we built the base for the cabinets to sit on just slightly smaller than 5″. This way…the baseboards would completely cover the base plus slightly overlap the bottom edge of the cabinets. I think we ended up going with a 2×4 and 1×2 turned on its side to achieve the height we needed.

 

We also ran a 2×4 along the back wall of the living room – secured into the studs – to bump the cabinets out away from the wall about 2″. We did this for a few reasons…the first was so that we could easily secure the cabinets to the 2×4 (which was already secured to the studs) so we didn’t have to worry about hitting studs if we had secured the cabinets directly to the wall. The second reason we did this was because bumping the cabinets out from the wall 2″ allows the bookshelves up top to be recessed a bit. With the 2″ bump out the counter becomes 15″ deep (12″ cabs + 2″ bump out + 1″ overhang = 15″ counter) giving a little extra counter space up top and an overall better “built-in” look.

What came next was probably by far the hardest part of the entire install. So glad it’s over and so glad we both still love each other after the fact – ha!

To install the cabinets we started with the base we had built on the ground, set each cabinet on top, and began securing the cabinets to the 2×4 along the back wall all while making sure everything was level and plum – using shims where necessary (omg – so many shims). The first cabinet was pretty easy and straightforward – it was secured to the side wall, the back wall, the base, AND the adjoining cabinet. It did however, get more difficult with every cabinet we added to ensure that the unit as a whole was level and plum. We had to use quite a few shims along the back wall because our wall is not perfectly straight (what wall is?) and we also shimmed the base quite a bit because our floor slopes down pretty bad in that area too. Other than that…we secured the hell out of these cabinets: to the back wall, the base, and the adjoining cabinet(s) – they aren’t going anywhere!

Below is the side view – right after we installed the cabinets and getting ready to add baseboard. This area got covered up with a project panel so you’d never know we’re cheating the depth by 2″.

A couple things I should probably mention – we did not secure the base to the floor at all. I didn’t want to drill holes into perfectly good flooring in case a future owner wanted to come in and rip it out and then be left with holes. We could’ve secured the base to the side wall if we wanted to but determined that the sheer weight of all the cabinets plus bookshelves up top would prevent this thing from going anywhere.

We also made sure to measure and cut out holes in the back of a few cabinets so that we had access to any outlets along the wall. We did this before securing the cabinet so if we had to make any adjustments, it was easier to do.

Once all the cabinets were installed and secured – we focused on the top or the “counter” portion of the built in.

I knew going in that this would be the portion of the project that would be our biggest hang up. We built a 13 ft cabinet but finding a 13 ft topper would prove to be either very difficult, very expensive, or both. SPOILER ALERT: it’s both.

One of the tutorials that I referenced above used a single piece of butcher block for affordability and while butcher block is affordable, a 13 ft length was still a few hundred dollars and more than I wanted to spend. Plus…I didn’t want a stained top. I wanted an all white top to achieve the look of this project. Except they were working with pre-fab Ikea cabinets and didn’t need a top like we did.

So after procrastinating about it way too long, we decided to make our own. We chose a high quality, paint grade, birch plywood and seamed 2 smaller pieces together to make one massive counter top that could be painted to match the rest of the cabinets. We purchased the plywood from Home Depot and had them rip it down to size in the store.

Here’s my handy helper:

I’d tell you how we seamed the 2 pieces together but we aren’t wood workers and our approach is probably embarrassingly incorrect. We attached flat brackets on the underside for support and we used birch veneer tape on the edge of the plywood top to give it a nice finished look. We also made sure to fill, sand, and plane the top seam to make it look like 1 long piece of wood vs 2 pieces stuck together. No one but us will know (and now too you I guess) that we took the cheap way out: the cost of a single sheet of high quality plywood – $50!

To wrap up where we’re at now, the cabinets and top have been painted white, we attached the top to the cabinets using construction adhesive and installed some pretty gold hardware – a well deserved splurge since we saved thousands doing this ourselves.

Next up: bookshelves, shiplap, and trim!

Here’s to hoping it doesn’t take another year to knock this out…