Built-Ins/Family Room Renovation

  • Advertise with us
Project by ADHDan posted 06-11-2014 02:03 PM 2303 views 3 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I finally finished completely renovating my family room. The project included drywalling, re-trimming base/ceiling/windows, building a full set of fireplace surround built-ins, and painting everything. It took about two months mostly working for a few hours in the evening after work. The “before” picture shows the contrast – previously, the room was just v-groove paneling and a plain fireplace with floor-to-ceiling chimney brick.

Some things of note:

—The built-ins and ceiling molding hide all sorts of wires for eventually installing a nice stereo/surround sound system. I pre-strung hidden power, a/v, etc. cables from the left base cabinet into the hollow mantel, and I ran speaker wire to the tops of the bookcases and behind the ceiling molding with drops for wall-mounted surround speakers.

—The inset doors were a pain but I got a nice tip on how to trim them to fit the cabinet frame: for each side that needs to be shaved at an angle, tape a washer to the opposite side and run it through the table saw. The washer kicks out the opposite side so you can shave about 1/32” at a time.

—I opted to put 1/4” drywall over the original wood paneling for a few reasons: I didn’t need to get a permit, I didn’t need to worry about reframing doors (I did reframe the windows), 1/4” drywall is just a lot easier for one person to install, and I was less worried about hitting all studs because even an off screw would still fasten to the paneling.

—Airless paint sprayers are fun to use but horrible to clean up.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

4 comments so far

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

426 posts in 3839 days

#1 posted 06-11-2014 02:07 PM

Great project! I love quality of life upgrades, and this is clearly one that you will enjoy.

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

View buck_cpa's profile


150 posts in 2660 days

#2 posted 06-11-2014 08:50 PM

looks great. what material did you use for the built-ins and doors? I’m currently doing built ins in our closet. I’m using mdf for the casework and poplar for the trim and drawers/doors. Also, what kind of joinery did you use for the casework (i.e. dados, butt joints, biscuits, etc.)? good work again

View ADHDan's profile


800 posts in 2881 days

#3 posted 06-11-2014 09:00 PM

Thanks! I used 3/4” maple plywood from Home Depot for the carcases, 3/8” alder plywood for the case backs and door panels (it was on sale for $20/sheet at my local lumberyard). All framing elements that could take abuse from kids are birch; some of the other trim elements (e.g. the faux frames on the mantel) are scrap poplar I had on hand. The carcases are all dadoed and screwed (no visible screws because the tabletops are two layers thick), the mantel is just pocket screwed and the false front is held on with a few door catches but mostly friction fit.

I opted for veneered plywood because when I started it was undecided whether I’d paint or clear coat (I bought the alder after deciding to paint). I shied away from MDF because this is against a wall in the lower level of a split entry house, and even though I haven’t noticed any moisture issues (in the one year I’ve owned the house) I figured why take chances on below-ground cabinets. Plus I have a toddler and another on the way, and this will be their playroom – so I wanted to use materials that wouldn’t dent as easily as MDF and poplar.

-- Dan in Minneapolis, woodworking since 11/11.

View CincyRW's profile


165 posts in 2423 days

#4 posted 06-12-2014 01:09 PM

I really like the way those look. They look like they’ve always been there – which is a good thing.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics