Living Room Redesign (cabinets and coffers)

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Project by Rb12 posted 10-29-2012 02:29 PM 1928 views 5 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am about done with Stage 2 of 3 in redoing my living room. It was a nice room but lacked some basic things like overhead lighting, storage, had some wall damage, etc. So I basically saw it as a blank slate when I bought the house. We didn’t need the room before, but now after 2 kids and giving up my office as a spare bedroom, I decided to start my buildout here, which will be a kids play space (albeit over the top) until they are old enough and then it will become an office/study/library.

So last year I started by having the recessed lights put in and then covered the ceiling damage with the coffers. They are about 6” deep, made of poplar screwed to 2×4s bolted to the ceiling. I also decided to redo the casing on the door almost entirely out of scrap that I had sitting around. This was all stage 1. In putting up the ceiling I built in a soffit so I could do cabinets and bookshelves along one wall.

I am wrapping up stage 2 now which are the cabinets. While I have built my share of furniture in the past, this was the first time building cabinets from scratch as well as doors. Cabinets are furniture grade plywood (birch I think) and the edging and doors are clear pine and poplar. White was the wife’s color of choice (actually the entire project was predicated on it being white… and she is the boss so that made that decision easy). Everything was primed and then I sprayed 2 coats of semi-gloss paint on everything to give it a consistent shiny finish. I was told I could only build the cabinets if “they looked like they were bought from the store”. My wife is very frank ;-) anyway, she approves of the outcome. The center area will have a bank of 4 drawers. I have the faces finished but need to build the carcasses and mount them. This was also my first attempt at doing fluted columns which I also think came out quite well.

Stage 3 will be building out the bookshelves in between. I plan to space them with fluted columns and arches over the top. That will be over the winter when I have more time without family in and out.

This was my first big tablesaw project since replacing my 30-year old Delta contractor saw with a Jet Proshop as well. Also using the miter gauge retro-fit with an auxiliary fence. Very impressed with this tool. It really made the project “easier” I guess is the right term… maybe more consistent is the better term. It really allowed me to get a solid, consistent, repeatable cut so that all the door parts, cabinets, etc were uniform in their build.

14 comments so far

View Rb12's profile


80 posts in 2708 days

#1 posted 10-29-2012 02:36 PM

Limited to six pics up top, so here are some additional of the cabinets:

View empeg9000's profile


86 posts in 2906 days

#2 posted 10-29-2012 06:02 PM

Woot!!! Awesome work!

View scarpenter002's profile


617 posts in 4385 days

#3 posted 10-29-2012 07:56 PM

Very nice so far. You did some lovely work. Thanks for sharing.

Any pictures of the coffered ceiling during construction? I plan to put a coffered ceiling in my home office and am doing research/design now.

-- Scott in Texas

View Rb12's profile


80 posts in 2708 days

#4 posted 10-29-2012 08:25 PM

thx guys/

Scott, I do. They are on my home computer, I will dig them up and post them. So you know, the room is large, I think 23’ x 16’ and I needed to cheat the eye a bit since the windows and fireplace are on center. I wanted to line the long run cofferes up roughly equal with the fireplace so it did not look like the room was offset. This became difficult bc I put in a 1’ soffit on one side (I thought about the same deal on the other side, but bc of the way the bay window sits, it would not look right. So to cover up the lack of symetry, I decided to do different sized openings. I think it worked out as planned and everything is pleasing to the eye.

But in general, once I had the design on paper, I snapped chalk lines all the way across the ceiling; nailed 2×4’s with construction adhesive to the ceiling.

One way I saw suggested to build out is to build the open box of the coffer on the ground and nail or screw it up. Well, again due to the size of the room, I decided to do it the hard way and actually route the edge grain of the wood to give it more dimension, which lead to the need to miter all the intersections to fit properly. Total pita but worth it depaneding on the size you are working with. So I then cut a channel in the side to slide a 1/4” piece of MDF in to make the bottom of the box.

I used a double crown to give it again more dimension (first layer was a baseboard flipped up-side-down and then used I think a 4.5” crown as the final piece. I have put up wider crown before and hate doing it bc it is difficult with a standard finish nailer.

I had primed everything before putting it up, then caulked/filled the gaps and nail holes and finally sprayed everything with two coats of semi-gloass. Oh then painted the openings to the ceiling with standard ceiling paint.

Lots of blood and sweat but well worth it in the end. I will post the in process pics up for you to kind of highlight some of these points, but I am more than happy to answer any questions too.

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11362 posts in 2656 days

#5 posted 10-29-2012 09:32 PM

Looking great, by far. Update us when it’s done.

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 2908 days

#6 posted 10-29-2012 10:19 PM

Beautiful workmanship. Did you spray the paint?

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Rb12's profile


80 posts in 2708 days

#7 posted 10-30-2012 12:08 AM

I did spray everything. I liken it to doing surgery with an axe… gets the job done but messy as hell. Regardless, it gives such a great glass-like finish with no brush strokes that it is well worth it. It was one of the corded one-piece sprayers not the hplv setups hooked to a compressor. It only handled a quart at a time and it did require a lot of refilling, but was easy to use and cleanup was simple.

View Rb12's profile


80 posts in 2708 days

#8 posted 10-30-2012 12:11 AM

Ok, as requested, here are some progress pics on the ceiling. As you can see in the last pic, I took a somewhat non-traditional route and did 9 openings that are largely different sizes. The 4 corners are approximately equal, but otherwise, they are purposely different. This was to compensate for how the coffers would fall relative to the room and allow me to cheat the soffit while not allowing the eye to find obvious imbalance in the room.

I actually tore the upper molding that was on the wall off and saved it; it was then repurposed into the doors on the cabinets… saved quite a bit doing that.

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201 posts in 2659 days

#9 posted 10-30-2012 01:30 AM

WOW… amazing work.

View 489tad's profile


3638 posts in 3492 days

#10 posted 10-30-2012 12:10 PM

You have done a fantastic job. I love the molding build up.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3375 posts in 4193 days

#11 posted 10-31-2012 04:22 AM

Wonderful room transformation! Thanks for sharing the details. Looking forward to seeing the completed room.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Rb12's profile


80 posts in 2708 days

#12 posted 11-07-2012 01:23 PM

thx all. The drawers are done and installed. Here are some pics of the drawers (ignore the “I voted” stickers my daughter found fitting to put there :-p I was happy that they were square, fit and pulled smoothly.

View deborelli's profile


81 posts in 2713 days

#13 posted 06-03-2013 01:51 AM

This is really wonderful…...thank you for all the pics. I really like this :))

View Rb12's profile


80 posts in 2708 days

#14 posted 06-03-2013 01:25 PM

thnaks for the feedback. The room is actually done now, I will try to grab some updated pics of the bookshelves in between. This was, for me, a long-term advantageous project, but I am extremely happy with the outcome.

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