Home » DIY Built Ins Cabinets – How to Create Custom Stock Cabinets

DIY Built Ins Cabinets – How to Create Custom Stock Cabinets

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Are you looking to add a touch of luxury and functionality to your home without breaking the bank? Look no further than DIY built-in cabinets! These customizable storage solutions can transform any room, making it both stylish and practical. In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of creating your own built-in cabinets using stock cabinets from popular brands and stores. So grab your tools, roll up your sleeves, and let’s get started on this exciting journey towards more organized living.

From choosing the right cabinets to customizing them for a high-end look, we’ll walk you through each step of the process. You’ll learn how to prepare your space, assemble and install your cabinets, and create functional storage spaces within your built-ins cabinets. Whether you’re working on a living room, bedroom, or home office, we’ve got you covered with tips and techniques to make your DIY built-in cabinets project a success.

Key Takeaways

  • Select the right cabinets for your DIY built-ins considering budget, style and room layout.
  • Consider stock vs custom cabinets to find the best option that fits individual needs.
  • Prepare space properly with accurate measurements and secure assembly of materials for a successful installation of built in cabinets.

Choosing the Right Cabinets for Your Built-Ins

Cabinet doors of different styles and colors

At the start of your DIY built-in cabinets journey, choosing the right cabinets for your space is the initial step. Your budget, style, and room layout are integral factors in selecting the most suitable options for your project. You’ll need to consider:

  • Whether you want to use prefab cabinets or custom-built ones
  • What kind of doors, hardware, and finishes will complement your room’s design
  • The size and dimensions of your cabinets to ensure a seamless fit in your designated space

Using unfinished stock cabinets can be a cost-effective option for your DIY built-ins, as they offer savings compared to custom cabinets. However, keep in mind that they may need a protective coating or enamel paint to prevent damage. When drilling pilot holes for your cabinet hardware, it’s a good idea to use masking tape or blue painter’s tape on the cabinet doors and drawers.

Undertaking this project on your own can result in substantial savings compared to engaging a contractor.

Stock vs. Custom Cabinets

Stock cabinets, being pre-fabricated units available at large retailers and online stores, offer an economical and easily accessible option for your DIY built-in project. However, they come with certain limitations in terms of size and design, which might not fit the precise specifications of your space, such as built-in office cabinets.

On the other hand, custom-built cabinets are tailored to fit the exact dimensions and style of your space, giving you complete control over the design. While custom cabinets provide greater flexibility and customization, they can be significantly more expensive than stock cabinets.

Take into account your budget, room layout, and preferred style to decide the option that aligns best with your needs.

Popular Brands and Stores for Stock Cabinets

When it comes to finding quality stock cabinets, some popular brands and stores include:

  • Ikea
  • Lowe’s
  • Home Depot
  • Menards

These well-known retailers offer a wide range of stock cabinet options, including those with upper shelving frames and upper cabinets. Before shopping for cabinets, make sure you have a design in place, with accurate measurements and a cut list, especially if you’re planning to install an upper shelving frame in a dining room.

Another option for sourcing cabinet options for your DIY built-ins project is Habitat Restore locations. While they may offer suitable cabinets, keep in mind that they often sell the complete set as one, and you might find some scrap wood pieces as well.

Regardless of where you purchase your stock cabinets, make sure to choose a reputable brand and store to ensure the quality and durability of your built-ins.

Preparing Your Space for Built-In Cabinets

Measuring and planning the space for built-in cabinets

Prior to beginning the assembly and installation of your built-in cabinets, appropriate preparation of your space is necessary. This includes:

  • Measuring and planning the layout
  • Addressing any electrical outlets or switches that may need to be relocated before installing base cabinets
  • If you’re using unfinished stock cabinets, make sure to remove the baseboard and any other trim that protrudes into the workspace

A well-prepared space will ensure a smoother installation process and help you achieve a professional-looking finish.

Remember that preparation is key when constructing built-ins, whether it’s for kitchen cabinets or any other room in your home. Taking the time to plan and prepare your space will save you time, effort, and potential headaches down the line. So grab your measuring tape, pencil, and notepad, and let’s get started on making your space ready for its transformation!

Measuring and Planning

A successful built-in cabinets project necessitates precise measurements and a thorough plan. Here are some steps to follow when installing cabinets:

  1. Start by measuring the length, width, and height of your designated area.
  2. Consider any sloped floors or uneven walls that may affect the installation.
  3. Ensure that your new cabinets won’t obstruct regular walkways or impede your family’s needs.

In your plan, include a comprehensive list of all materials required, along with their sizes and measurements for the cabinet. This will help you avoid unforeseen costs and ensure that you have everything you need before starting the project. Don’t forget to account for additional shimming or wood that may be necessary to achieve a perfect fit.

Removing Existing Trim and Baseboards

Removing existing trim and baseboards is an important step in preparing your space for built-in cabinets. Start by creating a line along the baseboard, selecting a point of origin, and tapping a putty knife behind the molding to create a gap. Once you have enough space, pull the baseboard out to remove it completely.

This will ensure a smooth and even surface for your cabinets to be installed against, resulting in a more polished and seamless final product.

Assembling and Installing Your Built-In Cabinets

Building the cabinet base with wood and screws

Now that your space is prepared, it’s time to assemble and install your built-in cabinets. Follow these steps:

  1. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Gather the appropriate tools, such as a powerful drill, shims, and cabinet screws.
  3. Install the cabinets, making sure to check for levelness from front to back and side-to-side to ensure a perfect fit.
  4. Proper assembly and installation are crucial for the stability and appearance of your built-ins.

Once your cabinets are installed, you can start customizing them to achieve a high-end, custom look. From adding trim and molding to painting or staining unfinished cabinets, the possibilities are endless. Let’s dive into some tips and techniques for customizing your built-in cabinets.

Building the Cabinet Base

To construct a sturdy cabinet base, you can use materials such as 2x4s or other wood options. This will ensure that your cabinets have a solid foundation and can support the weight of the items you plan to store inside. Depending on your specific needs and the layout of your space, you might need to build a custom base to accommodate your cabinets properly.

When building the cabinet base, follow these steps:

  1. Take accurate measurements and cut the materials to the correct size.
  2. Use strong wood glue and screws to securely attach the pieces together.
  3. Double-check that the base is level before installing your cabinets.

A well-built cabinet base will provide stability and support for your built-ins, ensuring their longevity and functionality. To achieve this, it’s important to properly install base cabinets.

Securing the Cabinets

Once your cabinet base is built, it’s time to secure the cabinets to the wall and each other. Here’s how:

  1. Use a level and adjust the feet of the cabinets until they are level.
  2. Secure the cabinets to the wall using screws and wall anchors, ensuring they are firmly attached.
  3. When attaching the cabinets to one another, use screws and brackets to provide additional stability.

By properly leveling, attaching, and securing your cabinets, you can ensure a stable and durable foundation for your built-ins. This will not only enhance the appearance of your cabinets, but also guarantee their longevity and functionality, making them a valuable addition to your home.

Customizing Your Built-In Cabinets

Adding trim and molding to customize built-in cabinets

One of the advantages of using stock cabinets for your DIY built-ins is the ability to customize them to achieve a high-end, custom look. With a few simple modifications, you can transform ordinary stock cabinets into stunning built-ins that will enhance the aesthetics and functionality of your space. From adding decorative hardware and altering the color to incorporating trim and molding, there are endless possibilities for customizing your cabinets.

This section delves into various methods and suggestions for personalizing your built-in cabinets, including the addition of trim and molding as well as painting or staining unfinished cabinets. With a little creativity and effort, you can create a truly unique and personalized space that reflects your style and meets your storage needs.

DIY Garage Cabinet

Creating a DIY garage cabinet can be a rewarding project for anyone looking to optimize their garage storage space. A DIY garage cabinet allows you to tailor the design to your specific needs and budget. Whether you want to organize your tools, sports equipment, gardening supplies, or just declutter your garage, building your own cabinet provides a cost-effective and customizable solution. With the right materials, tools, and a bit of creativity, you can construct a sturdy and functional garage cabinet that not only maximizes your storage capacity but also enhances the overall organization and aesthetics of your garage. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps and provide tips to help you successfully complete your DIY garage cabinet project.

Adding Trim and Molding

Adding trim, crown molding, and other decorative elements to your built-in cabinets can significantly enhance their appearance and create a polished, high-end look. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start by determining the desired placement of the trim on the cabinets and marking it with a pencil.
  2. Cut the trim pieces to the necessary length and angle using a miter saw.
  3. Attach the trim pieces to the cabinets using a nail gun or adhesive, ensuring they are properly secured to the cabinet and not the floor.

To address any nail holes or gaps, apply wood filler and sand the trim until it is smooth. For a cohesive look, paint or stain the trim to match the cabinets. With a little time and effort, you can transform your built-in cabinets into a stunning focal point in your space.

Painting or Staining Unfinished Cabinets

If you’re working with unfinished cabinets, painting or staining them is an essential step to achieve your desired color scheme and finish. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Begin by removing the doors and drawers.
  2. Sand the frames, drawers, and doors until they are smooth.
  3. Clean the wood to remove any dirt or grime.
  4. Fill any holes or imperfections with wood putty.

Prime the cabinets to create a smooth surface for paint or stain to adhere to. Apply the paint or stain according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using a brush or roller. Ensure the cabinets are completely dry between coats, and lightly sand them for a smooth finish. Apply as many coats as necessary to achieve the desired color and coverage.

Once the cabinets are dry, re-attach the doors and drawers. With a fresh coat of paint or stain, your built-in cabinets will look stunning and make a statement in your space.

Creating Functional Storage Spaces with Built-In Cabinets

Adjustable shelves for functional storage spaces with built-in cabinets

Beyond their aesthetic appeal, built-in cabinets offer valuable storage and organization solutions for your home. Maximizing the functionality of your built-ins will help you keep your space neat and tidy while also making it easier to find and access your belongings.

This section will delve into various methods for creating practical storage spaces within your built-in cabinets, ranging from adjustable shelves to concealed storage options.

Whether you’re looking to store books, display family photos, or organize your wardrobe, built-in cabinets can be customized to meet your unique storage needs. With a little planning and creativity, you can transform your cabinets into versatile and efficient storage solutions that not only look great but also make your life easier.

Adjustable Shelves

Incorporating adjustable shelves into your built-in cabinets design offers flexibility and allows you to customize your storage space to suit your individual needs. Adjustable shelves can be easily modified when your storage requirements change, making them an ideal solution for versatile storage.

To create adjustable shelves, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the desired height for the shelves and mark the location on the wall or cabinet.
  2. Install the standards or brackets, making sure they are level and securely attached.
  3. Use a drill and a shelf pin jig to create the shelf pin holes at the marked locations.
  4. Insert the shelf pins into the holes on the standards or brackets.

Place the shelves on top of the shelf pins, adjusting them to the desired height. Repeat the process for each shelf, ensuring they are evenly spaced and level.

With adjustable shelves, you can easily adapt your built-in cabinets to accommodate various items and create a personalized storage solution.

Hidden Storage Solutions

Hidden storage solutions, such as pull-out drawers and cabinet doors, can help maintain a tidy and organized appearance while providing additional storage capacity. These concealed storage options are perfect for keeping items out of sight while still being easily accessible. Consider incorporating pull-out drawers, cabinet doors, or shelves with sliding doors into your built-in cabinets to create hidden storage spaces that meet your needs.

When integrating concealed storage solutions into your built-ins, it’s essential to consider the size and weight of the items to be stored, as well as the type of hardware to be used. By carefully selecting and installing hidden storage solutions, you can create a streamlined and organized space that makes the most of your built-in cabinets.

Incorporating Built-In Cabinets into Different Rooms

Built-in cabinets in living rooms for extra storage

Built-in cabinets can be integrated into various rooms in your home, providing both storage and aesthetic benefits. From living rooms and bedrooms to home offices, built-in cabinets can offer a custom and functional solution for any space.

This section will delve into various methods to integrate built-in cabinets into your home, discussing the benefits and considerations for each type of room. By understanding the unique needs and challenges of each space, you can design and install built-in cabinets that not only look beautiful but also provide practical storage solutions.

Let’s dive into some ideas for incorporating built-ins into different rooms of your home.

Built-In Cabinets in Living Rooms

Using built-in cabinets in living rooms offers a stylish and practical solution for storage and display purposes. They can help keep your living room organized while also showcasing your favorite items, such as books, family photos, or decorative objects.

When incorporating built-ins into your living room, consider the layout and design of the space, as well as the functionality and aesthetics of the cabinets themselves. Built-in cabinets can be customized to fit your living room’s unique dimensions, style, and storage needs. Whether you’re looking to create a cozy reading nook or a sleek entertainment center, built-in cabinets can help you achieve the perfect look and feel for your space while providing valuable storage and organization solutions.

Built-In Cabinets in Bedrooms

In bedrooms, built-in cabinets can create functional storage solutions such as wardrobes and dressers. They can help you make the most of your bedroom space, providing ample storage for clothing, accessories, and other personal items. When designing built-in cabinets for your bedroom, consider the size and layout of the room, as well as the specific storage requirements for your belongings.

Customizing your built-in cabinets to suit your bedroom’s dimensions and style can result in a cohesive and functional space that meets your storage needs. From sleek modern designs to cozy rustic styles, built-in cabinets can be tailored to complement your bedroom’s aesthetic and provide practical storage solutions that keep your space organized and clutter-free.

Maintaining Your Built-In Cabinets

Cleaning and dusting built-in cabinets

To ensure the longevity and appearance of your built-in cabinets, it’s essential to maintain them properly. Regular cleaning and dusting, as well as addressing any damage or wear and tear, will help keep your cabinets looking fresh and new.

This section provides advice on maintaining your built-in cabinets, including cleaning and dusting techniques, as well as tips for touching up paint or stain. By following these maintenance tips, you can preserve the beauty and functionality of your built-in cabinets for years to come.

A little effort can go a long way in keeping your cabinets looking their best and providing a stylish and practical storage solution for your home.

Cleaning and Dusting

Proper cleaning and dusting techniques are essential for maintaining the appearance and longevity of your built-in cabinets. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Begin by emptying the cabinets and removing any items stored inside.
  2. Clean the interiors of the cabinets by wiping them down with a cloth dampened with a 50-50 solution of water and vinegar.
  3. For handles, knobs, and pulls, scrub them with a toothbrush dipped in a mixture of vinegar and warm water.

To clean the top of the cabinets, use a scrub brush dipped in a soapy solution. Vacuum or wipe away any crumbs and dust from the shelves and drawers to keep your cabinets looking clean and organized.

Regular cleaning and dusting will help prevent the buildup of dirt and grime, ensuring your cabinets remain in top condition for years to come.

Touching Up Paint or Stain

An image of a person using a paintbrush to touch up the built ins cabinets in a room.

If your built-in cabinets show signs of wear and tear, such as chipped paint or scratches, touching up the paint or stain can help restore their appearance. Start by lightly sanding the chipped areas with high-grit sandpaper and cleaning the cabinets to remove any dust and dirt.

Apply touch-up paint or stain using a small brush or foam brush that matches the existing color. Ensure the touch-up paint or stain is completely dry before using the cabinets again.

With a little care and attention, your built-in cabinets will continue to look fresh and new, enhancing the beauty and functionality of your space.


In conclusion, DIY built-in cabinets offer a versatile and cost-effective solution for enhancing the aesthetics and functionality of your home. By choosing the right cabinets, preparing your space, and customizing the design, you can create a personalized storage solution that meets your unique needs and style. With proper maintenance and care, your built-in cabinets will continue to provide valuable storage and organization for years to come.

We hope this blog post has inspired you to embark on your DIY built-in cabinets journey and transform your space into a stylish and organized haven. With a little planning, creativity, and effort, you can create stunning built-ins that not only look great but also make your life easier. So, why wait? Get started on your DIY built-in cabinets project today and experience the benefits of this practical and beautiful storage solution.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it cheaper to build cabinets or buy them?

Overall, it is more cost effective to buy pre-made kitchen cabinets than to build them yourself.

Although building your own cabinets saves money in the long run, the cost of tools and time can be too great for the inexperienced woodworker.

What are built-in cabinets called?

Built-in cabinets are often referred to as casework and can be customized to fit your space perfectly, ranging from bookcases to base cabinets and bars.

These cabinets can be designed to fit any room, from a kitchen to a living room or bedroom. They can be made from a variety of materials, such as wood, metal, or laminate, and can be painted or stained to match the materials.

Are built-in cabinets more expensive?

Built-in cabinets are generally more expensive than off-the-shelf options due to being customized, sturdy, and well finished.

Can I use kitchen cabinets as built ins?

You can create a custom look by using unfinished stock cabinets as your base for the project. This allows you to easily add additional storage whenever the need arises.

What factors should I consider when choosing stock cabinets for my DIY built-ins project?

When choosing stock cabinets for your DIY built-ins project, consider your budget, desired style, and the room’s layout to ensure the best fit.

Look for cabinets that are made of solid wood or plywood, and avoid particle board or other composite materials. Check the construction of the cabinet boxes, and make sure the drawers and doors open and close smoothly. Pay attention to the finish.

Andrea Michelle Hunter
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