The Final Reveal of Our Office Built-Ins

Wow. I can hardly believe this day has come. I can officially cross office built-ins off my to-do list because these babies are done! This was by far the most ambitious project we’ve ever tackled and every time I walk into the room I feel an enormous sense of pride. I want to shout from the rooftops, “We built these. By ourselves. Out of wood. Can you believe it?!” I’m pretty sure anyone who comes over to my house in the next month will immediately be dragged upstairs so I can show them off. What can I say? I’m proud!

I’ve taken you through every step in this process. Let’s review them all…Our home office before

Here’s where we started in our office. I had my old desk and file cabinet in here, but not much else. I rarely ever worked here because it was so cold, echoey, and sad!Wall of built-ins

I shared my vision for this wall over in this blog post and I’m happy that we were able to stick to my original design for these. Our base cabinet DIY built-ins

Finn and I then got to work building the base for our office built-ins. We used inexpensive unfinished kitchen cabinets to build the base and provide us with tons of secret storage. We added a budget-friendly countertop, filler pieces on the side, and a toe kick to really give it that built-in and custom look. Wood built-ins

Then, it was time for the most intimidating part of this project…building the custom bookshelves. We were a bit nervous with the angled ceiling, but we were able to figure it out in the end. This was by far the most time-consuming part of the entire project, but we learned so much along the way (and made plenty of mistakes). We finished off the plywood shelves with poplar trim and crown molding to give it a high-end look.Painting our DIY built-ins

Once everything was built, I spent a good chunk of time prepping the wood for paint. I filled nail holes, caulked every seam, sanded every surface and got it all ready for our paint sprayer. We then did one coat of primer and two light coats of paint. Painted built-ins

The color is “Chimney Smoke” by Valspar and it turned out gorgeous (you can read more about the painting process here). It is the perfect deep blue with grayish undertones. Even though I wanted to add the hardware and style these immediately, I waited as long as possible for the paint to cure to prevent any dents or nicks to the finish. This ended up being about ten days of waiting (I tried to wait longer but wanted to get this post ready for you!).

Okay, so are you ready to see them with the hardware installed and styled to perfection??

Our New Office Built-InsOur new office built-insOur office built-ins

Styling our office-built-ins
Our new DIY office built-ins

Adding Brass HardwareBrass hardware from Rejuvenation

I ended up choosing the same hardware that we used in our laundry room makeover. I think it’s nice to have some elements of your home transition from room to room, to keep things looking cohesive. These are the pulls on the drawers (4-inch) and these are the cabinet pulls (4-inch).Brass pullsBrass hardware on navy bookcases

The brass color is stunning next to the dark blue. It really pops and I was amazed after I installed it.

Styling Every CubbyStyling our office built-ins

I’ve styled lots of built-ins over the years, but these just might be the biggest! The cubbies are huge, yet somehow I had enough stuff to fill them! We had lots of books and decor in our storage room and I was so excited to finally get them out.

DIY Playbook Headquarters
Our office built-ins
Elephant bookend

Each shelf has so many sentimental goodies that I’ve accumulated over the years. You can view my tutorial for styling shelves right here, along with stories about everything I have displayed on these.  Office built-ins how to style

Built-In Source List

Honestly, most of the items on these shelves are thrifted, antiques, family pieces, or from HomeGoods, but I’ll list it all out below! I linked each piece if it was possible to link. Also, (because I know someone will ask!), yes, the two gold statues on the built-ins are Emmy awards. I used to work in television and won one in 2014 and the other in 2017. Source list for our office built-ins

Wall Color: Benjamin Moore “Ballet White” // Trim Color: Valspar “Simply White” // Built-In Color: Valspar “Chimney Smoke” // Drawer Hardware // Cabinet Hardware // Chandelier

From left to right; top to bottom: Vase (HomeGoods), Faux Plant (HomeGoods) // Painting (by my grandfather), White Pitcher (my great grandmother’s), Footed Planter (no longer sold) // Frame (HomeGoods), Typewriter (Flea Market) // Wausau Box (Antique) // Wood Bowl & Vase (HomeGoods), Camera (Antique) // Candlesticks (Michaels), Gold Orb (HomeGoods) // Gold Frame, Capiz Frame (HomeGoods), Wood Ball (HomeGoods) // Vase (Lulu & Georgia) // Planter with Pothos Plant // Wood Box (HomeGoods), Elephant (Street Fair) // Basket (HomeGoods) // Jar // DIY Vase, Wood Vase (Target), White Vase (HomeGoods) // Glass Jar (Michaels), Planter, Clock // Letterboard, Vase (HomeGoods), Tray

The Budget BreakdownSmall tray for candles and matches

Now, what you’ve all been waiting for…the budget breakdown for this project. In our condo, we had a large wall of built-ins that are similar to the size of these. I had a carpenter build them and a paint shop spray them. I think I paid about $6,500 total for that. Then, my mom had a different carpenter build and paint the ones in her family room. Those cost $7,000.Our new office built-ins

I asked my go-to contractor what he would charge for these and he told me $6,000. So I would say between $6,000-$7,000 would be a fair estimate if you’re hiring these out. And just so you know, our built-ins are huge….measuring over 12 feet across and 10 feet high.

Here’s my total cost breakdown for building these ourselves. I am only including supplies in this list (no tools), because everyone is different when it comes to the tools they already own, could borrow, rent, etc. So these are just the supplies you would need to buy to build these…

  • 4 Cabinets – $452
  • Filler & Toe Kick – $30
  • Countertop – $60
  • Screws, Liquid Nails, etc. – $20
  • Plywood – $700
  • Poplar Wood – $45
  • Crown Molding – $24
  • Caulk, Wood Filler, Putty, etc. – $30
  • Painter’s Tape, Tarps, Gloves, etc. – $50
  • Primer – $25
  • Paint – $75

Total: $1,511

The Time BreakdownWearing a paint suit for spraying

While I spent many hours shopping and researching, I’m just going to account for the hours we spent physically laboring over these office built-ins. We ended up working on this project for just about every single weekend at the end of January into February. Here are the hours…

  • Installing the Base Cabinets (8 hours)
  • Adding Countertop, Toe Kick, & Filler (6 hours)
  • Building Bookshelves (30 hours)
  • Prepping for Paint (6 hours)
  • Painting Built-Ins (4 hours)

Total: 54 hours of labor

This was our first time doing a project of this nature, so we went slow with every step so we wouldn’t make too many mistakes. So, you might go a lot faster than we did. If we did it all over again, I bet we would shave off at least 10-15 hours of our time.

Our DIY built-insOh boy, compiling all of these hours really shows me just how much time we put into this project. It was a hell of a lot of work, but we honestly enjoyed so much of it (I mean, not every single minute…but we tried our best to have fun). And we both learned a lot and improved our DIY skills along the way. Plus, I can’t even tell you how our DIY confidence has skyrocketed because of this project! Now everything else seems so easy compared to this gargantuan project!

Before & AfterOur home office beforeOur office built-insOur home office before

Our new DIY office built-ins and budget breakdownOverall ThoughtsOffice built-ins makeover

Do I want to go run out and create built-ins in another room, immediately? Probably not right now. I think we need a bit of a break from this project. But would I do it again? Absolutely! We learned a lot, saved a ton of money, and we are so proud of ourselves. I think that’s what I love about the DIY process the most…the feeling of accomplishment.

DIY office built-ins makeover

Yes, there were plenty of moments when we wanted to quit and cry because our house was a disaster and we spent hours and hours working and barely got anything done. But once a project like this is complete, it’s the best feeling in the entire world. If you want to add built-ins to your house somewhere, I highly recommend it! Just be sure to tag us so we can follow along with your progress!

My favorite room transformations

Wall Color: Benjamin Moore “Ballet White” // Trim Color: Valspar “Simply White” // Built-In Color: Valspar “Chimney Smoke” // Built-in decor sources in this blog post // Drawer Hardware // Cabinet Hardware // Chandelier // Wall Mural // Futon // Rug // Desk // Office Chair // Faux Fiddle Leaf // Basket for Fiddle // Gold Planter

Want to see the rest of my office? You can view the entire space here.


Catch Up On the Home Office Makeover

The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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