Dining Room Built-ins

When I bought my house, it had these built-in cabinets in the dining room area. They look good from far away, but a closer inspection revealed how warped and worn they were:

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They must have been thirty years old, and it looked like every owner of the house since then made some kind of change to them. My wife and I decided to demo them, but we realized too late that the hardwood floors had lightened considerably since the original built-ins were put in. Since the floor we exposed was darker than the rest of the house, and since there was no way we were going to refinish the floors after moving in, we reluctantly decided to build new ones.

Here’s the area after the demo. At this point, we thought we’d be able to find some matching china cabinets to fill the space. If I had known we were going to replace the built-ins, I wouldn’t have repaired (and later painted) the wall:

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Here’s the basic framework. The backboard is made of beaded plywood. I was afraid I’d cut the holes for the outlet and light switch incorrectly and have to go back to the store for another sheet of expensive plywood, but I got it right:

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Here’s another shot after many hours of work:

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This is a closer shot. You can see all the stabilizing bars that had to be carefully placed so the drawers will slide smoothly, the cabinet doors will close properly, and the shelves will hold the weight of all my wife’s china.

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I decided to go with a combination of paint and stain for these built-ins, kind of like our old corner cabinet. Here’s a look after the stain, but before the top cabinets go in:

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Here’s a shot of the cabinets once the framework has been finished, the screw holes have been filled, and the joints have been caulked. I rounded off the lips on the table-tops to give them a more professional look. It was the first time I ever used a router:

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Here’s everything after the first coat of primer. You can see how the medium-colored wood stain will juxtapose the ultra-white paint:

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Here are the built-ins after the drawers, cabinet doors, and molding have been added:

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Naturally, when I look at them now, I only see the flaws. Still, I consider this good practice for future pieces that I would want to keep.

Dining Room Built-ins
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