Fireplace Wall Built-ins – Courtney 3

Moving on with Courtney’s story… catch up on her other Sawdust Diaries too: Part1Part 2.

Last night, I put a coat of ivory paint on the base cabinets. And today, I patched the holes in the walls. Let’s just say that drywall repair is not my forte. But I guess the only person who will see it is the person who removes my beautiful built-ins, so they deserve a rude surprise! I finally took off most of the crown molding. It’s not difficult once I got the hang of it, and figured out just how much force to apply to pull those boards off the wall. I moved the bases into place, so I could get an idea of how the finished product will look. And I’m trying not to think about just how much work I still have left. But I love turning on my recessed lighting and looking at what I’ve completed so far.


DIY built-ins


I went to Lowe’s and bought one piece of MDF. My plan is to get one piece at a time, so I’m not faced with the daunting task of getting all those heavy pieces out of the truck. Whenever I have MDF in the back of the truck, I get really concerned about a rain storm passing through. I’d hate to see a sheet of MDF when it’s wet! Speaking of hate and MDF … it’s just so heavy, and makes so much nasty sawdust. I don’t like having to ask for help, especially from the neighbors. But I did end up asking another next-door neighbor to help me unload my sheet onto the paint cans again.


I could maybe do it myself, but I don’t want to risk injury. Then, I cut one cabinet top. I scribed it to the wall for a perfect fit. Maybe it was too perfect (ha!) because I couldn’t get it to fit in between the walls. Times like this, I really wish my 4-year-old were stronger. He stood around and asked questions while I got incredibly frustrated trying to shove that heavy piece into place! Argh! Learning my lesson and going to bed before I do something stupid.


A few days later, I leveled and shimmed the countertops. The countertops are incredibly heavy. They’re pretty much level. I don’t think I can get them any more level. This would be much easier with another person to help! The boys sat on the countertops while I drilled them to help push against the screw.


Countertop clamps


A real indicator of how un-psyched I am to do my project is my Facebook-to-project ratio. Right now I have sooooo much I need to do before my husband comes home from his trip, but I need to check Facebook first!  Cut all the rest of my hardboard backing, now checking Facebook. Built two upper bookcases, now checking Facebook. Every time I think about how much more I need to do, I get overwhelmed. Primed the two upper bookshelves, checked Facebook, and called it a night!

I woke up the next morning and my first thoughts were about ways to get an accurate measurement of where the electrical outlet will come through the hardboard backing of two of the cases. I think I had a genius idea involving painter’s tape and primer 🙂


I worked so hard this past 24 hours. The kids were at Grandma’s; that’s how I was able to get so much done. Today I built the other two bookcases. I put a second coat of primer on the two cabinet tops and the first two bookcases. I painted the two cabinet tops and face frames of the base cabinets. But each time I think about how much more needs to be done, I get totally overwhelmed.


Now I need to try to remove some of the MDF dust that is almost every room of my house and put away all the tools before my husband returns from his trip! And attempt to tidy the garage. Only to get everything dusty when I get back to work on this project.


diy built-ins

Sandra is a brave, brave woman. Her entire house is one big project, and I can tell she loves it! But how does my one bookshelf project disrupt the order of my whole house? When I start to feel like it’s too much, I think about the Sawdust Diaries participants before me. I think about Beckie, having to do 9 cabinets–nine of the same thing; so repetitive! But it turned out amazing. And Malisa’s mud room lockers, with the wall treatment. And how it looks awesome. So I just need to do it, to get it done!


Catch up on Courtney’s other Sawdust Diaries: Part1Part 2.

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5 thoughts on “Fireplace Wall Built-ins – Courtney 3

  1. Chantelle - ThousandSquareFeet says:

    I totally get the “oh-my-goodness-there-is-too-much-to-do-so-I-don’t-do-anything” bit. I have an unfinished master bath, an unfinished flight of stairs, a mudroom waiting for lockers, a basement waiting to be finished – so I eat chocolate and have a bath. You will get there . . . just keep on trucking. It is going to look so fantastic!

  2. Jo @ Let's Face the Music says:

    I’m so glad you’re back building. I have been waiting to see the progress on your most interesting project. I’m sure it’ll turn out amazing and become a favorite go-to example. I know I intend to pin it when it’s done. Any details on tricks and tips you’ve learned would be most helpful. (Unfortunately I don’t have 2 lightweight helpers to sit down on the job.) Lookin’ good. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

  3. […] been following along, you can read all of Courtney’s progress posts here:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.  Courtney did a fantastic job on this project.  I got to see it in […]

  4. […] Wall Built-ins … if you missed some of here story, you can catch up here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part […]

  5. […] Wall Built-ins … if you missed some of here story, you can catch up here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part […]