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post #1 of 12 Old 08-24-2013, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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First built-in attempt

Hello, I have some beginner questions that I can't really find solid answers on. I'm attempting to add built-ins on either side of my fireplace. I've attached a picture of the fireplace, as well as a picture I was using as inspiration.

The plan is to buy some base cabinets from one of the home improvement stores, and then build the upper portion from plywood. Regarding the upper portion, when building the carcass, is it necessary to also build a face-frame if I plan to finish with molding, or should the molding go directly on the unfinished edge of the plywood? Plus I was wondering how having 3/4 inch plywood finished with a 1x2 face-frame would look from the inside of the cabinet. Not sure if the "lip" it creates on the inside will look awkward or not. Unfortunately I don't know anyone who has built-ins or where to look in person to find a point of reference.

Another concern is the top; I really want to finish the top edge of the cabinets with crown, but am not sure how high to go with the cabinet, and whether or not to completely frame the top of the fireplace. We do have a TV over the fireplace and I think the cabinet should be at least as high as the TV... which in my case the top edge of the TV is 77" from the floor - and we have 8' ceilings. So if I take the cabinets to the top-ish of the TV, that's probably ~80 inches, and then that leaves me with a little less than a foot and a half to the ceiling, will that look poorly designed? If I take it all the way to the ceiling, and run crown above the TV from cabinet to cabinet will it dwarf the room with the low ceiling?

Finally, will it look awkward or poorly designed if the built-ins are centered on a long wall? That wall is 18' and the fireplace is centered. With the built-ins I would only use ~12' in the center of the wall... Will it look poorly designed if there is the extra 3' on either end at the corner?

Thanks for the help!
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Last edited by bobgodd; 08-24-2013 at 08:48 PM.
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post #2 of 12 Old 08-24-2013, 08:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobgodd View Post
The plan is to buy some base cabinets from one of the home improvement stores, and then build the upper portion from plywood. Regarding the upper portion, when building the carcass, is it necessary to also build a face-frame if I plan to finish with molding, or should the molding go directly on the unfinished edge of the plywood?

Either way will work, applying the molding directly will save some time and work. Paint grade or stain?


Plus I was wondering how having 3/4 inch plywood finished with a 1x2 face-frame would look from the inside of the cabinet. Not sure if the "lip" it creates on the inside will look awkward or not. Unfortunately I don't know anyone who has built-ins or where to look in person to find a point of reference.

After applying the molding on top of the face frame, you would have a recess on the inside and your shelves would appear to begin further back, not flush like the picture.


Another concern is the top; I really want to finish the top edge of the cabinets with crown, but am not sure how high to go with the cabinet, and whether or not to completely frame the top of the fireplace. We do have a TV over the fireplace and I think the cabinet should be at least as high as the TV... which in my case the top edge of the TV is 77" from the floor - and we have 8' ceilings. So if I take the cabinets to the top-ish of the TV, that's probably ~80 inches, and then that leaves me with a little less than a foot and a half to the ceiling, will that look poorly designed? If I take it all the way to the ceiling, and run crown above the TV from cabinet to cabinet will it dwarf the room with the low ceiling?

Leaving a small space would not look good in a low ceiling situation. Because of the rectangular nature of the room, you should go all the way to the ceiling. Proportioning will be critical. 8' ceiling, no larger than 3.5" crown in my opinion.



Finally, will it look awkward or poorly designed if the built-ins are centered on a long wall? That wall is 18' and the fireplace is centered. With the built-ins I would only use ~12' in the center of the wall... Will it look poorly designed if there is the extra 3' on either end at the corner?

At 18' you may have too many cabinets and the room may look cluttered, especially if the room doesn't have the depth to support it. I would delineate a certain amount of space on either side of the fireplace to create the cabinetry to tie it all together. It won't be a built in, but more of an entertainment area. Rugs, furniture placement and perhaps topiaries can be used to accent.



Thanks for the help!

Hope this helps.
p.s. - do you know how to use sketchup? if so, modeling the room and saving it can be a great tool in tweaking designs, especially elevations!!
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post #3 of 12 Old 08-25-2013, 12:22 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by chopnhack View Post
Hope this helps.
p.s. - do you know how to use sketchup? if so, modeling the room and saving it can be a great tool in tweaking designs, especially elevations!!
Thanks for the responses! I guess that makes sense, I never thought of it that way; if I'm not going wall to wall it won't be a true built-in. My 12 foot measurement was an approximation based on 36" prefabbed base cabinets, and the width of the fireplace + new mantle surround that I planned to build to make the mantle appear to be integrated and have that one-piece built-in look with the cabinets. If those measurements hold true it would leave me with 3 feet of dead space on either side that I will have to find a way to decorate somehow. One of those corners is our "christmas tree corner" lol.

We'll be painting the plywood white. My wife doesn't like natural wood looks so white is basically my only option. Do you have a recommendation for plywood?

I definitely agree on the size of the crown. One thing I forgot to mention is that we do not have crown anywhere else in the room... and we might not ever have it. knowing that, still think it'll look ok to put crown on the cabinets?

I haven't heard of sketchup but I just looked it up and it looks like they don't have a version for linux. Pooey.
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post #4 of 12 Old 08-25-2013, 12:45 AM
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LOL, well make sure you leave enough room for the tree, my mrs. would be pissed about that!!

Plywood, get a decent quality cabinet grade plywood. Birch would be perfectly suitable and price would be reasonable. Matching the white can be challenging, you might need to take a sample to sherwin williams for matching. Can you spray?

Crown the cabinets, then crown the rest of the room silly

As for Linux, dual boot and run windows as a second OS then you can enjoy sketchup and all the other progs that wont run in linux.

As for the paint, an oil based might be in order for durability. But use what you are most comfortable with.
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post #5 of 12 Old 08-28-2013, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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Found a different program called SweetHome3D that worked pretty good. Made two different designs and I think wifey and I have both come to decision. Of the two designs, we actually like the one with the lower cabinets that go wall-to-wall.

The depth of the room is 14 ft from wall-to-wall. I think I would plan to make the upper bookcase portion 12 inches deep, and 36 inches wide. The lower cabinets I think I will make 15(ish) inches deep, unless I can find pre-made cabs to fill the space perfectly.

I have another question regarding the top of the bookcase. Since I plan to put molding at the top, should I not put the very top of the bookcase all the way to the ceiling, thus creating a dark inside lip on the top? If I leave the top of the bookcase about 2.5 inches down from the ceiling it should match up to the bottom edge of the molding and make it look more cohesive. Or at least I think it does in my brain lol. Thoughts on that??
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post #6 of 12 Old 08-29-2013, 09:36 AM
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For what it's worth, I like the idea of connecting the two cabinets across the top. If you already building the top cases, building another to span the distance would be no problem. It's also another opportunity for storage.

good luck!
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post #7 of 12 Old 08-29-2013, 02:35 PM Thread Starter
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Just ran into a bit of a snag on the planning phase. Was planning to use unfinished prefabbed kitchen uppers, and build the kick plate for the bottom cabinets. I figured two (2) 36" wide cabinets will fill each side nicely. I went to double check my measurements yesterday (the whole time I just assumed that the fireplace was centered) and found out that the fireplace is actually not centered. There is 77 inches from the fireplace to the wall on the left (when facing the fireplace) and 81 inches on the right.

I would definitely appreciate any veteran tips here on how to eat up that space - especially considering it's different on both sides - without making it look ridiculous. I was planning to build a new mantle and surround for the fireplace to try to integrate it with the wood cabinetry better (picture attached of a similar idea), so I figured that would eat up a couple inches on either side but I still have more space to fill. Thanks for the help!!
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post #8 of 12 Old 08-29-2013, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
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Ok I think we've come up with a solution that makes the wifey happy. Posting this so maybe others that might come across a similar problem, could have a direction to go in. Having the cubbyhole boxes will allow me to make one side longer than the other and the difference might not even be visible.
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post #9 of 12 Old 08-29-2013, 10:49 PM
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Last rendering looks great. Another method to chew up space is with filler strips. Aside from wasting space they are often used to prevent clearance problems in kitchens where cabs are at right angles to each other, providing enough clearance for doors to swing without handles/knobs getting caught or appliances interfering with cab doors,etc.

As for crown, your call - the whole room or just the cases. Personally, I would bring the casework up to the ceiling, leaving a frieze at the top of each case and crown the entire room.

p.s. - check your code required clearances for combustibles from the fireplace!
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post #10 of 12 Old 09-03-2013, 03:15 PM
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Im going to throw my two cents in on a design standpoint...

For the sake of symmetry, size cabinetry to match wall lengths. What's on the right ride? There is no wall/window/architectural detail in your first photo closing the space to the right of the fireplace..? if the gaps between the end of the built in and start of whatever ends on the right are the same on both sides it will give you the appearance of symmetry, so instead of doing 36" on either side, do 36" on one side and a 39" on the other- I know its not exact, but generally pre-made cabinets come in 3" increments. I assume you would do two on each side? It will be close enough. Most people's eyes cant tell the difference between a 36" and 39" cabinet or a 3" or 4" space. Its relative to the length of the discrepancy and the length of the space it occupies- under 10% is a good rule.

The overlap of your facing (1x or molding, or use 1x and route decorative edge) is only relevant on the bottom. Overlaps on the sides (up to 1") and top (as much as you'd like, I have 3" on my built ins to hide down lights) are beneficial, but you do NOT want your face frame to create a lip at the bottom- this always looks bad. The top of the base trim should be at or below the top of the lowest shelf.

If you intend to bring the two outside ends of your built in to the outside edge of your space (ie walls on both sides) and crown the whole room, you have to bring the built ins to the ceiling.

If it were me- and I am a crown moulding lunatic- I use that S&%T like hot sauce- I put it on everything.. I would leave the rest of the room bare, and do a really big built up two or three piece crown only on the built ins and space it about 3" down from the ceiling at its highest point- it will throw really nice shadows, but for this to work, you'd have to do a three piece built in, one on either side of the fireplace and one in the center- where the center piece would be at least as far forward as the side panels and it doesn't look like your plan goes that way. If it will dive back in toward the wall over the fireplace you have to crown the whole space to the ceiling for it to look right. I know you have a wall on the left side of the fireplace, but what's on the right side? Is there a wall there, or does it run into another space, like a dining nook or something?

My only concern is with depth- your fireplace looks like it sits almost flush to the wall... how deep will these purchased cabinets be? I am afraid they will make the fireplace look cheesey... like its stuck on.. it may detract from the architectural element of the fireplace itself, so maybe a wider mantle with a built up edge/frame on the left and right side is in order... a recessed fireplace would look fine if you have some sort of trim work frame to bring it out to the built in. You'll need to address that width difference. I think having the 3/4" wide cabinet edge sticking out from the wall is insufficient for that transition. For the sake of cohesive design you'll need some sort of decorative spacer to address it.

I cant wait to see the finished product.
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post #11 of 12 Old 09-28-2013, 07:12 PM
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What year is your house? The window arrangement looks like a 1970s+ setup.
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post #12 of 12 Old 10-01-2013, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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Im going to throw my two cents in on a design standpoint...

For the sake of symmetry, size cabinetry to match wall lengths. What's on the right ride? There is no wall/window/architectural detail in your first photo closing the space to the right of the fireplace..? if the gaps between the end of the built in and start of whatever ends on the right are the same on both sides it will give you the appearance of symmetry, so instead of doing 36" on either side, do 36" on one side and a 39" on the other- I know its not exact, but generally pre-made cabinets come in 3" increments. I assume you would do two on each side? It will be close enough. Most people's eyes cant tell the difference between a 36" and 39" cabinet or a 3" or 4" space. Its relative to the length of the discrepancy and the length of the space it occupies- under 10% is a good rule.

The overlap of your facing (1x or molding, or use 1x and route decorative edge) is only relevant on the bottom. Overlaps on the sides (up to 1") and top (as much as you'd like, I have 3" on my built ins to hide down lights) are beneficial, but you do NOT want your face frame to create a lip at the bottom- this always looks bad. The top of the base trim should be at or below the top of the lowest shelf.

If you intend to bring the two outside ends of your built in to the outside edge of your space (ie walls on both sides) and crown the whole room, you have to bring the built ins to the ceiling.

If it were me- and I am a crown moulding lunatic- I use that S&%T like hot sauce- I put it on everything.. I would leave the rest of the room bare, and do a really big built up two or three piece crown only on the built ins and space it about 3" down from the ceiling at its highest point- it will throw really nice shadows, but for this to work, you'd have to do a three piece built in, one on either side of the fireplace and one in the center- where the center piece would be at least as far forward as the side panels and it doesn't look like your plan goes that way. If it will dive back in toward the wall over the fireplace you have to crown the whole space to the ceiling for it to look right. I know you have a wall on the left side of the fireplace, but what's on the right side? Is there a wall there, or does it run into another space, like a dining nook or something?

My only concern is with depth- your fireplace looks like it sits almost flush to the wall... how deep will these purchased cabinets be? I am afraid they will make the fireplace look cheesey... like its stuck on.. it may detract from the architectural element of the fireplace itself, so maybe a wider mantle with a built up edge/frame on the left and right side is in order... a recessed fireplace would look fine if you have some sort of trim work frame to bring it out to the built in. You'll need to address that width difference. I think having the 3/4" wide cabinet edge sticking out from the wall is insufficient for that transition. For the sake of cohesive design you'll need some sort of decorative spacer to address it.

I cant wait to see the finished product.
The purchased cabinets would be kitchen uppers.. So they'd be about 12 inches deep. I'm not overly concerned with the depth discrepancy between the fireplace and the cabinets because the inspiration picture I posted in post 1 also has the discrepancy and I don't think it looks terrible. In our case it would be a much smaller difference. Plus there's going to be a new mantle built, similar to the picture in post #7, so that will close the gap even further.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RepairmanJack View Post
What year is your house? The window arrangement looks like a 1970s+ setup.
Yeah the house was built in 1971. Aside from the sliding glass door there are no other windows in that room. Also; 8ft ceiling.
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