Fake a Built-In With Prefab Cabinets and Bookcases

With the clever use of ready-made bookshelves and kitchen base cabinets, you can get the look of a custom built-in bookcase at a fraction of the cost.

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Materials Needed:

  • kitchen base cabinets
  • 8' sheet of 3/4"thick paint-grade plywood
  • ready-made bookcase (either tall or short)
  • measuring tape
  • screwdriver or drill
  • level
  • sawhorses
  • pencil
  • circular saw
  • decorative molding
  • liquid bonding adhesive and caulk gun
  • nail gun
  • brads
  • belt sander (or orbital sander)
  • tack cloth
  • 2" angled paintbrush
  • roller handle and cover
  • paint pan
  • quart of semigloss paint
  • 2" wood screws
  • putty knife and wood putty
  • sanding block
  • wallpaper, wallpaper paste and wallpaper smoothing tool (optional)

Take Proper Measurements

Use a measuring tape to determine what size built-in you need. Referring to these measurements, purchase ready-made kitchen base cabinets and bookcases. Place kitchen base cabinets in the proper location then measure to determine the dimensions needed for a plywood top (Image 1). Note: Kitchen base cabinets don't come with a top surface because the countertop is installed separately.

Cut Plywood Top Surface

Referring to measurements, mark then cut plywood to size (Image 1). Tip: Use a level as a straight edge to create a perfectly straight line (Image 2). Place cut board on top of kitchen base cabinets to ensure a proper fit (Image 3).

Sand Plywood and Paint

Before painting plywood top, use a belt sander (or orbital sander) to smooth any rough surfaces (Image 1). Next, use a tack cloth to remove dust then apply several coats of semigloss paint, allowing the paint to fully dry between coats (Image 2).

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