Built-in China Cabinet

Convert closet space into that piece that's been missing from your dining room.
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A built-in china cabinet could be the perfect answer for a living room lacking space.

A built-in china cabinet could be the perfect answer for a living room lacking space.

Many dining rooms are constructed with only enough room for a dining table and chairs, with little space left for a china cabinet. Here’s a solution: Put it in a closet.

Note: This project takes several days to complete and costs about $330.

Materials and Tools:

pry bar
utility knife
keyhole saw
pneumatic nailer
finishing nails
circular saw
150-grit sandpaper
pneumatic stapler
wood glue
cabinet-grade plywood




1. Remove the closet door and any shelves. Remove any shoe molding and baseboards. Remove the door casing and doorjamb from the opening.

2. To obtain proper width, you may have to remove some wall to match the width of the closet. If you’re dealing with a load-bearing wall, consult a contractor. To extend the opening by removing the drywall from the 2-by-4 stud, cut through the drywall with a utility knife and then pry away with a pry bar. Cut through the drywall on the inside of the closet with a keyhole saw. Cut away the 2-by-4 and remove.



3. Add 2-by-4s to the rough opening on the side and top with a pneumatic nailer to proportion things out. Add a jack stud to the side that was expanded. This will finish the framing of the opening.

4. Cut plywood to size for the interior sides and back of the opening. Sand each piece. This is a good time to clarify your cabinet design (the number of drawers, whether you would like drawers, etc.). Assemble the cabinet structure by using wood glue and a pneumatic stapler. You’re essentially building a box that will fit inside the opening to your specs. You will also add any shelves at this point.



5. Add 1-by-6 trim on each side of the opening so that there’s an overhang that will fit against the walls around the opening. Once you’ve secured the trim on both sides, add an arch at the top of the cabinet. Attach 1-by-6 trim at the base of the unit. A piece of 1-by-2 on the shelves will also add a nice touch.



6. Before securing the unit to the wall, make sure it’s plumb and level. Secure with finishing nails driven through the trim and into the wall studs. Then begin working on the trim pieces, beginning with plinth blocks at the base.



7. Attach the molding along the sides, followed by rosettes and any decorative carved molding you would like to add. Patch any drywall that might be exposed. Fill nail holes with wood putty, and give the entire unit a light sanding. Wipe with a clean, dry cloth.

8. Prime and paint the wood surface. Attach standards for shelves and doors (if you have doors). Place shelves last.

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