Built-Ins Reveal

The built-ins were installed by a local carpenter right before Thanksgiving.  We paid $2,000 for them.  It took 2 men 2 days to install them.  After seeing the work and effort that went into it, I’m still happy with the amount we paid.  Also, they look fantastic and that was the main concern.  I can paint, caulk, finish trim, tile, etc. but carpentry work is not something I’m comfortable doing.

One perk of our custom built-ins is getting to have sconces.  Every set of built-ins I pinned probably had sconces.  I knew I wanted them but I wasn’t sure how possible it would be given we didn’t have wiring for them.  There was also the issue of how to install them so that they could be turned on easily.  At first we thought we’d have to probably run a cord down to the outlet at the base of the wall.  We then thought we’d send a wire through the fireplace wall to the other side to hook them up in series so at least one plug could control all 4.  But it definitely didn’t seem ideal to have to turn them on/off using a plug.  We then considered adding a light switch on the wall of the fireplace opposite of the one that controls the fireplace.  While this was definitely a good option it also wasn’t ideal to walk to the fireplace to turn the light on.

Eric came up with the best idea.  Our ceiling fan is pre-wired and has a separate switch for the light and the fan.  However, the ceiling fan we purchased has a remote and the fan can only be operated with the remote.  So the second switch is not usable.  And because it’s with the other light switches, it’s in an ideal location.  Eric’s cousin is an electrician.  He came out and checked under our crawl space and told us it wouldn’t be too difficult.  So he ran wire up under the subfloor to the light switch and ran it to both sets of built-ins.  He fished the wire up through the wall and stubbed it out of the top board of shiplap on each side.  Sorry no details here because this is pretty much the extent of my understanding of electrical stuff.  We let our carpenter know the diameter of the canopy of the sconces we purchased and he adjusted the face board down enough to allow for the canopy plates.  Once the built-ins were installed, we measured and cut holes in the face board large enough for the wire to pass through the board.  Because of the way our sconces our installed we had to also drill holes on either side so that a screwdriver could stabilize a screw head from behind the board which has a decorative but very functional knob that holds the canopy plate on the wall.  This involved a lot of measuring and remeasuring because we didn’t want to mess up and put holes in the wrong place.  Once we had everything set, we installed the metal plate and the rest of the sconce.  The sconce closest to the stub on each side got installed directly to the stub and the other sconce got wired to it’s neighbor.  We took a long time trying to come up with the best plan for wiring because we knew code was probably to use one of those blue electrical boxes to contain the wiring and esp. the connections but there was just no way to achieve that with the type of sconces we bought.  Eric took extra time to make everything very secure and used u-brackets to secure the loose hanging wire to the wood.  After we painted everything, we installed a pre-painted board using the same technique our carpenter used for the shelves (adjustable brackets).  The board hides all of the wiring but is also removable if we need to access the wiring for any reason.

Another unique quality of our built-ins vs. the builder-version (besides costing $8,000 less) is a middle drawer stack.  The builder-version actually had 2 doors for each built-in.  We thought a 36 inch door seemed a bit excessive – I mean it was massive.  We played around with both a 3 and 4 door option but the 3 door option left us with asymmetric door hardware and the 4 door option made the doors rather small at 18″ or less each.  That’s when Eric had the idea of doing a middle drawer stack.  I got a quote from another carpenter and to add the drawer stack in was an extra $1,000 alone.  The carpenter we went with asked for an additional 500 I believe for the drawer stacks.  So it was definitely not the cheapest option but in the end I think it looks great and gives a custom look.  Something we definitely could not have done if we DIY’d.

After they were installed, I began the long process of prepping them to be painted.  There were a lot of finishing nail holes in each door/drawer where the shaker paneling was installed and there was also some slight gapping in the cabinets wherever two pieces of wood met.  I also needed to caulk all of the seams that met the wall/ceiling. This step took me a solid 2 weeks of working a little each night.  I like to forget how long this kind of stuff takes, it’s never as fast as I’d like.

Next we started painting.  We chose Behr Canyon Wind and I painted a good 2 coats on everything on the left built-in (which was no quick task) and then we stepped back and decided it was too light.  It was definitely a greyish-white and not a light grey like we wanted so it actually competed with the Behr UPW on the shiplap.

So, not wanting to shell out another $50 and 3 hours of painting for nothing, I convinced myself I would go with something tried and true.  And there’s a lot of good light grey options out there but we have a Sherwin Williams near our house so we went with Repose Grey.  It’s hard to tell from the pictures but it was significantly darker than the Behr Canyon Wind (these pictures aren’t the best at conveying that, given the difference in lighting sitches).  

The Repose Grey has a nice warmth to it that feels substantially different from the shiplap color but also complements it.  It also works nicely with the brass.  I’m definitely glad that we decided to go light with the built-ins.  I had at first wanted to paint them navy blue.  Our living room gets a great amount of natural light thanks to having a southern exposure and 3 large windows as well as being open to the kitchen, however, I like that it still feels nice and bright in there despite how massive the built-ins are.  When we picked out our Repose Grey at SW we were already aware of the problem you see in the picture above – where did the fireplace mantel go?  It totally blended in with the shiplap, more so after the built-ins were painted.  So we also picked up a pint of SW Sea Serpent which is a fun navy blue.  It gives me the trendiness of navy blue that I craved but on a surface that is small enough to paint in one sitting (as opposed to a couple weeks like the built-ins).

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