There are several ways to achieve a custom cabinetry on a budget. My favorite way is to use IKEA SEKTION cabinet boxes (like the once’s made for kitchens) with custom made doors. Another IKEA HACK I’ve done are my living room builtin benches you can find here. Building the bookshelves full step by step tutorial is coming soon to Live Abode. But for now a lot of the details can be found here on part 2 of the office build.
Why IKEA Cabinet Boxes?
They have a wide vartiety of sizing options allowing almost complete customization. In my own opinion, compared to a lot of the stock cabinet boxes you can find at home improvement stores, IKEA cabinet boxes are stronger and better assembled, plus they are budget friendly.
You can purchase SEKTION cabinets without doors and the boxes themselves range from $40-100 each.
Cabinet doors can also be purchased through IKEA, but they are laminate doors, and you are limited on design styles that. Well, look like IKEA, and not like an expensive custom builtin. If you are looking for more door options to take your space to the next level. You can get customize sized doors through Nieu Cabinet Doors. These doors are made from the highest quality MDF and professionally painted in a custom color of your choosing. Or you can eliminate decision fatigue and select from one of their curated color palate of 10 tried and true cabinet paint colors. Click here to order your own Sample kit for $15, so you can feel, hold, and see the colors and doors in real life.
For the office partnered with Nieu Cabinet doors in the Shallow style, and in the color calming creme. Nieu Cabinet Doors uses Sherwin Williams paint colors which makes it easy to paint your boxes and face frame of your cabinets by picking up a gallon at your local Sherwin Williams. Here’s a link to the exact cabinet doors I used in my office. They color match to SW 0053 Porcelain which I painted the upper shiplap and bookcases in Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel, satin finish.
Now of course, I am using Nieu Cabinet Doors over IKEA boxes, but you can actually custom build you cabinet boxes and order Nieu doors, or use your existing kitchen or bathroom cabinet boxes and reface them with new doors to update your home. The possibilities are really endless.
Let’s Get Building
Builtin Layout and Cabinet Size Selection
Calculating how big of cabinet boxes and builtins you can build is really just a fun math game. Take the total distance of the wall and start subtracting out the variables that you know and/or need. I know that I want two work spaces where my chair and legs can slide under like a desk and I know my wall is 13 feet wide. Each workspace I want a minimum of 36″ wide, which leaves me with 9′ of cabinet space.
IKEA cabinets come in 12,15,18,21,24,30,36″ wide, but I also wanted my cabinet doors to look as similar in size as possible, meaning I didn’t want a 12″ cabinet door next to an 18″ cabinet door because the 12″ would have looked too skinny. This is entirely personal preference. In the end I selected (2) 30″ cabinets which equates to (4) 15″ doors, and (1) 18″ cabinet with an 18″ door. To help with visualizing and planning be sure to use IKEA’s free cabinet planner.
Assemble Cabinet Boxes and Build Base
Step by Step
- Assemble your cabinet boxes according to the amazing picture IKEA instructions. (they are the best aren’t they haha).
- Place them next to each other and measure the total depth and width. Example: 78″ wide x 24.5″ deep
- Cut your 2×3’s to make a box SMALLER than your above dimensions to allow for a toe-kick. (your cabinets to open without hitting the floor or trim). Example: 75″x20″ are my box dimensions.
- Add support pieces inside the box where each cabinet box ends and the next one starts. Attach the 2×3’s with 3″ wood screws
- Cut and remove baseboard trim with a multitool where the cabinet boxes will sit against the wall. Score the caulk with a utility knife, and use a painter multi tool or a baseboard pry bar to remove the baseboards.
- Use a stud finder to locate studs in wall, then attach the 2×3″ box using 3″ screws directly into the studs.
- Temporarily place your IKEA boxes on top of the wood box. Position your IKEA SUSPENSION RAIL at the height of your cabinets and mark the wall.
- Remove the cabinet boxes and install the suspension rail into the studs. The suspension rail is how you keep your cabinet boxes in line and level with each other. And how to you secure the boxes to the wall (follow IKEA instructions while using your level and speed square to verify).
Build a Custom Hardwood Desktop
There are a LOT of options when it comes to adding a desktop over your cabinets.
-Premade Tops: Order quartz, granite, butcher block, or laminate counters the length of the space, or combine two. This method is easy, but can also be extremely expensive depending on the material. In the end you are going to have a high quality work surface that is beautiful. But this option wasn’t for me.
**If building a desk with SEKTION cabinets. Be aware that once you add the desktop and the base the total desk height will be TALLER than a traditional desk. If you DON’T want it counter height (34-36″), but desk height (28-30″) then you need to.
1. custom build your boxes
2. Cut down the height of each cabinet box before you assemble them.
If you keep them counter height like mine, you’ll need to change your chairs:
1. use counter height bar stools
2. drafting chairs or
3. Buy an extension for your office chair to make it taller (this is what I did and I love it).
I opted to build a desktop from hardwood I found at MacBeath’s Hardwood, my go-to local lumber yard found in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City. They frequently have monthly specials and have over 170 species of hardwood and hard plywood to choose from at prices that knock big box stores out of the freaking water. So for this desktop I ventured up and was 70% committed to getting White oak… and last minute switched to European Beech hardwood to save myself $100 and to attempt to try something new. In hindsight, although the Beech is gorgeous and turned out fantastic, it was the BIGGEST pain to work with… and not being a professional woodworker, I probably won’t work with it again.
I purchased (6) 10′ boards of European Beech 1×8″ (or 0.75×7.5 actual dimensions) for just under $250… If you want an even cheaper option you can purchase 2 sheets of 3/4″ plywood and double layer them, or use some pine 1×8’s which will save you maybe close to $75… but trust me when I say, selecting a hardwood like White Oak, Ash, Alder, Red Oak… is going to be SO MUCH PRETTIER and worth the extra cost.
Assembling the desk, I used the same process as I did for this Herringbone L shaped desk. Theres a full step by step tutorial for attaching the boards on this blog post, but instead of turning the boards to fit an L corner, I kept them straight to span the entire 13 foot wall. The only difference is I made the front lip of the desk 3″ thick, and backed the rest of the desk with inexpensive 3/4 plywood. The left and right sides of the desk have scrap Beech 1×3″ secured into studs to keep the desktop level and attached to the cabinet boxes with 1 1/4″ screws from inside the cabinet up through and into the wood.
Staining the Desktop
I went through 7 different stain combinations, oils, white washing, waxes and more, sanding the entire desktop down each time before throwing up the white flag and surrendering that Beech hardwood does NOT accept stain evenly or well. After sanding back down to natural wood I applied 3 layers of General Finishes High Performance topcoat in satin finish, my go to sealer… which I probably should have done from the beginning, but you live and you learn.
Attaching the Cabinet Doors
Once the desktop was in place it was time to attach the cabinet doors using full overlay hinges. Cabinet hardware I found on amazon, and LOVE the classic, timeless brushed bronze color and shape. Tip: use playing cards, I prefer 6 stacked together, to space your cabinet doors from the desktop to make sure they are straight and aligned.
Building the bookshelves full step by step tutorial is coming soon to Live Abode, but for now a lot of the details can be found here on part 2 of the office build.
Be sure to follow along on Instagram @honeybuilthome for more behind the scenes on all projects and if you are a beginner looking to learn how to use power tools and create your own projects in your home check out my course, DIY Beginner Basics and use code: HONEYBUILT10 for 10% off!!
Shop the office
Bookcase Trim 1×10
Bookcase Trim 1×2
Cabinet Doors: Shallow Calming Creme
Bookcase Trim 1×4
Bookcase Paint: SW 0053 Porcelain Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel Satin Finish
Shiplap Accent Wall Paint: SW7048 Urbane Bronze Emerald Acrylic Matte Finish
Leather Woven Chairs
Vinyl Fabric on Pin Board: Joanns
Foam Insulation for Pin Board
Flush trim router bit
*if decor isn’t linked it was purchased in store at Hobby Lobby.