In this tutorial, I guide you step by step on how to make DIY built in living room cabinets around a fireplace.
Even if you don’t need built in cabinets, the DIY tips covered in this build can be used on any woodworking project.
Here are some jump links to the main sections of this post to help you find the information you need quickly.
DIY Plans (PDF Download)
There are several things which are difficult to fully explain with words and images, so be sure to check out the video tutorial below.
Built In Living Room Cabinets DIY Project Plans
If you want to build these DIY built in living room cabinets yourself, I highly recommend downloading the DIY plans.
Furthermore, the digital plans include the following:
- 77 page pdf with photo illustrations and detailed instructions for each step
- Sketchup File broken down into Steps
- Material & Tool List
- Plywood Cut List (PDF Format)
- Visual Plywood Layout (PDF Format)
These DIY built in cabinets were custom built for a living room entertainment center on each side of a fireplace.
To start, some friends of mine asked me to build 2 identical Cypress built ins on both sides of the fireplace for their new home.
Additionally, they wanted the built ins to extend from the floor to the ceiling and have a farmhouse style to match the rest of the house.
Since I had to build these DIY built in cabinets in my shop, it was easier to build them in 3 different sections.
Ultimately, These sections would stack on top of one another to comprise the final piece.
These DIY custom built in cabinets have doors with glass panes, shiplap on the sides, and all black hardware.
So, let’s get started with a list of tools and material I used for this project.
Tools and MaterialKreg K5 Pocket Hole Jig
Pocket Hole Screws
Circular Saw with Track
Circular Saw Option
Pocket Hole Clamps
Cabinet Jig It Drill Guide
Inset Cabinet Hinges
Cabinet Hinge Plate Template
Self Centering Drill Bits
Router Bit for Glass Panes
Black Decorative Bracket
Keep in mind, the bottom section can serve as a farmhouse TV stand by itself.
Obviously, the bottom section needed to be sturdy to bear the weight of the middle and top sections.
I started by ripping 3/4″ plywood to size.
Next, I attached the 2 sides to the bottom piece with glue and pocket holes.
Then, I put the back piece in position and secured it to each side and the bottom with a bar clamp.
After tightening the bar clamp, I spread glue, drilled pilot holes, and used pocket screws to secure the back.
Then, I attached the front and back floor supports using pocket screws and fastened 3 evenly spaced between them.
Additionally, I screwed into them from each of the outer sides.
Bottom Section Insert and Top
The bottom section insert consisted of 2 sides and 2 pieces glued together to form the middle.
This insert lays into the previous section.
Ultimately, this was my own design and I’m sure it’s overkill.
First, I made sure the bottom piece was as sturdy as it possibly could be.
The top laid perfectly on all 4 corners, but I still used a clamp to prevent shifting.
Then, I secured it with glue and pocket screws.
Similarly, I constructed the middle section the same way – with pocket holes, glue, and screws.
Also, this section is twice as tall as the bottom section and has 2 large cabinet doors.
To attach the back of each section, I used 3 1×4’s cut from plywood.
Moreover, this will help provide spacing from the wall in case wires need to be ran down the back.
Of the 3 sections, the top was by far the easiest to build.
Keep in mind, this section was small enough to have 2 sides, bottom, and top.
Lastly, it did not need support in the middle.
My friends were going for the farmhouse style and wanted the built ins to be constructed with Cypress wood with a shiplap pattern.
Since cypress plywood is very hard to find, I decided to use plywood for the cabinet carcass and trim it out with cypress.
Also, I bought the rough cut cypress from a local cypress sawmill and spent many hours milling the lumber.
Cypress Overlay and Shiplap
Since the interior of the bottom cabinet would be visible through the glass panes, I had to cover the interior with Cypress.
Then, I repeated this process for the middle and top sections.
Next, I used a vertical pattern for the middle section.
The vertical pattern conserves the amount of Cypress wood I use.
The cabinets would be installed on each side of a fireplace, so only one side would be visible.
In turn, this is where I installed the shiplap with a 1/8 inch space in between.
To keep things aligned, I used tile spacers and a level as I went up the side of the cabinet.
Ultimately, I didn’t attach the transition piece which would go between each section.
Rather, I simply put it in place, attached the one above it and removed it to install at a later time.
Glass Pane Doors
Surprisingly, the custom built in cabinet doors were fairly easy to build and were solid cypress.
First, I built the middle cross of the cabinet doors by using my dado blade to cut a cross halving joint.
Next, I cleaned up the joint with a chisel, spread glue, and clamped them together.
Then, I built the outer frame and marked where to put the biscuits.
Afterwards, I used glue and #10 biscuits to join everything together.
In total, I made 4 doors for the 2 bottom sections and 4 more identical doors of smaller height for the top sections.
Middle Cabinet Doors
I made the middle doors by first building the outer frame.
First, I used my router with a straight bit to cut a notch on the inside of the frame.
Since these doors needed to be very light in weight, I resawed some shiplap to 1/4 of an inch thick and laid them in the door.
Cabinet Door Hardware
My friends wanted corner brackets on each door.
Obviously, the brackets had no functional purpose, they are only for show.
These brackets are expensive if they are purchased in black.
So, I bought the cheapest brackets I could find from my local big box store and spray-painted them.
Also, I scuffed-up the brackets with a metal wire brush and coated them with 3 coats of black spray paint.
To stay consistent, I made a 90 degree jig to install the brackets in all 4 corners of the cabinet.
Cabinet Door Glass Panes
First, I ordered 32 glass panes for the bottom and top doors from my local big box store.
I picked them up already cut to size the following day.
Next, I used my router to cut a notch for the glass to sit in slightly deeper than the thickness of the glass.
Then, I placed the glass in place and used silicone around the edges. I let this dry for 24 hours.
Cabinet Door Test Fit
To make certain everything fit, I installed the doors using soft close inset hinges while in my shop.
Before hauling the cabinets to the house, I removed the doors to prevent damage and to make everything much lighter.
DIY Built Ins Around Fireplace Installation
First, I recruited my buddy Lester to help me install the cabinets.
These cabinets are extremely heavy.
Next, we put the bottom section in place and secured it to the wall studs from inside the cabinet.
Then, we installed the middle section, secured it, and then the top section.
After about 6 weeks, I reinstalled the doors and the door handles.
This project was a lot of fun and I learned many new woodworking techniques.
However, I severely underestimated the time it took me to complete this project.
Also, I’m grateful for this project as I learned valuable lessons regarding pricing my work.
Would I take on a project like this again in the future?
Yes, for 5x the price I charged for this one. :)
Ultimately, my friends seem very happy with the DIY built in living room cabinets.
I hope this video tutorial provided you with value.