Projects & Improvements

Before & After: Goodbye Basic Fireplace, Hello Custom Built-Ins

updated Dec 19, 2019
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Project by: Holly
Location: Portland, Oregon

Holly had the perfectly nice fireplace shown above in her new place, but she had a vision of how the room could be really something special and decided to make it a reality. It involved a bit of demo and the building of a bunch of built-ins but it was worth it – the “after” looks great. Check out the step-by-step process:

When we first started house hunting a few years ago, we came across a house with the most beautiful built-in shelves. We didn’t end up in that house, but the idea of those classic built-ins always stuck with me. When we moved into our current house we knew that someday we would remove the poorly constructed mantel and tile job above our fireplace and install the built-in shelves of our dreams.

We demo’d the wall (removed mantel, tiles, hearth and crown molding on the wall). We took a lot of measurements (measured everything three times, to ensure accuracy) and I mocked up a design in photoshop.

I worked with a family friend (a retired HS woodshop instructor) and he built my design in just the matter of a weekend. He built it in three sections (the shelves and the center mantel piece). He then came over to our house and installed them. Shortly after, we painted them white.

It’s amazing what a difference it makes in the space. We have a very small home (1,200 sq ft) so it was important to not intrude on what little space we have. With our new built-in shelves we have extra storage and a beautiful focal point for the whole house.

If anyone is looking to add character to their house without taking up space, built-in shelves are definitely the way to go.

See more of Holly’s style on her blog: Little Miss Holls

Thanks, Holly!

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