Before and After: A Set of DIY Built-Ins Triples This Entryway’s Storage Potential for $1,600

published Nov 15, 2022
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Before: Bench in hallway

Especially in small homes, it’s important — and often necessary — to look for every little spot to maximize storage. In Astin Hancock’s (@yourlifeiswhatyoumakeit) kitchen redo, she created more storage within the gap between her upper kitchen cabinets and her ceiling, and she’s found a way to maximize storage space once again — this time in her entryway.

Before, Astin says, she had “just a plain ole’ entryway that needed a little TLC,” adding that her “home needs all the storage space it can get.” The bench and hooks before were offering some storage, but Astin knew she could put her woodworking skills to good use here.

An entryway built-in was just what the space needed. Astin started by building a platform and frame for the unit, then completed the two tall cabinets for the left and right sides. Next, she added the upper middle shelving and the bench; finally, she added the trim, cabinet doors, drawer slides, and drawers. Astin chose a neutral look for the assembly, painting her built-ins Alabaster by Sherwin-Williams (the trim is Accessible Beige). To create a little bit of extra dimension, Astin used a sheet of beadboard for the backing. The bench top is made with scrap wood stained in a light grayish tone. (You can watch a hyper-speed version of the project here. Simple, right?!)

During the building process, the first doors Astin made and attached ended up warping because Astin “tried to take a shortcut” by not cutting grooves for her plywood sheets to slide in to the door frames. She simply caulked the sheets on instead, but then they bowed and created gaps where you could see into the cabinetry. “I had to remake them, which cost me more money, but I did it the right way,” Astin says.

What she learned from the experience: “Don’t take shortcuts! Do it the right way to begin with.” Now, the properly assembled doors (and especially the center piece of trim in the middle) are one of her favorite parts of the cabinets.

In general, one of the biggest setbacks of adding the cabinetry was money because the cost of lumber rose between the time Astin had originally priced out the project and when she actually started. In the end, her grand total for plywood and paint was about $1,200.

Astin says she’d do a few things differently if she were to take on this project again. First, she might make the cabinet a bit smaller in scale. “If I did it again, I’d probably make it about 4 inches less in depth,” she says.

Second, Astin would keep in mind the location of light fixture in the entryway, which hangs closer to the built-ins than she’d like. “I love the beautiful beaded chandelier, so I don’t want to replace it with a flush mount light,” she says. “When my husband, Tyler, has the time, he will have to get in the attic and move it to the center of the entryway for me.”

And third, Astin would keep the placement of the electrical outlets in mind. “Make sure you don’t cover up any plugs,” Astin says. “One of my plugs is behind the drawers, but it’s still accessible, and I have an extension cord for it leading into the left cabinet so I can store and charge my vacuum.”

Overall, though, Astin is thrilled with her new cabinetry and its custom details. One detail you might not notice on first glance? The cabinet doubles as a cat playground. Astin’s cat, Ellie, can enter through the lower right side of the built-ins (where her litterbox is), and there’s a cutout in the shelves so she can walk all the way across to the left. “She doesn’t have a cat tree, and you know how cats like being up high,” Astin says.

And most importantly, Astin is glad that her non-feline-friends now have a spot to set coats and purses when they come over — plus she has room to tuck away her own household items. She finished her cozy entryway with gold cabinet pulls, wicker baskets, subtly patterned pillows, a knit throw blanket, and a hanging plant, for a welcoming, organic look. “I can’t tell you how gorgeous these throw pillows are! I’m sooo happy with them!” Astin writes on Instagram. “And not to mention the storage, a place to hide the litter box and all my paint cans!” It’s a win-win-win entryway.