Office Built-Ins

We’ve been in our house for almost four years. I thought it would be fun to highlight some projects I’ve completed. So it is Flashback Friday!

The first project I tackled in our new-to-us house was Andrew’s office. It is designed as a bedroom with a deep but narrow closet. The kind of closet you will only find in an older home. Not ideal for a modern day wardrobe, but perfect storage for suitcases, camping gear and about a million picture and art frames that have yet to find a home on a wall. Which is the model closet to have in a home office.

My husband, Andrew, is a professor of English, so he was going to need some shelves. Okay, a lot of shelves. Actually, way more shelves than this one unit. Honestly, I can barely keep up with the book to shelf dilemma that is our life. I’m absolutely not complaining though. I love walls and stacks of books and it may have been a major selling point for partnering up with an English professor.

I had been itching to make industrial pipe shelving that was popular on blogs and Pinterest a few years ago. I love the industrial look. The wall between the closet and hall door seemed the perfect spot. Unfortunately, after buying our first house we were on a strict budget. But that couldn’t stop me.

I diligently went to the ReStores, Goodwills, and secondhand shops looking for a cabinet that would work as the library base. And it only took me a few weeks until I stumbled upon it at a ReStore one town over:

1950’s upper kitchen cabinet

It was the exact length I needed and only $15! I also felt the kismet of this cabinet because it is about the same age as my house and the exact style of the built in cedar cabinet in our hallway. I find it exciting when I can mix the old with the new. Modern and historical. Isn’t that the best thing about industrial design?

So my next order of business was to paint the wall Deep Viridian by Behr. Then I primed the cabinet inside and out with Zinsser Oil Primer Sealer, to block all that 1950 stain, and painted them the same Deep Viridian. Being careful to lightly sand and clean it up with a tack cloth between coats.

Then came the fun to me part. Pulling out my drill and making a base with 2 x 4s. I unfortunately did not document this part, however Jennifer at Making Pretty Spaces showed it on her stories for her kitchen renovation (and the built ins she did for her daughter’s room) and it feels so validating to see someone else do what I did here. Three years ago I was for-sure winging it with what I understood of set building. My insecurities were high then, but three years later I can say this is a great way to build a base for a cabinet.

Then I flipped the once upper kitchen cabinets and set them in their new home:

Andrew took no time making himself comfortable and using the space.

Once I had the cabinet in place I decided on the thickness of the counter. I realized it could handle a heavy counter, both visually to break up the green and physically. I had built a sturdy structure. But remember we were still working on a small budget so I grabbed one 2x2x6, one 2x10x6, and one 2x4x6 and secured them together on the underside with a Kreg jig .

Then I distressed the whole counter and stained it. The three boards making up the counter may seem awkward, however with the varying widths and the distressed application I believe it looks very purposeful. Which it was. And it adds to the industrial charm.

The most expensive part of this project were the metal pipes, connectors, and flanges. Espeially because I did my math wrong the first time and didn’t realize until after I sprayed them and had to buy more. (However I saved so much on the cabinet!) I used

  • 12″ pipes for the uprights
  • 10″ pipes for the bracing
  • T connectors
  • elbow connectors

I screwed the 3 arms of the shelves together and sprayed it all black before attaching them to the counter and wall studs with flanges.

Then I laid 1x10x6s on the pipes and voilà.
An industrial library wall.

And that is where it has stood for 3 years. However it is not actually finished.

I want to change the hardware to a brass. I need to cut, paint and panel the sides. Attach baseboards to the wall. Paint the toe kick. AKA actually finish the project I started over 3 years ago. Which I completely – 98% – plan on doing and documenting in my stories on Instagram in 2020. Follow me there for the riveting drama of attaching hardware, baseboards, and watching paint dry.

I’m heavily leaning toward painting the doors and trim the same Deep Viridian (I’d leave the trim white on the lighter green walls.) The white trim and doors seem stark against the darker green. What do you think?


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