I Painted My Built-Ins

March 11, 2012

My sister came to visit this past weekend and she only comes to visit a few times a year but when she does, great things happen.  Mostly she makes me do what I need to do more of these days and that is take a break from the computer to watch movies and eat cookies on the couch – she’s a good influence.  My sister and I love to watch television or movies together and to the program we always add our commentary based on our strange sense of humor. We are known to bust out in random monologues about things that are completely nonsensical to others but make perfect sense in our little world.

This information is irrelevant to today’s post but I thought I’d share anyway because what’s true is if I hadn’t finished painting the family room built-in cabinets I wrote about a few weeks ago then I’d have absolutely nothing to say to you today other than the marathon session of Downton Abbey Season Two spent with my sister this past weekend was as the kids say “epic” and as the Crawleys might say “splendid” and I’m counting the minutes until Season Three. 

Back to those cabinets. You may recall I desperately wanted to paint the built-ins white because there are no windows in this room and it felt like a cave but a certain person I’m married to was hesitant to do so. Then you faithful readers came rallying to my defense and I was emboldened and so I went ahead, trusting my instincts, and painted them white.  And here’s the best part – my mate who didn’t want to paint them at all at first, actually likes them much better now. I think you will too.

Here’s a glance at the behemoths before I pulled off the doors and painted them.

family room cabinets before

And today.

cg family room white built ins

Much improved I must say.  The cabinets were primed with Zinsser oil based Cover Stain last week.


zinsser cover stain


Then I painted them with two coats of a warm white – Benjamin Moore’s Advance formula in ‘Linen White’ to be exact.

ben moore linen white


Just the paint wasn’t enough – the two inner shelves looked disproportionate to the top shelf so I cut two pieces of pre primed 2 ½” trim (the same we used on these bookshelves) and attached them with a brad nailer to create the illusion of thicker shelves. This is an easy trick for giving your shelving units greater thickness and the shelves are still moveable since the trim is only attached to the front.

brad nailer


You can see the difference below…

thin to thick shelves

I was sad to see the cabinet doors go because I could hide all sorts of games and photo albums behind them, but taking them off forced me to weed through everything we didn’t use and find new places for what was left.  Now I’m loving all that white space surrounding the objects on the shelf – I feel like I can relax and breathe in here now.

cg white built ins left side


And yes those picture frames are empty for now, soon to be filled with family favorites.  I’m also adjusting to the television out in the open too.  I know I was among the minority who hid their TV behind closed doors, but then I realized an exposed TV is more common than not these days so I’ve adjusted to the difference. 

cg family room


Meanwhile, it’s just nice to relax in a calm space that feels a bit more coastal in style and less like the cave it felt like before the cabinets were painted and the doors removed.   

cg family room kids on sofa


Slipcovered sofas are Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams from the Pottery Barn Basic collection (blue slate slipcovers no longer available) – we’ve had them for several years and they are extremely comfortable.  The three Grand Palais mirrors are from Ballard Designs (I painted them white a few years ago); the striped chair was a floor sample on clearance from Macy’s furniture store last year, Silsila pillows from Z Gallerie, baskets from the Container Store, bronze bicycle from Pier One, glass bottles and other collectibles from various sources.

It never ceases to amaze me what a fresh coat or two of white paint can do!



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