I have had so many comments and emails from readers wondering how we created our built-in counters and shelving for my new office/craft room revamp that I wanted to dedicate a post just for ways to create built-in shelving and cabinets on a tight budget. I had a very small budget for my built-ins and since I hired a contractor for this bigger job, I needed to minimize the time that he spent on project overall.
If you can believe it, all of my built-ins and counters for this space cost me around $800.00 (including contractor labor and materials) and they all went up in less than 6 hours total! I know it sounds crazy but because we used inexpensive pre-made unfinished stock kitchen cabinets from Lowe’s and we used standard size plywood (no special cuts were needed), I saved so much money and time.
If you have always wanted built-ins for a specific space but thought it would be way to expensive to have it done, this post is just for you! If you’re open to using inexpensive pre-made stock cabinets and planning your space around standard width sizes of wood/mdf, creating customized built-ins is very affordable!
Just so you get a better idea, here is a picture of all of the inexpensive stock cabinets that I purchased from Lowe’s that were the base of my built-ins and wrap around counters:
As you can see in the shot above, I purchased one large double door base cabinet, two single door bases and one double door upper. The total cost for the four cabinets was around $350.00! For instance, the largest stock cabinet that I purchased was this unfinished 23 inch depth double drawer cabinet for $139.00:
Also, because we designed the built-ins based on standard width sizes of plywood and standard wood shelving boards, no labor cost was spent cutting down the wood. We also used the wall itself as the backing of the cabinets instead of wood to save even more money. By keeping all of this in mind as we designed the layout, we saved so much time and it seriously made this project so inexpensive.
My contractor simply built the shelving on the floor ahead of time and just attached the whole frame on the wall:
He did the same thing for my media built in and built the frame and shelving ahead of time and then just attached to the wall. I couldn’t believe it but he built this piece in less than 45 minutes! It would have taken me a month:
For the media center, we used standard 12 inch width wood specifically for shelving so there was no extra cutting needed:
For my countertops, we just purchased a plywood sheet and my contractor cut it down to fit.
I knew on the front end of this project that if I planned the design with all of this information in mind and worked closely with my contractor for ways that he could save time, the built-ins could be affordable. The other thing that I did on the front end is that I asked my contractor to work on my project on days that he needed to fill an hour or two. In other words, like all contractors, he has so many big renovations that he works on that sometimes he has to wait for tile/flooring to dry or for product to come in that he has a couple hours here and there that he needs to fill.
Because I was willing to be patient to save money, my contractor would sometimes bring his whole crew (loved those days) to fill an hour or two but only charge me for his time, because his crew was being paid on other projects and had to wait any way. If you do not have a big project and you are willing to be super flexible (I know it’s hard) and ask that your project be done when they have an extra hour or two, chances are that your contractor will make your flexibility worth the while. I always do this whenever I hire a contractor and it has always paid off for me.
I hope someone out there can use this information and can see now the creating built-ins and shelving does not have to be a $5,000.00 investment. If you have always wanted them but thought they were unaffordable, I hope you will not rule it out and consider my suggestions for creating your dream space and cutting down the costs.
By the way, on Monday, I shared my paint color palette for this project. You can get to that post by clicking the image below:
Thanks for hanging out with me today friends!