Shiplap Built-In

April 8, 2020

I'm Joey, the creator & founder of Beach House for Six. I believe your home should be beautiful, approachable & a true reflection of your family. 

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Oooh, I love shiplap. I believe Joanna Gaines opened so many doors for shiplap on her HGTV show, Fixer Upper. She showed us how it can be used in so many different styles of homes and not just your traditional farmhouse. Shiplap has exploded in the design world and I hope to use it minimally to add just enough of texture. Wall paneling of any kind can add a lot to a room done the right way. It provides interest, warmth, and can be a statement for the room allowing other furniture to play a lesser role. I also love at the same time it can communicate age, culture, and hospitality.

Here I have showcased this built-in with a Modern Coastal vibe. Trying to keep the lines very simple and not overdoing it on the trim work but adding a touch of coastal with the décor. Being that we live at the beach and spend time there daily really makes sense for us to keep some coastal interest. It tells our story well, simple yet inviting. I believe the décor communicates a relaxed feel, as when you are at the beach. We hope to communicate “come in with your sandy feet”.

Before Photos

Everyone appreciates a little backstory and seeing the starting point. For me, this is the most exciting part of redesigning a space. Taking something raw and creating by playing around with furniture, décor, or textiles. The design begins to come together slowly and continues to be tweaked with little touches that can make it uniquely yours. Although we started with some inspiration photos, I always deviate to create my own piece that fits my space better. Like with my cooking I will take multiple recipes and pull a little from each one until I achieve the desired taste. For me being functional for my family to enjoy and is visually pleasing is important. But enough of that here are some before:

The first photo is the original of when we first purchased. The room was dark and very long.


We went through two remodels and I lost pictures from the first one. When we first moved in we put windows on each side of the fireplace. In 2017 we began our addition with SK7 Design. We removed the fireplace, added a foyer and front office/sunroom and repositioned the front door.

Design with Intention

As always you will run into snags and have to change as you go in some cases. My goal is always to consider comfort, other people, and my large family when designing a space. As you can see in the above photo when we did the remodel the TV wall we had originally planned didn’t work out after all. It was offset from the room and very far from the couch so it could be seen from the outside street. Not wanting to invest in a massive TV or loose our open feel with all our windows we opted to move the TV, turn the room, and create a cozier and more private space. We incorporated a sectional in front of this built in to allow for seating for everyone around the room and centered the entire space so as to not feel as if you were leaning to watch tv. It works better to accommodate all six people in our home and leaves some room for guests too!

You can see here the tv unit is offset from the room and my son is in the favorite chair!

Living with what you got!

Even after the remodel, we lived with old furniture for 2-3 years. We had to save and recover from the cost of the remodel and honestly I was exhausted after. I have a blog post I am working on this process from start to finish. I am glad we waited to start spending money. We lived with the furniture in different configurations in the room which gave me a good idea of how new furniture needed to function. Again, for more on functionality and designing a room on a budget see my blog post, “How to Plan/Design a room on a budget.”

2016- We decided on this configuration with old furniture first

Time To BUILD!

I researched so many Pinterest photos and had a few inspirations. Chris loves Julia, Heart and Haven, Studio McGee, and Pure Salt Interiors all had built-ins similar to what I was looking for and I used this as a starting point to create our own design.

We started off by researching the least expensive way to build this. Some of the above designers had them custom and some did a variation of part Ikea/part custom. We measured the wall and knew we were working with minimal space. We had to contend with a window at zero degrees on the right and on the left an arched walkway. After measuring and measuring and measuring, we still came up about 6 inches too long when all was said and done. We decided to shift the unit left off the window and opted to fill the space to the left side with a plant or build the wall out slightly if it really drove us crazy. But since you can’t move a window it was a shift to the left.

We purchased the cabinets from Ikea and this was the Besta Unit. I liked that I had some versatility with Ikea on shelves, door fronts, depth, width, and so on. Not wanting to shiplap the entire unit as in some of my inspiration photos, we decided to just buy all the cabinets rather than try to contend with a wonky ceiling and custom build. We brought all three pieces into the room and let them sit for a few weeks to see how it felt before we started to attach it to the wall.

As you can see in the photo having the middle unit on the floor really cuts off the room. Being that it was a small room, attaching it to the wall and allowing for the floor to be seen opened it up and made space feel much bigger. If you have a small room and want to incorporate this trick it really works.

Attaching it to the Wall

We quickly discovered why people who buy Ikea and try to build with it throw wrenches. Although affordable it isn’t something you make mistakes with and start over. Once that nail or screw is placed, it is not going to be moved without destroying part of your cabinet. Something to consider.

Look how much the floor opened up by raising the cabinet

The Besta unit comes with brackets that you can use to anchor this unit but they are useless and will not hold up the test of time. Quickly my smart hubby came up with an idea to place a 2″ piece of wood (the length of the cabinet) anchored into the studs on the wall that the top of the back lip would rest on. He also placed one on the bottom that the bottom of the cabinet would rest on. This would support a lot of the distributed weight on the back of the cabinet.

Next, he used L- shape brackets that he purchased from Lowes to attach the cabinet from the inside to the wood brackets he anchored. This will make sense if you purchase this cabinet. There are holes already in the backside of the cabinet for attaching to the wall. I have pictured below how he attached the inside and the screws he used. Don’t forget to cut out your outlets as well. He cleaned this one up but just punched a quick hole to expose it before anchoring completely. With doors, you don’t see this.

Attaching the sides

Because we live in an old beach house that sits on a raised foundation all my floors, walls, and ceilings are not perfectly level. Just leaving the side cabinets on their own was not an option. They did not lay flush against the side of the unit. If this is the case with you then you will need to begin by leveling the cabinets first to the bottom of your floor and screwing them together as pictured.

Next, you will need to use a long level and level the cabinet vertically. Our floors were really off so we had to shim it before leveling and both cabinets ended up being a different distance from the back wall. Don’t worry this can be hidden with your shiplap or trim.

Shiplap and Trim work

Finally getting to the good part. We decided to keep it simple with the shiplap being that this is a small space. In other inspirations, I had seen the cabinet was completely wrapped in shiplap. Although pretty I felt it would be too busy in this room.

We placed the first board slightly behind the cabinet as this side had a large gap from the wall and we needed to fill it. Using a level, we made sure each vertical slat was level. As we went along, we continued to measure our cuts knowing the wall got taller as we worked from right to left. I highly recommend only cutting a few at a time, measuring, and then continue. We had to adjust our cuts by 1/8 of an inch. Since I wasn’t doing trim at the top, I wanted it to fit flush into the top of the wall.

When we reached the end we had to rip two pieces to finish but once caulked it all blended and you cannot tell at all.

Lastly, we installed the molding at the top of the side cabinets. Rather than holding the molding the to top of the unlevel wall, we leveled the molding to the edge of the cabinet and then fastened. This took two people as shown.


Finally, the last step is to finish off with caulk, patch, and paint! Whew were getting there. After this being deleted once I want to make it to the end as much as you. Note to self- save as I go!

For large gaps, you will want to use caulk. It’s fairly simple just make sure you have a wet sponge to wipe as you go. I caulked the ceilings, and where the cabinet attached to the sides and the wall. Once this step was done it looked like one complete piece. Let this dry and do not sand this.

You will want to patch all the brad nail holes from the nail gun. Just a simple quick drying one is good. Let it dry about 30 minutes and lightly sand until your patches are smooth.

Paint your shiplap the color you want and you are finished! We used Home Depot Behr paint called Shoelace. It is not a bright white but more subtle and slightly grey. It really does look like a shoelace. Bright white trim can still be seen against it but is very subtle in contrast.

We opted to buy the Besta door fronts and hardware as well as shelves. Building this custom or ordering custom cabinets was a lot more expensive. I will eventually place a piece of wood trim on the front of the shelves to make them 2″ and have a nice white oak finish. Take your time and don’t feel like you have to rush, lots of mistakes can be avoided. Rather than rush a copy of a photo, live with it. It may surprise you the ideas you come up with in the waiting.

I am so thankful if you have read to the end and hope this gives you some inspiration for your small space, built-in, or whatever project your working on. Please subscribe with me below I am always uploading easy DIYs, home design, fashion, and yummy food on the blog.

Love to you,


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