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DIY Built In Cabinets for the Kitchen

Learn how to install DIY built in cabinets with stock cabinets and a countertop cabinet for the kitchen (or any room) to add storage from floor to ceiling in a beautiful way!

Our kitchen really needed more storage and counter space for small appliances like our microwave.

To fix this problem, I knew custom DIY built in cabinets from floor to ceiling would be the perfect solution to maximize storage space in an empty nook between our kitchen pantry and dining room.

diy built in cabinets with butcher block and DIY countertop cabinet

Since we moved into our new house, we had been using our old DIY TV stand for extra kitchen storage and counter space in the nook. This temporary setup was constantly stressing me out every time I looked at it so the custom built ins became our first new house project we tackled!

Here is a look at the BEFORE:

kitchen nook before builts ins with old tv stand and kitchen stuff disorganized
BEFORE adding built ins


how to build built in cabinets with butcher block countertop and appliance garage

How to Make Custom Built Ins Faster and Easier

As I shared in part one of these DIY kitchen built ins, we bought stock cabinets with drawers for the base to make this project much quicker and easier. Then, we built the upper countertop cabinet to be a custom size with a kitchen appliance garage DIY too!

Also, we made it quicker and easier by purchasing the doors premade and ready to go in our custom sizes needed. I’m sharing more details on these doors in step #15!

Now that this project is complete I am sharing the full step by step tutorial below on how we built these DIY built in cabinets!

Built in Cabinets Dimensions

Just like our bathroom DIY built in shelves and cabinet and DIY built in cabinet for our entryway, and DIY built in office cabinets, the built in measurements can vary based on your actual space. So I won’t be including measurements or exact quantities of supplies, but I will show you how to actually build it!

For reference, the final size of our kitchen built ins are about 96″ tall x 25″ deep x 52″ wide (I have a diagram in step #1 below showing more dimensions).

Kitchen DIY built in cabinets with stock cabinets and DIY counterop cabinet

Note, this post contains some affiliate links. For more info see my disclosures here.

DIY Built in Cabinets for the Kitchen Video:

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I have two videos showing all of the details on how we built our DIY built ins with stock cabinets and how we problem solved all of the issues we came across! Check out part 1 for steps 1-7 and part 2 for steps 8 – 16 and the big reveal!

The final part 3 includes a tutorial and video on the installation of our DIY appliance garage.

  1. Watch PART 1 of Adding More Kitchen Storage with DIY Kitchen Built-ins
  2. Watch Part 2 of our Kitchen DIY Built In Cabinets and the big REVEAL!
  3. Watch Part 3 – DIY appliance garage
Watch the kitchen DIY built ins video on YouTube

How to Build Built in Cabinets:

Note: Material quantities will vary based on your actual built in dimensions!



*I prefer to use this formaldehyde free plywood that is also pre-sanded!

1. Determine the built in cabinets dimensions and design

Measure the wall space your using for your built in to determine your built in dimensions and how much material you will need.

First, I sketched out my design. To make sure that I wasn’t making any mistakes with my calculations, Brandon and I transferred everything over to SketchUp.

sketchup design with measurements of kitchen DIY built in cabinets

The bottom stock cabinets have a full overlay door, but because my upper cabinets will have a face frame, I did a partial overlay door on the top cabinets and pantry garage.

2. Remove the baseboard and crown molding from the wall

We used our Dremel tool to cut the baseboard where the base cabinet will start.

cutting baseboard molding with dremel tool

To remove the existing baseboard molding, score the top and corner caulk lines with a utility blade. Then, use a prybar and hammer to remove the baseboard from the wall.

molding removed from empty wall nook

We also removed crown molding at the ceiling where the upper built in cabinet molding will end.

crown molding cut for built in cabinet

3. Install the base cabinets for the DIY built ins with stock cabinets

In order for the cabinet door next to the wall to open, there needs to be trim between the wall and door of the DIY built ins with stock cabinets.

Since we couldn’t attach the stock cabinets directly to the wall, we installed 2x4s into the wall studs with 3 1/2″ self tapping screws and trimmed them out with pre-primed 1x2s.

When installing the 2x4s and 1×2 we made sure the front of the 1×2 with the 2×4 behind it was going to line up with the front edge of the stock cabinet frame opening (not the door).

So, the front of the 2×4 was about 23 1/4″ from the back wall, leaving 3/4″ from the front (for the thickness of the 1×2 trim) for our 24″ deep cabinets.

adding 2x4s to wall stud
installing stock base cabinet to wall and 2x4s

Our 12” cabinet was not going to hit a wall stud along the back, the wall stud was falling right in between the two cabinets where the trim was going, so I used a 2×2 attached to the wall stud and two cabinets.

Between the 36″ and 12″ stock cabinets we used 2″ screws into the 2×4 and 2×2 into the 36″ base cabinet. For attaching the base stock cabinets to the back wall studs, we used 3 1/2″ screws.

Also, our walls were not square so we used wood shims to install them squarely. And Brandon cut the tops of the shims off with our Dremel.

See our stock cabinet installation in action in the DIY kitchen built ins Part 1 VIDEO!

4. Cut the butcher block countertop to size

Cut the built ins countertop to size with a table saw or circular saw and straight edge guide. Or buy the countertop at the size you need.

stock cabinets installed on corner wall with unfinished butcher block cut to size on top

For the countertop of the built ins, you can use any countertop material. I used butcher block because I love the warmth and character of it for a built in and it was perfect for providing a sturdy countertop for our large countertop cabinet!

Note, if your walls aren’t square like ours, you can cut the butcher block at a slight angle for a snug fit so you don’t have a large gap to fill.

Check out the kitchen built ins part 1 video for more details about our butcher block and how we cut it!

If you still need to finish your butcher block (like us), wait to install it until it’s finished (see step #9 for how we finished ours).

5. Build the top cabinet box frame for the DIY built in cabinets

We used 3/4″ thick plywood for the upper countertop cabinet box frame (the carcass of the cabinet). I’m calling this part a DIY countertop cabinet but it’s basically a DIY hutch!

Cut the plywood to size and add pocket holes

We had some of our 3/4″ plywood cuts made at the home improvement store and the rest we made with our circular saw and straight edge guide.

We used the scrap boards of the 3/4″ plywood for the back boards of the cabinet frame. These back boards don’t need to be a full sheet of plywood to keep the weight down of the cabinet. And I used them for screwing the cabinet into the wall studs.

Use a Kreg Jig to drill pocket holes into the plywood top, middle, and back boards for easy assembly of the upper cabinet frame.

plywood cut with pocket holes for built in frame

Wall Outlet for the Built in Cabinet and Appliance Garage

Before assembling our cabinet frame together, Brandon went ahead and marked and cut a hole in one of the plywood sides with a jigsaw for our wall outlet. This is the outlet that we are going to use inside of our kitchen appliance garage DIY so we didn’t want to cover it up.

At this point we realized that our appliance garage hinge needs to be installed right where our wall outlet is located. So, Brandon’s dad came up with the idea to move the wall outlet back and he helped us do that! I like it further back too!

wall outlet moved to back of wall
plywood side of built in with hole cut out for the wall outlet

Assembling the DIY hutch countertop cabinet

We assembled the DIY hutch cabinet box together for the DIY built in cabinets with wood glue and 1 1/4″ pocket holes.

assembling the top of the built in cabinet together with long clamps
assembling the top of the built in cabinet together with long clamps

The back support boards were attached last and I made sure to face the pocket holes towards the wall side to keep them hidden.

assembling the back of the built in cabinet together with pocket holes

After initially assembling our cabinet frame together we realized it was not square.

top of the diy built ins constructed with stock cabinets on the bottom

To fix this we added a middle support shelf with pocket holes (it’s not as deep as the other middle board). We used 1/2″ thick plywood that we had on hand but ideally I would have used 3/4″ plywood again.

If I built this shelf again I would have added the extra middle shelf board in from the start. This is the largest cabinet we’ve ever built so it was a big learning process and the extra support shelf was needed for keeping things square!

top of built in cabinet assembled with plywood and pocket holes before installing to wall

6. Install trim and toe kick on the base cabinets

At this point, the 1×2 trim boards can be installed over the 2x4s on the base cabinets with 1 1/4″ brad nails and a brad nailer.

The toe kick can be installed along the bottom of the base cabinets with brad nails too or Liquid Nails.

diy built ins with stock cabinets installed with 1x2 side trim and toe kick

7. Build the face frame for the top countertop cabinet (DIY hutch)

For the face frame of the countertop cabinet we used 1x2s for the sides and middle and a 1×4 for along the top.

Drill pocket holes with a Kreg Jig into the middle and top boards.

boards cut with pocket holes for the face frame

Assemble the face frame together with wood glue and 1 1/4″ Kreg screws.

assembling the face frame with clamps and kreg screws

8. Attach the face frame to the cabinet

Originally, I was going to use wood glue and brad nails to attach the face frame to our DIY built in cabinets. But, then I realized that because we will be hanging the doors from the face frame with face frame hinges, we really needed a strong and sturdy connection.

To install the face frame, Brandon added some pocket holes to the sides, top, and middle boards of the cabinet frame so we could use Kreg screws into the face frame with wood glue. We drilled them on the sides that would be hidden.

adding extra pocket holes on side of cabinet for face frame attachment

If I had thought this through more from the beginning I would have added the pocket holes to the plywood before assembling the cabinet together. ***Tip: Learn from my mistake and drill these pocket holes in step #6 before assembling the cabinet frame.

face frame attached to the upper built in cabinet

Face frames on cabinets look so nice and custom! I always include them on my DIY cabinets, like our DIY garage cabinets and custom built in cabinet for our entryway.

9. Stain and seal the butcher block countertop

I tried many different samples tests out on our butcher block to get the best finish that wasn’t blotchy since this butcher block was turning out very blotchy even with a pre-stain wood conditioner.

Check out the built ins kitchen part 2 video to see more about these test samples and the step by step of how I finished the butcher block!

To finish the butcher block, I first applied a coat of SealCoat, which is a shellac/sanding sealer to help prevent blotching. We let this dry for about 45 minutes.

applying sealcoat to butcher block with foam brush

Then, the SealCoat was sanded with 120 and 220 grit sandpaper and an orbital sander.

Next, two coats of this Provincial wood stain were applied.

Finally, two coats of oil based polyurethane were applied. Note, for butcher block, ALL SIDES must have a sealer/poly applied to them to prevent cracking of the wood.

10. Prime and paint the cabinets and cabinet doors

For painting the stock cabinets, we followed the same steps we used for painting our kitchen cabinets in our previous home. Check out my how to paint kitchen cabinets tutorial for the step by step tutorial!

For both the base and top cabinets and doors, we used this primer and Benjamin Moore Advance paint in Edgecomb Gray with a satin sheen.

I think it’s the perfect light, creamy greige color!

painting cabinet door with benjamin moore advance paint

11. Attach the butcher block to the base cabinets

We used corner brackets to install our butcher block. First we attached them to the base cabinets and then the butcher block.

corner brackets installed to base cabinets for attaching butcher block to cabinets
finished butcher block attached to base cabinets of diy built in cabinet

12. Attach top built in cabinet to the wall

The top cabinet was installed to the wall studs with 3″ screws and wood shims to help.

Brandon had way too much shimming this cabinet and we aren’t expert cabinet installers by any means so we just made them work to keep everything square while drilling into the wall studs.

diy built in cabinets being insalled to wall with wood shims and screws

13. Install the trim or crown molding to the countertop cabinet

Add the top trim to the built in cabinet, flush against the ceiling.

We used a 1×4 board with a 45 degree mitered corner for our top trim.

attaching top 1x4 trim to diy built in cabinet with brad nailer

I thought about using crown molding but decided not too since there are already two different types of crown molding between the window wall and pantry wall.

Plus this simple 1×4 board is so much easier to do than crown! But, crown is gorgeous on built in cabinets and we used it for our DIY wall cabinets, DIY built in cabinet in our entryway, and our built in bathroom cabinets too!

We also used crown molding on our more recent DIY built in office cabinets and DIY office storage cabinets. It can totally transform cabinets if you want the extra wow factor!

Don’t forget to caulk, prime and paint the top trim board after it’s installed!

14. Caulk gaps between the wall, trim, and cabinets

Caulk all the gaps including gaps between the wall and trim and the trim and cabinets if needed. Then, paint the caulk the same color as the cabinet.

For the large gap between our wall and base cabinet from our walls not being square, we tried a new product called Backer Rod to help fill in the gap. It worked great for caulking over.

It comes in multiple sizes. We used the 1/2″ size and squished it in place with a screw driver.

installing backer rod to large gap between wall and cabinet
how to caulk large gap between wall and cabinet

We used it again for caulking the large gap between the wall and upper cabinet. But, for the upper countertop cabinet, Brandon tried a new method of using painter’s tape and a putty knife to get a super smooth and straight caulk line. It worked really well! See it in action in the built ins video!

caulking a large gap with putty tool and painters tape

14. Cut shelves to size and drill shelf pin holes

We used 1/2″ plywood cut to size for our upper cabinet shelves to save money. But, ideally an actual shelf material or 3/4″ plywood with edge banding would be more ideal for such a large cabinet to avoid any future bowing in the middle from heavy things.

At this point, it’s easy to drill the shelf pin holes before adding the doors on. We used the Kreg Shelf Pin Jig to help! We used it for our DIY wall cabinet and it’s very nifty to have!

shelf pin holes drilled with jig on inside of cabinet

15. Attach the doors to the built in cabinets

As I mentioned previously, I ordered custom size doors that were unfinished (and ready to be painted) instead of building our doors from scratch to save time.

But, if you are interested in building DIY cabinet doors, check out my 3 DIY cabinet door construction techniques, from beginner to professional levels.

custom ordered doors ready to be painted

I ordered shaker style doors from Barker Door based on a recommendation from Ana White in her video in this cabinet door hinge tutorial. I’ve never ordered premade doors before since I always just built them but these doors turned out great!

I will say though that ordering premade doors is definitely not cheap…with shipping it cost almost $300 for our three upper cabinet doors! And I picked the lowest grade of wood/MDF combo.

But it was super nice to jump to the painting part and adding hinges. I paid a little bit extra to have the door hinge holes pre-drilled. It was a perfect fit for our door hinges.

If you do want to build your own doors, check out my how to build a wall cabinet and door tutorial and my entryway DIY built in cabinet and door tutorial!

DIY appliance garage

Note, the middle door is for our DIY appliance garage. See the details and tutorial on how we are installing it in the kitchen appliance garage DIY tutorial!

Door Hinges Used for the Built In Cabinet

We used ½” inch overlay face frame hinges that are installed right to the face frame. They are European style hinges which are my favorite because you can adjust the door at the very end for the perfect placement.

I love a perfect gap in between the doors. 

doors installed on diy built in cabinet and DIY hutch with european face frame hinges

We used these same overlay hinges on our easy DIY garage cabinets too.

After installing several inset doors, like on our built in bathroom cabinet and DIY wall cabinet, these overlay style doors are much easier to install especially with two people! We just followed the directions that came with our hinges!

16. Install the cabinet hardware on the DIY built in cabinets

brass hardware from rejuvenation for built in cabinet

The last step, after any minor touch ups, is to install the hardware! I splurged on the hardware for this build! Here is what I ordered:

I’m obsessed with this matching hardware set, it totally fits my vision for this project!

diy built in cabinets with butcher block and DIY countertop cabinet
side view of Kitchen DIY built in cabinets with DIY hutch

Wow, what a build! My three year old said, “Mama and Dada you built that!” Haha I love it! It really turned out stunning and I can’t wait to start using it and filling it up with kitchen supplies!

DIY hutch built in cabinet with door open and shelves

What do you think of these DIY built ins with stock cabinets and a DIY countertop cabinet?!

butcher block countertop with oil based stain and polyurethane on DIY built in cabinets

This really was a huge project and it took us over a month to build. I hope this kitchen DIY built in cabinets tutorial and all of the lessons we learned are helpful if you want to build something similar for your home!

Kitchen diy built in cabinets with stock cabinets and countertop cabinet

Next week I will be sharing the final part 3 of these DIY built in cabinets which is the DIY appliance garage in the middle! Stay tuned!

Make sure to follow along on Instagram and YouTube for part 3!

Sharing is caring!

Dorothy C.

Monday 7th of November 2022

I love your ideas and the detail descriptions. I am planning on turning our laundry room into a pantry after we move the washer and dryer upstairs. Your latest on the built in is great inspiration to attempt something similar.

Angela Marie Made

Monday 14th of November 2022

Thank you! This would be so great in a pantry! :)