Progress, And Considering A Small Design Change

Happy Monday, all!  I made some progress on my cabinets, but didn’t get as much done as I had hoped.  (Story of my life!)  😀

I forgot how long it takes to do all of that caulking, priming, sanding, and painting!!  And I accidentally mixed too much paint conditioner into my paint, which means that it was going on way too thin and required additional coats.  (Lesson:  Mix paint conditioner exactly as directed, and don’t just try to eyeball it!!)

But here’s where it stands:  The lower cabinets are painted, and the doors are caulked, primed, and sanded, and ready to be painted today.

DIY built-in cabinets and bookcase - primed painted 1

DIY built-in cabinets and bookcase - primed painted 2

The interesting (and somewhat frustrating) part of using stock cabinets from Home Depot, and having purchased the outer cabinets several years ago, is that they’ve changed the style of their stock cabinets in that time.

Do you notice the differences?

The outer cabinets have exposed hinges, and the doors are smaller.  The new center cabinets have the hidden hinges with bigger doors.  So in an effort to disguise the main difference (the hinges), I’ve decided to paint the hinges on the outer cabinets.  That’s something I would generally never advise, but I just really want them to blend in more.

As I’ve been working, I’ve been contemplating what it would look like to put cubbies over the middle section to mirror the cubbies in the breakfast room.

Here’s the drawing of the look I was originally going for on this wall…

But on the wall directly across from this living room wall (about 30 feet away) is this breakfast room wall…

So now I’m considering putting cubbies in the center section.  The thing that’s holding me back is that the would look different.  The trim piece on the top of the cubbies in the breakfast room is about 4 inches.  The trim I’m going to use on the top of the bookcases will be about 6 inches because I’m going to be installing a light at the top of each side (actually on the bookcase), and I need plenty of space to attach the light.  So naturally, the cubbies would follow suit and have the wider trim piece at the top as well.

What do you think?  Cubbies or no cubbies?  Since they can’t be identical to the breakfast room cubbies, would that look funny?

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. I vote no cubbies, it’s perfect as-is. I’m afraid the cubbies would make it much too busy and cluttered. Though, you’re the one doing it, so of you decide to I’m sure it will look fabulous!

  2. I say, yes to the cubbies. You’re going to be the only one to notice the difference in the details and, your one issue with living in a condo is the lack of space and storage. This will only give you, and a new tenant, more storage and if not storage, then the display space. As an interior designer currently working in the field, whenever you can take advantage of the vertical space, that is a good thing! 🙂 Good Luck!

  3. Yes to cubbies! They will balance both sides of the room, provide a finished look to your built-in, and provide necessary storage/display. I agree with Jenn.

  4. I also vote “No” cubbies. Although they look wonderful, they add a playfulness to the kitchen nook, which you want. A kitchen should be lighter and fun and welcoming. I think the other side, although similar, should not have the cubbies. Each space is different, serves a different purpose and should be treated differently. The new cabinets should have their “own” special somethin’ somethin’.

  5. I vote no on the cubbies. Even tho they will not be exactly the same, I think it is too “matchy, matchy”. Doing something similar in lines, but not so much alike more stylish and shows more creativity than having everything balanced and matching.

  6. I vote “no” for more cubbies. There is already a lot going on on that wall and I think the shelves in the plan now will draw your eye and create a lot of visual interest. Adding cubbies may take away from that. It is looking great so far! I can’t wait to see the finished product.

  7. I think you have plenty of storage with just the cabinets, and the open space in the middle gives the eye a “resting place” from everything else. I’m afraid cubbies would make it too “busy.” But, you have a really good eye for design, so I am sure that seeing the room in person may make a difference. 🙂

  8. Yes to cubbies. You are already carrying the theme of wooden counter tops from kitchen to living room (to bathroom). To me the cubbies would look more intentional and less like you just threw up shelves to fill the space and didn’t finish. The different construction of the header won’t matter.

    I did notice the different hinges on the doors. I notice things like that, but most people won’t.

  9. I vote no cubbies since they are on the opposite wall and are painted a different color. I think it will look cleaner and more approp. for a living room without the cubbies.

  10. I vote cubbies. I abhor an empty space like the one left above the TV. The rest of the wall is used, but that just sits there CRYING OUT for cubbies! 😉

  11. Voting yes to cubbies! At least in the drawing it feels like a lot of empty space above the TV. That it would somewhat mirror the other room I find appealing for some reason although I see some others above disagree. Oh well, we all have opinions!

  12. I vote no cubbies….it would be too much. I don’t feel you need to mirror the other one – then it just becomes too much cabinetry in both those areas. They should be separate and their own individual spaces!

  13. I’m on Team No Cubbies. I like the simplified look without, especially since books and accents are going to be put on the shelves. Also agree with Frances about the separation of spaces. It’s looking good, though! Makes me want to try and make a removable version for my apartment!

  14. Hi Kristi,
    I say “yes” to the cubbies. You can’t have too much storage in a small space, and I think it would look consistent with what you have already done so brilliantly in other rooms of your condo. Also, I’d like to see the horizontal line created by the top shelf in the bookcases continued across the open area over the TV. Just my two cents for what it’s worth. 🙂 Whatever you decide will be great as always.

  15. Team “No” here. While I think cubbies and baskets are a perfect marriage and make sense for a kitchen area, I personally prefer a .wall with a cleaner slate in the living area. You are providing tons of storage via the cabinetry and bookshelves which will be a noticeable plus when you start the showing process. Also, since the room is so small, leaving the center area open creates the visual you may want/need for enlarging the room. Boxing the center area in with the cubbies and then filling in the remaining minute wall area with a tv in addition to the cubbies negates that.

    There obviously are as many opinions as there are comments and w/o a doubt, whatever route you take, it will be “Kristi” and we’re excited to see it. Just remember, you are selling! Save the “good stuff” for your new forever home!

  16. I vote no cubbies. Too much cabinetry in the small space is visually cluttering, I think. Just because the two areas are near one another is no reason that they need to mirror each other. So long as they coordinate I think it’s fine.

    Also, I think you’re overthinking the hinges. If it’s something that would bug you, then add then hinges…if you were staying. But you’re not. And the slight difference is not bothersome, especially since the middle section is already “different” in that it’s bumped out from the other two. It already looks like they’re not the same, you know? And it doesn’t look as if there’s room on the outer edge for hinges on the two little doors. Are the hinges going to go on the same side as the big door? So you’d have 4 hinges in each margin? I think it looks fine with the very slight difference. I love that you’re so concerned about the details, but you’re overthinking it for the average home buyer, IMO.

    1. I agree with overthinking the hinges. But, then again, painted hinges are a pet peeve of mine in houses because ultimately the paint scrapes off, and they just look dirty.

  17. I am in the “no cubbies” camp, for all the reasons already listed. But, I know that whatever you decide it will work – that’s just how you roll! Can’t wait to see the finished product!

  18. I say “no cubbies”, I like the clean look of the drawing you have, and you have lots of storage behind the doors. Don’t know what will be put on the shelves but thinking the stuff on shelves plus cubbies might be a bit busy.

  19. I say no cubbies. I think this should look just a little more formal than the breakfast area. If you need something more after the TV is placed, maybe you could hang some artwork, but nothing too busy. You will have things on the shelves already. I would wait until it is all finished and decorated, then decide if you even need anything there.

  20. I say no cubbies, cubbies are nice in the kitchen, it adds more storage, but the living room should be more formal. Nice job btw!! Can’t wait to see them finished!

  21. I say no to the cubbies in the living room. I love them in the dining area but I think it may be too much in the living room and I think it would look too playful for the living room. You are doing a great job!!!!

  22. I vote yes, just because the more places to put things the better, especially in a small condo. I also like how it connects to the kitchen/eating area. Even with the difference in trim, it gives the room symmetry.

  23. I add my vote to no cubbies. Love them in the breakfast area, but the two spaces do not need to match. I agree with those who said leave the space for a piece of art, and allow it to be less busy.

  24. The cabinets look good so far. They will really look polished with the final coat of paint on them. As for cubbies vs no cubbies, I think I’d go with the no cubbies side BUT if more storage is needed, why not put a removable shelf in the center section? It would be put at the height of the highest shelves. It would add storage and could be removed if he new owners have a bigger television.

  25. Although I agree that the space above the tv is crying out for a few cubbies, you should also leave the option open for if the next people living there would like to wall mount their tv in that area.

    Leaving out the cubbies would give them more room.

  26. Hi!
    YES to cubbies. Here’s why:
    1: you don’t have drawers under the tv : \
    2: there’s waaaay too much space above the tv (it will drive you nuts)–if you put a picture there, it will compete with the tv
    3: in a small space, you want to maximize storage
    4: it will look cute to mirror the kitchen a bit
    It will not look cluttered because I have seen this done tons of time on design shows and it looks great as long as you keep it neat.

    I can’t wait to see what you decide! 😀

  27. The new owners may have a larger tv, or want to wall mount it, or not have a tv and go with some large artwork instead. By leaving some large areas for flexibility, you have a better chance of potential buyers seeing the living room built-ins as a plus. If you matched it to the breakfast room it might just look like you got a great deal on a bunch of cabinets instead of them being special.

  28. Joining the no’s on cubbies. I like the different look, rather than matching and I think it will make the space look smaller. Too heavy.

  29. I’d say NO to cubbies. If you want to add a shelf at the top over the TV…that would be okay…but really nothing is necessary. And I think the extra work involved in installing cubbies will, in the end, be extra work that you won’t reap much benefit from. You have a great concept going. Stay with it and SHINE!!

  30. Now for my two cents! From the beginning, I thought a removable shelf above the TV would be a good idea. Still feel that way. As far as putting artwork on the wall above the TV, probably would look sorta weird. A removable shelf would also allow the new buyer to remove it so he could hang a TV. Just the shelf will make it look “finished.” Of course, the top trim over the bookcases would need to be carried over the center area.
    Kristi, I am so impressed by your abilities, and I just love your blog. Thanks for being such an inspiration.

  31. I vote no cubbies. I just don’t think that would look right cubbies over a tv.maybe just a long shelf?

  32. I’d say no on the cubbies as I think it would make it seem a bit too enclosed and repetitive. Either way, it would look nice, but I like the openness for the living room of no cubbies. It’s looking good!

  33. Yes to the cubbies!!! Anyone who is lucky enough to get this lovely condo will thank you for them!!

  34. I vote no cubbies. The current design plan looks nice, thought out, and intentional. The cubbies may be nice if you were staying but I don’t think they are worth the extra work since you are leaving soon.

  35. I like some repeating patterns in design so I say yes to the cubbies. I would not worry about the trim size difference because my untrained eyes look at the “holes” or squares in your kitchen cubbies and the contents, in this case the baskets. Your potential buyers will be more like me, (untrained, that is). I don’t focus on the trim, it is just enough that it is present and is nicely finished.

  36. I vote no. I think it looks fine the way it is and the extra space could be used for artwork, or like others have said if a new owner would like to hang a T.V. on the wall-and it would look too much the same as the other room.

  37. No cubbies….It’s a small place as it is and more cubbies would overwhelm the space. Organization is great but can be overused. The room looks great as it’s planned out….stick with that! Love the condo – you’ve done a fabulous job on it. Can’t wait to see the projects in the new house.

  38. I vote yes…I have pre-made book shelves cut to fit and then assembled on either side of my tv which is 40″ my tv sits a top a beautiful electric fireplace that most don’t realize isn’t gas..its very tall it all takes up the entire wall..I had the vision and it looks exactly as I pictured. It will bring more place to put books photos and other things where you don’t have a lot of wall space. I live in about the same amount of space as you do and I love having photos of family on my shelves..I have matching baskets on the bottom, they hold movies and gaming equipment as I don’t have the cabinets for storage. I think it will help to sell having the open option..just my opinion.

  39. I vote no to the cubbies. I agree with the others who voted no that you want a more formal air to a living room. It will also give the next owners more options for placing their tv in the space. They may want to wall mount the television or theirs may be larger than the one you will place in the opening. You are doing a wonderful job all in all, I am very envious of your vision and DIY skills.

  40. No to cubbies. The breakfast room cabinets are a different color, so I don’t think they need to match. The shelves in your drawing will be perfect for a living room and will still provide extra storage if needed, although the lower cabinets provide plenty of storage. Sometimes I think too much matchy, matchy is overkill. You do an excellent job on all your projects, so I’m sure whatever you decide will be beautiful.

  41. I vote no cubbies. There is a lot of storage from kitchen to front room and the eye needs some space to rest. Also, I agree with Toni…the new owner may have a larger TV or a wall mount, or want art there. You need to leave something that the new tenant can put ‘their own touch and style’ on. If you put cubbies up there is not much else for them to be able to do that.

    I really do wish you lived closer to me (South West Ontario Canada) because I need a lot of help with all my rooms…I really hate sloped ceilings 🙂 !

    God bless. Linda

  42. I vote yes to cubbies….I think you can never have too much storage space and when it can be done I would always opt for that. I also do not think it too busy…as the one comment posted says about the use for decorative value I think this is certainly an idea of good value. If the new buyer does not need it for storage then they can use it to add a bit of flare to the center….which IMO is always a plus…go for it…If you are like most of us we have way too much video and audio “stuff” anyways and hiding it in a basket is a keen idea.

  43. I vote no to the cubbies also. I don’t think you should try and copy the kitchen as they are different spaces. I also feel it might be a bit too busy. Plus, if someone wants to mount their tv on the wall instead of sitting it on the cabinet top, the cubbies might get in the way. I think a nice piece of art in that area would fill the space while also keeping it flexible.

    By the way…I found your awesome blog one day looking for a tutorial on how to clean oil based paint out of a paint brush. Of course I had to look around and fell in love with your virtual space. Oh and I totally fell for your April Fools joke. I was thinking…dang, I just subbed!! 🙂

  44. Either way would be fine, but I say no, simply because you are selling and already going above and beyond what most would. I applaud you.

  45. For what it is worth- I say yes to the cubbies but follow your gut. Good design repeats itself and the space is somewhat tight, even though your designs make it look large. I pictured myself at the front door looking down the hallway and then looking right at the kitchen eat in cabinets and then looking left at another bank of cabinets and I think it would be good to have a design detail that ties the two spaces together. I don’t think the fact the cabinets are different is bad at all. I think different is better but something should tie them together. Plus you have been in the space awhile and if your instincts are telling you this -follow them. Plans are meant to get us started but they should be amended when genius strikes. :)) I can’t wait to see what you do!