Almost Built In

Built ins One of the things I have missed most since we moved to Germany are my constructions projects. In my own homes it seems I always had a construction project going, so renting can be very boring. When my good friend Robin moved to Germany in April and asked if she could hire me to build her some shelving similar to my Built-In Beauties I was more than happy to help.

It just so happens that her rental had a nice alcove that would be the perfect spot for a built-in to house here TV and “pretties.” But being a rental I could not do a true built-in so while I was going for that look, it is actually free-standing shelving and not attached to the structure at all.

perfect spot for built insI approached the project with the knowledge that this was going into a rental and while it needed to look good and be sturdy it would only be used for 3 years. It needed to be built quickly, easily, and without too much cost. With this in mind I used paint grade lumber and simple construction techniques, and when possible my handy-dandy nail gun!

Built in shelving phase 1The design was to be very functional; Robin wanted a center section to house the TV and components with plenty of shelving on either side. Since the TV components needed more depth I actually constructed the shelving in four sections. Two 9”deep side shelves, a 16” base shelf for the TV and a 9” upper shelf that would then attach to the two side shelves to the TV base.

Since very little of the sides of the shelving would show once installed I built them in the easiest fashion. A very basic shelf screwed in from the sides with countersunk screws so that the shelving would fit snugly against one another. The few screws that would be seen I simply covered with wood filler sanded down and painted over. I built these off site and then brought them over for a coat of paint and to fit into the space.

Built ins phase 1

Once they were fit and leveled the units are secured to one another using wood screws.

Built ins phase 2I used 1 1/2″ lumber for the top and then applied the top and bottom moldings.

Built ins phase 3I applied basic 1/2” trim to the  fronts of all the shelving using my nail gun to act as face frames. In detailed carpentry these face frames would be created as an entire unit and applied as a whole but this is a very time-consuming process.

Built ins phase 3That’s me using my favorite tool to apply the trim to the shelving.

DSC04456The finished product gets wood filler in the nail holes and caulk at the seams before one last coat of  touch up paint.

And then come the “pretties.”

Built ins DSC04641Built ins Built ins


  1. Maggie, it looks super incredible! Well done! I am still in the beginner level of this. My boyfriend is much better in the construction:)

  2. Kerstin says:

    Hi Maggie, where did you get or rather how did you make the top and bottom moldings?

  3. Kerstin says:

    Oh, and the unit looks fantastic!!!

    • Kerstin all the wood for this project came from OBI here in Germany. The selection is very limited for decorative wood trim but the bigger stores do have a few selections. The bottom trim is composed of two moldings stacked and the top is a single molding with the top of the shelf extended out. Both the top and bottom have a bit of the flat trim exposed for more dimension. Hope that helps, Maggie

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