Built In Fireplace And Cabinets Tutorial

One thing that we have always wanted in our home(s) is a real fire place.  We would love a real wood burning fireplace but unfortunately we haven’t had that option.  In our first house we went with an electric fireplace. Although we loved the ability to have the ambience of a fire, but control the heat,  at the end of the day the flames were not real.  When we made the decision to go with a gas fireplace we looked at some options and decided that utilizing a vent-less fireplace from Lowe’s was the way to go.  It allowed us have a real flame but save on the cost of adding a chimney.  In this and the next couple posts we will walk through our steps of how we built out the fireplace wall, with mantel, cabinets and bookcases!

First, we had to map out the room in order in order figure out the layout.  We centered the fireplace and worked out from there.  J is particular so he spent a lot of time trying to figure out the optimal mantel and cabinet size.  Ultimately he decided that the fireplace would be centered and there would be approximately 10″ of tile to each side and above and below.  The mantel would be approx 1 foot wide for each leg, then the rest would be cabinets.

After the layout was decided it was time to start building.  J laid out the base of the framing for the fireplace.  He then drilled through the wood and secured the wood to the cement slab (we checked with our floor guy and said this would work with our floors and that we did not need to cut out the wood flooring).

He then started to build the walls.  One thing that helped J here was his experience with Young Life.  For many years he would go to Mexico and help build houses for families.  They would basically build a small house for a family over a 3-4 day weekend.  He learned some basic framing (although its definitely not the prettiest of framing jobs) and it came in handy.  Essentially he built 3 walls outside and we brought them in and secured them to the ceiling joists, back wall, each other, and the base.

Bray is a ‘big helper’ with any project he can be by:)

We wont get into all the measurements because lets face it that is boring to read and write.

Next, once the walls were up and secure, J built out a cubby for the fireplace to slip into.  J built the opening per the instructions that came with the fireplace.

See: although its not pretty, its functional and secure 🙂
Next it was time for drywall.  This was our first attempt at ever hanging drywall and it was actually pretty straight forward.  We hung the drywall using drywall screws and tried to place the seems where they would be covered by the cabinets or the mantel.  This cut down on us having to putty and sand seams and screw holes.

For the corners we simply applied a generous amount of drywall compound to the corner and then cut a corner bead (metal corner with drywall paper).  We then placed the metal bead over the corner and smoothed out with a putty knife.  Final step was to add compound over the bead and feather the compound out.  J watched a few youtube videos on how to do this and he said it helped.  Next we applied some compound over screws and smoothed the compound out.  Because J spent time planning out the seams he only had the corner seams to deal with a because all the other seams were covered by trim or cabinets { I married a smart man;) }

Once the corners and screw patches were dry J sanded and applied another coat, he did this probably 3 times total each time feathering out more.  J also added beads around the fireplace opening, which will be covered by the fireplace overhang and tile.

During the drywall step we had a plumber come run the gas line and an electrician add the switch and wiring for the sconces.

Now that the drywall was finished it was time to build the cabinets.  J used the same process as we used with our DIY built ins.  He made a simple base, attached it to the floor and wall, made a box for the cabinet that will house flush mount doors and added face trim (see our built ins post for directions).

For above the base cabinets we wanted open shelving.  This actually was fairly simple once the measurements were figured out.  J planned all the measurements out and made sure that all the cuts were made correctly at home depot on their large saw.  Since all the corresponding sides were the same size it made getting the cabinets square very simple.  When he was planning out the measurement he drew out how each piece would sit and made sure to accommodate where the overlap would be.  Its hard to describe but hopefully the photos show how he was able make these.  J used MDF for the sides, top, back and shelves.  He used oak plywood as the base, that will be attached to the top of the cabinets.  He attached face trim to the side fronts and the bookshelves to make a flush look.


J used a few trim pieces to cover up the seams between the cabinets and walls.  We added crown molding to the top of the bookshelves and mantel wall.  This helped tie the cabinets and fireplace in to the room and make it look built in.  Overall we really love the way that this wall looks like it has been there forever.

Come back next week and I will have a post that shows how we made our mantel from scratch, added tile and completed our built in fireplace.


  1. Anonymous says

    I couldn’t figure out how the fireplace is vented? Is there a chimney? Or is it not necessary? Will you be burning wood?

  2. says

    It’s beautiful. I’ve been falling more in love with your blog with each post lately. I’ve been a reader for a while and it just keeps getting better. Last week I was inspired to look into your Okite countertops and now have their beautiful samples all over my current need-to-be-replaced counters. I’m in love – you found a gem with them. I’m excited to do my own stain testing 🙂

    And now with your fireplace. Oh my. Was wondering if you could give me a rough estimate of how much it cost you to get the gas line put in. I feel like I can estimate every other part of the project in my house, but that’s the one that I don’t have a clue about.

    Thanks! Keep posting your beautiful home and I’ll keep dreaming it wouldn’t be totally creepy of me to come to your side of the valley and see it in person.

  3. says

    Crass question, I know, but would you mind sharing some of the cost breakdowns. I hate to make you uncomfortable, but it will really help me figure out if I want to tackle part or all of this project.
    Thank you!

  4. says

    Just found your site via Pinterest – will definitely start following! Love that your posts include a range of projects – simple to complicated skill levels – with a lot of pictures & detailed instructions. Your husband seems to be very good at large builds such as this one…possibly a future post should How-to Build Your Own Workshop (or at least a large Workbench)! 🙂 Congrats on your pregnancy!

  5. Anonymous says

    What was the cost in having the gas line ran to the new fireplace? We are considering doing a similar project.

  6. says

    What a cute lil baby helping his dad put up the fireplace…I don’t think me or my husband has a knack for things like this although the tutorial and the pictures are a great help to visualize and anticipate the steps to be done in building a fireplace…and thanks for this because without it we would just go along with our plan to build it ourselves, but after seeing this post we realized we cannot do such an enormous job so I think we will just contact someone who could build our fireplace for us and this one looks great http://www.buildersupplysource.com/

  7. Morag Donlevy says

    We have a ventless fireplace in our 4 season room. Although it is lovely to look at, there is always a slight odor of propane and there is always a film on the windows. It is relatively easy to clean windows but not so easy to clean the ceiling and woodwork. We added on a 4 season room in our lake home but this time we vented the fireplace. Still a gas fire but much much better.

  8. Allen says

    What did you do for the front edge of the counter top? How did you cover up the layers in the plywood? Did you use banding?

    • says

      The front edge was just a trim moulding piece. All the face of the cabinets are 1×2 cut to size. We didnt use banding, we just attached a trim piece of wood in front of it. Its all in the tutorial:)

  9. susie says

    Hi there,
    Love your built ins. I’m wondering how big the entire wall is that you were working with. I’m planning built ins for an 8 foot wall (width and height) and trying to figure out how big of a fireplace to go with. Thanks!!


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