I am wanting to do cabinets between a wall and a fireplace. This would separate our living room from our dining room, so I want to build media cabinets (A/V equipment, DVD shelves, and a full ceiling to floor 'closet' to store big equipment like Rock Band guitars. On the opposite side, the dining room, I want to have a counter for serving, and then upper cabinets have glass fronts for display (china, etc..). I think that maybe this is beyond my skill, so I was wondering if there were any kits out there that would easily let you change dimensions, change layouts, etc..

Here is a picture of the space I want to occupy. I am standing in my living room looking into the dining room:

My bookcase space

Also, what do I do with the angled ceiling, what kind of cabinetry or filler do I put there? Should I build a wall first (I hate the thought of loosing 4-5" of depth. Any thoughts?


If you are not averse to designing/building the cabinets yourself, it is not a terribly difficult project to execute. You don't even need a wood shop, only a few select tools.

Seek out a local full service lumberyard or specialty wood shop (not a big box store, a real lumberyard). If you bring a cut list of panels that you need, they will usually charge only a nominal fee to break down the plywood sheets for you. This will save you from trying to accurately cut all of the large sheet stock (if you do not have the capacity to do so yourself).

At the lumber yard, you can also purchase dimensional stock to produce the face frames for the cabinets.

At this point, all you should need is a miter saw to break down the wood for the frames, a pocket hole jig for the assembly, and the hardware/hinges/etc.

When it comes to the doors, you have a couple of choices. You can follow the same kind of pattern above (purchase dimensional stock, buy an entry level router / rail and stile bit / edging bit, have the lumber yard break down the inner panels for you). Alternatively, you can order unfinished custom cabinet doors online. All you need is the dimensions for the doors, and then you can just choose the style you want.

Of course, this will take a significant effort to design the cabinets specifically for your space, and it will take some time for you to assemble them and work out all the issues. It all really depends on your schedule vs. how much you want to spend. Doing it all yourself will save you money, but will take a good bit longer than hiring the job out or grabbing off-the-shelf cabinets.


I would take the dimensions of the space to Lowes or Home Depot and ask the kitchen / cabinet designer what can be done. Cabinets are usually available in three inch width increments and 6 inch hieght increments. To fill the extra space, you can get filler boards that are finished to match and attach those to the sides of the cabinets. For the back side, you can get a piece of 1/4 inch panelling to match. As for the top, it will have to be framed in and covered with a piece of plywood or maybe you could leave it open and put some lights up there. You could trim out the top of the cabinets with some crown molding. For the most finished look, the top should probably be filled in with drywall and painted to match the walls.


This isn't exactly what you're asking for, but it would solve your problem I think. I've bought a number of cabinet/furniture kits from IKEA. They have a large enough variety of styles and sizes, and almost everything is modular so it can be "customized" to fit into almost any space.

  • I've looked at what ikea has available, and although it can get me some of what I want, it is nowhere near what I had in mind. They are all preset dimensions, and there would be a gap between the fireplace or the walls, and it doesn't cover what to do with the angled ceiling :(
    – esac
    Nov 24 '10 at 0:21
  • Makes sense. I don't know of anything that's as customizable out of the box as you're looking for. Have you priced just having it custom built? Depending on the materials you choose, sometimes these jobs can be much cheaper than you might expect to just hire somebody. I know this is a DIY site, so I may be chastised for suggesting this.
    – Shane
    Nov 24 '10 at 0:26
  • I haven't looked into it, as I assumed that all custom woodwork is super expensive. I might do as you say and at least get a quote first.
    – esac
    Nov 24 '10 at 0:33
  • @esac : you often want a gap between the piece and the fireplace -- fire codes may even require it, or set limits on what sort of materials can be up against it.
    – Joe
    Nov 25 '10 at 13:50

I've installed pre-built kitchen cabinets in a bathroom and my basement in this same kind of scenario.

I'm guessing it wouldn't be too hard for you to find pre-built kitchen cabinets at Menard's or Lowe's that would be of better quality than you'd find in "modular" closet systems or cabinet kits like Shane mentions at IKEA.

When I laid out my cabinets, I figured out what sizes of cabinets were available, and then designed the framing around the cabinets. If you understand the basics of drywall and trim, it's not too hard to box in the pre-built cabinets. If you have specific questions about how to do this, I'd be happy to help.

The advantage of this approach is that you'll end up with something that really matches the decor of the room, and feels more like a part of the walls in the room. The other systems might end up feeling like you've just got furniture filling up your hallway.


If you go with an IKEA-type piece, and can't find a unit that is near perfect width, you can get something wider that can be cut down to fit.

How about leaving it open above?

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