FEATURE FRIDAY | Built-Ins Transformation | With Lacey

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Yay it is Friday! And it is another Feature Friday! Today I asked my sister to come back and show you her built-ins transformation. When I saw what she did the last time I visited her, I told her SHE HAD TO SHARE IT. I am allowed to be bossy since she is my sister, right? Are you ready to hear all about it?

Hi all it is me again. Since my last post about my roller shade I have been on what I call a home designing roll! It has inspired me to start and actually complete some different projects around my home. Today Lindsay has asked me to share with you how I transformed my built-ins. I have never been a huge fan of built-ins and not because they can’t be beautiful. They are gorgeous when they are done and styled well. I have always just found them extremely intimidating. I don’t know how many times I have moved items on, off and around on these shelves. Only to still not be satisfied with how they looked.

Lacey's Built-in Before

My built-ins are painted and the holes along the back have always bothered me. At one point I thought about painting a trim piece to cover up the holes. Then I tossed around adding wallpaper to add some color. But every time I looked for wallpaper I got overwhelmed with all my choices.

Nasty holes

And then I saw this idea on one of Centsational Girl’s best of the blogosphere posts.

wood shim backed bookcase

I loved this idea! The wood shims would cover the holes plus add some much needed texture to, as I noted in my last post, my beige home. I skimmed through the how to and saw the words “hand saw” and freaked out a little. I am not handy. I have never used a saw in my life. My husband and I didn’t even own a hand saw. And I kept seeing visions of a recent meltdown (lots of tears guys) on my front steps after a window caulking experience went bad (caulk everywhere. It was on my hands, my clothes, all over the step and window and it was still spewing out of the gun.). I didn’t know if I was ready to attempt a project that required me to use a saw and be handy. I want to keep all 10 of my fingers. But after talking to Lindsay and gushing over the phone about how great it would look. I decided to be brave and buy a hand saw.

The Supplies

Supplies you will need:

Wood shims

Glue (I used hot glue. I don’t have the patience to wait for glue to dry! But you can use whatever type of glue is your favorite.)

Hand saw (I didn’t know what I was doing in the hand saw department and I must admit there was more of a selection than I thought there would be. I just bought the cheapest one they had!)

Scissors (On the skinny side of the shim you can use scissors to snip vs. the hand saw. Saves a little time, I am always a fan of that!)


Cardboard (This is optional. I glued my shims to cardboard instead of directly to the back of the shelf. Someday I am going to want to take those shims down and the cardboard will make that super easy to do.)

Now that you have all your supplies it is time to get started!

Step 1: Cut your cardboard to fit the area in back of the shelf. I used old cardboard boxes we had leftover from when we moved. And this does not have to be perfect. In fact you can piece smaller pieces together. Once you start gluing the wood shims on they provide great support and stiffen the cardboard against the back of the shelf.

Step 1: Cut and place your cardboard against the back of your shelf.

Step 2: Break open those shims! And start gluing!

Step 2: Lots and lots of gluing.  I lost this beaut of glue gun during this project. She might have looked a little rough but she was with me for over 10 years. RIP blue glue gun. :)

Step 2: Lots and lots of gluing. There was so much gluing that I actually broke my glue gun half way through this project! Little blue might have looked a little rough but she was with me for over 10 years. RIP little blue glue gun.

I started at the top. I wanted any half (lengthwise) shims to be on the bottom of the shelf where they wouldn’t be as visible. I also used the whole shim. I had a lot of area to cover in my built-ins so using the whole shim worked best for me.

Step 2:

Step 2: Glue the shim to the cardboard. I tried to take a picture of myself gluing the shims to the cardboard. Not as easy as I thought it would be. But I think my baby girl captured this step beautifully.

I did run into a little issue gluing the first row. The shelf bracket was in my way and I couldn’t butt my shim up nice and close to the top of the shelf. I got out my brand new hand saw and made a little notch. It was really that easy. I made a little mark on the shim where I wanted the notch and chunked out the wood with the saw. I was thinking I am pretty smart and handy at this point. And I had just started, yeah me!

Step 3: Break out that hand saw! And cut off the end of one shim to complete your row.


Before I started this project I was thinking I am going to need saw horses, a clamp of some sort, etc. But just the hand saw and a piece of cardboard to protect your table is all you need.  And for me it worked better to saw in one direction vs. a back and forth motion. Again not handy. So not sure if this was because of the cheap saw I bought or if it is common knowledge that you don’t actually saw in a back and forth motion.

Note: If you are on the flat end of the shim a pair of scissors works great to snip the shim to the right size.

Step 4: Keep working your way down the shelf. Use the excess you sawed off to start your next row or save for another row. I really had little waste when I was done.


As I moved down the shelf I tried to make the transition from big end of the shim to flat end of the shim not as noticeable. I matched big end to big end or flat end to flat end as I worked across the row.

Note: The shim wood is not high quality wood. Lots of warped shims and holes and knots, etc. I personally liked the look of the non-perfect shims and used them to add a little character. But the warped ones was another story. It sometimes turned into a puzzle trying to find the right shims that would fit together. But I also found that if I did cut the shim at the warp it made it fit better and a usable shim. And a little gap between the shims is really unnoticeable unless you are a few inches from the back of the shelf.

 Step 5: I only had two of my shelves line up perfectly and not need a partial shim to complete the last row. But I was lucky to have a husband that has a table saw at work. He took a few shims to work and cut them at varying heights. Because I used all of my shims and didn’t throw out the warped ones my last row was not the same height all the way across. We measured in a couple different places on each shelf and found 4 common heights. My husband then cut several shims in each height and I used what fit best. A little puzzle!

Step 5

You might notice that the last row has a little red hue to it. It is Cedar! I originally bought 10 packages of shims but needed 11. I sent my husband to the Home Depot to get the last package. It never occurred to me that there would be different wood types in shims. My tip, check your packages and make sure the color matches up. Or end up with a half cedar shelf like mine. The cedar did smell wonderful. And I’d love to see what all cedar would look like!


That’s it! I love how it turned out! And if you are intimidated by tools like me I had nothing to worry about with the hand saw. It wasn’t hard at all! And I still have all 10 of my fingers! I feel so handy right now that I might even give window caulking another try.

Thank you so much for letting me share my project with you! I will leave you with a few more after shots. I will warn you I am not a super styler. I am still moving things around! Looking at my inspiration picture makes me a little embarrassed to even be sharing how I styled my shelves. I envy all you awesome stylers out there. If I put all that stuff on my shelf it would look like a bunch of junk on a shelf instead of absolutely effortless and gorgeous. I am a master at styling the kids’ toys, books and puzzles though. Just saying.




Thanks Lacey for sharing! They are so beautiful and really added some character to your house. And how fantastic that you can remove them! My husband might actually go for the idea if it is removable. Now I just have to figure out where I want to do this in my house. Enjoy your weekend, Moxies!


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