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If you’ve read my antique posts then you know that I’m a big fan of finding new uses for old things – but I also believe in reworking a room’s architecture to better suit the way you live.

My sister’s beach house had a tiny closet filled with shelves in the main living room. How tiny you ask? So tiny that getting anything larger than a puzzle box into and out of it was a challenge. Initially, we had plenty of projects to keep us busy but once we had the kitchen and most of the painting covered, it was time to get creative!

Typically, “getting creative” in my family involves my Daddy’s excellent woodworking skills, a hastily sketched plan and lots of paint — and this time was no different. We decided to turn the mini closet into a built-in bookcase that would provide both decorative and hidden storage and fit in with our beach bungalow’s cottage charm. A weekend worth of work, @ $125 in materials and several trips to the hardware store later … voila, we’re all pretty proud of the finished project:   Beach House Built-In Before and After PhotosFirst, I should note that a closet is typically wider than its door – go ahead, peek inside a closet and you’ll see what I mean. In addition to the door’s framing, there’s usually a small amount of wall surrounding the framing. So even though the door was only 18 inches wide, the boxed-in recess of the closet was actually 24 inches wide.

We wanted to create as large of a built-in as possible so we first removed the door, molding and paneling above the closet then my dad used a jigsaw to cut away the few inches of paneling on either side of the door opening to fully open up the space. Next, we headed to the hardware store to find a stock kitchen cabinet to fit our opening and lumber to use as shelves and as a top for the base cabinet. You can see in the second image that the cabinet is just a little deeper than the opening but it doesn’t stick out so far that it’s obvious. Once everything had been primed, caulked and painted, it looked like a built-in that had always been part of the house’s architecture:Beach House Built-In Step-by-Step Photos

After the paint had dried, my sister and I set to work filling the shelves with our budget beachy finds. The cabinet’s drawer holds all our pups’ harnesses and leashes while the bottom door conceals a stack of rainy-day puzzles and games:Beach House Built-In After Photos*Three years later, the beach house is still a work in progress, keep checking back for more thrifty transformations.

Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Kitchen
Budget Beach Cottage Before and After: Living Room
Adventures in Antiquing: Easy Beachy Candle Update

7 Responses

  1. RSS says:

    The bookcase looks great. You and your family are very creative.

  2. DSK says:

    What a adorable dog, is that one of your sister's… What a clever idea for an old closet.

  3. hgtvcamille says:

    Yes, her name is Moxie and she's a Yorkie or Silkie mix, we think. She's a rescue, originally found as a half-starved stray. As you can tell, she's now happily living the high life as a very pampered pup!

  4. hgtvcamille says:

    Thanks RSS. I believe in the saying that having a beautiful home takes either lots of money or time — and sometimes a little of both. ;)

  5. hgtvcamille says:

    Thanks Lili, she's the sweetest too and LOVES family beach trips.

  6. [...] repurpose or reuse something, we will.  Check out our beachy kitchen, living room, candles and built-in bookcase transformations to see what I [...]

  7. [...] on the cheap, my family doesn’t just get our hands dirty knocking down kitchen walls and turning a tiny closet into a beachy bookcase, we’re also all-in when it comes to filling the beach house with one-of-a-kind [...]

H. Camille SmithCamille is a managing editor for HGTV.com, fine artist and antique furniture devotee. As a former interior designer and Nickelodeon animator, she has a real passion for balanced, beautiful interiors...


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