DIY Office Built-Ins in the Guest Room

DIY Office Built-Ins in the Guest Room

We’ve officially started another room makeover, and are heading upstairs to our guest room! This room has seen quite a few changes over the years. It actually started out as my “closet” when we first moved in before we converted our “attic” to a walk-in closet. Other than a fresh coat of paint, it’s kind of been a catch-all guest room ever since. It serves its purpose, but I definitely think it could use something…more. Let’s get started!

The Plan: Converting to an Office + Guest Room

I sat with what to do with this room and our second guest room upstairs for quite a while. The other room is currently being used as my husband’s office/gaming room, but honestly, it drives me a little nuts. It looks like a bachelor pad and I hate cleaning it. Plus, it just seems like such a wasted opportunity!

Not to mention that eventually, I’d like to convert the second room into a nursery…if that time comes.

So, it seemed like the most logical next step would be to convert the guest room into an office/guest room combination!


This was one of the most difficult aspects of planning this room. Every single wall has an obstacle, whether it’s windows, doors, or even a little mini door that leads to a crawl space.

Ultimately, it made the most sense to have the built-in desk on the wall directly when you walk in, and the bed on the opposite wall.

The next conundrum was where to put the TV. For the guests, it would make the most sense to have the TV opposite the bed (where the built-ins are), but that was going to leave a smaller space for my husband’s computers, plus it would be kind of…right in his face!

The section option would be to have the TV opposite the windows. This would mean it’s to the side of the bed (not ideal), and there could be glare from the window (thank goodness for curtains!). Ultimately, that’s what we decided on!

Design Board

Enter another really difficult decision journey! I had a lot of ideas for the colors and feel of this room and created several mood boards.

Ultimately, I went with navy blue for several reasons. First, I can’t resist a good blue! Second, I was kind of feeling going a bit bold. I tend to choose lighter colors, so I thought this was a good opportunity to get out of that comfort zone a little. And finally, we’re likely going to be incorporating some Buffalo Bills memorabilia in this room, so navy went well!

Building the Built-Ins in 10 Steps

I decided the most logical thing to start with was the office guest room built-ins! It would ground the rest of the room, plus it’s the biggest build, so I wanted to get going on it!

Overall, this took me about 4 weeks to complete, working mostly on weekends with an occasional night here or there, so it was actually pretty simple!

Step 1: Install Cabinet Bases

This isn’t always necessary, but it supports your cabinet boxes and helps to secure them.

All you need? 2x4s, a saw, a tape measurer, a drill, a level, and 3” screws.

If you have baseboards, you’ll want to remove them too, so you’ll want to add a crowbar or something you can remove them with 🙂

Then, you’re just going to build a box! Cut your 2x4s to the correct dimensions (if you want a toe kick or any additional trim, make sure to account for that. I usually go with ~3” short on the depth). Once you have your pieces cut, you’ll screw them together, then screw them into the studs in the wall. If your floor is unlevel (this is likely), you’ll want to add some shims underneath using scrap wood, or actual wood shims, until it’s level.

Step 2: Lower Cabinet Boxes

I know that cabinet boxes might seem really intimated, but they’re really just BOXES! I have an entire blog post about making cabinet boxes when I did my kitchen, so I’m going to refer to that.

But for the built-ins, all I needed was two lower cabinet boxes!

Step 3: Desk and Knee Wall Door Structures

There were two areas where I needed some support, but that didn’t require cabinet boxes: the actual desk, and where the mini-door was.

I didn’t want to completely cover the knee wall door, in case we or any future homeowner wanted to access it, so instead, I built a structure around it. I added a plywood side, then secured it to the cabinet box next to it, and to the wall by adding several 1x3s as support. 

Then it was time for the desk. I basically made this up as I went! I started with two plywood pieces on each side, and a 1×3 in the middle, secured to the wall. Then, I added additional supports across the top until it felt secure! There wasn’t much rhyme or reason, other than giving it a good “dad shake” after every piece to see what areas needed more support.

I forgot to take a photo of the final desk structure, but it had two more supports length wise-one at the front, and one more at the back. Then I added five supports depth-wise that attached from the front to the back using pocket holes.

Step 4: Face Frame + Desk Top

Whew. Now that the structure is done, we can make the lower cabinets really take shape!

First, I installed the face frame using 1x2s. Where I could, I pre-assembled them using pocket holes, then nailed the structure using my nail gun. Such an impact.

For the desk, I just used the same plywood as the structure, and cut it to size. Once they were in place, I clamped them and secured them from the bottom using screws.

Step 5: Drawers

Yep, I’m building more drawers. Are you shocked? You shouldn’t be. But, I’m going to send you over to this blog post to share how I did it because my method didn’t change!

Step 6: Upper Shelves + Bookcases

For some reason, I thought this step was going to take me so long, but it really only took me 2 days!

I spent the first day just making lots and lots of cuts and pocket holes. First, I made sure to rip everything down to the same depth (8” in my case). Then, I cut down each of the shelves and the sides of the bookcases. Next, I added pocket holes to each shelf – 3 per side. I also cut down and pocket-holed 2 1x3s for each bookcase to act as support.

On the second day, I assembled! First, I marked where I wanted each of my shelves to be, and drew a line. Then I installed each shelf and support to one side of the cabinet side, flipped it over, and secured it to the other side. For this, all I needed was some wood glue and my pocket screws.

Once everything was put together, I just added the backing. I decided to go with beadboard for this. It wasn’t much more expensive than a traditional hardboard I would’ve gone with, and it added just enough detail.

Once everything was built, I was able to secure them into the wall by screwing through the supports into the studs.

Step 7: Trimming it Out

Trim is always my favorite step! I had to add a face frame around the outside of the bookshelves, but I left the shelves empty for now.

Instead, I trimmed the shelves and desk top with my favorite picture frame moulding! It added just an extra touch that I really love!

Then, I wanted to clean up the edges where the beadboard and shelves meet, so I added some bead moulding. And of course, some baseboards to the bottom.

Finally, I added some crown moulding to the top. I debated adding it around the entire room but ultimately decided to just do the built-ins, and I think it worked out. I love it.

Step 8: Doors

Once everything was trimmed out, it was time to get the doors built. Once again, I used this method, and they came out perfectly!

Step 9: Prepping for + Painting

The most time-consuming and tedious step! I use this wood filler now for any smaller gaps and I’m obsessed. You don’t have to sand it, just use a baby wipe to clean up the excess, and it’s amazing. 

You’ll also want to caulk all your edges and get everything primed. Luckily, most of the trim, face frame, and backing were pre-primed which made this step so much quicker, but it still took forever!

Ready for paint? Me too. I ended up going with Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy. I didn’t test or sample it beforehand, I just went with it, and I have zero regrets. It’s absolutely perfect. I ended up going with an eggshell finish. I debated this a lot, but I think it helped modernize it a bit, which played nicely off the more traditional details of the beadboard and trim. And I love it. I also decided to save some money and go with the Ben line, instead of the cabinet paint. I would 100% recommend doing cabinet paint in higher-traffic areas like a kitchen or bathroom, but I think this worked out just fine. I’ll also add a top coat of poly over everything to seal it.

Step 10: The Final Touches

This is where it really came to life! For the desk, I added this monitor stand and covered the cord plug holes with these grommets. I went with this extension cord and these drawer organizers. For the hardware, I chose these knobs, which I also used in my hallway linen closet. They are super affordable and perfect! And this absolutely perfect office chair! Then I added some small details like this tissue box cover and of course a Bills football!

What do you think? Would you try to build these office guest room built-ins?

Next up, we’ll be adding some trim, including board and batten, doing something about the sloped ceiling closet, and just making this space feel more intentional! Stay tuned!

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