Wainscot and Built-ins for an ENTIRE HOUSE - suggestions?

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I came across the Wood 'Wee-spare-er' while looking for design ideas technique tips for one of my major projects in our '10-year plan' for our builder-grade home. There is a lot of advice to be had there! I'm still working my way through the almost 180 podcasts that are out there. Now, on to the topic:

We bought our first home 2.5 years ago and have plans to stay here for a couple of decades. This grants me the luxury of executing detailed work that I can take my time with and enjoy the finished product when it's complete.

This particular project entails constructing paneled wainscoting and built-ins throughout our house and into the design of our currently un-finished basement. I know Mark and most viewers seem focused on free-standing projects, but perhaps there are some others out there that have an interest in this area of casework and millwork.

This isn't my day job, but I have experience around the shop and in many areas of construction and requisite tools. I still have to pick items like a router table, jointer, planer, brad nailer, pin nailer, dado blades, specific router bits… but that will come in time as we have the budget and priority projects get finished off. If it comes down to it, I can always mooch tools from relatives, but with the on-going nature of this project, I'd say having my own tools would be a priority. Wouldn't you?

In the meantime, we have the time to plan and budget. Here are some of the conclusions I've come to so far:

• I've run some numbers and it looks cheaper overall to buy new or used tools and mill down materials myself for consistency.

- This includes molding, trim, dentils, etc. along with flat rails & stiles.

• Using face-frames with pocket hole joinery seems to be the most efficient method for built-ins and wainscoting.

• MDF panels with poplar face-frames to be painted as desired seems to be an affordable and durable option.

• If I'm doing all of this custom, I may as well include window casing treatments and door trim, etc.

I've done sketches, worked out some basic dimensions, looked into some different period styles to use, but I haven't committed myself to any particular design or strategy. I'd really like to know what people's favorite, most useful, most ingenious, most hated types of built in are. Or what they think of a particular kind of wainscot construction. Then what the most popular or up-and-coming preferred style for this type of work they've been seeing or foresee. How about opinions on the most timeless style for a whole-house worth of millwork and casework?

We can live with our 4" colonial baseboards and matching 2 1/2" door trim, but there's a grand vision to replace all that and cover these plain gyp. bd. planes with classic craftsmanship. We can make do with mis-matched furniture and work surfaces and little storage, but someday we'll have a consistent, custom home interior with all of the work tops and handy storage and bookcases we could use... and not a stray wire in sight.

If any of this sounds appealing, nostalgic or even delusional, please, join in!

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It sounds appealing, nostalgic and totally delusional! :D I plan to do the same in my basement and ultimately the entire house. Of course I intend to live here the rest of my life...how could you sell a house you put that much work into? I can't fathom that. I've been chipping away at it slowly but surely. Good luck and have fun!

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Personally for something that is going to always be in style in my opinion you can't go wrong with the Shaker style. The square clean edges just work really well. It is also probably the easiest way to go. You can also break it up but adding beading to the inside of the build ins doors. Don't know how tall your ceilings are but I would suggest adding a nice coved crown molding. If you do this I also suggest changing the doors and trim in your house to be more shaker/craftsman style also. Use a 1x6x5/8 base and a 1x4x3/4 casing. But as I said that is my opinion.

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I love it. I wish I had your vision 12 years ago when we bought our house.

Go forth and enjoy the work ahead of it.


Do you want painted surfaces or wood?

I would recommend a combination if possible.

Do you want a theme for the whole house?

See if you can keep a main theme and have small tweaks in each room.

Do you have spousal support?

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