Military Weekend Warrior Project: Low Cost Den Design Update

Monday, July 16, 2018

Many homes built in the 1980’s were built with formal rooms in mind. This renovation home is no different. Although many homeowners are choosing to walk away from having a formal den or sitting area, to our family, this provides a sanctuary to relax, disconnect from electronic devices, and have one-on-one time with family and friends. As soon as I saw this room, I knew it had so much potential underneath the layers of white paint. Together, Ryan and I came up with a low-cost design plan that would not only bring style to the room, but allow us to keep storage in the room as a potential selling/rental point in the future.

Here is how we turned our den from a white-washed, unusable room to a peaceful retreat that will be enjoyed year-round:


Materials List

  • 1 Gallon Matte Paint (Retro Colonial Blue)
  • Paint Rollers
  • Edging Paint Brush
  • Citrus-Based Paint Stripper
  • Caulk
  • 2 Paint Stripping Blades
  • 24 Metal Shelf Pegs
  • 8 Cabinet Hardware Handles
  • 16 Cabinet Handles
  • Screwdriver
  • Impact Drill & Drill Bits
  • Gloves
  • Tape Measure

Step 1: Paint Stripping

Paint Stripping

Step 1

The top of the cabinets were covered with a thick white paint that hid the true beauty of the dark pine tops that were original to the home. To bring contrast to the room, we used a citrus-based paint stripper on the top of the cabinets. Be sure to wear gloves while handling this product. Apply generously and leave overnight. Try to keep the stripper from going up the side of the cabinet to reduce stripping (yes-this stuff really works!). The next morning it will likely peel off with ease! Some paint may still be stuck to the wood. Use a small paint stripping blade to strip any leftover paint gently. Do not dig into the wood or you will end up with lighter spots and gouging.

Step 2: Upper Cabinets

Upper Cabinets

Step 2

The first step will be to remove the current shelves. In our case, the previous homeowners installed a metal shelving system which would make it hard to paint the interior of the cabinets. We decided to remove the existing shelving system and replace with shelving pegs. This shelving system was installed with nails versus small screws. Whenever installing these systems, it is best to use small screws. Nails are easier to install, but if you ever have to remove the system, the nails will pull at the wood and damage the area around the nail hole. We carefully removed these nails and removed the cabinet system.

Step 3: Paint


Step 3

Using techniques discussed in our DIY Paint & Shadowbox Renovation, we painted the interior of the upper cabinets with the same Retro Colonial Blue we used in the dining room in Episode 1 of the Military Weekend Warrior Project. These rooms share a sight-line and now link together when you are looking through the rear of the home.

Step 4: Install Shelving

Install Shelving

Step 4

Use a tape measure to determine an equal distance for the shelving. If you have a piece of wood, cardboard, or some other measuring device cut to the proper length, it will make the process easier. Use an impact drill to create small holes to push the shelving pegs into. Do one shelf at a time and be sure to drill through both sides of the middle piece of wood. Install all pegs and lay the shelf on top of the pegs. If they are uneven, adjust the pegs accordingly by filling the hole and drilling a fresh hole.

Step 5: Install Hardwood on Lowers

Install Hardwood on Lowers

Step 5

Unscrew all previously installed cabinet hardware. Take existing hardware and try to see if the holes match the previous set. For us this did not occur, so we drilled new holes for the hinges on the back. We used the existing knob hole for one portion of the new hinge and drilled another hole below at the appropriate spot. Be sure to measure the distance for your control cabinet door to accurately install the rest and create an even look across the cabinets.

Voila! This room is now comfy, efficient, and brings value to the home that was not there before. We can’t wait for the winter months to have a great fire and relax.

Want to hear about upcoming episodes of the Military Weekend Warrior Project for more DIY tips and see our next adventure? Follow our YouTube playlist!

About the Author

Lynn Black is a graduate of Christopher Newport University with over a decade of experience in marketing strategies and content writing. She is a military spouse to a member of the United States Coast Guard. Lynn has experience completing numerous DIY projects both alongside her husband and while he is away.