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Interior_20.jpgIt’s hard to imagine a South Bay home without the most basic and ubiquitous of built-ins: cabinets, drawers, and shelves. Kitchens and bathrooms are obvious spaces for built-in cabinets, but cabinets can help organize and beautify any room. 

Consider media cabinetry for living and entertainment spaces, cabinets for computers and their peripherals in workspaces, and built-ins for storing clothes, linens, and toys in bedrooms and closets.

When it comes to configuring built-in cabinets for your South Bay home, it is really important to think outside the box. 

For example, do you really want to load an outside wall with both base and wall cabinets when there’s the potential for a great view? Not ideal. 

Cabinet dimensions vary depending on their use and on standard ergonomic considerations. You can customize cabinet heights, depths, and layout if you order semi-custom or custom cabinets, or if you have the know-how to retrofit knock-down (KD) or ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets.

Although taller cabinets can be a back saver for tall people, think carefully about choosing an unconventional height for all cabinets in a kitchen or bathroom, as it may not appeal to buyers in the future. But if you plan on staying in your house a long time, go ahead and build to suit. 


Kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, and some cabinetry in other rooms, feature a toespace, or a toe kick. Created by the recessed frame that supports the cabinet or from trim that conceals cabinet support legs, the standard toespace is four inches high and three inches deep, whereas European-style cabinets often sport a toespace from five inches to eight inches high.

A higher toespace creates a more generous place to stand, makes it a bit easier to reach items on the bottom of the cabinet, and is more forgiving to vacuum cleaning and mopping, but also results in some lost storage space. 


But a higher toespace does make it easier to install a built-in step stool or heat and return-air registers. No matter how streamlined it looks, avoid a toespace lower than four inches, as it will be tough to clean well. 

Unfitted-style cabinetry features dark-painted toespace flanked with legs that mimic the look of furniture. Pilasters can be applied to corners or spaces between cabinets to add substance. In some kitchen and bath cabinetry, cabinets are set on plinths that project from the case.

This makes for an authentically traditional look, but also requires a deeply overhanging countertop to make room for your feet. A plinth or projecting base works fine for cabinetry in a living room or study, as you aren’t working at a countertop. 


For cabinetry that truly looks built-in, continue the style and height of the wall base around the cabinetry. If you prefer to finish off a built-in bookcase or cabinet with the look of furniture, consider a base shape and size that differs from the baseboard. 

Cabinets are meant to be functional workhorses, but they also set the style, and their build has a big impact on traffic patterns. Built-in cabinets can make more of an impact when they’re used judiciously, so don’t pack every square inch.