Even though a home remodel (or build) will increase in cost when more elements are added, you can’t overestimate the value that built-ins bring to a house.
Before considering the value and added benefits of built-ins, let’s be clear on exactly what they are.
A built-in is a nailed down element that extends beyond the basic house container, with the purpose of improving a home’s functionalityand livability, and at the same time making it more personal and comfortable.
While finish trim details, such as crown molding and wainscoting, are examples of built-ins because they go beyond the basic framework of the house, they are considered decorative. Cabinets, shelves, seats, fireplace surround, and closets are the clear workhorses.
Where can you put built-ins?
Built-ins can be installed anywhere in the home. They can be used to claim potentially lost space: the knee wall under a sloped ceiling, the stud wall for shallow shelves. Fit drawers and closets under stairs or tucked under built-in seating.
Add a super-shallow hutch to a kitchen hallway. Make built-ins easy to use: place prime storage between 20 in. and 40 in. above the floor. Keep shelves shallow so that it’s easy to see everything. If storage must be deep, choose either a pull-out shelf behind a door or a drawer.
Built-ins can fill a space that’s too big or smooth out irregular corners.
There are many benefits to using built-ins wherever you can. But if we were to narrow them down to only three, here they are:
Built-ins define style and shape space
Built-ins can define a room’s style with details, color, shape, size and configuration. Design built-ins in harmony with the existing style of your home by incorporating the same trim or proportions, or take the opposite tack and design new built-ins in a contrasting style, such as modern cabinets in a traditional home.
Either way, make the design purposeful, not a near miss.
Built-ins can shape the room physically. While built-in cabinets, bookshelves, and seating will give character and a sense of shelter to any space, they are particularly valuable for making a too-big and characterless space more comfortable.
A bank of cabinets can carve a room into smaller, more intimate spaces and can guide circulation. Tall bookshelves can create a visual buffer so that a private space is sheltered from a public space. But built-ins are great for small spaces, too, as they can add tidy storage from floor to ceiling, even when tucked into a stud wall.
Built-ins make storage and display space
Built-in cabinets and closets are, of course, highly functional, and that’s a perfect reason to build them in anywhere you see fit. Cabinets and closets store your gear so it doesn’t look cluttered and so that you can retrieve it when you need it. Built-in shelves offer display space for your treasures, from collections and art objects to photographs and books.
You can choose open shelves or closed, depending on your needs and how much dusting is tolerable. Pocket doors can be a compromise between being either open all the time or closed all the time.
Shelves can be adjustable, especially in the children’s room, but keep them fixed if you know what you’ll be storing and don’t plan on moving shelves around.
When versatility is prime or space is at a premium, however, sometimes it’s best to stick to furniture rather than built-ins, such as using a rolling cart instead of an island in a kitchen.
Built-ins add comfort and charm
The space- and style-shaping qualities of built-ins, along with obvious utility, are what add security, appeal, and comfort to a room as well as a home.
A built-in breakfast nook can bring the busy members of a family together in close quarters for at least a little while, either at breakfast or during an informal dinner. People are by nature drawn to light, so a built-in window seat makes a favorite destination.
Bookshelves on each side and a lowered ceiling above can create a cozy niche for a solo person to read a book or watch the skies or for several people to snuggle.
The design and configuration of built-ins are an integral part of the character and expression of your home’s interior, and when used correctly, allow you to live well in it.
Use them anywhere you can!
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