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A Study of Built-Ins

A Study of Built-Ins

Many homes built before 1960 have original built-in furniture. When you say “built-ins” today, most people think of cabinetry that’s built to fit into a space. These custom pieces are often set right into the wall of a room. While these are the most common, today’s upswing in custom built-ins includes hiding away whole appliances (seemingly) within the walls.

Vintage homes boast built-ins like original butler’s pantries, bookshelves and more. For homes built in recent decades, the contrast of few-to-NO built-ins makes the vintage vibe even more apparent in vintage spaces.

Built-ins for storage and appliances are regaining intense adoration from designers and homeowners alike. They’ve become one of the biggest custom requests in high-end cabinetry today.


What are built-ins?

Built-ins refer to one of two things:

  1. Custom cabinets built to fit a specific space
  2. Cabinets that are set into the wall (requiring cutting through)

Not all built-in cabinets require cutting into walls, as you can see! If you have an unused doorway or an alcove that’s not doing anything for you functionally (or aesthetically), you can have a cabinet designer create a built-in. That space can be used for whatever you’re capable of dreaming up. (Storage? A hide-away pantry? A standing desk station for the days you work from home?…)


Why now? Why are built-ins back?

Built-ins are not just back to go “vintage.” They aren’t just a play off the HUGE recurrence of traditional furniture and design. Their balance of optimal function and clean aesthetic has simply won homeowners over.

Why did built-ins ever go away? Simply put, they’re permanent…

Function and sleek design have won the market over again, though. Everything from a small nook in the hallway to the entryway “landing zone” for keys and mail can be beautifully enhanced with a custom built-in.

Other built-in benefits include…

  • Better use of space without disrupting traffic in a room
  • Seamless look and integration into your interiors
  • Smaller footprint than other storage
  • Give an enhanced, upscale look
  • Totally customized by default


Where should you put built-ins?

The only limit of where you can put built-ins is the edge of your imagination.

Here are some parts of your home to think about…

  • In the entryway: use open-shelf built-ins here for beautiful displays. Welcome your guests with a breathtaking first impression
  • In the dining room: the China cabinet does NOT have to stick out from one wall of your dining room!!
  • In the bathroom: these are discretely aesthetic over the toilet to discretely hold towels, bath tissue, and other bathroom supplies…
  • In the bedroom: actually DO something with one of those empty walls in the bedroom!! Maybe you need a study area with drawers and bookshelves?…
  • In the guestroom: in the same way that your bedroom can benefit from built-ins, consider storing all your hosting supplies right there in the guestroom
  • In the laundry room: is your laundry room practical for how you like (or wish you could) clean? You could be one built-in away from your dream set-up…


What are common types of built-ins?

Once you start talking with a renovation firm about your projects (including built-ins, whole remodels, or whatever you’re pining to get done), you’ll have PLENTY of built-in options to talk about.

These are the most common types of built-ins…

  • Bookshelves
  • Cabinets
  • Beds
  • Wall units
  • Under-stair
  • Window seats


Built-ins for appliances

Many kitchen appliances are being hidden away as built-ins, too.

This project of ours that we chronicled on Facebook has a whole WALL of appliances built in with a hidden door to the laundry room…your options really are endless!

Facing the decision of built-in appliances or freestanding ones in your kitchen renovation is a conversation to have with your designer. A strategy session with a professional will help you assess the benefits of each.

Style, of course, is part of the conversation. Style preference is then balanced against cost. (Typically, more modern kitchens benefit from the seamless look of built-in appliances. Other spaces with a more traditional or transitional look might benefit more from freestanding pieces.)

Get more design tips and renovation inspiration in our private design community! Join the conversation on Facebook…

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