The Wheres & Whys of Built-In Furniture

If you’re building a house, remodeling your existing house, or refurnishing, you may be considering built-in furniture. Naturally, you’ll have a lot of questions: why built-ins? Which furnishings should I build in? Where should I put it? Will I regret it? How much will it cost?

While you’ll have to make that choice on your own, there are many factors to take into consideration before decision time.

First, weigh the pros and cons of built-ins.

Advantages of built-in furniture:

  • Clears floor space for an open, airy feel and easy passage
  • May be customized to your needs and tastes
  • More subtle than heavy furniture
  • Efficient use of space, especially small or oddly-shaped spaces

Disadvantages of built-in furniture:

  • Permanence; difficulty in changing shelf or cubby configuration or removing entirely (you’re “stuck” with it in case of damage or style change)
  • Impossible to transfer to a new home
  • Often (but not always) more expensive than freestanding furniture
  • Limiting; once it’s in, you can’t move it to another part of the room or house

If you’ve decided that built-ins are right for you, now you’ll need to decide what you want to build in! The options are limitless; build in to any room to create a custom home.

Some ideas to get you started:

  • Bedroom: headboards, closets, dresser, night stand
Bedroom by Zorzi
Bedroom by Sealy Design Inc.
Built-in beds, via Architectural Digest
  • Bathroom: vanity, tub, shelves
Bathroom by Studio 511
Powder Room by Gary Keith Jackson Design Inc
Bathroom by Thyme & Place Design LLC
  • Living room: shelves, media center, seating
Living Room by Tommy Chambers Interiors, Inc.
Living Room by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design
Living Room by Amanda Ayres Interiors
  • Hallway & transitional spaces: bookshelves, desk, storage, window seat
Entry by Karen Joy Interiors
Hall by Yael K Designs
Hall by Arkin Tilt Architects
Hall by Artistic Designs for Living, Tineke Triggs
  • Laundry room: drying racks, ironing cabinet, shelves for supplies, pet bed, appliances
Laundry Room by Weaver Custom Homes
Laundry Room by Harrison Design
Laundry Room by Braam’s Custom Cabinets
Laundry Room by Leicht Westchester Kitchens
  • Mudroom or entry: cubbies, hooks, benches
Enry by Moore Architects, PC
Entry by Ann McCulloch Studio
Entry by Great Neighborhood Homes
  • Dining room: china closet, buffet
China hutch by Hostetler Custom Cabinetry
Dining Room by Niche Interiors
Dining Room by GDC Construction
  • Kitchen: banquette, appliances
Dining Room by Fiona Andrews Interiors Limited
Kitchen by modern house architects
Kitchen by Nicholaeff Architecture + Design
Surprisingly, built-ins may seem like the epitome of luxury, but they can actually be more cost-effective than freestanding furniture. A built-in unit will save you from hunting for the perfectly-sized piece (that may cost a lot due to an unusual shape). You can also get creative with DIY built-ins; check out IKEA Hackers (and this post from Good Housekeeping) to see how you can transform that nondescript bookcase!
IKEA Billy shelves, via Just a Girl

Now go reevaluate all those “useless” spaces in your house!