One great way to give your living or family room a relatively small but impactful makeover is to add built-ins. Before you meet with a designer, think about what you want to hide from view but keep handy, such as toys, media equipment or CDs you’ll never part with, to put in closed cabinetry. Then think about what you want to display — books, favorite photos, collections and artwork. Including these things in the conversation with your designer will be important in customizing the design to function for your needs. As for style, check out these 12 examples of beautiful built-ins to see if they inspire ideas for your home.
KitchenLab Interiors
1. Family-Friendly

This vacation home in Coconut Grove, Florida, is shared by an extended family that includes six children. Interior designer Rebekah Zaveloff of KitchenLab Interiors replaced a modern bar with some much-needed cabinetry and shelving that better suited the family. “The house had zero other shelving or built-ins, and we wanted to make this space cozy and library-like,” she says. The cerused rift-cut white oak shelves suit the tropical site without screaming “beachy.” And while she gave the shelves a jump-start with vintage pieces, the family anticipates filling them with books over time.

Tamara Rene Designs
2. Warmed by Textures

In a room with a TV, built-ins are a great way to conceal unsightly media equipment. Interior designer Tamara Rene balanced this imposing fireplace surround with lovely built-ins on one side.
Tamara Rene Designs
Here’s a closer look at Rene’s design. Grilles on the cabinet doors lend a lighter look, while wide shiplap planks add texture behind the shelves.

Gather Projects
3. White and Wood

These built-ins by Gather Projects for a Phoenix home have many details to love. The cabinetry in the living room includes doors and drawers for storage. Wood paneling behind the open shelves adds warmth, while library lights above the shelving illuminate the beautiful objects.
SKIN Interior Design
4. Traditional Drawers

While cabinet doors are more common in living and family rooms, drawers can be a great option. In this Chicago living room by SKIN Interior Design, drawers beneath the shelves lend the look of built-in chests. The built-ins give the eclectic room some traditional bones.
SKIN Interior Design
Depending on what you need to store, drawers can be more functional than cabinet doors, and they are easier to access. They’re great for stashing items like laptops, papers, table linens, correspondence supplies and more. And you may want to include an outlet inside one for charging personal devices.
5. Deep Drawers

In this room by DTLA design, deep drawers with hidden hardware provide a clean contemporary look. Deep drawers are a wonderful solution for storing toys while keeping them easily accessible.
Seth Romig Architect
6. Clever Adjustability

Architect Seth Romig’s careful planning created a cohesive design for this TV wall. The open shelves are nestled into niches above low cabinets. Wood along the top of the cabinets ties them to the shelves.

One of the best design moves is the way Romig made the shelves adjustable by adding chunky pieces of wood to support them. They’re a terrific example of a functional architectural detail.

Tom Kuniholm Architects, AIA
7. Architectural Harmony

The professionals at Tom Kuniholm Architects had to come up with a storage-and-display solution that would work in concert with spectacular walls of windows. And they had to work with a slanted ceiling to boot. They designed stunning built-ins that play off the proportions of the windows and follow the ceiling’s slant.
DAG Design
8. Perfectly Proportioned

Cara Fineman of DAG Design created cozy window seat niches between these beautiful built-ins. “We added built-in cabinetry to this space as a way to make this enormous family room feel a bit less cavernous, and to add interest and more color to the room,” she says. The proportions of the cabinets and shelving work in harmony with the proportions of the fireplace, artwork and windows.
DAG Design
Here’s a closer look at the cabinetry’s grilles and hardware. “We chose brass mesh for the lower cabinets to break up all of the white and to tie in the brass fixtures in the kitchen off of this family room,” Fineman says. These details serve as jewelry for the room.

Lucy Harris Studio
9. Midcentury Flair

These ready-made casework pieces, designed in 1948 by Danish inventor Poul Cadovius, lend midcentury modern flair to this Brooklyn, New York, living room. Lucy Harris Studio had them mounted to the wall on either side of the fireplace. In a home where space is tight, floating casework above the floor makes the room feel larger and airier.
CACC Construction & Consulting Inc
10. Sharp Contrast

By painting the areas behind these shelves, the team at CACC Construction & Consulting prevented the fireplace and favorite objects from being lost in a sea of white. The accent color draws the eye and makes the shelves and the items displayed on them pop.

Fautt Homes
11. Dust-Free Display

For those who don’t like the idea of dusting open shelves and the objects that occupy them, there’s still a great way to enjoy displays. Glass cabinet doors will allow you to view the items and keep the dust out. In this lovely room by Fautt Homes, arched doors add an architectural feature in keeping with the French chateau-inspired style of the home.
KAZ Luxury Homes
12. Playful Staggering

KAZ Luxury Homes enhanced this groovy space with staggered wooden shelves that emphasize verticality. The wood plays off the ceiling, while the playful, colorful pieces on the shelves liven up the space.

Ready for some built-ins for your home? Design pros who can help you design and build the right pieces for your needs include architectsinterior designerscarpentersdesign-build firmscabinet pros and general contractors.

Posted by Teri-Lynn Jones on


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