A fireplace is a natural focal point in a living room. But sometimes it can command too much attention. A smart way to balance a fireplace wall is to add built-in cabinetry. These units can create symmetry while adding storage and display space for decorative items. And their built-in nature gives the overall design a more intentional look than standalone units might. Here, design and remodeling pros share details about incorporating built-ins in recent living room projects.

Younger Homes

1. Black-and-White Boldness

Builder: Danielle Younger of Younger Homes
Architect: Danze & Davis Architects
Designer: Haley Manning
Location: Jonestown, Texas

Homeowners’ request. A family lakeside vacation home with high-end architectural design. “They wanted a cozy retreat to spend their weekends away from the bustle of the big city and to host friends and family,” builder Danielle Younger says.

Built-in storage. Floating cabinets and light oak shelves flank a floor-to-ceiling fireplace with black painted shiplap (Tricorn Black by Sherwin-Williams). “You will find perfect symmetry in the open wood shelving and floating cabinets with oversized gold pulls,” Younger says. “The open shelving allows the owners to display all of their sentimental treasures, while the cabinets provide ample storage for family games, cozy blankets and books.”

Other special features. Large windows with views of Lake Travis and the surrounding Hill Country. Twenty-foot ceiling with exposed light oak structural beams. Large, industrial-style black chandelier with exposed bulbs. “You do not notice the most unique feature of the home when inside, but the home hangs entirely off the side of a cliff, allowing for the most incredible views from every angle inside this room,” Younger says.

Designer tip. “The use of simple, natural elements can really elevate a room,” Younger says. “Sometimes less is more, and in this space that really reigns true. While there is great detail in the architecture and design, it’s not overwhelming.”

“Uh-oh” moment. “As builders who bring the design to life, we often find ourselves studying Houzz inspiration photos and pushing ourselves to meet the design intent,” Younger says. “In the case of this fireplace, we wanted the shiplap to seamlessly surround the direct-vent gas fireplace, but due to the combustible nature of wood, we had to find a cost-effective and safe way to maintain the design aesthetic. To solve this problem, the homeowner opted to use large-format black tile with dark grout to integrate a cohesive fireplace surround.”

Chandelier: Sonoro, 50 inches, Linea di Liara; wall paint: Chantilly Lace, Benjamin Moore

Swanson Homes

2. Stone and Stained-Wood Stunner

Designer: Dalia Carter of Carbon 6 Interiors
Builder: Swanson Homes
Location: Mound, Minnesota

Homeowners’ request. “The homeowner had a vision for a rustic, warm, inviting and cozy space for this room,” designer Dalia Carter says. “We added additional beams, a matching mantel and a tumbled natural stone fireplace.”

Built-in storage. Stained alder cabinetry is recessed into the wall. “The homeowner wanted to bring balance to this room and wanted a closed area to hide away some items — yet have ample display area for the items that they wanted to feature,” Carter says.

Other special features. Distressed wood beams and matching mantel. Tumbled natural stone fireplace surround with stacked boulders on either side. Wide-plank hardwood floors.

Designer tip. A Samsung Frame TV displays artwork when the TV is off. “The Frame TV was perfect for the space because the placement is prominent above the fireplace,” Carter says. “It offers beautiful frame and artwork options that allowed us to add more beauty to the space versus a regular TV.”

Wall paint: White Dove, Benjamin Moore

Stephanie Alegre Interiors

3. Bright and Breezy

Designer: Stephanie Alegre Interiors
Location: Holmdel, New Jersey

Homeowners’ request. “The overall theme was open, light and bright, yet warm and inviting,” designer Stephanie Alegre says.

Built-in storage. White cabinetry and trim (White Dove by Benjamin Moore). “The built-in storage was designed completely custom to fit the client’s needs for storage, and shelving to display family photos, books and decorative items,” Alegre says. “The client also wanted space to incorporate and display items they would eventually collect from their travels.”

Other special features. Wide-plank white oak flooring stained a warm medium brown. Steel beam covered in white oak. Comfortable sectional. Ottomans in front of the fireplace for additional seating. “The client originally wanted the TV to be hidden, but I suggested a [Samsung] Frame TV as a solution.

Designer tip. “Always incorporate different textures for design depth,” Alegre says. “And less is more when styling and accessorizing.”

“Uh-oh” moment. “When this humongous steel beam was brought in, my first thought was, ‘How will I incorporate this into the design and make it look beautiful and intentional?’ ” Alegre says. “I decided to cover the beam in white oak panels, recessing the bottom panel for a bit of dimension and consistency with the built-in and trim design. Even though the room is not symmetrical, it still has a feeling of symmetry.”

Wall paint: Classic Gray, Benjamin Moore

Remedy Design Firm

4. White-and-Wood Winner

Designers: Stacy Andersen and Joey Johnson of Remedy Design Firm
Location: Mapleton, Utah

Homeowners’ request. A cohesive open concept for hosting guests.

Built-in storage. To keep the units from feeling too stark, the designers created a two-tone look with white cabinetry (Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore) interspersed with rift-cut oak countertops, shelf backing and library-catalog-style drawers. Running the shiplap wall details behind the shelves and adding X details on the cabinet fronts creates texture and visual interest.

Other special features. A cast-stone fireplace surround adds dimension.

Designer tip. 
“Originally on the plans, the fireplace was drawn to be on the side of the room on an angled wall,” designer Stacy Andersen says. “We suggested centering the fireplace and making the space symmetrical.”

AE Interiors

5. Dynamic Decor

Designer: Ashley Evans of AE Interiors
Location: Katy, Texas

Homeowner’s request. 
“She wanted to bring in more textures and dimension to the clean lines of her already-existing built-ins and fireplace,” designer Ashley Evans says. “We went with a heavier contrast for accents and decor to replace the previous coastal theme she had.”

Built-in storage. “The home featured existing white floating shelf-style built-ins, so our goal was to give them more interest and contrast through the decor,” Evans says. A mix of wicker baskets, vases and framed artwork in a neutral palette adds style and interest.

Other special features. “We opted for two sofas over a sectional to keep the walk path open,” Evans says.

Designer tip. “Greenery,” Evans says. “Bring the outside in through lots of natural textures and greenery. This helps a room feel more organic and cozier rather than sterile and cold.”
Courtesy: houzz.com
Posted by Teri-Lynn Jones on


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