A huge part of being an interior designer is coming up with solutions to improve and make the most of spaces. It’s about making improvements that the homeowner will benefit from for years to come. Often referred to as “making life easier” through these changes. While interior designers can’t fix all of life’s troubles and obstacles (we wish we could!), we do strive to make your home work for you, and not against you.

One element of design that can really improve the look of an interior while adding valuable storage is built-ins! Often found in the living room or family room, built-ins are pieces of joinery that generally include storage cabinets or shelving to frame an area for a television.

I love designing built-ins for my clients because they improve the look of the room while adding a huge piece of functionality to it too. They also help to keep the space clear from clutter.

In this blog post, I’m going to explore the three main considerations that you should think about before adding a built-in to your space. Let’s take a look!


Individual Requirements


Firstly, it is important to establish the requirements needed. This will vary massively between each family because we all enjoy our family or living rooms differently. Plus, the items you keep here may be different from someone else, so it’s crucial to think about what you need the built-in to do for you to make your life easier and more organized for that specific space.

You may find it helpful to ask yourself questions like, “What would I like to store away that I currently don’t?” and “What can I store away 80% of the time?”

It is also helpful to take a good look at what you currently have on display in your family or living room. Then about whether you would like all of these items on display but within a built-in instead. Having a built-in for your room may enable you to have a cleaner and clearer room free from clutter and unnecessary items.


Not every project or family requires large amounts of storage so it is important to get clear on what types of storage you DO need. In this project, we designed cabinets and open shelving that flank a new window seat to provide storage and symmetry to the large window.



Storage is a huge advantage of built-ins, and if you’re able to design and build a custom piece, you’ll be able to customize everything! The extra storage built-ins provide can enhance the whole room because more items can be stored away out of sight. This is my favorite aspect of designing built-ins because more often than not, I can find a new home for most items in the room!

There are a few different types of storage you can consider and use:

Cabinets – These are great for storing lots of books and files or boxes. You can play with different sizes to suit your needs, and you could incorporate full-height cabinets on the outer sides of the built-in if needed.

Drawers – You may find these more accessible than cabinets because you can see everything more clearly. Drawers are ideal for storing kids’ toys or creating sections to store a variety of items.

Shelving – This is perhaps the least effective for storing items you’d like kept away because everything is “on display”, rather than stored inside something. You can however store and display a variety of books and magazines with shelving.

Depending on what you need to store in your built-in will depend on which storage solution is best for you. It may be that a combination of all of the above are required! In other instances, cabinets and open shelving will suffice. Make sure you maximize the entire space you have available and make the drawers, cabinets, or shelving as deep as possible to really get the most out of the space.


This is one of our current projects! The custom built-ins have mostly been installed now and will provide this family with lots of concealed storage in the cabinets, and display areas above on the shelving.




And of course, you’ll need to think carefully about the style of built-ins! This brings me to another reason why I love built-ins – each one is unique and tailored to the existing architecture of the space. It’s important that the new built-ins reflect the same or similar style as the rest of the home so it doesn’t look out of place. Built-ins should look like they have always been there.

For modern interiors, you will often see concealed pulls for cabinets or drawers. The drawers may even be on a push-latch mechanism to emphasize the sleek look of the built-ins.

With traditional interiors that feature crowns or moldings, these details will also be used for framing the built-ins. This helps to make the built-ins blend seamlessly with the rest of the interior. If there are cabinets here, decorative hardware is often selected to highlight this style too.


For this built-in design we created, we used modern materials and sleek lines to modernize the traditional bookshelf.


So there you have it! An insight into designing and creating built-ins from an interior designer’s perspective! Do you have built-ins at home? Have you got questions about designing your own built-ins? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!