Columned Room Divider
Columned Room Divider
In cavernous family rooms, built-ins can graciously carve out more intimate spaces and designate zones for specific activities, from dining and lounging to working and entertaining. The owners of this Colonial Revival–style home wanted a portion of their large great room to serve as a kind of private living room and study where they could relax with a good book or catch up on office work. Rather than split the large space in two with a solid wall, architect Mark Hughes designed a less imposing columned divider with built-in bookshelves and cabinets. A wide, open area at the top preserves the great-room feeling without sacrificing the coziness of the separate living and working spaces. On the office side, study carrels and shelves hold a selection of the homeowners' weighty legal books (both are lawyers). On the living room side, the open cubbies are lined with natural cherry wood; the closed cabinets below hold more books and memorabilia.
IDEA: Use built-ins to mask structural members. The hollow wooden column seen at left perfectly conceals a 3-by-4-inch steel post that supports the ceiling's load and the master bathroom upstairs.
Stair-Wall Wine Cellar
Stair-Wall Wine Cellar
Unless you've got a Boy Wizard bunking under your stairs, chances are you're not putting the space to very good use. In this case, the kitchen designer made the neglected area a stylish focal point where the homeowners could store and display their favorite wines. Glass decanters and stemware are concealed within the stained-pine cabinetry, and paraphernalia like corkscrews and coasters live in the drawers. The triangular treatment looks difficult to design and install, but the majority of the space is occupied by standard rectangular cabinets and drawers. Only the top cabinet and bottle rack required special cuts and assembly. "Getting a proper fit all depends on how well you can measure and get the dimensions to work out," says John Troxell, director of design at Wood-Mode, the company that made the cabinets. Wide trim boards on the top and sides of the unit help hide any unsightly gaps or scribing where the cabinets were inserted into the wall cavity.
IDEA: Keep dust from collecting in glasses or stored china by using built-in cabinets with doors instead of open shelving. Choose from solid wood doors, ones fitted with glass panes—popular in kitchens—and hinged tempered-glass panels.
Bedrooms in old houses often lack a proper closet, and this 1880s Folk Victorian farmhouse was no different. A time-honored solution is to build a floor-to-ceiling wardrobe that spans the length of a single wall, but that approach can look monolithic, while also eating up usable floor space. For this child's room, architect Anthony Vermandois broke with tradition by claiming a corner—unexploited real estate in most rooms—to build a wardrobe with an adjoining, stepped-down shelving unit that tops out before reaching the ceiling. "It's a closet that doesn't gobble up all the visual space," he says. And the varying heights make the single built-in look more like two individual pieces of furniture. The wardrobe is 24 inches deep to accommodate standard clothes hangers, but for a similar cabinet in a hallway to hold linens, a shallower 16- or 20-inch depth will do.
IDEA: Construct built-ins with materials that are appropriate to the age and style of the house in which they are installed. The wardrobe below is made from a rustic-looking beadboard paneling that's perfectly suited to an old farmhouse.
Built-ins that create an alcove for freestanding furniture can give pride of place to a new home-theater setup or call attention to the craftsmanship of a fine antique. During the renovation of an 1840s farmhouse, the homeowners asked designers Rick and Liz O'Leary to integrate a handsome chest of drawers into the master bedroom's walk-in closet. The O'Learys responded with a pair of tall shelving units that flank the chest, framing it with just two inches of clearance on either side to give the piece a sense of permanence in the room. The same approach in a master bathroom, with built-in shelving around a vanity table, could provide close-at-hand storage for towels and toiletries, eliminating the need for a medicine cabinet over the sink.
IDEA: Design clothing storage for specific functions. A 10-inch-wide shelf is ideal for men's shoes, while 8 inches is typically the max required for women's. Allow 12 inches for folded shirts and sweaters.