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The Advantages of Built Ins: Modern Bedroom Built Ins & Custom Storage Ideas for the 21st Century

Craftsman Style Built In Storage Has Made a Comeback!

Custom built in furniture (furniture that is attached or recessed into the wall and can't be moved) was a very popular feature of homes during the American Arts and Crafts Movement. These Craftsman style homes prevailed across the USA from the late 1890s through the 1920s. Built ins are highly coveted as one of the hallmarks of older Craftsman style homes. Whether it's bookcases flanking the fireplace or a built in china cabinet in the dining room, Craftsman style homes typically feature an abundance of built in storage. Many middle or working class homes favored these built ins over traditional furniture due to the combination of ample storage with an economical use of space. Unfortunately, handcrafted storage solutions fell out of favor after WWII due to the economies of tract homes and mass produced goods. Built ins have recently made a comeback, however, with a twist. The new 21st century built ins are custom handcrafted pieces — just as they were in the American Craftsman era — but are available in more styles. Today's built ins range from from traditional, to transitional, to modern or contemporary — plus, of course, craftsman style.

Middle class homeowners are once again looking to reap the benefits of custom built in storage as newer materials and manufacturing techniques have brought prices into a friendly range.

Built ins can be incorporated into any room of the home as an alternative to freestanding furniture. Built in bookcases look lovely surrounding a fireplace. Wardrobe closet systems can be used to add storage to any room of the home. The most efficient home offices utilize built in storage to keep papers and other materials organized. Attic rooms, oddly shaped and tiny spaces often have no other choice other than custom built ins for storage due to size and space configurations.

Because they cannot be moved after installation without deconstruction, built ins are favored by those who plan to stay in their homes for a while. Custom built ins are often seen as another way to transform a house into a dream home. More and more frequently, it is the preferred storage solution for owners of both new and older homes who are looking to maximize storage potential while leaving a personal stamp on their home.

The Advantages of Different Types of Built In Storage:


    Whether you have a large bedroom or a small one, it can probably benefit from built in storage. Because it is designed and constructed to fit within the individual space parameters of the room, custom built ins can provide more storage in the same amount of space than off-the-shelf furniture solutions. When less furniture is needed due to the use of built ins, there is more floor space for other activities. Built ins take advantage of every inch of space. When it spans an entire wall, having built ins also makes keeping the room clean a lot simpler by eliminating the wasted nooks and crannies here dust and dirt typically accummulate.

    bedroom built ins for girls room
    Bedroom built ins for this child's room provide storage plus a convenient window seat while maintaining a maximum amount of open floor space for play.

    Custom built in storage is often the only option for small, oddly shaped rooms. Built in storage can be inserted into a knee wall (the low wall often found in attics between the slanted ceiling and the floor), or custom fitted to work with odd angles and spaces.

    bedroom built ins for girls room
    This built in is fitted into the wall of the new attic nursery. The room is very small and can accommodate little more thasn a crib and a rocking chair. There was no other place to put any storage pieces. Traditional furniture would have used up what little floor space was available.

    All true window seats need to be custom built in in order to achieve the traditional cozy nook for sitting. Sticking a bench in front of window will not yield the same effect. A custom design will take advantage of all available space with no gaps. Storage can be incorporated into the seat through the use of lower cabinets or a seat that tilts open like a toy box.

    built in window seat
    A custom built in is usually the only way to achieve a traditional cozy window seat.

    Wardrobe closets have been around a long time. Before builders started to include what we currently think of as a modern closet, all homes relied on wardrobes for storage. Freestanding wardrobes are still available today in most furniture stores. However, they cannot match the storage potential of a built in solution. A custom built in wardrobe can be made to fit any size space and its height, width and depth can be made to vary within the unit to accommodate the needs of the space it occupies.

    closet storage added to hall with custom built in
    Closet storage added to hallway with custom built in wardrobe closet. Although the unit was designed to span the entire wall, notice how the depth of the closet was made shallower in front of the staircase landing to allow for more floor space in this area.

    The back door is commonly a space where the mess of coats, backpacks, boots and more just pile up. Even when there is a closet, the kids frequently won't use it. If you want your children to hang up their things and take off their shoes when they come in, you may need to provide hooks rather than hangers and seating so that it is easy to remove footwear. When everything has a place where it is supposed to go that is easily accessible and convenient to use, you have a better chance of getting everyone to put their things away, especially in families with more than one child. The built in hall tree offers a lot more storage than off the shelf solutions. It is also anchored to the wall so that no matter how many heavy items are hung from its hooks or who jumps off its seat, it will never fall over.

    built in mud room storage replaces traditional closet
    This built in mud room storage takes advantage of all available space while providing a more family friendly storage solution than traditional rear entry closets. The kids might actually hang up their coats, backpacks, and put away their shoes/boots with storage like this.

    Some storage needs simply require a custom built unit to fit the space. Floating cabinets and media centers are one example and must be anchored to the wall. This gravity defying look is very popular in contemporary style homes, but requires a modern built in entertainment center to achieve the look. Likewise, many fireplace bookcases and wall units need to be built in to truly achieve the look of a full surround. Stock units will not be able to run flush with the wall or adjust for irregularities in the walls or ceilings.

    floating entertainment center is a type of modern built in storage
    This floating entertainment center is a type of modern built in storage that cannot be achieved with traditional furniture.
    custom built in bookcases
    Custom built in bookcases flank the fireplace while accommodating the HVAC returns in the ceiling and a curved hearth.

    Closets are one of the first things that come to mind when discussing 21st century built ins. Elaborate closet systems were not a player during the previous go round of built ins during the American Craftsman era of the early 20th century. However, custom built in closet systems have become de rigueur in today's high end housing, no matter whether it's a large house or tiny condo. Their increasing popularity transcends all economic levels as more and more people realize that it is actually cheaper if you can stay organized and fit all your stuff into less space. Custom built in closet systems allow this to happen, saving the homeowner money in the long run, while keeping them organized and contented in their space.

    custom closet built ins
    Custom closet built ins will provide more storage in less space.
  • Built ins will never be able to match the discount prices of low end mass produced furniture, but the higher handcrafted quality has made homeowners sit up and take notice. The high quality and individualizaion, coupled with the ability to provide more storage in less space, can make custom built ins an economical choice for many families. As the cost per square foot continues to climb in modern residences, more and more homeowners will turn to custom built ins as a way to achieve more with less.