Custom Built In Furniture | Smart Design

Michelle, principal of Studio M, and ASID designer, shares with us the benefits and how to’s of custom builtins. >>

There’s nothing in this world more beautiful and impressive than a finely- crafted built-in furniture piece. A piece that has time and energy, heart and soul put into every dove joint, screw, and brush stroke. How much actually goes into a custom built-in furniture piece, you ask? Oh, let me count the ways…

Coastal Classic Media Center

Here is a fine example of a custom built-in.  It is so important to have good craftsmen! We have:

  • beautiful shaker-style doors
  • recessed panels in grass cloth to soften the look  (and hide speakers and equipment where necessary!)
  • a perfect-fit housing for a man-friendly flat screen TV
  • a stunning display niche with grid and arch trim to give the wife a place for her beach treasures
  • and more than enough gorgeous “hiding places” for any media accessory, cds, or blue-rays one might have- neatly tucked away
  • (not to mention that lovely extra little detail of the feet!)

Coastal Classic Banquette

This custom banquette is a fun way to think outside the box! There’s a lot that goes into planning for a piece like this…you have to know your table height and any other apron underneath, the appropriate space needed for knees and legs, seat depth, and even how thick your seat cushion is plays into the height of this piece. Not to mention the antique glaze finish carefully applied in each nook and cranny of the bead board paneling. Other features include:

  • Built-in storage underneath the cushions
  • Room for colorful throw pillows

Contemporary Nautical Built-in Bed for Kids

This snazzy bunk for four to six children not only is a great space-planning solution, but is full of interest and intrigue that would make any kid want to show it off to all his friends! What makes this work…

  • Each child has their own “space” without feeling closed-in.
  • The top bunks have twin mattresses, while the bottom ones have full mattresses.
  • The drawers underneath provide extra storage and are a God-send to moms!
  • The contrast in stains are bold and whimsical, while still timeless and can grow with the kids.
  • Each cubby has its own light so as not to feel too cave-like and to make it easy to read that book they have a report due on in two days!
  • Sleek lines still give it a contemporary look and feel, which is appropriate for the other rooms in this home, but still a hint of a nautical feel!

Olde World Men’s Home Study

I think it’s safe to say all men love wood. But you know what they love even more? A space they can call their own- filled with wood. There is a lot of attention to detail here! From the manly wrought iron hardware to the column detail between each section. They really add character, substance, and grandeur to this reading nook. Where’s the beef? It is right there! Without those details, the shelving and cabinets would look flat, plain, and unimpressive.


As you can see, a lot goes into designing custom built-in furniture. You start with measurements (lots of them!) and concept drawings, you collaborate with you craftsman and his shop to work out details, choose hardware (including style, size, finish, placement and whether or not your hinges are even visible), you determine depth and profile of all your doors, drawers, and trim, stains, paints, and special finishes like crackling, pickling, and antiquing, and you incorporate holes for wiring and placement for lighting. Whew! There, my friends, is the heart and soul that creates such a show-stopping labor of love.

Studio M, author of this feature, is a Interior Design firm in Tampa, Florida. Michelle would love to talk to you about designing a commercial or residential space expressly for you.

You can also find a full list of all our global mentors [ who are top professional interior designers ] on our Mentors Page.



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