Architectural Details: Wonderful Built-Ins

If building a new house or renovating an older one, an important consideration that may enter the picture, if the budget allows, is built-in furniture. Developed by the architect of the house itself or somebody else, these pieces can help make a more cohesive environment, a la the Arts and Crafts style and architects like Frank Lloyd Wright.

Built-ins are found in many parts of the house, from custom bathtubs and kitchen cabinets to beds and dining tables. The following examples focus on family and living rooms, plus they mostly feature storage and chairs. They reveal how built-in furniture can be integrated with the design, occasionally in seamless ways.

Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects

This corner of a living room in residence designed by Steven Ehrlich follows the corner window that helps define the distance. A seat with side table takes advantage of the natural light spilling inside, and the seat cushions align with the base of the fireplace. The latter is fairly common, as later photos within this ideabook attest.

Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects

Another area in the house made by Ehrlich features built-in shelves cut into a wall under a clerestory window. Below is a built-in seat and additional storage behind wood doors. The degree of care is consistent with all the previous photograph, but notice the character of the space is rather different, owing to the wall color and the way the built-ins are comprehensive.

SB Architects

Another built-in seating area can be found within this indoor-outdoor space dominated by a big half-globe pendant. The Adirondack seat with yellowish cushions is aligned with a very distinctive fireplace. Just don’t mistake the latter for somewhere to sit down!

Elliott Kaufman

This pew-like (with angled back) bench seating extends for the whole length of an open living room, extending from the windows to…

Elliott Kaufman

…a fireplace adjacent to the kitchen. The fireplace is a transition involving the stone seat and the kitchen’s wood cabinets. As impressive as the kitchen cabinets are in their own right, the incorporated fireplace and chair help tie the big loft-like space together.

Charlie & Co.. Design, Ltd

Built-in shelves cover one wall of the family room from floor to ceiling. This vertical distance is split into five sections, the top one of which is devoted to clerestory windows. While the owners don’t appear to utilize these high shelves for display purposes, they could be a home for sculptures and other items that would seem good silhouetted against the light.

John Lum Architecture, Inc.. AIA

Again built-in shelves define a single side of a dwelling area where clerestories are available, but these are split by a fireplace coated in gray tiles.

Dirk Denison Architects

In this example floor-to-ceiling storage also defines one facet of a space, but in addition, it functions as a divider. This contemporary and minimal distance is enlivened by the items that the owners place on these shelves.

John Maniscalco Architecture

This built-in storage is nicely articulated: timber boxes, a few with intermediate shelves, are suspended from black steel supports. In the background that they act as a divider between the living area and stair, and the right foreground they last towards the kitchen.

Roger Hirsch Architect

This low built-in bookcase looks straightforward at first glance, but it is quite clever. It actually creates one side of a nicely that brings light from the skylight to the ground beneath. The other side of the light well is defined by the gray wall, which is also 1 facet of the stair (notice the handrail protruding slightly beyond the gray wall).

These last couple examples illustrate an apparent trend of integrating seating and/or storage with fireplaces. Here the gray stone foundation of the fireplace may also act as a seat in the front of the shelves that are built-in. Note the way the shelves continue to the left, framing window and door openings.

Jennifer Weiss Architecture

This fireplace includes white ceramic tiles that blend in the ceiling, but a dark foundation that contrasts with a timber seat near it. Wood drawers at the ground take advantage of the space under the seat and fireplace foundation.

Elliott Kaufman

This last photograph shows a built-in round a fireplace accommodating storage for firewood and seating for looking out the windows. It also reveals how the detailing may respond to the architecture: the timber paneling aligns with the top of the window at left; the timber wraps the corner just enjoy the same window, and a cutout at the corner at right allows for a small window opening adjacent to the seating.

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