We all know that pandemic living has been hard! The last 18+ months have presented all of us with many opportunities for taking a closer look at how we live, what brings us pleasure and joy, and also investigating more practical considerations, like, “how do I store all my stuff in a way that is aesthetically pleasing, but also functional?” This brings me to one of my favorite design topics: built-in cabinetry!
Whether it is a modern style “hutch” feature in a kitchen, or a genius way to store your wine collection, built-in architectural features bring wonderful visual focal points to any space, while also being a genius way to create highly functional storage elements that also happen to look amazing! I love designing built-in features, as they add tremendous value–the value of creating effective ways of organizing and displaying all your “stuff” while giving the room a wonderful dose of eye candy!
In this recently completed kitchen, I designed a built-in “hutch”– not your “Grandmother’s hutch”, mind you, but a fabulous, contemporary piece of cabinetry, fully integrated into the wall, and therefore having a flush finish. Because we built the new cabinetry fully into the wall, the new unit didn’t “steal” any space from the rest of the area. This piece of cabinetry beautifully balances the needs of the seating area (as a buffet and china cabinet), but also serves to “bridge” and act as a transitional focal point between the kitchen and kitchen dining area. Three different types of lighting really give the built-in extra “bling!”
In this home featured below, an eye-catching built-in cabinet (with cabinetry below and bookshelves above) brings depth and visual character to the room. The built-in was designed to run along one entire large section of wall of this room. Open shelves above the lower cabinetry provide apple storage and display space, while the lower cabinets give the homeowner lots of flexibility to store files, supplies, and whatever else they need to organize and store!
The nice collection of objects combined with the colorful books create a nice visual balance and character to the whole room.
In the image above, we see a very simple, but clever way to incorporate an entire little home office space below a set of stairs. The stairs appear to “float” in the way they have been built and cantilevered against one wall. In the concise area under the stairs, the homeowner has installed a simple bracketed system that includes a desktop and open shelves. A few large objects, such as the woven basket and striped box add needed volume, and visual dimension. The fun addition of the soft aqua paint adds even more flair to the overall space.
In a more traditional space, the renovated kitchen included a design for a new, eye-catching (but highly useful) hutch cabinet. Made to look like a beautiful piece of antique furniture, this cabinetry also houses a wine refrigerator, while providing great storage and extra counter and storage space! The sumptuous soft aqua paint added some needed balance and visual “bling” to the overall palette and space. Lovely design elements, like the curved brackets and the beautiful carved feet add some added charm to the piece. We used cut knobs for the cabinet hardware to add to the custom, special nature of the cabinetry. Soapstone was used on the countertop to add a beautiful, textural softness and contrast.
Kitchens are the place where built-in architectural elements and well-designed cabinetry really make a huge difference in ease and lifestyle! In the new kitchen below, we created visually symmetry by designing tall cabinetry elements that flank the refrigerator. The open, glass front china cabinet on the left provides both great storage and visual interest and warmth. The tall closed cabinet on the right is a large pantry cabinet that can be filled to the brim with dry goods and canned/jarred items–out of sight, but in easy reach when cooking!
Speaking of well-designed cabinetry, check-out the cabinet below, where interior lighting was installed in the upper (display) portion of the cabinet to create a gorgeous “glow” from within. Stunning!
In the same home, which had to be completely gutted and renovated due to an electrical fire, we had some fun detailing my client’s new treatment and office space. Because you first enter a small vestibule area from the garage, we wanted to highlight the sense of transition and the “importance” of the treatment/healing center space beyond. By creating a ½ wall, which was then detailed with square pilasters and open spaces above, we created a sense of both flow (from one space to the next) but also a sense of transition. The entry into the treatment space feels very special, and you get the sense of the purpose of the space (healing and harmony) by the heart shaped sconces on the wall!
My obsession with built-in elements doesn’t stop with built-in cabinetry elements and architectural moldings and details. I also love building in useful niches in both common and uncommon places. Below, in a newly designed and built bathroom for a client, I integrated a shampoo “niche” into the wall. The beautiful, pearlized mosaic tile we used was installed within the recessed niche, as well, to create this waterfall effect.
Another favorite built-in element: bars! With the need for greater entertainment space functionality at home, more and more people are loving incorporating entertainment centers, including beautiful bar areas. When it becomes difficult or less possible to go out, with your own seating/bar area, you can enjoy and entertain at home! The image below shows a bar area complete with beverage refrigerator, floating shelves and a sparkling, linear Italian glass tile backsplash. The cabinetry here has a unique, Sapele Mahogany veneer, which is truly exceptional. Modern, linear hardware completes the sleek, polished look!
And let’s not forget the visual power of creating an entire “composition” on a wall! Below, in my client’s new basement-level living room, I created a Mondrian-inspired asymmetrical “composition” by detailing the new fireplace wall with exotic wood panels and cantilevered benches. The asymmetry is designed in such a way that the wall feels very visually balanced, as the scale and placement of the panels, benches and shelves are located in such a way as to draw the eye around the whole wall. The result is pleasing, dynamic and well-balanced. This space is not quite finished–it will ultimately be lighted with LED strip lights behind the panels, and sconces on either side of the new fireplace. Stay tuned in my future blog to see the complete, finished space!
And, finally, another favorite built-in design feature–the built-in banquette. Restaurant style seating is as popular as ever, and works especially well when it is integrated into a corner of a room. In this kitchen/dining area, the space is wide open, and the kitchen leads right into the dining space. In this project, for a busy family of 5, I created an l-shaped, built-in banquette seating area, and installed a stunning pendant from Visual Comfort over the table. The seating area was so (purposefully) large, that I designed a custom built walnut and steel table to properly fill the space and accommodate the abundant seating! The family loves it, and (of course) can entertain many, many friends and family in their awesome space!
Built-ins of every kind can be created to suit your needs, lifestyle and budget. I love designing them, and promise you that they can transform the way you live! Dream it, and Mast Design can design and deliver!!