Custom Built in Bookcases and Cabinets

Dress up your Home with Custom Built in Bookshelves and Cabinets

By Mark J. Donovan

Custom built in bookcases and cabinets bring functionality and charm to an otherwise plain home office or library. They enable homeowners to display and hide items while removing clutter from a room. They are also ideal for recreation rooms and master bedrooms. Custom built in bookcases and cabinets do not need to be limited to just storing books and knick knacks, however. They can also be designed and fabricated to function as entertainment centers for housing media equipment and for desk work space area.

When specifying custom built in book cases and cabinetry there are a few key design items you should carefully consider.

First and foremost is flexibility. Custom built ins are designed as permanent fixtures to a home or room. Consequently it is important that they stand the test of time and can be easily adapted for different applications. As a result, shelving height, for example, should be adjustable in custom built in bookcases and cabinets.

Likewise multiple wire access ports should be discretely integrated into the back of the cabinetry and shelving to enable consumer electronics and equipment to be powered and connected together.


Custom Building of Bookcases and Cabinets Custom Built in Bookcases and Cabinets


Another major consideration when spec’ing out custom built in cabinets and bookshelves is to include an adequate combination of open and closed shelving. For example, with many wall to ceiling custom built in bookcases and cabinets the upper half may be open bookshelves for easy viewing and access, and the lower half closed door cabinetry for hiding items.

Quality of materials is another major consideration when specifying custom built in bookshelves and cabinets. Hardwood materials cost more, however they are typically more stable to temperature and humidity changes, and will hold up better to inevitable bumps and bangs.

Your wood material choice should also be a function of how you anticipate finishing the custom built in bookcases and cabinets. If you plan to stain and polyurethane the finished cabinetry then it is important to use select wood lumber, be it hard or softwood. If, on the other hand, you plan to paint the custom built in bookcases and cabinets, then you may be able to use a lesser grade lumber material. All knots, however, will need to be sealed first prior to painting.

Just as important is the mechanical hardware that is chosen for your custom bookcases and cabinetry. Make sure to select hardware that is rugged in construction and that will not corrode over time.

Architectural design and placement is another major consideration when specifying custom built in cabinets and bookshelves. It is important that the bookcases and cabinets blend in well with the surrounding wall and room surfaces. For example, the inclusion of custom built in bookcases on either side of a fireplace is a common placement style. With this example, the built in bookcases and cabinets help to accent a focal viewing point in the room while not impacting the room’s useable floor space.

Finally, the decision to integrate lighting into the custom built in bookcases and cabinets is another important consideration. In some cases the lighting can be hidden from view while still lighting up displayed items in the shelving and bookcases. Alternatively the inclusion of spot or recessed can lighting into the ceiling just in front of and above the custom built ins is another excellent lighting alternative.

So before you enlist the services of a wood cabinetry craftsman to construct your custom built in bookcases and cabinets make sure you’ve thoroughly considered these items first.

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