Home Improvements

Pros and Cons of Built-In Furniture

Built-in furniture seems like a great long-term investment, but if you don’t think it out ahead of time, it becomes a logistical nightmare. 

Some of the most common built-in furniture items are cupboards, shelves, spaces under stairs, kitchen cabinets, and window seats. For children who want exciting and personalised beds, built-in bed frames or bunk beds are a great option.

There are pros and cons to built-in furniture. Read here to learn more about it so you can make an informed decision before putting any in your home. 

Built-in furniture is great for storage. Image of built-in shelves inside a closet.

Pro: Maximise Storage

Personalised furniture lets you customise a space to a much higher degree than moveable furniture. Most moveable furniture is designed to be able to fit between door frames and not be too big that it won’t fit in the average house. 

But this means there is usually a large chunk of space around the furniture that you then have to fill with other furniture. These smaller pieces also limit your storage options.

Built-in furniture lets you take up all the available space, often running from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. This gives you way more room for storage, either hidden or on display. 

Built-in furniture in the form of shelves, creating an entry way with a bench and easy storage cubby holes.

Con: Expensive

Because each piece is customised, built-ins cost a lot more than regular moveable furniture. The pieces can’t be mass produced, and the designs are typically more intricate than moveable furniture. They’re also larger, so they use more material. 

With more labour and material required, this type of furniture becomes much more expensive. The only way for the money spent to make sense is to view it as a long-term investment into your home.

Person opening large built-in cupboard doors in their kitchen

Pro: Personalise Your Space

Built-in furniture gives you freedom of design because you’re not bound by the furniture available to you. You can decide what type of furniture you want, how big you want it to be, and what you want it to look like.

This freedom means you can personalise your space to a more intimate degree. You can design the furniture and its function based on your family’s habits! Most people have to build habits around the furniture and space available. 

Hire one of our expert carpenters to get started on designing  your dream built-in furniture.

Built-in furniture can be personalised to your style. Image of built-in hingeless drawers.

Con: Can’t Take It With You

As with any long-term investment into your home, it can feel like a waste if you move. You might spend a lot of time and money curating the perfect built-in furniture, but if you move, you have to leave it behind.

And while you can always re-do the idea in the new space, you’ll still have to go through the whole process again. This is much harder than being attached to moveable furniture pieces, which you can bring with you. 

Room being packed up, woman lifting box while child plays with toys on the bed.

Pro: Functional Design

When it comes to furniture, you typically have to choose between something beautiful or something functional. But built-in furniture can have equal parts flair and functionality!

Built-in furniture is typically larger, so there’s a lot of room for storage. But it is also big enough to become part of the architecture of the room.

Enormous built-in furniture to create bookshelves and drawers

Con: Limits Other Design Options

Think about how most kitchen cabinets are built-in. This is fine because the function of a kitchen will always be the same: you need a certain amount of storage space, counter space, and appliance space. And most kitchens are too small to think about changing this up anyway. 

But what about rooms where the function might change?

Kitchen with white built-in cabinets

If you build-in furniture with the purpose of a room being an office, but later convert the room to a bedroom, you limit the design options for that room. You might have built the furniture with the assumption that the only other large furniture will be a desk, and when you try to put a bed in there, the space feels cramped and uncomfortable.

You’re even limited in cases where the function stays the same, but you want to redecorate. The style of the built-in furniture might be too specific that it’s difficult to match with other decor when you change up your personal style. Even moving the furniture around the room becomes impossible when certain pieces are locked into place. 

Bedroom with a table and some chairs and a bookshelf crammed into it, looking cramped.

Pro: Define Zones Without Walls

One of the age-old ways of breaking up a space is using furniture to divide the zones. The most popular way to do this is by creating partitions, often using moveable shelves or privacy screens.

Another way to do this is adding to the architecture of the room. Build in some counters or shelves to break up the space, creating the feeling of distinct rooms (or zones) even when there technically aren’t any. 

Built-in furniture can help define zones. Image of a waist-high built-in bookshelf separating a lounge area from the rest of the room.

Con: Non-adjustable

It’s hard to think about how your furniture might need to adjust through the years, especially when the function is staying the same. You’re sizing the furniture for specific things when you build it in, but once it’s done you can’t change that. 

For example, you might build in shelving based on the size of the toy bins your children have when they are little. But that’s not going to be big enough for their school or sports bags when they’re older. 

If you accept the process of buying moveable furniture and replacing it as your needs change, then you’re less likely to run into this problem. But built-in furniture can become a hassle, especially because most people feel they’ve invested too much to change it later. 

Close up of a bin of children's toys in a bookshelf

Choosing Built-In Furniture

There are great benefits to built-in furniture! But if you don’t think carefully about the future and how your needs will change, then it can become a burden or a waste. Make sure you avoid this by considering all the pros and cons before committing.

Hire any of our expert contractors to help you with your home improvements! From small handyman jobs to entire rebuilds, we’ve got you covered. Contact us for more information. 

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