Built in storage - a buyer's guide - Grand Designs magazine

Built-in storage: a buyer’s guide

Planning to incorporate bespoke built-in storage in your home? Explore these clever joinery ideas

By Andrea Manley |

From sleek shelves to fitted cupboards, built-in furniture that slots perfectly into a space is an investment worth making.

Bespoke storage solutions will exploit tricky room proportions and dimensions, turning a negative aspect into a beneficial asset. High ceilings, awkward corners, lofts and staircases can all be transformed by clever joinery.

built in under stairs storage -buyer's guide to built-in storage - home improvements - grand designs

Photo: Go Modern

What is bespoke built-in storage?

Engaging a joiner or furniture maker to produce a specially made design can work in different ways. It might involve modifying an existing piece to change details such as its dimensions or the finish. Or it could instead mean commissioning something entirely new.

In terms of design, construction and detail, bespoke furniture and fittings command a premium price but you will end up with something completely unique, made to your precise requirements and that fits seamlessly. Alternatively, there are less expensive options such as custom-made modular furniture ranges that can be fitted to your space.

Full-height shelving maximises your storage Photo Stiff + Trevillion

Photo: Stiff + Trevillion

What’s the cost of built in storage?

Who makes your furniture, the style, materials and finishes will all have an impact on price. For a simple, custom-built design in softwood or MDF, you can expect to pay anything upwards of £300 per square metre if you’re using a small, local joinery firm.

Cabinets in hardwood, special lacquers and finishes, panelled doors, elements such as the number of drawers and extras like hand-painting, decorative shelving, mirrors and lighting will escalate the costs and you may find yourself paying more than £1,200 per square metre.

Built in storage in utility room

Photo: Nolte

Make a plan

Whether self-building or extending, assess your storage requirements at the planning stage of your project. Think about what you will be using it for, how much space you need and whether you want the furniture’s design to stand out or blend in with your scheme.

Do you want to keep things out of sight, on display or have a combination of both? Your architects and/or interior designer can liaise on your behalf with furniture makers. Of course, you can directly brief a joiner, furniture maker or custom-made furniture company. If you choose the latter, most of these firms offer a design service, where someone comes to your home to show you samples, measure up and discuss possibilities.

bespoke built in wardrobe - buyer's guide to built-in storage - home improvements - granddesignsmagazine.com

Photo: All & Nxthing

Consider the investment

Built-in storage often enhances original features, such as alcoves on either side of a chimney breast or a window seat with storage beneath, or bookshelves incorporated into a staircase to link two or more levels. Designs can be built right up to the ceiling to make use of all your space. For example, a run of cabinets can incorporate and hide unsightly elements, such as boxed-in pipework and pillars.

While the pros outweigh the cons, consider whether you are likely to want to make significant changes in the future, as this may involve calling in a tradesman to remove the furniture and make good walls. It is an obvious point, but it is not possible to take built-in furniture with you if you move, so if you aren’t planning to stay in a property for long, you might not want to invest in expensive joinery.

That said, good storage will always add value to your home and is something that future buyers will be looking for. For example, the space beneath the stairs is often underused but can be transformed by a retrofit storage solution. If you’re building a new staircase it’s an opportunity to design stairs and storage that work seamlessly together.

under stairs built in storage - buyer's guide to built-in storage - home improvements - granddesignsmagazine.com

Photo: Jarrods Bespoke Staircases