Built-In or Free-Standing Cabinets?

“Why Built-Ins?” VideoIt's always a tough call: Should you go with Free-Standing or Built-In Cabinets for that [insert needed item here: bookshelf, office, entertainment center] that you've been needing? Free-Standing will always win on cost, but it's your home and Built Ins would be so nice…

Free Standing Custom CabinetsFor a little extra, a custom cabinetmaker can make a built-in so that it can be moved like a free-standing unit. But this presents some problems:

  1. If a cabinet can be moved somewhere else and look just as good, it wasn't a “truly great” built-in. To understand what makes for a “truly great”, you'll want to take my free built-ins course. A one-sentence summary would be: “Truly Great Built-Ins reside natively and organically within the structure and decor of a home.”
  2. To be made mobile, you'll have to sacrifice a lot of the features that are popular in Built-Ins: bigness, integration with the surrounding trim, handedness (when the crown, for example, “dies” into a wall on one side), scribe-fit, etc…Built In Cabinets
  3. How likely is it, really, that you will find another spot where this thing will look good? Maybe if you're moving to a new house you could repaint it in the trim color of the new house, but what about the style of the trim and the proportions of the unit overall? Those things should all be planned with a specific location in mind.

Point being: The more of a “real” built-in it is, the lower the likelihood that you will want to — or even be able to — move it.