Cabinets vs Furniture

We are a mobile society, so there is something to the idea that furniture is better than cabinets because we can personalize it and take it with us.

On the other hand, furniture designed for a specific house (like the massive dining room table at my in-laws which was built in that room and couldn't easily be removed — let's call them “Stuck ins”) or even fastened to the house (“Built Ins”), also seems to be the future.

The obvious: special, unique furniture/cabinets cost a lot more than something that can be made in a factory by the thousands.

That said, Built-in or Stuck-in Furniture and Cabinets have some big-time advantages over mobile furniture.

First: Integration. The whole house feels connected. It has a consistent personality throughout.

Second: Style. The house is unique and the objects are unique. It has a sense of time and place.

Now the rest of this really only applies to Built In Cabinetry.
The biggest thing, of course, is that they give a certain seamlessness to a room, literally. If the framing is good and the cabinetmaker is making enough money to take his time and do it right, you get everything looking “like it grew that way,” which is a very aesthetically satisfying thing. For most people, this seamlessness only registers at the subconscious level. The room just strikes them as more interesting and rich.

Another advantage of attached cabinets, bookshelves, etc is that the “less is more” effect kicks in. Even though built ins may have slightly higher volume than a comparable detached piece, because it's integrated into the structure (which, by the way, is how we define a built-in) it actually increases the usable space in the room.

One more thought: maybe the the thing that really fits our modern, mobile lifestyle best is permanent, built-to-stay furniture. After all, do you really see people hauling all their junk around in a U-haul every time they need to make a strategic move? Or, maybe, we won't move as much in the future. This, too, would favor Cabinets over Furniture.