Fine Points on Nestling a Built-In into a Corner


Transcript of Video:

Hi. This is Nathan Harrison for Fine When we think of positioning a built-in cabinet in the home, it helps to think in terms of good, better, best. Good is to fit the cabinet to the home; better is to nestle the cabinet into the framework of the home; and best, we can think of as actually hiding the cabinet in some way inside the home.

In this section, I’ll be discussing fitting a built-in cabinet into a strategic corner in your home. I recognize that this is probably the most basic approach of all that is taken with custom cabinetry. But I have some fine points and an interesting case study or 2 to offer.

The piece we’re viewing here is a large pantry adjacent to a kitchen. I would say this piece is partially effective as a built-in. One thing we immediately see is that it is customized to fit the space. You can see it avoiding the light-switch plate here. And on this side, it’s not really fitted to the sheetrock corner, it’s simply on a standard (probably 24″.) Also, we can see that it accommodates this ceiling feature on both sides, so it certainly benefits in the utilitarian sense from giving you the most possible space that could be gotten from this corner in the kitchen.

The main thing I’d like to point out here is to notice that this pantry cabinet is really not taking any cues from the house. We might say that it is imposing itself on this corner rather than following the natural lines of this corner of the house.

Here is another very similar pantry in that it is a pantry. It is also built into a corner of a house, adjacent to the kitchen that was very similar to the one we just viewed. However, this one takes it’s cues from the house. For example, the wall color is the paint finish on this set of cabinetry. Also, you’ll see down here that the bottom of the cabinet is white to reflect the base in the house. But the most interesting part is the structural part. The pantry is about 13″ deep because that is the depth of the original corner of the house. Here’s the model I created when I was designing it. You can see that this is the facsimile of the original wall, and this is the actual storage units. Of course, it was filled to the ceiling and floor to mimic the wall. The point here, is we wanted to create the appearance of the corner not being there. We basically wanted to get rid of the corner and create a more normal wall. But, of course, a wall containing storage. So this piece would go beyond fitting and nestling to being virtually hidden.

Here’s another example of filling a strategic corner. These wall cabinets were custom-built for this dormer upstairs in a finished attic. You can see that they fit perfectly into this opening into this corner.

Now, so far, we’ve been looking at what I call “fun corners.” They are corners that have a lot of potential for hiding, nestling that we discussed. But what about just a normal corner, just a corner of a room. What can we do with that to help increase the magic of the cabinetry? Can we fit, can we nestle, can we hide? Well, hiding is probably going to be very difficult or expensive. One or the other. What’s probably a better goal is to go for nestling. And I would say that, to some degree, that has been accomplished successfully here.

This is a custom, small office combination with a media center, and I designed it with what I call a “wrap around porch” here, where the base cabinets extend beyond the wall cabinets. It’s more so on this side, about 4″, and about 1″ on the other side. The main reason I did that was to accommodate this 3-gang switch plate. So it took a cue from that which could have been moved but it would have been a pain. That’s #1.

The 2nd thing is to notice that we have a cased opening here, so we don’t want to bring the cabinetry all the way to the cased opening. We want to allow for flow of traffic in the normal way that the traffic wants to flow in this room. Considering traffic flow is part of finding the appropriate shape for the built-in. Finally notice that on this left side, the height and final location of the built-in is designed to snuggle right up to this curtain and underneath the curtain rod here which certainly helps the built-in feel like it’s nestled into the structure of the house.

So, just to recap, when we’re placing built-ins in a corner, we need to take cues from the structure. That can include switch plates, outlets, curtains, ceiling features, traffic flow, and so forth. We want, as much as possible, to create fitting, nestling, or hiding of the built in in that corner.