Built-In Nooks from Closets

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Transcript of Video:

This is Nathan Harrison for FineRemodel.com. Which would you rather have in your house, this or this? This…or this?

Now, if you’re like me, you really like the woodwork that is built into the wall. But when you walk around your home, it’s not like you all of a sudden see something like this just waiting for a built-in to be inserted into it. ….Or do you?

What does that remind you of? Does it maybe remind you of a closet? Hey! What if we took a closet, took everything out of it, and then used it the space into which we will build a cabinet? Then the front of the cabinet will be flush with the wall and we’ll have a real built-in.

That’s right. I’m going to talk in this section about how to use closets directly or indirectly to create nooks for built-ins.

So, when I say use a closet directly, what I’m talking about is simply popping a built-in straight into the opening of a closet. And these pictures I’m about to show you all could have been done that way. So of them were e-mailed to me and I don’t know the origin of them, so I don’t know that they were, but they all could have been.

That could have been a closet….the could have been a closet. And, of course, we could take a closet and open it up and create workspace in it like this.

But maybe rather than opening it up, we’ll leave the doors on it, put some cabinetry inside it. Then we can close the doors on our mess. The wife will love that one.

Everything I’ve said so far is assuming that you want to have built-ins in a closet without a mess and a big budget. We’re talking about just sticking them straight into the existing opening. That way, you don’t have to worry about load-bearing walls, doing any re-framing, tear-out, figuring out if there is wiring or plumbing to deal with, etc.

Now, of course, if you were willing to do all that, it is certainly possible to open up the closet doorway more. But let’s just assume for a minute that you didn’t want to, you want to take the easy route. But, of course, you can see there’s a drawback. Here this model of the closet shows we would lose what I call the shoulders of the closet by inserting a built-in cabinet into the door. So, what about those?

That leads to a discussion of using closets indirectly for built-ins. Closets are kind of like the skinny kid who always got picked on in elementary school. When you’re looking to get some space from something else, you should always think about what closet(s) you might be able to steal space from.

In this scenario, let’s say we had a bedroom here, a hallway here, and a living or dining room here on this side of the closet. This, of course, is our closet with the ceiling taken off and no floor. You have to use your imagination a little bit here. So, if we insert a built-in cabinet here, it’s all fine and good. But the areas represented here by the blue patches on the floor are still totally unused and now we don’t have access to them.

Well, what about this? What if we take advantage of the shoulders to allow built-ins in this living or dining room and also into the hallway. What I’ve shown here is not a full height built-in in the hallway. This might be something like this or this. And the use of the other shoulder could be reserved for an opening made here. Of course, pending the location of studs, there could be a built-in like this.

Now, that might seem like a lot of work, but if you’ve ever tried to use the 12 or 16″ closet in a 1920s or ’30s house, you know that putting in built-in which might even include drawers in these locations (or they could be for hanging clothes or display or whatever), but the built-ins are going to make far, far better use of that space. And…they’ll be built-ins.