Built-In Cabinet/Bookshelf Design Dilemma

building_a_houseJanuary 27, 2013

In the picture below you can see the fireplace framing to the left, the window to the right, and another window to a covered porch on the wall to the far right. The issue is that I would like to have built-ins to the left of the fireplace directly below the window to the right. But what to do now with that window on the right wall?

Stop the built-ins 6-12" from the right wall?

Angle the built-ins at about 12" and have them connect to that wall?

Have the built-in height "drop off" and then run much lower to the ground about half way over?

I am really pulling my hair out on this one. Let me know if you have any ideas. Any picture examples would be GREATLY appreciated!

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building_a_house

Here is another picture of the entire space. The window that is giving me fits is on the wall to the right.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 3:03PM
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pps7

Have you already ordered the window? can you move the window?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 3:59PM
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building_a_house

Windows have been ordered. Cannot move the window.

Suffice to say this one slipped by me in the design process.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 4:04PM
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virgilcarter

Whateve you do to one side of the fireplace, you should consider doing on the other side, inasmuch as this appears to be a very symmetrical interior space.

If I was wed to the built-ins, I'd move, reduce or eliminate the window that's conflicting with the cabinet design.

How did design and construction get this far without noticing the conflict?

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 4:07PM
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live_wire_oak

Buy a shorter window. Eating the cost of a single window to get the design right should be the better tradeoff.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 4:09PM
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building_a_house

@virgilcarter: Totally agree about the symmetry.

As far as who is responsible for this design conflict let's just say that its not me.

Keep the ideas coming. Windows are being delivered tomorrow.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 4:10PM
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building_a_house

@live_wire_oak: There are actually 2 windows that height on that side (the right side) of the room. One on each side of the door to the screened patio.

Would you recommend to replace both of them to, again, keep everything symmetrical?

Here is a view from the outside looking into that room. The problem window is on the right side of the door.

This post was edited by building_a_house on Sun, Jan 27, 13 at 16:15

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 4:12PM
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building_a_house

Could possibly change these two windows for smaller windows. My photophilic (light loving) wife is NOT happy about this option/solution.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 4:35PM
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virgilcarter

Short of reframing all the openings (using windows that are narrow enough to allow for the desired shelving and the interior window trim), there's little that can be done.

If I wanted to keep the existing windows, I'd consider a symmetrical arrangement of built-ins that contained:
1) a window seat beneath each window (with the window seat by the problem window held back far enough so that the window wall finish and window trim can be installed and finished); 2) full height narrow vertical shelving between fireplace and adjacent windows; 3) full width shelving above the window head to either the plate height of the window wall, or, alternaively, all the way to the sloping ceiling; 4) finish the top of the built-in with moulding to match other similar moulding in the house.

Remember that the built-in has to allow for the standard interior window head, jamb and sill trim pieces. Hope that makes sense.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 4:47PM
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building_a_house

What about cramming the 2 windows closer to the French door? Would that give enough space for the built-ins?

Just thinking (typing) out loud here.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 4:57PM
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pps7

maybe it's thee respective of the photo, but it seems that the distance between the French doors and the windows on the left is less than the distance between the doors and window on the right.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 6:40PM
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building_a_house

That's a good observation. We noticed this as well.

I talked to the builder at length today and he feels confident we can move the 2 windows and french doors to the left with minimal spacing between the windows and doors. That should give us about 18" at least to have the built-ins.

I looked at the window and door schedule and the 2 windows are 3' wide each and the French door is 6' wide. That whole wall is about 18'. So I am hopeful that with a little reorganizing we can use the windows that we ordered.

If not we will have to purchase 2 smaller windows.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 7:11PM
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chris11895

What do you plan on using that built-in for? With the current windows it seems like even if the side window wasn't there you'd be placing something directly in front of the window. To get the best use of space, I'd shorten the two windows and get rid of the one next to the French door too.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 7:17PM
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building_a_house

Mainly for storage. Things like board games, kids books, etc. Also will have electronics like cable box, etc. We want built-ins on both sides mainly for symmetry.

I agree though that getting rid of one of the two is an option. But I am not sure I like the asymmetrical look. It would be a whole lot less hassle though for sure.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 7:29PM
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chris11895

If you have shorter windows you'll have more flexibility with the use of storage. Will there be a TV over the fireplace? If so, have you lived with that before? I have and it was number one on my "must not have" in our new build.
We're at the same stage in our build as you. Now that we're walking through the space we've also tweaked a couple of windows. One thing we recently discussd with our builder was symmetry. I am *super* into symmetry but I also try to weigh which option I will notice more on a day to day basis. In your case, will not having two windows on each side of the door bother you more than not having the built-ins you wanted? Or will you not even use those built-ins and you'll wish you didn't get rid of the window?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 8:06PM
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building_a_house

Not a huge fan of the TV above the fireplace but we are doing it in this room (not doing it in the formal great room or any other room for that matter in the rest of the house). Yes, we will definitely use the built-ins as we have 3 kids and they have lots of "stuff".

Thanks for the feedback. Appreciate the opinions.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 8:31PM
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chris11895

For the windows next to the fireplace - how much distance will you have from the bottom of the trim to the floor? Will that be enough storage for you?

If not, you could do higher and smaller windows (as mentioned before). Kind of like the picture below but I don't think you'd need to go as high with the built-ins. That would also allow you the flexibilty to move the TV down if you found you really disliked it, and the bonus you'd have a ton of storage.

Traditional Family Room design by Other Metro Design-build Witt Construction

Then for the window to the right of the french door opening - if you aren't comfortable with removing one and losing the symmetry you could remove both and put sidelights and a transom around the French Doors.

Traditional Family Room design by Philadelphia Interior Designer Meadowbank Designs

Obviously there will be a cost to either or both of those changes, but that will probably be easier to swallow than moving in and hating the functionality.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 9:12PM
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building_a_house

Great ideas.

As mentioned we are going to try to keep both windows and the french doors. The builder feels confident that we can put the windows immediately adjacent to the french doors (kind of like "smashing them together") and shift the whole thing away from the fireplace on that wall. As I mentioned we have 12 feet total of windows+doors on that wall which is 18 feet in length. So I am hopeful that with these changes it will give us at least 18" for the built-ins before we encounter a window.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 9:31PM
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building_a_house

This is the type of look that we are going for with slightly smaller built-ins...

This post was edited by building_a_house on Sun, Jan 27, 13 at 21:40

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 9:38PM
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pps7

I wondering if you could move the windows on either side of the fireplace a little higher.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 10:12PM
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chris11895

Somehow I read right over that post! Good Luck with the changes

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 10:13PM
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building_a_house

@pps7: We could move the windows up a tad but then they would be off on both the rear and left elevations from the top height of the other windows. I am not sure that it would really give us a whole lot more. I think the built-ins are going to be a good size for the room as is.

I really do appreciate everyone's opinions. Just talking through this today has saved me considerable stress and even more importantly it has likely saved me some money.

Mistakes happen. I am fortunate to have a builder that is very proactive about making it right. Even on a Sunday.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 10:34PM
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bevangel_i_h8_h0uzz

In moving your French doors and windows to the left, I would want to be careful that the French doors remain centered under the peak of the patio roof. It looks to me like the patio doors are either already centered under the peak or are too far to the right. (It's hard to tell for sure due to the angle at which the photo was taken.)

BUT, it is obvious that you have about 4 to 6 inches more space between the patio doors and the window on the right than you do between the patio doors and the window on the left. (Compare how much of the "84" is showing on either side of the patio door opening!) So even if you didn't need more space for built-ins, you would need to move the right hand window to the left by 4 to 6 inches just to get your patio wall symmetrical! Just getting that window properly positioned might give you enough room for your built-ins without moving anything else.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 1:10PM
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andi_k

At first I thought "no way could you stop it short". But, after seeing this pic, you may be able to do that? It looks like they had a similar problem maybe, and this looks great.

Traditional Living Room design by Charleston Interior Designer LORRAINE G VALE, Allied ASID

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 11:50AM
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downsy

Andi - that's a great photo and even shows different sized built ins (width-wise) from one side to the other.

If you wind up doing something like this - note how they have used drapery to hide the built ins from outside.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 2:51PM
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lyfia

It looks to me like the window was framed too close to the wall. Especially if you look at the distance between the French door and the other window is less. How does your plans look? If framed closer to that you would have space for bookshelf depth.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 4:18PM
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building_a_house

It was re-framed today. I will post updated pics when I get them. We were able to just move the windows closer to the french doors and this freed up 26" total for the built-ins. We have been told we need about 18-21" minumum for them.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 7:25PM
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building_a_house

Just wanted to post a follow-up. Thanks to everyone who helped me troubleshoot this issue.

I am thrilled with the result from our builder. He managed to keep the french doors centered while providing enough room for the built-ins...

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:53PM
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building_a_house

Here is another view...

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:56PM
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PRO
Bridget Helm

looks great!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 11:05PM
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hoosierbred

Thanks for posting this. We just re-worked our family room orientation and positioning of our patio door and some windows on our house plans. Your photos helped me visualize what we are trying to achieve.

We're looking at adding a window on each side of our patio door that will be in our dining area. I like the looks of yours. Do you mind sharing the dimensions of the windows on each side of your door and those on each side of the fireplace?

Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 6:25AM
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building_a_house

@Hoosierbred: Looking at the blueprints the window schedule appears to list a 3' x 3' window and 3' x 6' window in those areas (both double hung).

I am headed to the house today (I currently live 1.5 hours away) and will try to remember to take measurements for you.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 8:39AM
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building_a_house

The windows are roughly 34 inches by 54 inches or so.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 2:32PM
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MFatt16

What did you end up with for built-ins? I have a similar issue with a corner and a problem window and built-ins to deal with. My window is already about where yours is now that you moved it but I still find it rather awkward. I am not a creative thinker though, LOL

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 6:41PM
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