Can you help me design/refine my built-ins?

wi-sailorgirlNovember 23, 2010

I figured this was the perfect place to go because you all understand the need to maximize storage.

I'm working on designing our built-ins for our bedroom. I have a guy who can build anything very well but he's not very good on contributing to the design so I've found it's best to go to him with a pretty specific design.

This is for our bedroom. It will be the only drawer-type storage in the bedroom. We have a small walk-in closet that will be used for shoes and hanging clothes, but I think almost anything that is folded will need to be stored here.

We have an angled part of the ceiling that sticks out 18 inches into the room (it's where the shed dormer meets the main roof) that I'm working around. A small TV will go in the double-door cabinet on top of the dresser. That placement is dictated by the location of the outlet and cable hookup.

Pretty much everything else about this is up for discussion. The drawings are just my first crack at this.

I didn't get into a lot of detail yet, but the windows are two casements.

Right now I've drawn it with the "dresser" part of it sticking out 22 inches and everything else is 18 inches. I'm not sure if that's the right call or not.

My husband has expressed a concern about running the cabinets right up to the window. He feels it's going to create a "tunnel effect" and will limit visibility. I'm not sure how to get maximum storage and make it look right without running the cabinets to the window. If anyone has thoughts on that, I'd love to hear them. I thought the open shelving on the one side might help with that. I was thinking that would be for displaying a few pretty things.

Please let me know if I'm missing something or ways I can make this work as good as possible.

The ceiling does go up quite a bit more and I could always put more storage over the window part if I wanted to, but it would be difficult to access (still, maybe for off-season clothing?)

I was thinking about putting baskets under the window seat.

Thanks in advance, everyone!

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It looks good. How big is your window? If it were me, I'd probably go all the way to the ceiling with the cabinets. Might as well use the space and I wouldn't want to have to worry about the dust up there.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 12:55PM
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Hey, I think you've done an admirable job of designing this unit.

First, about the windows. Ok, do you have any molding or woodwork around them, or does the wall itself run right up to them? I'd personally run the storage unit just as you show, do not hang curtains, but make one TOP DOWN roman shade. On the sides of the storage unit adjacent to the windows, I'd put in mirrors like the ones you mount on doors. I think they come in 15 or 18 or 24 inch widths, and most are about as long as 5 or 6 feet, depending on how expensive they are. Mirror tiles would work too, but are not as durable and can cut you if edges are exposed.

A couple of cubbies above the windows would echo the cubbies you have beneath the window seat. Be sure to use matching baskets in all four cubbies. I would also consider building into the upper cubbies two pot lights, maybe low voltage or whatever, run the wiring inside the cubbies and mount the lights on the bottom. IKEA sells something like that, and I've also seen some at Lowes and Home Depot.

In looking at the open shelves you show, I'm thinking you could eliminate them entirely. That way, you could have a counter-height surface to set your book on, a reading lamp, whatever. Yes, it would be possible to have an electrical recepticle on the exterior wall adjacent to the pair of windows. Make it a quad plug, so 4 things can be plugged in.

It seems you drew the window seat low enough to allow for a bench cushion on it. Will it be a good place to sit and look out the window? I would not put curtains on that window, only the very tidy roman shade.

Where you have triangular storage, take those two doors OFF the plan. Leave them open. Put a few books in those cubbies. Unless you just want those triangular areas to have non operating molding on them. It is my opinion that the carpenter will have an easier time if they are not in the plan. Or, maybe think of covering the area with the stuff they cover radiators with, like lacy screening? Don 't know what they call it.

And Marti, I'm with you about the DUST, but I don't think I'd be really worrying about it. :)

    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 12:38AM
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Thanks to both of you for the comments and suggestions. I'll take a picture of the (empty) room tonight or tomorrow with the better light, which may help you picture the space.

As for the windows ... there is molding, etc. but I got lazy and didn't feel like drawing it into the plan. The space you see for the windows actually includes that space.

And there actually is a nice view out that window -- the garden and Lake Michigan over the neighbor's roof -- but I'll be honest: Sitting there curling up to read a book is a totally romantic idea that will never happen. I see that little seat as a place to get dressed or have a conversation on occasion.

OK, pics coming ASAP!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 8:23AM
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Would love to see the pictures too.

I just have a trunk in front of our master bedroom window. It mostly is there because it is a place it fits and also because it is a perch for kitties coming in and out of the house to their outside kennel.

I always dreamed of a window seat and this trunk is sittable. LOL I never really dreamed I would use it and it turns out I do fairly often. A good place to go to while talking on the phone or to sit to put socks on if I am not feeling as stable to stand one footed.

So do not totally discount not using your bench.

My first thought was to remove half of the tall narrow cupboard on the right but you would need that if you go across with a top cupboard and I like the very top cupboard idea.

I am with ML on the triangle doors. Course if they hinge on the long side,right side, then they would work.

I love this arrangement and I can see so much storage available. Your drawing of this is really good.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 10:25AM
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Hi, You've done a great job designing some very usable storage!
I agree with the others on additional storage above the windows. It sounds like you don't spend much time looking at the view, so you won't lose much in adding the storage, and you would gain that much more storage.
I love the idea of a window seat! You might surprise yourself by using it if you made a cozy little area to curl up in.
For me, the open shelves on the end would be a problem. I would constantly knock things off. I like the idea of taking the doors off the triangle areas and using them as open storage instead.
I also really like the idea of tiny lights pointing down if you do add more storage above the window. We added some (pointing up) to the top of a couple of bookcases and the effect is very dramatic.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 9:58PM
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Prairiegirl, yes, the additional lighting is a most dramatic thing. I'm hoping to do something as you describe in our garage, pointing upward to make the V roof more dramatic and draw the eye upward. Having such lights on a dimmer switch is an easy thing to install, and quite romantic in a bedroom, dramatic in a public space.

Yes, that wall has a lot of storage potential. Much better to have the specific built-ins than freestanding chests, which never quite make it look special.

I think Wi is on the right track.
We had dinner today with DH's daughter. Her DH had built in a window seat in the bay window of their small front parlor. It is now the best place to sit and listen to one of the granddaughters playing the piano, also in that parlor. And, in the winter, taking a look out the bay windows to the snow covered hillside and the road below. They have redone and added on to an 1880s farmhouse, and it is so gorgeous. Kind of quirky actually, but a great home to raise a family and entertain. I always think of window seats as being very companionable cozy and welcoming spaces.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2010 at 6:08PM
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Hi gang.

Sorry it took me so long to get back here with photos. We took on WAY too much of the end parts of this reno including more painting than I ever thought I'd do in my entire life and installing the floors and the hubby left early Saturday morning so I've been working on everything myself.

Anwyay, here are the photos that better show the space. You can see that there's a lot of ceiling up there. I think it's about 13 feet or a little more at the peak.

Let me know if this changes what you think about the built-ins or any other suggestions. Thanks again for all the help!

And hey ... what do you think about those floors? We started them together but I had to finish them myself. Used the table saw and chop saw and still have 10 fingers!

Showing the height (sorry, it's a small room so I can't get the whole wall in one shot):

Almost the whole width of the wall:

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 8:27AM
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OH That totally changes things to see it all. First your floor is gorgeous!! And Woo Hoo Congratulations for doing lots of it yourself. Respect those power tools and they will work well for you.

So now I see the tall narrow cabinet on right really is a good idea. You are going to have a top open shelf no matter what you design so I would for sure go across the top with the largest useful cabinet you can get there and then put some thing large and decorative on top of the cabinet and ignore the dust. LOL

This popped into my head. Could you possibly find some boxes to stack up around the window to kind of mock up what you want to do to see if the cabinets will block the window off too much? I think it all will be fine with what you have planned and such a wonderful storage space.

We went to friends house at Thanksgiving. Spur of the moment thing. They had a built in cabinet under living room windows the length of the room. Was about 16 inches deep and had Formica top. I totally fell in love with this and really wish our windows were higher up so we could do the same here. If we ever get rid of that $%^ gun cabinet I just might get myself that built in window seat I have always wanted.

Sorry I do not have any good suggestions. I really like what you drew up to begin with. You are going to have a wonderful room.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 1:33PM
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Whoo hoo, your floors look terrific! Glad to hear you still have all the digits. I love your room and the pictures sure do change things. The box idea is a good one. Looking at the photo, I don't think I'd go all the way to the ceiling now though. I had an inspiration photo that was really similar to your room and for the life of me I can't find it now.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 2:11PM
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OMG, you have a really high ceiling! Amazing space, and it will be marvelous to go UP with your storage cabs.

Hmmm, I can see that the space to the left of the window might not be WIDE enough for all that many upper cabs with doors. And instead of closing in the wall plugs, could you move them up to the spots where the triangular shelves would be? At least that way, you'd have a spot to put a small Bose radio or a clock, or maybe some other small electrical thingy, like the chargers for your cell phone and camera batteries? I'd suggest the same for the other plug beneath the window. Move it up enough that it would not be located behind the window seat or any deep cushion you might place there. You could, if need be, simply take power off of it to put a shaded sconce on the tall pantry cab to the right of that window too. No wall switch, just a button on the sconce itself.

And, that high pointy ceiling area there is really dramatic. Putting an uplight on top of the highest cab where you will locate some arty objects, that would be a nice feature. I'd suggest a wall switch on a dimmer for that.

If you CAN leave the window molding uncovered, and it is pretty, then try to figure it. But I am puzzled by what kind of molding it is....metal? If it is metal, you probably should leave it, unless you can caulk the cab and window seamline to appear flawless.

Have you ever heard about the CAMEL PROJECT? A CAMEL is a HORSE DESIGNED BY COMMITTEE. hehehehe I heard that expression when I was a research librarian many years ago.
Don't worry. Brainstorming is good for us all.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 12:10AM
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They are tall ceilings! We didn't really gain any square footage on the floor but it's much more open feeling now thanks to the tall ceilings and the addition of a ton of windows on the east wall.

This is the room before (looking the same direction):

The ceilings were about 7 feet tall in the CENTER! My husband couldn't even walk in half the room.

Thank you for all the input, everyone. I'm working on a revised plan (or maybe a few) and I'll be looking forward to everyone's thoughts then.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 11:11AM
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Oh and I should add ... the trim isn't on yet in these pictures (but as of last night it is!)

We're still mid-construction, but hopefully finished soon.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 4:31PM
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Hey, lady. I just found this ideabook on Houzz blog. About window seats.

Thought you might like to look at it.
How is it going with your house work? We still interested.

Here is a link that might be useful: Houzz ideabook re windowseats

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 3:22PM
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I think your built in idea is very nice. You may want to consider taking the cabinetry all the way to the ceiling, but have those with glass front doors. It would be a great place to display some treasures, and not have to worry about dust up there. It would also give the unit a more finished and custom look. You may even be able to do a few more glass fronts on other cabinets, if you will have things stored there that would look nice. It would be a relaxed, cottagey look, and it would most likely eliminate the tunnel look your husband is concerned about. (I do see what he sees in that regard, but the built in idea is too nice to give up). There's a lot you can do with that unit visually that may serve to please him as well, even if it's the way some of the door fronts differ or are trimmed, but still coordinate. Lots of possibilites.

The concern I have with dust is that it seems to contribute to allergy suffering after a while, and it is not an easy area to dust very often. I know because I had "plant" shelves above my bedroom closets in the last house.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 3:13PM
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Is that the final color of your walls? (hard to tell if it is paint, or drywall, or primer?) If it is, it's really nice with the wood flooring. What is the name of the paint color?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 1:41PM
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