Various sorts of furniture and wall systems can be used to handle storage concerns in the home. The type of unit used often depends on the room: A bedroom armoire is ideal for clothes; a living room wall system us practical for home entertainment electronics; a china hutch keep dinnerware organized in the dining room.
One of the main advantages of this type of storage is that you can add or replace a unit as situations change. Alternatively, you can modify an existing piece by lowering or raising its shelves or refitting its drawers.
Movable vs. Built-In Storage Units
Furniture can be freestanding or built-in. The freestanding category includes both single furniture pieces, such as armoires and chests, and modular wall systems that are expandable or have interchangeable parts. Built-ins are custom-fit to specific areas in your home and can be built and installed by a professional or an ambitious do-it-yourselfer.
Movable and built-in furniture have their advantages and disadvantages. Movable units can be placed wherever storage needs arise and they can be taken with you when you move away. A drawback, however, is that when buying ready-made or ready-to-assemble furniture, you may not always be able to get exactly the size and configuration you want. Wall units are often the exception because they can be fitted with specialized components, but they can’t meet every need.
Use built-ins for odd-size spaces in your home where other furniture can’t fit – such as under staircases, over doorways, and around windows. They also save a considerable amount of floor space when built into existing walls.
As an added benefit, built-ins look almost seamless in a room, complementing the existing architectural style in a highly efficient manner. When custom built, however, these storage units can be very costly, depending on size, materials, and the complexity of the design.
Although being able to tailor the piece to match your existing space is the main advantage of built-in units, you can add premade items as needed.
Storing in Style
Storage furniture should be more than functional – it must look good in the room. Whether using premade or custom-built units, you can create a look to match any décor, style, or personal preference.
Color can be used to express style, too. For a sleek, sophisticated appearance, choose either matte or shiny black storage units. Wood tones are more traditional, but a piece painted white will also enhance the formal tone of a traditionally decorated room. For a fresh, contemporary look, consider bright colors – either monotones or a variety of colors – in one unit or area.
Whether you’re commissioning custom cabinetry or buying a manufactured wall system, knowing the sizes and the shapes of the objects you want to organize will help you design or buy an appropriate unit and ensure that those items will fit properly.
Don’t place shelves out of reach – note that the recommended height for the highest shelf is 6 feet, unless you have a ladder or stool to help you reach its contents. For shelf size, think in terms of linear footage when figuring your shelving needs. A single 6-foot-long shelf offers 6 linear feet of storage. A tall unit with six shelves, each 6 feet long, offers 36 linear feet of storage.
To get a rough idea of the linear footage of shelving you need, simply measure the linear footage of the books, records, and other items you intend to store. Allow extra room for expansion and open display space. The shelf depth and height depend on the size of the stored objects. Adjustable shelves are the most flexible; for fixed shelves, measure the books and other items, then add an inch or two for head space. Shelf length depends on the shelf material and the weight of the objects that it will support.