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Decorating with Cabinets

To cut costs and build a home faster, builders have virtually stopped designing with interior alcoves, niches, bays and other kinds of architectural features. Now, more than ever, we've served up with nothing but a bunch of flat, boring walls. We've come to think of walls are merely room dividers.

An interior wall can be so much more, however. But it will take a little creativity by the homeowner. Just look at the dramatic effect created by this built-in shelf unit going up the stairs. Think about it. Why not take your flat walls and create a more interesting and useable wall with built-in cabinets, bookcases, display shelves and entertainment centers? Instantly you'll have more storage capacity for your electronics, books, collections. They will give your flat walls some structure, shape, texture, color, pattern, depth and dimension.

Nicely designed built-ins can improve your interior views and increase your home's resale value at the same time. Sections of the wall flanking a fireplace are ideal spots for built-ins. I suggest closed door storage for TV/stereo equipment, however. Do the same to wall sections flanking a window. The illusion is that the windows has been moved back, instead of the other way around.

Don't worry about the room seeming smaller or leave too little room for furniture. The opposite is quite often the case. When you take a built-in to the ceiling, you not only take advantage of vertical space you would normally ignore, but you dramatically increase your opportunities for storage and display. This can make a low ceiling appear higher. Your built-ins will also eliminate the need for furniture, such as an entertainment center, bookcases or china cabinets.

Open shelf built-ins, dividing two rooms, can really make a room or area look spacious, because you can see right through them to the space behind. Built-in shelving with mirrors behind them will have a similar effect.

So where do you begin? First you want to decide just what it is that you need to store in the room and what will be exhibited and what will be behind closed doors. Thumb thru decorating magazines or books at the library for ideas that you can adapt to your needs. You can also consider using kitchen cabinets for anywhere else, not just in the kitchen. Stock cabinets come in 3-inch increments - 18, 21, 24 and 27 inches wide. By combining various sizes to fill a specific wall, kitchen cabinets can look every bit as good as custom. Or you can have yours custom made by a cabinetmaker or building contractor.

Kitchen manufacturers caught on quickly and now offer specific units intended to create the illusion of being built-ins. They have dozens of door styles, from traditional to contemporary. Finishes and colors come in the hundreds, literally. As you can often get free design services from them too.

So no matter which path you choose, adding cabinets and shelves can really enrich any room in your home, making it more functional and appealing at the same time. So break loose. Dump those flat walls and get busy adding built-ins.

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barbarajennings, barbara jennings

Barbara Jennings is author of 10 decorating books: Decor Secrets Revealed, Rearrange It, Home Staging for Profit, Home Staging for Yourself, Staging Luxurious Homes, Arrange Your Stuff, Advanced Redesign, Pro Art Consulting, Where There's a Wall - There's a Way, The Art of Hanging Art, Great Parties! Great Homes!

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