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March 3, 2008


The Room Divider

If there is a need for a divider between two rooms, such as the kitchen and dining room in this example, the advantage of its potential is that it is more than just a barrier. This divider is packed with storage, from drawers for silverware and linens to end-cap cabinets and glass shelves.

A center opening also functions as a buffet or serving shelf, and cutouts at the top of the unit are perfect for storing baskets or bowls. The pass-through also lets light from the dining room doors into the kitchen, giving the whole area an open, airy feel.

The arrangement lets the cook be part of the group, while family or guests can sit comfortably and chat with anyone working in the kitchen. The setup also works well for families with children, allowing parents to observe from the kitchen while kids complete homework and school projects in the dining room.

The Fireplace Wall

Whether the fireplace is in the family room, great-room, or master bedroom, we can add storage with surrounding cabinets, shelves, and drawers.

In this example, the television tucks into a built-in cabinet above the direct-vent fireplace. A deep cabinet, drawers of various sizes, and pullout shelves for books, videotapes, and compact discs flank the fireplace surround.

Both deep shelves on each side and specialty shelves around the windows make great display spaces. Each side is set into a bump-out, so the whole unit projects into the room only as far as the fireplace.

The Kitchen

Unused wall space makes a great spot for a pantry with shallow shelves. Because the shelves fit within a stud wall, they're not very deep, but they can easily hold canned goods, boxed dinners, and baking mixes.

If we install the pantry in a high-traffic area, as in this example, the pantry can be covered with a pocket or folding door instead of a swinging door to keep aisles and doorways unobstructed.

Another advantage of this arrangement is the pantry's location near the mudroom. While arriving with groceries, the handy shelves provide a quick means of stashing the items. We can also build shelves tall enough to handle pet food, household supplies, or cleaning items.

The Dining Room

Most dining rooms include some type of display case, but this one offers quite a bit more storage capability than the average china hutch. Large, deep cabinets flank the main hutch, and a display shelf tops each set.

These shelves make great buffet-style serving areas during parties, freeing up table space elsewhere and eliminating the need for an extra table or portable serving cart. One side of the unit features glass shelves for displaying china and collectibles, and the other features more cabinetry.

Two panels in a different wood tone add visual interest and break up the continuous oak bank. Recessed canister lights highlight collectibles and china on the left side.

The Bathroom

The bathroom's prime storage capabilities should not be overlooked. To relieve a linen closet that's overstuffed, it is better to consider a decorative towel-storage shelf built into one end of the tub surround. Towels can be rolled inside and stacked for a colorful focal point.

For a practical place to store toiletries, an extra-wide shelf should be planned into the border of the tub surround and the whole unit can be finished in uniform tiles for a seamless look. A row of contrasting tiles is an inexpensive way to create an attractive accent.

The Master Bedroom

Space under a bed is typically wasted. In this example, deep drawers are set into the bed's base to offer extra clothing storage, taking pressure off closets and dressers and possibly eliminating the need for freestanding furniture in a cramped bedroom.

The large headboard unit also helps create a furniture look and could serve as a visual anchor opposite a large wardrobe, dresser, or armoire.

In lieu of nightstands, built-ins make perfect storage and display space. A wide shelf holds a reading light, books, and collectibles. Recessed canister fixtures illuminate artwork above.

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