A History of Built-in Furniture

October 9, 2018 10:42 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Built-in cabinetry and furniture are elements of homes that often increase their value, thanks to their high-quality craftsmanship and the extra functionality they work into a space. While built-ins are often associated with modern design, there is a history of creating built-in furniture for homes that goes back centuries.

Here’s a quick history of built-in furniture from a home builder in Syracuse, IN.

The history of the built-in

One might consider the term “built-in furniture” to be an oxymoron, since furniture is usually defined as movable pieces constructed for specific purposes in the home. However, when we talk about a built-in, what we mean is fixed architectural elements in the home that offer the same function as you’d find in a movable item. It could even refer to a piece of furniture that was designed separately than the other architectural aspects of the home but was then fixed in place, and the surrounding architecture becomes integral to its construction. Consider, for example, a built-in cabinet that has walls that form the back of it.

This is a concept that we can trace back to the Middle Ages, when wall benches, aumbries and settles became common architectural features before they were ultimately developed into their own standalone pieces of furniture.

Moving a little farther forward in time, there are some clear examples of built-ins in old houses here in the United States as well. Built-in shelving, window seats, inglenook benches and other types of built-in furniture were extremely popular in Shingle and Craftsman style homes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Bungalows built in the Craftsman style are especially full of sophisticated built-in storage and display spaces.

Today’s applications

Today, some of the types of furniture you’re most likely to see built into a home’s architectural features include various types of shelving and cupboards, benches, beds, bookcases, mirrors, cabinetry and entertainment centers. You might also classify mantels for fireplaces as built-in furniture.

There are some other types of built-in furniture that only exist in built-in forms, including closets and window seats.

Built-in furniture is not quite as common in newer construction, because many of today’s homeowners enjoy having versatility with the way they use their homes, and built-in furniture is limiting to the extent that the built-in elements cannot be moved around in accordance with your design ideas. However, there are many people that seek out older homes specifically for their built-in furniture, because they provide a sort of old-time charm and character that cannot be found in many houses today.

You do, of course, have the option of working built-in furniture into your design plans for your own custom home, if you’re building a house. To learn more about the benefits of built-in furniture and how adding it into your design could affect the construction process and the value of your home, we encourage you to contact a home builder in Syracuse, IN with your questions. Reach out to the experts at Buhrt Builders Inc. today—we look forward to speaking with you!

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