Are Built In Bookshelves Outdated?

I had someone reach out to me about this not long ago. It was an interesting question to me as I had really never thought about it. So, I decided to write a short blog about it, explaining a little of the history and how we have adapted our built-in units through the years to better accommodate our lifestyles as the needs for storage evolve.

We have had some types of built-in units or storage as long as we have had homes, be it actual cabinets and furniture or just shelving to store our essentials and some family heirlooms or collectables. It was mostly done for practicality in the beginning to store food, spices, pots and pans, clothing and blankets up off the floor helping to keep it away from insects and rodents. It also gave a place to keep things more organized, and seasonal stuff could be kept in one place, out of the way, until it was need again due to the time of year.

As we built larger and nicer homes, our needs started to change from bare necessities of life, to collecting and exhibiting our favorite things, like books, artwork, treasured family heirlooms, and souvenirs of our travels among other things. Suddenly the built -ins became a fully functioning part of our living spaces, in several cases they were even the focal point of the room, with the large Victorian libraries showing off extensive collections of books, built-in benches by the front door to store our cold weather attire, and boots, as we came home after a long day.

In more modern times we have started to look at built-ins in a whole new way, as a focal point for our televisions, surrounded with family photos, art, book collections, and still the old family heirlooms. As we have moved into the world we live in if anything I think we have more of a need to store our electronics and all that goes with them in a hidden area, but we also are using them for decorations, as part of the overall look of the room with window seats, that double as storage, China cabinets back lit with glass doors to show off our collections, while providing storage under it for seasonal storage, like Christmas and Thanksgiving dishes as well as table cloths and other decorations.

In the bedrooms it makes a great place for a study/homework area, as well as book storage and even built in storage for clothes and shoes in the bedroom in lieu of free-standing dressers. Even the bed can be a built-in unit with storage under it and built in nightstands.

Drop zones by the back door are still as useful as ever allowing a place for books, sweaters, jackets, mud covered shoes and boots, keeping your house clean and in order.

So, to answer the original question, no I do not think built-ins will ever go out of style, humans will always need a place to put stuff, I do try to talk my customer's into looking at the timeless styles that have been around forever, like the Shaker Style doors, as opposed to some of the looks of today, which may look quite dated in a decade. There is a reason why a lot of the older styles are called timeless.