5 built-in storage ideas that can make any room look 100% better - 'they're the secret to tidier-looking homes'

These built-in storage ideas add form and function to any room, while also ensuring they're easy to keep in order at all times

A built in unit in a games room
(Image credit: Lauren Taylor. Studio credit LH Designs)

Built-in storage can transform the look of a room, inject personality, and style and, of course, offer a coveted extra space to increase your storage. Many designers suggest that this one element is the key to always having an orderly home.

'Built-in units play a dual role in curbing clutter and serving as display units,' say Rashi Bothra and Ruchi Gehani, founders of Azure Interiors. 'By combining practical storage solutions with aesthetically pleasing design, built-in units strike a balance between tidiness and style.'

If you're renovating or building your home and are enticed by the interior design trend of built-ins, then these carefully crafted storages will give you all the inspiration you need.

1. Build in wardrobes

A bedroom with built in storage around the bed

(Image credit: Note Design Studio)

A bedroom can become easily cluttered if you don't have a routine of keeping things in their place. In small bedrooms, freestanding wardrobes don't make the most of your limited space, so go for built-ins instead. 

This bedroom storage solution will allow you to stretch your space, and hide away as much clutter as possible.

'Investing in built-in wardrobes allows for efficient use of every inch available due to the unique tailoring to your specific space,' says Ginger Curtis, CEO and founder of Urbanology Designs. 'These provide designated storage for clothing, shoes, accessories, and personal belongings to be out of sight, allowing the space to appear organized and visually appealing.' 

2. Create shelving up to the ceiling 

A living room with built in storage till the ceiling


If you're looking for supreme living room storage, a floor-to-ceiling unit can become the focal point and add depth to the interior.

'In this Ft. Greene Brownstone, we removed a bit of the first floor to create a double-height living room opening onto the garden,' says Jeffrey Sherman, principal at Delson or Sherman Architects. 'In celebration of all that height, we proposed floor-to-ceiling, heart-pine bookshelves that can be reached by a metal rolling ladder,' explains Jeffrey. 'To emphasize the height, the shelves get taller the higher you go, and they’re staggered so only the verticals are continuous. The lower shelves are for books, and the higher shelves are for display area. The wall behind the shelves is a mess; a hodge podge of projections for flues, ductwork, and piping.  That’s an added benefit of shelving:  it obscures all that irregularity, which looks like a serene backdrop of painted brick.'

3. Add crockery cabinet in an open kitchen

A living room and dining open plan with a built in storage unit in the kitchen

(Image credit: Tim Lenz. Studio credit Barlis Wedlick Architects)

If you have a living room dining room combo, chances are the clutter keeps moving between both spaces. An open plan like this always needs more storage. But instead of adding more floor cabinets, a built-in unit can be a great job. Plus, it can become the perfect backdrop to display bottles, barware, and collectibles.

'The modern but sculptural wood paneling was a great solution to add a lot of warmth to the walls and at the same time define the core of the public spaces,' says  Alan Barlis, founder and principal of BarlisWedlick. 'It pulls through both living rooms into the breakfast nook into the kitchen, turns into cabinetry, and gives opportunity to hide everyday items the clients did not want visible at all times.'

4. Clear the clutter in a hallway with a built-in

A built in unit in the passageway

(Image credit: frenchCALIFORNIA)

In a small or narrow hallway, a built-in can become an opportunity to pause and admire your choicest collections. Use the built-in to place some of your expensive ceramics, vases, or even family photographs. This will allow you to find a place for all your interesting collectibles, keep them from harm's way, and even help generate a gallery-style vibe.

'Brooklyn Home Company built these shelves for us,' says Guillaume Coutheillas, founder of frenchCALIFORNIA. 'The beauty of built-in units is that they buy you more space, instead of adding to the clutter that comes with freestanding etageres or wall units. The hidden storage is a huge win whereas the display area allows the homeowner to get creative, displaying pieces from their travels, their favorite books, or even barware to create an entertaining book. We filled this one with a beautiful collection of ceramics.'

5. Use a built-in to hide clutter in a family room

A built in unit in a games room

(Image credit: Lauren Taylor. Studio credit LH Designs)

If you have a room that does double duty, like this home library/game room, then perfectly designed built-ins that wrap around the walls can help you achieve the goal of a clutter-free room. These can be used for showing off your favorite items, categorizing books and board games into specific shelves and customized built-ins allow you to personalize your space too.

'This project was designed to be a fun library and game night room,' says Linda Hayslett, founder of LH.Designs. 'The shelving was custom-made to hold all of the books and games that the family has. They love reading and have collected a lot of books, so we made sure it would hold all that they've acquired over the years.'

3 products to keep the built-ins organized

Design Editor

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is the Design Editor at Livingetc. She is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.