Built-in Furniture Leaves Lasting Impressions

Written by Posted On Sunday, 25 February 2007 16:00

At one time or another nearly every homeowner complains of not having enough space. It seems no matter how many square feet you own, sooner or later, you're in need of more. So at that moment you put your home on the market, decide to scale down your belongings, or perhaps consider built-in furniture.

It's not a new concept but one that seems to be growing and sought after by house-hunting buyers who are constantly thinking about where and how they'll fit all their belongings into a prospective home.

From the cozy built-in breakfast nook to the stunning cherry-wood bookcase that houses all your favorite classics and collectibles, built-in furniture not only saves space but also helps add value to many homes.

"With a built-in piece of furniture what you're gaining is basically space, because with a built-in we can put furniture in little nooks and crannies that otherwise you would not utilize. With stand-alone furniture what will happen is you will have big empty spaces," says Aaron Weinstock, owner of NePalo Cabinetmakers. The former computer engineer turned his wood-crafting hobby into a profession four years ago, just in time to take advantage of what the building and technology industries are creating.

"Now these new homes often come with built-in nooks and if you put in a stand-alone piece of furniture there are going to be a few feet of wasted space."

So, Weinstock creates custom pieces that fit perfectly into those empty nooks. He says most of his clients want built-in furniture in woods such as walnut, cherry, or maple. And while built-in furniture can be found everywhere from big-box stores to local craftsman shops, quality is what can create the great divide in many built-in pieces.

Weinstock says it's important to determine the level of quality product you want. Remember, if you're going with built-in furniture, it's unlikely you'll be removing it any time soon -- so high quality is probably worth the money you'll spend. He says that things such as whether the doors on a built-in are inset of overlay are indications of the quality of the piece.

"Obviously overlay is cheaper and easier to do; you just put the doors on top of it, slap them on and go to the next to job," says Weinstock. Inset requires far more detail and precision in producing the built-in piece.

Another thing to consider when having built-in furniture constructed is what type of wood is being used. Keeping with the growing green-building trend, Weinstock says you should make sure the wood maker uses certified woods.

"We use mainly certified hard woods that originate from forests that are Forest Stewardship Council certified for their sustainable harvest practices," says Weinstock.

Of course, making sure that you're truly getting authentic wood is a top priority for long- lasting quality pieces. Some built-in furniture is constructed with cheaper materials such as plywood or medium density fiberboard.

"In a high quality cabinet, if you buy cherry wood and you open the cabinet everything you see is cherry. The inside of the cabinets when you open the doors is cherry," explains Weinstock.

There are different techniques of installing built-in furniture. "Some people basically construct everything in their shop and then they just come to your house and install it in an hour or two. They put all sorts of molding to cover all the gaps," says Weinstock. He adds, "It's much better if the built-in furniture's case is made in a shop but the front of the case is built at your house so that there's no gaps and then there's no need for extra moldings to cover mistakes or gaps."

"Some people think that the molding is a better deal but what they don't understand is that it's covering mistakes," cautions Weinstock.

Buying built-in furniture may take longer to get your ultimate piece. Weinstock says his projects from design to finish can take up to three months. But there's nothing quite like knowing a piece was made just for you and your needs.

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Phoebe Chongchua

Phoebe Chongchua is an award-winning journalist, an author, customer service trainer/speaker, and founder of Setting the Service Standard, a customer service training and consulting program offered by Live Fit Enterprises (LFE) based in San Diego, California. She is the publisher of Live Fit Magazine, an online publication that features information on real estate/finance, physical fitness, travel, and philanthropy. Her company, LFE, specializes in media services including marketing, PR, writing, commercials, corporate videos, customer service training, and keynotes & seminars. Visit her magazine website: www.LiveFitMagazine.com.

Phoebe's articles, feature stories, and columns appear in various publications including The Coast News, Del Mar Village Voice, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Today's Local News in San Diego, as well as numerous Internet sites. She holds a California real estate license. Phoebe worked for KGTV/10News in San Diego as a Newscaster, Reporter and Community Affairs Specialist for more than a decade. Phoebe's writing is also featured in Donald Trump's book: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures. She is the author of If the Trash Stinks, TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles for Your Success.

Contact Phoebe at (858) 259-3646 or phoebe@livefitmagazine.com. Visit PhoebeChongchua.com for more information.

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