Built-In Furniture: Does It Add Value to Your Home? (Find Out Here)


Built-In Furniture

Home renovations are a great way to add needed value for your eventual resell. Though sometimes thought to be a luxury item, built-in furniture and décor are a great way to modernize a home. As long as they are installed appropriately, built-ins are perfect for increasing property value. 

Because of their versatility and customizability, built-ins can add tremendous value to your home renovation. As long as your built-ins are not too niche or impractical, they are perfect for quickly increasing property and resale value to your home.

Not all built-in furniture is worth the hassle. However, when carefully planned and built, many permanent fixtures can have incredibly high payouts. Continue reading for how to properly increase your property value with built-in furniture. 

The Added Value of Built In Furniture

Not all built-in furniture is created equal. Many standard customizations add tremendous resale value. However, you may want to think twice before securing that bright purple bookcase or space-consuming breakfast nook

The less common your built-ins are, the harder it will be to see value when attempting a resale. When considering the added value, you must also factor in the cost of installation. Every built-in furniture item will have independent costs. However, you may also factor in $30 to $130 per hour in labor costs. 

When considering built-in installations, consider whether they will be cost-effective for your needs. If you’re looking for a quick resale, built-ins may not be worth the cost unless you plan on doing DIY projects. On a national average in 2020, built-ins only recouped about 67% of the cost per project. 

Of course, this depends on the type of project, cost of materials, and cost of labor. Depending on personal connections, willingness to DIY, and skill level, you may be able to see more of a return. 

Though the return on specific build projects may seem not worth the hassle, the items can often help a home sell much quicker. Because built-ins are so popular, this could be the deciding factor in a buyer’s decision-making process. 

What Are Built in Furniture Fixtures?

Built-in furniture fixtures are something built in to a home that will remain a permanent fixture. There are many types of built-ins, many of which help a home feel more comforting or upscale. Some of these built-in furniture items may include:

  • Desks
  • Seating
  • Cabinets
  • Fireplaces
  • Shelving
  • Closets

Though some homeowners opt to remove their built-ins to place in their new homes, these furniture items should function as a permanent piece of the home. For instance, this would constitute fixtures built into the wall or attached to a stretch of flooring. 

How High Should Built Ins Be?

The standard height of a built-in item of furniture may vary by project, need, time constraint, and available funds. However, the standard of built-in items are as follows:

Built-In Furniture ItemHeightWidthLength / Depth
Desks30 inches48 inches60 inches
Seating (Two People)20 inches42 inches50 inches
Cabinets (Kitchen)35 inches30 inches25 inches
Fireplaces29 inches30 inches16 inches
Shelving76 inches36 inches12 inches
Closets84 inches48 inches48 inches

(Source: Architectural Digest)

As you can see, each built-in project will vary in dimension. These measurements can also be adjusted to fit the need of your home and intended use. You can always add additional height to your bookshelves, make deeper cabinets, or create a luxurious walk-in closet. 

Overall, your project can be flexible to many shapes and sizes. First, decide which space needs this feature, and you can adjust your measurements from there. 

Is Built In Furniture Cheaper to Build Yourself?

Furniture can often be cheaper to build yourself based on the average cost of labor and your preferences for material. However, you will also want to factor in your experience and skill level before taking on large or complex build projects. 

If you are planning a simple build with common measurements, you can often find videos online or “how-to” manuals to help you through the process. This will drastically reduce the cost of a build without an additional charge for labor. 

Building your own custom furniture is the most economical choice if you have the time, energy, and resources available

What Are Furniture Systems?

A furniture system is an organization of multiple furniture pieces which function together as a unit. When thinking of built-ins, consider a “system” of shelves working together in order to function as a bookshelf. 

Furniture systems can come in many shapes and sizes. When constructing a built-in project, you can always consider whether or not a system is appropriate. Many systems add additional value, such as:

  • Bookshelves
  • Entertainment systems
  • Walk-in closets
  • Murphy beds with shelving
  • Window benches with storage
  • Multipurpose cabinets or drawers

(Source: Architectural Digest

Not all built-in furniture has to function as a system. However, multipurpose built-in units often increase the overall property value

Does Built In Seating Add Value?

Not only will the overall resale value increase, but you may also notice a more significant influx of potential buyers with the right seating options. This is due to how built-in seating helps a home feel more comfortable and practical for many modern buyers. So, when installing seating, be sure that it not only looks well-built but is also placed for maximum functionality of the home.

Seating is one of the most common types of furniture to be built into a home. This is most likely because of the necessity that surrounds finding high-quality seating without breaking the bank. 

Seating can range from a single-person window seat to an elaborate multi seating system. You may find these larger systems in areas like a dining room, game room, or living room. 

Depending on materials and labor, small seating areas can cost up to nearly $2000. Because seating is usually more functional than aesthetic, these items will generally add more property value than other projects. 

Do Built In Desks Add Value?

Built In Desks

Now more than ever, there is a big need for a dedicated home office space. Though home office spaces were once just a show piece, they have become more of a necessity for modern families. The chances are at least one member of a household will need a homework area for either a career or school use. 

That being said, desks add more market value than they do monetary value. Because of the current laws on real estate, home offices are still considered a luxury item. Though a nice desk and dedicated office space may assist you in marketing to prospective buyers, these built-ins may not add much to your overall property value.

Nevertheless, an added desk is still a piece of functional furniture that will add monetary value in the form of furnishing. The average desk sells for around $500, so the nicer your built-in is, the more value it will add. Just be sure to factor in the potential costs and projected value before tackling this built-in project. 

How Do You Modernize Built Ins?

Modern furniture tends to stick to a set of characteristics that can blend into nearly any environment. These characteristics may include:

  • Minimalistic structure
  • Even surfaces
  • Linear design
  • Neutral colors with small accents of pigment
  • Mostly natural materials (some metals)

(Source: Bassett)

If you currently have outdated or damaged built-ins, modernizing them can begin with a selection of natural materials. A nice, sturdy wood is preferred for most modern furnishings, and these can be stained or painted in the style of your choosing. However, remember that modern furniture tends to stick with neutral colors like beiges, greys, and whites

When renovating built-in furniture, you can take inspiration from modern shelving or minimalistic storage areas. There is no need to have ambitious and ornate designs because those often clash with the available furniture. 

Modern furniture tends to be built around the idea of blending into the environment instead of making a bold statement. Sticking to minimalistic and natural materials will help your home stay relevant to buyers in any anticipated sales and keep projects cost-effective

Where Do You Put Built Ins?

Built-ins can be placed virtually anywhere in your home. Where to place your desired built-in furniture depends on what you are attempting to achieve with the project. For instance:

  • Sleeping space for children – If you have multiple children sharing the same space, a set of built in Swedish beds or bunkbeds is a perfect addition to the home. Add a bit of storage space around the beds, and you have an incredible room design in the making. 
  • Storage space – Storage space can be needed in virtually every part of a home. The great news is that modern cabinetry and shelving do not have to take up a lot of space. You can draw inspiration from minimalist shelving or closet organizers when installing built in storage. 
  • General seating – Seating is most needed in family areas like dining rooms, living rooms, etc. However, large built in furniture in these areas can have tremendous cost without adding a ton of property value. Instead, consider small seating areas like window seats, study areas, or sitting rooms. 
  • Home working space – Working from home is one of those “new normals” that will most likely remain a part of many people’s lives. This gives you the perfect opportunity to install a built in desk, bookshelves, storage compartments, etc. If you want to make a profit, think about the everyday needs of anyone seeking a home office before making major changes
  • Book display – A book display or home library can be placed in many areas throughout the home. This can be placed in family areas, lofts, bedrooms, home offices, dining rooms, or large hallways. Just be sure not to make walking areas cramped or awkward. 
  • Home for kitchen appliances – If you have an attached pantry or old cupboards that can be converted, adding or refurbishing shelving is a great option. You can also open up unused cabinetry and add stationary or sliding shelves to house bulky or seldom-used kitchen appliances. 

The best built-ins are placed due to necessity, so carefully consider what areas need that extra piece. The chances are, if you don’t have a need for your desired built-in, future buyers won’t either. 

Are Built In Cabinets Considered Furniture?

To classify as furniture is relative to how an item is used or installed. Typically, cabinets and any other permanent furniture are considered fixtures. However, they can also be considered a piece of furniture due to how they are used.

For instance, just because a seat is built into a designated place does not mean it stops being furniture. Since detached cabinets are considered furniture, built-in cabinets are both furniture and fixtures. 

What Is Considered Built In Cabinetry?

Like most built-in furniture, built-in cabinets are designed as part of a home’s permanent structure. Therefore, they can not be removed easily. 

There are many ways to install this type of built-in, depending on which room and location they are needed in. Some of these installations include:

  • Securing on to a platform
  • Bolting to wall
  • Attaching to existing cabinetry
  • Using screws to attach extra shelving

Cabinetry is most often found in kitchens, so they may line the walls and rest just below your counter space. However, additional cabinets can also be added throughout the home where more storage or shelving is needed. 

How Deep Should Built In Cabinets Be?

Cabinets should be built to fit the space they are being placed in. However, there are standard measurements that you can use for a standard reference. 

Typical cabinets are an average of 25 inches deep, but this can be adjusted to meet your needs or your space. For instance, if the cabinet is for small items with little space to work with, you may only want about a foot of depth. 

If you are working with a much larger space, you might want something a bit deeper. There are cabinet built-ins that measure up to 48 inches. However, anything larger than that might reduce the resale value unless they have a universal purpose. 

The Cost of Built Ins Around a Fireplace

Old and outdated fireplaces can easily be brought back to life with some custom built-ins. Shelving and mantels are often a popular choice for modernizing the area around the fireplace because they can give an intimate feel to the room.

This is a great option because shelves can be versatile to other people’s needs while still capturing that modern, sleek look that is so in demand. Possibly most important is the factor of cost and demand. 

Fireplaces can bring together a room and often leave a lasting impression on potential buyers. A renovated fireplace can often be the deciding factor for buyers looking for their dream home. Luckily, installing built-ins around a fireplace are not much more expensive than any built-in bookshelf system. 

Depending on the desired material, dimensions of design, and cost of labor, you can expect to spend about $2000 to $6000 on large built-in projects around your existing fireplace. Because fireplaces are so high in demand, this is a great project for adding and maintaining a lasting property value. 

Do Built In Closets Add Value to a Home?

For some buyers, built-in closets could be the deciding factor of whether they remain interested. Many potential buyers now feel that no built-in closet in the master bedroom is a deal breaker

Building a closet from the ground up can be perfect for adding quick value as long as it is done correctly. Built-in closet installation can be as cheap as $200. However, many larger projects with more expensive materials could cost as much as $6000. 

There are a few things to keep in mind when installing a new closet. These include:

  • Where will it be placed?
  • Will this cut down on the number of rooms?
  • Will it increase the number of rooms?
  • How expensive are the materials?
  • Can this project be DIYed?

If the only place to install a new closet isn’t practical for everyday use, this might actually reduce the value of your home. Additionally, converting a bedroom into a large walk-in closet cuts down on the usable living space that can be advertised. These scenarios would do more damage to your property value than good. 

If you are adding a closet to a single-use room (i.e., game room, sewing room, home office, etc.), this might actually increase the total square footage of living space. Rooms cannot be factored in as bedrooms unless they have some type of closet attached. Adding a closet to this type of room would significantly increase your property value

The price of materials should be weighed with how much you can expect to spend on labor. Expect to spend an average of $100 an hour in labor unless you have the skill to install the closet yourself. If you reach the high end of a $6000 installation cost, you will probably not see as large of a return. 

Overall Value

When installing built-in furniture, remember that most projects only see about a 67% immediate return on the cost of installation. However, built-ins often resonate with buyers and become the deciding factor on which home to choose. Before making those installations, weigh your needs and how quickly you hope to see a return on your investments. 

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