Built-in Woodwork for Small Space Homes & Apartments

  Thinking about having someone build you some storage, fitted furniture? Stuff you May want to know about  creative solutions for storage and space.


You obviously have come to this page because you realize that you may need some storage solutions. Life is not working easily. You cant find anything. And there is no time. You probably want to know a bit about the process of creating and building custom fitted or flexible furniture and built-ins. You May want to find out who is out there doing this kinda stuff.  We do not only design build small space areas but we love doing them. We as designer/builder get to be creative and find solutions. Although Small spaces limit the homeowner, we have seen many interesting results from our clients getting involved. Of course we can show you pictures and draw up a design. But there really is a lot more to it. And it can be fun.  We gravitate towards small space design/ build woodwork because we are both a boatbuilder and a boat refinisher. We both have extensive sailing miles offshore and both have lived on our boats for years at a time. We know what small space living is all about. We understand duel purpose furniture, we know how to build with quality materials that with stand one of the harshest environments- the sea, sun and saltwater.  

What ever you decide to do with your built ins and fitted furniture- know that it will only be as good as the time you put into DEFINING what your needs are (what you will be doing in the space) and what you have or want to place in it.

Lets get started: 

Looking around your space. Is there any place that is not used that can be? Is there a wall where you can drop down a table top for more kitchen counter space? Is the space under or over  the stairs utilized? Can the radiator cover be made to look like a bench?  How about a dish store/dry rack over the sink? Can the book shelf also hold a door ? How about seating and storage in one, or half wall bookshelves to delineate spaces. Put your storage woodwork on locking rollers and keep the space changing. 

We have built pockets in our shelving unit that hold our winter storms and our summer screens. Our TV slides up and down on a pole so that it pops into the break-front and is out of sight and dust. We have made a dividing wall between two rooms with three closets, a book shelf and a chest of drawers nitch. It jambs an awful lot of stuff into a tiny tiny space and it muffles out noise. (10 by 4 feet) We use foot pumps for water, drop down tables for more space and rolling shelving and tables for flexibility. We really work it- in our space. You can To. What you need to remember, before we begin, is that few elements in your home are fixed. These fixed items would be plumbing, fireplace, doors, windows and radiators. They wont move – there fixed- almost anything else can be changed. Remember how you got to this page- your looking to get ride of the stress of inconvenience in your life. You want Solutions. 

Some questions to get you going?

What will you do in this space?

Where is the best light? Where is the worst light?

What areas do u not use now? Why? Is it the light? The space? 

Do you collect? Or throw out? Do you show items or hide them?

What will u store in the built-in? How much of it will be closed? How much open? Do u want to incorporate technology or wiring into your fitted cabinetry?

What kind of look are you after? Will it fit with what is already there? 

What areas can you use as double duty functioning areas? And what areas do u want single functioning?

What is your budget ? 


After I have a list of what I want to do in my space I hit interest for ideas, I scour magazines and store the ideas in a binder…. Everything is always changing… What I like one month can be very different the next. Usually when I see all these ripped out pages in one binder- I see a theme- and you will be able to see it as well….  ( our Pinterest page is: http://www.pinterest.com/dana_carini  and we have tons of boards with idea’s and technical info like the prices of various woods)

Then I make lists of the biggest books I have and the smallest so that the shelves can accommodate all my books, curios and magazine, cd’s printer, speakers ect. I am spending the time and money and it all has to work! I measure blankets and cans and boxes of food. And it all looks snug in its place. Believe it or not- creating space has made me more organized which gives me  time for really important stuff- like going out for that hike or taking out the knitting needles. When your items or tools for life are easy to get at and categorized- you waste less in money and time and the brain feels lighter. You don’t have to search for those beans that were once stacked three rows deep…..you get the idea.

I put flashy blue tape on the walls and floor to mark out where the fitted cabinetry will go. I live with it for a while.  If I walk into it several days in a row, I know it might not be a great spot- or I round out the cabinet and see if that helps. Blue tape is easy to pull up and re-mold into a round shape. I sit back and look at the wall ( blue tape shows were shelving will be- and I make the thickness of the tape the thickness of the shelving so I really get it right) unit and watch it for a while. It might be to tall or to fat…..

I then pick my materials and finish and price them. For me its easy I take the board foot price of the materials and throw $200 in for finishing… But for you it will be tricky. A good start is to call your local wood dealer and find out the board foot prices of wood. Or look on our pinterest board named materials and look for understanding wood. This will at least give you an idea if you can afford walnut or if you might have to go with pine or ply. Call your woodworker and get an estimate- ask for some pictures with prices of previous clients work so you can get an idea. If you like the craftsmen just go for the plunge. 

We design/build our fitted furniture but other woodworkers may not.- be sure to discuss there process. 

 Living small comfortably, truly depends upon YOU spotting opportunities for storage and organizing your space. Email or call if we can help. ( if your in NY)  www.urbanboatworks.com







Published by Dana Carini

Sailing thru water. restoring and refinishing wooden boats and homes. Handcrafting a collection of last a lifetime- inheritable objects. ( worldsendny) Inspiration comes from the places we sail, the people we meet and the history of long ago.

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