The 11 Best Built-In Makeovers We’ve Seen So Far This Year

published Sep 19, 2022
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Is 2022 the year of built-ins? Judging by the number of home project submissions Apartment Therapy has received this year with built-in shelving, yes. (Bonus points if the built-ins have glam brass sconces attached!)

Built-in shelving is making a case for itself as the standout design trend of 2022, and here are 11 of the most enviable units Apartment Therapy editors have seen this year. What’s so wonderful about these built-in projects is that they prove that added shelving brings character — not to mention practicality — to almost any room, from living rooms to home offices to bedrooms to even dining rooms.

From IKEA hacks to built-from-scratch pieces, these built-ins are all worthy of saving to your stylish storage mood board. And keep your eyes on AT for more — these are just the best of 2022 so far, after all.

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1. ’70s-Era Living Room Cabinetry Gets a $1,200 Facelift Fit for 2022

Homeowner Amy Smith’s (@homebringsjoy) living room had built-ins next to the fireplace before, but they were just a bit dated, with ’70s-style curved cabinet fronts and wasted space up top. Amy decided to knock those out and start from scratch in this $1,200 living room redo. Her new khaki-colored shelving plus the freshly-painted fireplace provide the perfect backdrop for a relaxing night in. “I’m not a professional carpenter, but they look incredible,” she says. Amy’s advice for future built-in builders? Use a Studbuddy magnet tool to locate and mark studs, and tape your shelving design with painter’s tape before you begin to make sure you like the shape and height of everything.

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2. Bookworms Will Love How These Homeowners Maximized Every Inch of a Blank Wall

I love how Liz Lovery’s green built-in bookshelves follow the angle of the wall in her home library. Although the three main bookcases were easy to assemble and mount, the angled shelving gave Liz and her husband, Ryan, headaches. “One of the challenges we faced when building the bookcase was taking the sloped ceiling into account and how we would secure bookcase over the doorway,” she recalls. “We managed to find a solution, and we couldn’t be happier with the result.” Two other things I love about these built-ins? The frame hanging at the intersection of four shelves, and the gallery lighting c/o Amazon.

3. Stylish Storage Takes This Laundry Room From Basic to Elevated

This built-in cabinetry and shelving took homeowner Stacey Hawkes’ (@thehawkes_victorianrenovation) laundry room from cluttered and chaotic to stylish and serene. There’s now room to stow away the vacuum cleaner, ironing board, and broom, and one of the cupboards even conceals the room’s hot water heater. See the wicker laundry baskets? There’s now a shelf (and a corresponding laundry basket!) for every member of Stacey’s family, so there’s no more mixing up clothes or waiting for a slowpoke to take their clothes out of the dryer. Read more about the laundry room redo, including the smart layout switch-up, here.

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4. A Home Office Becomes a Cool Kid’s Room in This $400 DIY-Filled Redo

Jenny Palo of @palo_woodcraft saved time by using pre-made bookshelves for this wall of built-ins, but she made the desk and the bench from scratch for a multi-purpose, one-of-a-kind activity wall for her daughter, Elle. “If I could do it again, I would have made the window seat slightly deeper, but other than that, I don’t think there’s much I would change!” Jenny says. She’s proud that she tried so many new builds, like the drawers, the bench, and the desk, for this project.

5. After a Glam Yet Cozy Redo, This Basement Doesn’t Even Look Like a Basement

The dark color (Lick’s Blue 07) and stylish striped wallpaper on this built-in shelving in Lindsey Sopcak’s basement are both so dreamy; it almost looks like a moody library or cool speakeasy rather than a basement. The shelving isn’t the only built-in feature here, either. Across the way, there are cabinets that conceal craft supplies, games, and other kid stuff. Lindsey and her husband, Tim, used three of these cabinets from Walmart as the foundation and added trim and paint to make them look seamless with the walls. The result is a beautiful blue built-in-filled basement.

6. A Closed-Off Living Room Gets an Airy, Open New Look with an Arch-Shaped Design Feature

PSA: Built-in features don’t have to be all square edges. When they were redoing their living room, Brittany McNab and her husband, Taylor, cut an arch-shaped alcove into the wall and added a couple floating shelves and some cabinets that fit snugly. The cabinets are from IKEA and sit atop a platform that Taylor made to raise them a bit. “In between the built-ins, we thought that would be the perfect spot for an X-shaped wine rack,” Brittany says. “My husband made that wine rack, and as luck would have it, we had the exact color that matched our built-ins on hand, so we painted and sealed it and slid it into place. It had to be a very tight exact fit to fit into that spot, and it fit like a glove.” Now, the arch-shaped feature is Brittany and Taylor’s favorite part of their home.

7. These $1,000 IKEA Hack Built-Ins Save a Cluttered Garage Entryway

Having built-in storage in a garage is definitely luxurious, but it doesn’t have to come with a luxury price tag. Jackie Fagan’s (@morningkawa) garage overhaul proves this, as her built-in storage, made from an IKEA PAX wardrobe system, a HEMNES media stand, and a KALLAX, saved her garage from clutter and cost just $1,000. Jackie and her husband made the PAX, HEMNES, and KALLAX look built-in by adding trim and matching white paint (Sherwin-Williams’ Alabaster) to each.

8. An Empty, Underutilized Room Becomes a Functional Office Thanks to DIY Built-Ins

This DIY desk by Stephanie Thain (@styledbystephthain) is a simple but stunning feature of her home office redo. Stephanie was originally planning to create one large desk in the center of the office with drawers and shelving flanking the sides, but when her husband requested a workspace, too, Stephanie decide to split the space with him, using a shelf to divide their desktops. The desktop itself is made from butcher block which Stephanie treated and mounted to the wall, the drawers are refurbished, and the shelving up top is a custom wood creation by Stephanie.

9. Smart DIYs Gave This “Cold” Dining Room a Welcoming (and Functional) New Life

This redo by Lindsey Boehmke (@hilltown_house) proves that a dining room is a perfectly suitable spot for built-in bookshelves. Lindsey uses her added shelving to store glassware, cookbooks, recipe cards, her LEGO collection, and more. “I still am amazed that the giant bookcase I installed around the new french doors came together,” she says. “I knew exactly what I wanted, but also knew it would be a big project that needed a lot of attention to detail. It’s one of my proudest projects to date in my home, and the room would not have turned out the same without it.” Read more about how the whole room came together here.

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10. A Dull Living Room Corner Becomes a Design Feature for Around $500

These reclaimed wood floating shelves were exactly what this sad corner of Lara Lucas’ (@inside_the_painted_door) living room needed. “The previous owners had a dresser situated in the space, but in my opinion it was too small and looked bare,” Lara says. “The dark wood didn’t stand out and got lost against the blue wall… I had always liked the idea of chunky, floating shelving that I could style and change as and when I wanted.” Her husband helped hammer the new shelves (cut perfectly to match the dimensions of the crevice) in, and he also built the custom wood and wine storage underneath.

12. DIY Built-Ins and Dramatic Paint Transform This Family’s Reading Room

My favorite thing about these built-ins (made by Martin of @mismatchedhome and painted Taubman’s Racing Green) is that they utilize an often under-utilized space: the area above a doorframe. Whether yours are built-in or not, a shelf above the door is always a good idea for extra storage and a bit of added character. “Martin is a cabinetmaker, so he did it himself after work and on the weekends over the course of a few weeks,” Martin’s wife and fellow designer, Paula Truscott, explains. “After building the base of the shelf, he then built the frame, added shelves, and added some wainscoting on the cabinet doors.” Martin and Paula’s character-filled living room redo was a years-long labor of love; read more about the colorful transformation here.