Built-In Inspiration: Shelving

Custom millwork is a great way to maximize your existing space. Whether it be built-in storage, open shelving or seating - we collaborate with custom millworkers to create classic, functional pieces that utilize every inch of space.

Open shelving is common in our built-in designs as they provide a place to store and showcase our client’s own collections, pictures or memorabilia that really personalize the space.

A few things to keep in mind when planning built-in shelving:


Styling bookshelves, especially a large wall of them, requires planning. Empty shelves feel boring and cluttered shelves are overwhelming to the eye. We like to use a mixture of objects and books in styling bookshelves. Many people will arrange their books based on size but you can also arrange them based on color.


Plan to light your shelves! This truly takes planning because as you’re working with a contractor, you’ll need to make lighting decisions early on, so they can wire accordingly.


You know we love wallpaper! Custom shelving is a great place to add it! If you don’t want something with a print, try grasscloth or keep it simple and go with paint.

With these tips in mind, here are a few things for you to think about:

  1. With any shelving that currently exists in your home, how can you make it better? i.e. lighting, paint, wallpaper, styling your shelves with books and other decor.

  2. Is there a space in your home that would be more effective with custom shelves? Be intentional.


Practical Lighting Tips to Use Right Away

Ever get the sense that the lighting in your home just isn’t quite right? A lot of people feel that way at some point in their home design. Here are some helpful tips next time you’re thinking about lighting and when in doubt, add a dimmer!


A general note is that each room should include 3 layers of lighting:

General lighting, which is typically an overhead light

Task, like floor or table lamps

Accent, such as low level lighting like candles

Here are some specific thoughts about types of lighting:

Ceiling lights:

In an open space where people walk, you need at least 7 feet from the bottom of the hanging light fixture to the floor. For high ceilings, add more height. For example, 9.5’ ceilings should have a distance from the floor 7’6”.

Table lamps:

For a lamp placed on a side table, the bottom of the shade should be at about eye level.

Floor lamps:

Place these in corners or next to sofas. Make sure it’s at a height so the bulb is always concealed.

Wall sconces:

Wall sconces should be at about eye level, so anywhere from 5-6’ from the ground. These should also have a little space between items they’re placed next to, so plan for about 3-5” between the sconce and a piece of art or whatever else you may have hung.

As you make selections, finish up with these tips:

Add color and texture with the bases and the shades should feel almost matched

Be sure the scale matches the size of your room (and your furniture)