20 Beautiful Built-Ins

Function and form come together with gorgeous built-in shelving. Browse our favorite looks, and build your own to add drama and storage to your home.

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July 23, 2020

Photo By: Kathleen Forbush

Photo By: Nickolas Sargent

Photo By: Wendy Labrum

Photo By: Houlihan Lawrence, a member of Luxury Portfolio International

Photo By: Jessica Alexander

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Jeff Herr Photography

Photo By: Amy Bartlam

Photo By: Claire Esparros

Photo By: Brown Design Group

Photo By: Michael Hunter

Photo By: Sarah Busby

Photo By: Stephanie Diani

Photo By: Butter Lutz Interiors

Photo By: David Duncan Livingston

Photo By: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography

Photo By: INS Portugal - Fine Properties, a member of Luxury Portfolio International

Photo By: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Global Inspiration

A built-in shelf doesn’t have to be floor-to-ceiling books. Display a favorite collection, such as the globes featured here.

Glam Wallpaper

The gleaming, graphic wallpaper backing this traditional piece is doing double duty in this living room. It both adds dimension to the monochromatic arrangements of items on the shelves and echoes the fantastic retro pendant in the middle of the space.

Edgy Pastels

The delicate blush paint in this study serves as a gentle complement to the delicate molding and intricate gold details flanking the mantel. These shelves’ interiors are another story altogether. Dark grasscloth wallpaper and paint create dramatic contrast at the center of this sweet space.

From: Corey Damen Jenkins

Works of Art

Mounted brass picture lights accent individual portions of this living room built-in and contribute to ambient illumination for the whole room. A trio of armchairs, the coffee table and fireplace screen echo the gleaming accents. How’s that for multipurpose design?

Simple Symmetry

Two matching built-ins flank the mantel, making it the focal point of the room. Painted gray, the built-ins stand out against the surrounding white walls.

High Rise

The soaring modern shelves on this landing draw the eye up to the vaulted ceiling and to the handsome staircase the shelves flank. They also offer an opportunity to deploy a massive rolling library ladder that adds charm and character to the built-ins.

From: Houlihan Lawrence and Luxury Portfolio International®

Moody Blue

The deep, oceanic color chosen for this custom wall lets the eye travel straight out through the glass doors to this home’s verdant garden. We love how the individual shelves are left unpainted, which both echoes organic elements in the room and creates horizontal lines.


The crisp border between this creamy fireplace and the handsome built-ins surrounding it is just the beginning of the visual interest they add. Light, leggy accessories, like the ones displayed here, would disappear against white cabinetry, but against the dark cabinetry they take center stage.

Mustn't-See TV

Consider how effectively the dusty teal paint chosen for this transitional built-in minimizes the look of the television it houses. When turning down the tech factor is a priority, a surround of this sort can be an effective ally.

Bold in Black

Gold-rimmed vintage glassware and curios in this masculine home bar have pride of place against the black paint chosen to integrate its cabinetry with the walls surrounding it. When there’s plenty of natural light to stave off potential gloom, why not aim for the dramatic end of the color spectrum?

Work and Play

In open-concept lofts like this one, the utilitarian mudroom shares space with more decorative elements like these built-in white shelves with a storage bench. This hard-working space proves form and function can unite and create one stunning design.

Wonder Wall

This asymmetrical, delightfully eclectic modern built-in has a little of everything. Two lower shelves balance a white-framed fireplace, a pair of narrow floating shelves display curios on either side of the television above the integrated mantel, while an extra-wide top shelf creates a cohesive look.

Bold Blue

This living room features a white washed brick fireplace that is flanked on either side by beautiful blue built-ins. These functional yet stylish pieces bring color and chic design into this space.

Book Nook

Otherwise-wasted space beneath a stairwell becomes a sweet place for curling up with a good read, thanks to these four compact built-in shelves. The pretty, constellation-patterned paper differentiates the shelving from surrounding walls.

Floor-to-Ceiling Fun

Hardcover books, arranged by color, share space with everything from cascading foliage plants to unicorn bookends and a sherbet-colored typewriter. This doorway becomes much more fun and functional with the addition of these built-ins.

Most Valuable Pattern

These sleek built-in shelves are more than just pretty. The tones in the wallpaper backing them reinforces the interplay between warm golden and cool blue hues that carries throughout the rest of this space.

Midcentury Marvel

Sculptural shelving overlaps the interior edge of this corner fireplace, then edges up the living room wall. On the hearth’s opposite side, the same striking wood wraps beneath the window and draws the eye out to a sun-drenched terrace. Isn’t creative interior architecture fabulous?

Be Square

The decorative geometry in this playful plum study carries all the way across the graphic area rug and up the rear wall. These built-in shelves form a three-dimensional series of the cubes rendered in 2D on the floor.

Custom Character

A ceiling like this one doesn’t play well with traditional bookshelves, which would terminate at awkward heights and clash with the ceiling's artfully ascending angles. A wall of custom shelves, on the other hand, celebrates every inch of the soaring space and provides plenty of storage.

From: INS Portugal - Fine Properties and Luxury Portfolio International®

Traditional Tones

The deep blue paint backing the crisp white shelving in this living room is a perfect match for the spectacular porcelain collection displayed throughout the space.

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