Your Extensive Guide to Built-In Furniture
The Right design and usage of Built- in furniture can enhance the aesthetics and functionality of a space . It is a sustainable way to reduce the amount of energy & resources spent in creating standalone furniture pieces. Most of the built-in furniture camouflage with the architectural features of the space,for instance , niches and aumbries are treated as an integral part flushed into the wall.
We can find the usage of built-in furniture even from the early ages, where they considered it as a part of its architectural feature. The most primitive examples are thinnai [ திண்ணை- a raised seating platform, facing the street ] ,villaku madam [விளக்கு மாடம்-a niche holding the traditional light], shelving & niches, aumbries etc.
Most of the vernacular buildings have built-in furniture according to their daily needs. For example, the house of a farmer has built-in storage for their stocks & seeds. The weavers had specific platforms to add comfort to their occupation. This functionality of the built-in furniture is closely related to the nature of the daily activities of the user .
WHAT CAN BE BUILT-IN
We can build-in, almost all the standalone furniture. For the living room , we can build-in seating areas, tables, storage, niches to hold the decor pieces, bookcases, window seatings , fireplaces,hallway with storage , study areas and much more. For the kitchen, it is our regular practise to have cabinets , countertops etc. For toilets, we can build-in niches for storing toiletries, and we can have built-in bathtubs and Sinks that will eliminate the usage of high-end toilet fittings.
Picture Courtesy : Sigi Koko
PROS AND CONS OF BUILT-IN FURNITURE
The main advantage of the built-in furniture is they often make use of the unused spaces such as corners , space below a window (which can be used as a diwan ) , space underneath the staircase ( which can be used as a storage cabinet). The best part is you can get your own customised furniture that goes best with your space at a low cost. It works well for tight spaces , where the floor area is very limited .
Recessed shelving , bookcases , stone benching are the other popular means of built-in furniture . One can opt to build-in furniture to avoid the visual hindrance and to free up the space , which are usually caused by the standalone furniture. Replacing stereotype standalone wooden furniture with built-in mud seating or bamboo benches will visually enlarge the existing space.Unlike freestanding furniture pieces , built-in furniture always blends with the space and acts as a part of the whole. Most of the curvilinear buildings come with a custom made built-in furniture to increase the efficiency and functionality of the building. These are the sustainable ways to reduce the amount of wood used in the construction , which can be replaced by mud or stone or bricks or even with bamboo.
Despite these pros , it comes with its own cons. As the name says, they are permanent features of the space . So one should be planned and determined about the usage of these built-in furnitures for a long term. They cannot be tweaked or renewed without an increase in cost.
As we are marching towards a sustainable world,incorporating natural building materials for built-in furniture will be cost effective and eco-friendly . Incorporating natural building materials and customizing them according to the user needs will increase the comfort and aesthetics of the space . Next time, give a thought before you design your house, to save on your furniture.