Built-ins Are Not What You Think

We think of built in bookshelves and cabinetry as a luxury or opulent since they are typically in very old and often grand homes.  Why aren’t they built now? And are they really opulent?

built-in-bookshelves
Built-in Cabinets

In this modern day and age it is quite expensive to commission a carpenter to install solid wood or mahogany  bookshelves and cabinets. Why? Because skilled trades such as that are becoming obsolete and are being replaced with either automation or easier building projects.

One of the other major reasons it isn’t done anymore is because the materials needed like mahogany or cherry are much more expensive to purchase.

And any homes with these built-ins preexisting are already expensive since they are so old and typically near the cities.

IMG_1010
In a 1912 Craftsman in Portland, OR

So, to answer the question, Yes. Built-ins are expensive for many reasons and therefore opulent, grand, and luxurious these days.

But, what about when these homes were first built in the early 1900s?

These homes and subsequently their built-ins were made for the working class, not the upper class.

Why? Because buying furniture was expensive and difficult to move when the owners relocated. So, the less furniture they had to buy and take with them the cheaper it was.

During the early 1900s when there was a great influx of people to America and specifically the Pacific Northwest contractors and builders realized that when they made these smaller bungalow and Craftsman homes (popular at the time) they needed to include built-in furniture to accommodate the working class.

built-in-buffet
This Built-in Buffet is beautiful.

If you are interested in learning more about old houses and styles wait for a future post of mine or check out this book , Classic Houses Of Seattle.

What do you think of built-ins? I find them exquisite and full of history and stories.

3 thoughts on “Built-ins Are Not What You Think

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