The Practical Book Of Built-In Furniture (1959)
Title: “The Practical Book Of Built-In Furniture”
Author: Henry Lionel Williams
Publisher: Publisher Name
Year of Publication: 1959
LOC Catalog Entry: http://lccn.loc.gov/59010379
Copyright Status: Public Domain in the United States and countries following the rule of the shorter term
“Every Home Needs Built-Ins
EVERY home needs built-in units of various kinds. Even when there isn’t a lack of storage space — of which few homes ever have enough — built-ins can be the answer to the problem of cutting the cost of furnishing. And that’s not all. Besides taking the place of movable furniture, and saving money in the process, they can utilize otherwise unused space, or substitute order for wasteful untidiness. Furthermore, with built-in units you can remodel almost any interior.
You can convert one room into two. You can fill in openings, construct seats, beds, dressers, kitchen counters and so on, utilizing both wall and floor space for storage of all kinds. You can make usable rooms of bare attics and cellars and turn odd corners in the garage into storage or working space.
Often, simple structures can be used as backgrounds for the regular furniture and serve to hide undesirable architectural features. As everyone knows, a house with too much furniture is congested and cluttered, unattractive and unpleasant to live in. By substituting built-in pieces you can get equivalent service and at the same time release floor space.
The success of any built-in unit is determined not only by its utility but also by the way it blends in with the rest of the room. No well-designed built-in piece should look like an afterthought, or something stuck on in a hurry. In other words, the less a built-in piece looks built-in, the more it enhances the beauty of the room you put it in. The final test is whether or not it appears as though it had always belonged. Is it an essential part of the whole furnishing scheme?
In planning all such additions it is necessary to keep in mind the complete, furnished room. You have to remember that tall units and deep ones will make a room look smaller; that odd-shaped units and projections can give a room an untidy look and throw it out of balance. In many instances this calls for special treatment either to subdue or emphasize certain features.
Another advantage offered by built-in pieces is that space can be economized and clutter reduced by incorporating loose units into the pieces themselves, such as storage boxes in beds, chairs in kitchen counters, and so on.
The only possible drawbacks to permanently attached built-ins are that ordinarily you can’t take them with you; they may not suit a new owner of the house, and they need planning for the type of furniture they are to go with and form a background for. Once attached, they cannot be changed around as loose furniture can. For this reason it is advantageous sometimes to make the built-ins detachable or even free-standing.
It usually is best to attach the built-in pieces firmly to the house structure, but you can use screws or bolts that can be removed readily without seriously damaging the walls, ceilings, or floors. You may want to change things later on. Or if you sell the place the new owner may not want them. And he certainly won’t relish tearing the house apart to dislodge your handiwork.
On the other hand, building into a space, and attaching more or less permanently, generally simplifies construction and provides strength and solidity at lower cost. The whole thing therefore merits careful planning and consideration.
In deciding what built-ins you need it pays to survey the room in question and see what the basic cause of clutter actually is. Sometimes furniture rearrangement will help, but in any case there are some excellent guides to go by. It has been found, for instance, that traffic lanes through rooms should be 30 inches wide; 36 inches is the average space needed to open a drawer; there should be 54 inches seating space between a table and a wall; 6 to 12 inches between a chair and ottoman; 36 inches chair space between a desk and the wall; and 15 inches knee space at a coffee table.
With your furniture arranged to these minimums you can see what you have room for and what other provision you need to make to get the best out of that room.
Most of us need to be careful in separating things we need access to often from those we need only occasionally. In other words, it pays to make separate provision for active storage and dead storage. The fact that we may rarely do this is responsible (for example) for kitchens that are crammed with ceiling cupboards full of items and gadgets that are used no more than once a year. The result is an unpleasing appearance and far too little air space, actual or apparent. The remedy is to store such things elsewhere. This means planning — and often the exercise of ingenuity — so that the built-in pieces can be designed for some specific purposes and not just as catchalls.
The Value of Planning Built-ins
In designing your cupboard and closet built-ins remember that capacity is more important than overall size! With careful planning you can economize space and so save time and lumber and do a better job. Here are some standard unit sizes that may help you. in laying out cabinet or cupboard space.
Average books need only 10 inches between shelves; some larger books will need 12 inches.
Ordinary dinner plates need shelves 12 inches deep (back to front). In some instances, slanting shelves in shallow cupboards will accommodate larger pieces. For very large pieces, including trays, use vertical racks either back-to-front or transverse. You will need about 16 square feet of shelf space to store china and glassware sufficient for 6 people.
Top height varies from 28 to 30 inches.
Clothes hangers plus clothes require 24 inches depth.
Clothes can be stored without hangers in a 16-inch-deep closet. Clothes hooks should be 12 inches apart.
Children’s hangers should be 48 inches above floor. Adults’ hangers should be 60 inches above floor. Coveralls need hangers 72 inches above the floor.
A shelf in clothes closet should be 4 inches above hooks or 2½ inches above the hanger rail.
On an average, each person needs 48 inches of rail space.
Minimum size, 16 inches deep, 36 inches wide.
Reorganizing Existing Storage
In many cases lack of space is brought about by the family out-growing the house. This often calls for reallocating space, regrouping of present storage facilities and doing things to make some furniture pieces take up less space or look a lot less bulky. It is astounding what you can do for a room by making such simple changes as bleaching a piano bench to reduce its importance; by turning the piano end-on to the wall and decorating its back so that it acts as a partition and sets off a group of furniture pieces. Floor space is saved by substituting folding, sliding or concertina-type doors. These are but a few of the things you should think about in planning built-in furniture. The important thing is the plan.
In the succeeding chapters you will find a wide variety of suggestions for built-in pieces. Plans for any of these units can be modified or changed to suit your special requirements as to space occupied, capacity and detail design. The most important thing is to select a design that not only will serve your purpose but also will fit into your present furnishing scheme.
Most built-ins should serve as backgrounds rather than objects for display in themselves. Some, however, such as storage walls incorporating radio, TV, phonograph, or writing-desk units, may be prominently featured in a room. In such cases, they need to follow the general style of the room and its furnishings. This may mean, on occasion, the selection of a design of unit that serves your purposes, then modifying its style to conform. As you will see, the major difference between traditional styles of built-ins and modern styles is largely a matter of decoration, and you can often adapt decorative ideas for the built-ins from your existing furniture and room details. In doing this you have the help of modern materials and devices, many of which are described and illustrated in the pages that follow.”
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. EVERY HOME NEEDS BUILT-INS 11
Room Planning 12
The Value of Planning Built-Ins 13
Reorganizing Existing Storage 14
2. CONSTRUCTION METHODS 15
Elementary Details — processes, tools 15
Method of Joining 15
Plywood Edges — how to hide 19
Joining Board Edges 19
Joint Fastenings — use of nails, gluing 20
Legs and Brackets 21
Facing of Board Edges 21
Fastening Built-ins to Walls, Ceilings, and Floors 23
Building to Bad Walls 25
Attic Problems 26
3. CONSTRUCTION DETAILS FOR PARTS OF BUILT-IN UNITS 28
Table and Counter Tops 30
Frames for Paneled or Glazed Doors 33
Matching Doors to Frames 35
Sliding Doors 37
4. CONSTRUCTION DETAILS FOR TYPICAL BUILT-IN UNITS 40
Bathroom Medicine Chest and Dresser 40
Bed Base 42
Workshop Tool or First-Aid Cabinet 43
Floor Storage Box 43
Garage or Basement Cupboard 45
Sink and Counter for Potting Shed 46
Window Dressing-Table and Shelf Unit 47
Box-Type Seat 50
Dressing Unit 51
Wall Niche 52
Adding on to Built-in Units 53
Basic Kitchen Cabinet 56
5. ROOM-BY-ROOM BUILT-INS TO MAKE 59
Series 1. KITCHEN 59
Combination Kitchen Cabinet 59
Sink Cabinet and Counter 62
Stove Cabinet 64
Housekeeper’s Desk 64
Back-of-Door Racks 67
Divided Shelves 67
Bread Board or Pull-Out Shelf 68
Ironing-Board Storage 71
Series 2. DINING ROOM 71
Partition Cabinetwork 71
Wall Box 71
Apartment-Type Dining Unit 73
China Cabinet 76
Corner Cupboard 76
Dining Room-Living Room Archway Fillers 81
Complete Closure by Cabinet 82
Door with Cabinet Each Side 83
Reducing Opening with Decorative Panels 85
Archways into Walls 85
Series 3. LIVING ROOM 87
Wall or Partitioning Multi-Purpose Unit 87
Radio, Phonograph, Record-Storage and Drawer Unit 88
Simple Bookcase 90
Window-Wall Storage and Display Combination 90
TV Set and Projector-Screen Unit with Storage Space 92
Free-Standing Shelf and Cabinet Built-in 92
Lightweight Room Divider Unit 96
Series 4. BEDROOMS 97
Bunk Beds 97
Bunk Bed-Desk Combination 97
Convertible Sofa-Bunk 101
Twin Bed Head Storage Unit 101
Series 5. BATHROOMS 102
General Utility Combination Built-in 102
Tub Separator with Canopy 105
Dresser Located at Window 105
Nest of Swinging Drawers 106
Legless Dresser 106
Laundry Bin and Wash-Basin Counter 107
Series 6. ATTIC 109
Dead Storage 109
Bedroom with Cabineting and Box-Type Beds 109
Bedroom with Cabinets and Semi-Slideaway Beds 112
6. LUMBER AND MANUFACTURED SHEET STOCK 113
Plywood and Other Laminated Sheets 114
7. FINISHING AND COLORING 118
Application of Liquid Finishes 118
Plastic Veneers 120
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