The Unpatterned Home Series: The Three-Sided Built-in

Welcome to Part 2 in our Home Series inspired by the recent Dwell.com feature of our little home renovation.  Last time we gave you a before and after overview of the first floor. Today we are honing in on the details of the built-in. 

Without a doubt, the custom designed three-sided built-in on our first floors is the piece de resistance in our house. It's the best thing we did in the renovation and one of the things that truly brings me joy daily, and not just because it's filled with booze. Although that helps. 

As I mentioned last time, we stole 15 inches from the kitchen to plan for a little dry bar on the living room side. However, the revelation to wrap the whole wall in wood didn't come to us until we opened up the doorway to the closet area. We realized we weren't going to just add a bar and some shelving on the dining side, but we were creating the centerpiece of the house. 

Enter the drawings! We did detailed elevations of each side and even created this schematic 3D to make sure we were totally on board with it. 

And we were! We worked with a custom cabinetry builder to fabricate and install the piece. Most of it was built in a shop and assembled/installed on site. The piece is rift cut white oak with a custom stain. And yes, ladies and gentleman, it is mostly veneer over plywood, but you can't really tell. 

The dining side functions as a hutch. The cabinet is filled with my grandmother's china and table linens. The upper shelves display a combination of sentimental things (a few china pieces, the bowl my parents gave us as an engagement present, a serving piece purchased on our honeymoon in Slovakia, plus design books and thrifted items.)

From top left: thrifted glassware, thrifted vintage acrylic salt/pepper, my parents in the 70's, handmade Slovakia serving accessory, thrifted Haeger pottery, Grandma's china, and thrifted glassware.

The kitchen side is the smallest due to the cabinetry, but we decided we could squeeze in a floor to ceiling wine rack and some skinny shelves for cookbooks and food mags.

Obviously the hidden bar is the best part. When we designed it, we had this side wired for power. Right now it charges our wine opener, but we also did so with the intent that a future owner could also use the cabinet as an entertainment system if they reoriented the room. However, I like it full of booze and glassware. There was a return vent here so we had to add a toe kick return.

Last, but clearly not least, we also wanted the living room side to house books and other display items, like a wedding photo, my lifelong unicorn collection (just kidding, just one), and other items, including the little army man we found in the house after we moved in. I chose to color code the books on this side and after living with it like this, I'm not sure I could have it any other way.

As I mentioned, this is our favorite thing we did in the house and it was definitely the largest investment piece. However, I think it added valuable character and storage that wouldn't have been achieved otherwise. I can't wait to share more of the house with you! Stay tuned for posts on my daughters room, the office, bath, master bedroom and more!

All photos by Mike Kaskel for Unpatterned

Related: Dwell Article, First Floor Before & After, Apartment Therapy Chair