Everything You Need To Know About Built-In Cabinets For Your Home

Custom Built-in cabinets and bookshelves can add an elegant design touch to any home; not to mention they can be practical as storage solutions. Unlike purchasing a piece of furniture like an entertainment center, custom built-ins are created in your desired color and material and will perfectly fit your ideal space.

While adding custom cabinets and shelving to your home is a fairly straightforward home renovation project, we would recommend hiring a cabinet professional to ensure that the project is completed safely and securely. Just like with custom kitchen cabinets, quality contractors or cabinet makers can design and install any cabinetry, shelving, storage, or other custom elements you desire.

Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura or San Diego with reliable cabinet contractors, we speak to homeowners every day about the costs of a built-in cabinetry project – here are some considerations, ideas, and tips to get you started.

Built-in Cabinet options:


Perfect for a living room, family room, or even a wide hallway, a built in bookshelf helps reduce clutter and can house family photos, art, and other knick-knacks.

Built-in bookshelf storage solution

TV Wall unit

Like an entertainment center, creating a custom wall unit/entertainment center for your tv creates a perfect space to hang a tv as well as lots of space for other entertainment/video components and hide other items inside the storage compartments.

TV Room Entertainment Center Wall Unit

Mud-room storage

Creating the right cabinetry in your mudroom helps keep this space tidy and organized. Common options here are a shoe rack, coat hanging rods or hooks, and open/closed shelves for various storage.

Wine rack

Although there are many options to purchase a simple wine rack from a store, creating a large, custom built-in wine rack creates an elegant design statement, especially for those that like to collect a great number of wine bottles.

Shelves around a fireplace

In addition to a simple mantle above the fireplace, creating shelves or a full wall-built bookcase on both sides of the fireplace can create a beautiful and elegant wall in a living or family room.

fireplace mantle built-in shelving

Desk and work-space Shelving

Depending on the location in your home, a wall-mounted solution can include one or more desk spaces, ideal for kids doing homework or for your work-from-home office.

Built-in pantry

Inside a walk-in pantry or a butler’s pantry, using custom cabinets or shelving creates a functional space for storing and preparing food.

Closet or storage space

Closets can easily be transformed from an empty space with a clothes rod to a clean and elegant storage space with the use of closet organization solutions; including shelves, rods, cabinets, drawers, etc.

Laundry room

Every laundry room deserves some built-in cabinets including a sink, a folding table, and some storage areas.

Laundry room built-in ironing board

What do you think of this built-in ironing board?

Hobby room storage

Whether you’re an artist, a craftsman, or a collector, your hobby room needs storage to house all your gear, tools, and supplies. If you’re looking for an attractive and eloquent solution, consider adding cabinets and shelving to your walls – you can decide what to stow away for storage and what you may like to keep on display.

Custom bathroom shelving and cabinetry

For larger bathrooms, a nice storage solution is a full-height built-in cabinet or linen cabinet.

Integrated kitchen seating or window seat

Building a low bench for seating in the kitchen nook or even in a family/living room under a window can be an elegant and practical use of built-ins.

Kitchen Built-in seating

How much does it cost for built-in cabinets in Los Angeles and Southern California?

The average cost of custom built-in cabinets is $500 to $1500 per lineal foot in most parts of California. This price includes the fabrication, material, prep, and installation. This is a wide range of pricing because it will largely depend on your selection of material, finish, style, and options.

No two custom-built shelving projects are the same, so your cost will depend on your specific requirements. When we talk about a price per lineal foot, it assumes an 8-foot-tall cabinet. But if portions of your cabinets are shorter (say a desk, a shoe rack, or a built-in bench), that section should have a lower per-lineal-foot price.

Custom built-in cabinets are similar in many ways to custom kitchen cabinetry, except they often don’t need a countertop. The major difference is the design: the in-built choices provide many more options for storage and display solutions…ie, a shoe rack or a tv area, etc.

Related: Deep Dive Into Costs of Built-In Cabinets

Do built-ins add value to my home?

According to Realtor.com, built-ins and bookshelves usually increase the value of a home assuming they are stylish, in good condition, and provide good function and storage. Many buyers value additional storage and display areas and are willing to pay more for a house with those features. Not to mention that modern, stylish built-in cabinetry exudes a high-end, custom look and feel.

What Material Options Are Available For Built-In Cabinets?

If you’re planning on adding a built-in solution to your home, you have a variety of options when it comes to the materials you use for the cabinet structure, the finishes you choose, and the overall design, layout, and accessories you include. Keep in mind that while labor is a major aspect of the cost for this type of project, these design elements will play a major role in dictating your overall budget.

A budget-friendly option, akin to what you might find at Target or Ikea, will likely be made of MDF and wrapped in a cheap vinyl finish. On the other hand, a luxury built-in would likely be made of a nice solid wood, painted to your desired shade, and may have nice luxe add-ons light soft-close hinges, and recessed lighting.

Built-in cabinet materials:

Solid wood: The best quality and most expensive material is a solid wood material from a species like Oak or Maple. This material is generally heavy and solid and withstands warping over time.

Plywood: Although you probably envision the kind of raw plywood used to build homes, higher quality grades of plywood are commonly used for cabinetry and shelving and can even be prepared/finished to look and feel like solid wood.

MDF: This is an acronym for medium-density fiberboard, which is comprised of wood fiber and resin that are pressed together under heat/pressure. This is the most cost-effective material and is generally used as the ‘inside’ of a veneer or laminated product.

Often, a custom-built project will be comprised of several of these materials. For example, the interior of the cabinets might be MDF, the open shelves might be plywood, and the cabinet doors could be solid wood.

Cabinet Finish options:

Painted Cabinets: Current popular styles of cabinetry such as a shaker design are likely to be painted. Popular cabinet colors include white, grey, black, and dark blue shades. Painted bookcases make for a clean and consistent look.

Lacquer or Varnish: These sealers are used on solid wood and can come in shades from clear to ultra-dark stains, depending on the look you want. The finish can be glossy, semi-gloss, or matte.

None: Some options, like laminate or veneer products, don’t require a finish.

Built-in design and customization options:

A basic built-in cabinet design might look like a bookshelf or entertainment center, but there are many options available to create the exact design you want. When designing your cabinetry you can consider including the following options and upgrades:

  • Open shelves
  • Desktops or counters
  • Open cubbies
  • Drawers
  • Soft-close hinges
  • Lighting

How do a find a good built-in cabinet contractor near me?

It’s important to find a qualified and experienced contractor to create your custom storage solution.

If you want the finished product to look good, it’s not a good idea to hire a handyman or someone with minimal experience. The cost of custom cabinets isn’t cheap, so you want to make sure you are happy with the finished product.

Look for an experienced contractor that has an active C-6 (cabinet & millwork) or B (general contractor) license from the state of California CSLB. Only these licensed contractors are truly qualified and experienced to create custom cabinetry for you.

Requesting recommendations for a cabinet contractor from dependable acquaintances, neighbors, and coworkers is a solid starting point. You should only consider the opinions of “real-life” friends if seeking guidance on social media.

Consider working with a company like GreatBuildz that performs thorough contractor screening and provides personalized introductions to respected Los Angeles and SoCal cabinet builders. It is not wise to randomly select a cabinet service from an advertisement in your junk mail or a door flier.

When it comes to finding the best built-in cabinetry contractor for your project – GreatBuildz is simplifying the contractor search. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura & San Diego with reliable, thoroughly screened contractors and provides project support from start to finish.


In Southern California, call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about your next renovation project or visit our website for more information: www.greatbuildz.com

Hi, we're Paul and Jon - Co-Founders of GreatBuildz. We believe everyone deserves to find a great contractor, have a stress-free renovation, and enjoy their beautiful new space. There are so many contractors out there and it's often hard to tell the good from the bad... until it's too late. We started our company to help simplify your contractor search and help you have a stress-free renovation experience. We're always available to help, no matter where you are in the process. Click here to learn more about our story.

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