A design imperative for today’s homeowners is to organize and enclose the many amenities of 21st-century living, hiding clutter and helping keep living spaces looking neat and clean. That idea is manifesting itself in custom-designed and built-in cabinet work outside used outside of traditional kitchen and bath installations.
Home entertainment centers are a major focus now, especially as newer homes are featuring open floor plans. With kitchens merging seamlessly into dining areas and then living rooms or family rooms, “Everything blends together with the kitchen,” explained Amanda Fisher, a designer for Markraft Cabinets of Wilmington.
“I do a lot of entertainment centers, bookcases and built-ins,” she said, which are typically planned to coordinate with the more functional cabinetry at the other end of the living space. That’s not to say an entertainment center will look like a collection of kitchen cabinets, though.
“We can make the cabinets and shelves in the living room area look more furniture-like,” Fisher said, or alternatively, build the entertainment components into the room’s construction in a clean, inconspicuous way. So while an entertainment center might use similar door styles or trim details to what’s found in the kitchen, those might be in wood-tone finishes instead of painted. Sometimes these stand-alone cabinetry areas are designed to match hardwood floors, while those in the kitchen are meant to coordinate with large appliances.
Hiding what’s often a large and diverse collection of electronic devices is a designer’s prime directive. “People want things to be neat and tidy, with clean lines and no clutter,” Fisher said. “We’ll hide the DVD players and things like that, but still have bookcases and display shelves that are open and exposed.”
Unlike the days when audiophiles would show off their electronic components, today’s homeowners want their high-tech gadgets out of sight. Even TV screens are often hidden with pocket doors, Fisher said, when not in use. So-called “baffled” doors can hide speakers without interfering with high-fidelity sound. And it’s always necessary to hide the cords and wires that connect all the parts.
An important task for designers is to ensure that any custom installation, whether for an entertainment or office area, include hidden channels to avoid cutting into drywall. Higher-end cabinet manufacturers tend to be more proactive in supplying options to accommodate how different devices interconnect. Regardless of the cabinet’s source, though, the designer will figure out how to make the connections, and make them invisible.
Similar considerations apply to desks, which typically house a computer, monitor and printer, and sometimes a fax machine or scanner. Fisher says built-in home offices or work stations can be incorporated in a wall of built-in bookcases.
Incorporating electronics-heavy installations into existing homes is easier than it may seem, she said, as long as a wall has an adequate electrical supply to feed all necessary outlets, often built into the cabinets. Not only power connections, but other lines such as cable TV or Internet links, will also be hidden in the cabinetry.
A furniture-look installation doesn’t have to be a traditional Chippendale sort of design. “I do a lot of contemporary hutches, desks and other built-in pieces,” Fisher noted, “which is something that’s hard to find in a furniture store.”
One other popular cabinet installation that’s finding its way into homes is a separate wet bar. This will typically be placed in a family room or TV room to accommodate refreshment needs without a trip to the kitchen. A mini-fridge, microwave and a small sink can keep beverages and snacks within easy reach.
Looking for ideas about entertainment centers, home offices and mini-bars? The professional designers at Markraft’s Design Center can help. They consult by appointment, but drop-in visitors are always welcome to browse. The Design Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 2705 Castle Creek Lane, just off Castle Hayne Road.
Since 1985, Markraft has specialized in cabinet and countertop design and installation in residential and commercial construction and custom remodeling. To learn more about Markraft, go to www.markraft.com. Contact Markraft at 910.762.1986 and like Markraft on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarkraftCabinets.