There Are General Guidelines For How Furniture Should Be Spaced 10 Tips For Alcove Shelving Unit Design

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10 Tips For Alcove Shelving Unit Design

An alcove is an area of a room that can be difficult to utilize effectively. It may be an ideal location for a TV stand or music system but how then, can you make use of the remaining prime storage space above? Typically, many opt to erect a few shelves supported on timber batons, and although this does serve its purpose, it usually looks somewhat cheap or disconnected from an otherwise, stylishly finished room. OK, you could go for a bracket or rack shelving system, which will often suffice. However, I believe; nothing says ‘COMPLETE’ more than a built-in alcove shelving unit. Designed and fitted well, an alcove unit doesn’t appear as an addition to a room, moreover, it becomes a part of the room, seamlessly integrated into the existing style and feel of the room-space.

So how best is this achieved? Here are 10 factors I consider when planning and designing alcove shelving units:-

1. A Style to Suit Your Room

Observe the style of the room. Does it have period features? Why not continue the theme so the unit looks like an original feature. This can be achieved by using period mouldings and trims, and incorporating characteristics indicative of the era. Or, is the intention to escape tradition and interject a taste of ‘the modern’ into the scheme, using simple lines to create a sleek, minimalist effect.

2. Storage Requirements.

Consider the amount and size of the items you wish to house. This will dictate the number of shelves needed. If the shelves are to be fixed-position, then it is important to choose the correct spacing between them.

3. Future Proof

If you are an avid collector of the items you wish to display, it’s worth considering the rate at which your collection is increasing, so you can make provisions for it. Of course, ultimately, there are limitations to the amount of potential storage, but it could be useful to have some growing space.

4. Seen or Not Seen

Do you wish to display all your items or would you prefer to keep them (or some) hidden behind closed doors. Full doors may be a practical solution for dwellings that are low on storage space. Most people choose to divide the unit by a practical ratio of open and closed space. Therefore, consider the amount and type of items you wish to display or hide away.

5. TV Unit.

If you wish to incorporate your TV in the design, it is important to establish a practical viewing position in relation to your seating arrangements. There’s nothing less relaxing than having to constantly crane your neck in order to watch TV. (I think).

6. Shelving Depth

How deep does a shelf unit need to be? If you’re displaying CDs or DVDs, it may not be necessary to build the unit to the full depth of the alcove. Your items may be lost on deep shelves as the remaining excess shelf overhang will obscure their view from below.

7. Shelf Thickness

The thickness of shelves can have a significant effect on the overall appearance of the unit. Whilst this is a generally a subjective design feature, the minimum thickness chosen must be sufficient to bear the load of the items being stored. There’s nothing less flattering than bending shelves.

Glass shelving should be both: toughened and of suitable thickness for the load and span.

8. Storage unit Depth

You may be tempted to maximise the depth of an outwardly extended lower, storage-section. However, one should take a considered view of the section’s depth in relation to the size of the room, in order to avoid it appearing too bulky and overbearing for the room-space.

9. Coving

If the room has a decorative coving to the ceiling, it may be less-pleasing to interrupt it with a full-height unit. With tall rooms, it may be better to reduce the height of the unit so that the coving can still be seen from certain positions in the room. Alternatively, the unit could be built to full height with additional coving fitted to continue around it, joining with existing. (Very nice indeed!)

10. Architectural Inaccuracies

Walls to alcoves in older buildings are seldom vertically true. It is important to observe and measure these factors beforehand, so the unit can be sized in such a way that any mouldings or filler panels used around the tops and sides, will help to obscure such issues rather than accentuate them.

These are all general points for consideration. Of course, there are no absolutes and there will usually be some degree of compromise in order to obtain the most practical yet, aesthetically pleasing result. However, with thoughtful planning and an artistic eye, you will be sure to have made the best use of an available and otherwise wasted space.

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