20 Beautiful Living Rooms With Built-In Shelving

White and cream colored living room with built-in shelving across from white sofa

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

Living room built-ins can add style and personality as well as storage. And because built-ins can be designed to cater to your household's specific needs, the options are virtually endless. If you want to create closed storage, an open display area, or call attention to specific details custom built-ins can offer the perfect solution.

  • 01 of 20

    Maximize Space

    living room with white built in bookshelves

    Morse Design

    A-frame houses can pose certain complications when trying to decorate and maximize space. The angle of the walls can make it difficult to use prefab cabinets without causing a visual break. In this case, custom living room built-ins can provide an excellent solution. We love how these built-ins create a stunning book collection but aren't so tall that they block the gorgeous half circle windows—everything works together.

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  • 02 of 20

    Built In Bar

    Black built in shelving for mini bar

    Design: Marie Flanigan Interiors/Photography: Julie Soefer

    Entertainment centers aren't the only built-ins to continue to gain popularity—home bars are quickly catching up. While they used to be relegated to dining rooms, basements, and less populated areas of the home, they can now often be found front and center in the living room, as seen in this example by Marie Flanigan Interiors.

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  • 03 of 20

    Keep it Classic

    white cubby built in shelves

    Kendall Wilkinson Design

    Traditional white built-ins with open shelving are so versatile that they can fit into just about any style of living room. Choosing a simple cabinet style will ensure that if your tastes change and you decide to redecorate, the built-ins will always fit in.

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  • 04 of 20

    Customize Your Own Size

    white built in shelves halfway up the wall

    LeClair Decor

    When it comes to living room built-ins, there's no need to always build from floor to ceiling. In this case, designed by LeClair Decor, built-in cabinets were installed about halfway up the wall, on either side of a mantel. They manage to maximize the available space while framing the focal point and not blocking any light.

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  • 05 of 20

    Tall and Narrow

    two tall, dark built in cabinets

    Light and Dwell

    Sometimes less is more, especially in rooms where there isn't a lot of wall space. As demonstrated by Light and Dwell, tall, narrow built-ins can help frame a fireplace and reinforce a focal point while still providing some display or storage space. Accent lighting or deep contrast helps draw the eye to where it's supposed to go.

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  • 06 of 20

    Go Bold

    blue built in shelves lit up inside

    Kendall Wilkinson Design

    Bring some life to your built-ins by painting them a bright or bold color, such as this design by Kendall Wilkinson Design. While the style of these units is fairly straightforward and traditional, the vibrant blue color gives them a sense of playfulness.

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  • 07 of 20

    Entertainment Center

    all black built in entertainment center

    Maite Granda

    Add drama to a living room with sleek and modern built-ins designed around entertaining. Media centers have been popular for quite a while, so transforming a simple stand into a built-in with plenty of shelving makes perfect sense. The matte black color of this version in a living room by Maite Granda provides a sophisticated setup that does the trick.

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  • 08 of 20

    Make Artwork the Focal Point

    floor to ceiling white built in

    Design: Marie Flanigan Interiors/Photography: Julie Soefer

    This living room from Marie Flanigan Interiors is a stunning example of how to make art the focal point by using built-ins. Floor to ceiling tan units frames either side of a large portrait, with matching blue scones coming out the side of each shelving structure to add extra light. The result is a calm, inviting living room that holds plenty of storage without being a huge distraction.

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  • 09 of 20

    Wrap Around

    built in white shelves with brown trim

    Kendall Wilkinson Design

    The beauty of built-ins is that they can be customized to suit a home's or homeowner's specific needs. In this room from Kendall Wilkinson Design, the shelves wrap around the corner, providing plenty of storage and display space. The contrasting color manages to create a focal point in the midst of all the shelves. Additionally, a blank area was left above the desk to create a simple workspace—further proof of how customizable installed shelving can be.

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  • 10 of 20

    Get Colorful

    purple built in shelves to match the wall

    LeClair Decor

    You don't have to stick with neutral colors when working with a built-in. This living room by LeClair Decor implements a fun tertiary color scheme, and the shelving is painted the exact same shade of purple as walls to match. The light mounted above the shelving allows for a small spotlight for moments you want the display to shine—the entire setup is easily customizable to suit whatever you're feeling that day.

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  • 11 of 20

    Keep It Neutral

    white built in floating shelves and cabinets

    Mary Patton Design

    Create a contemporary look with a classic neutral color scheme. The lack of hardware and decorative embellishments keep the look clean, and the combo of floating shelves and closed lower cabinets painted white leaves the area feeling spacious and full of possibility.

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  • 12 of 20

    Architectural Detail

    white built ins nestled in brick/stone accent wall

    Whittney Parkinson

    Don't be afraid to add a little decorative detail to the living room built-ins. The back of this unit has a shiplap detail that adds a subtle rustic vibe. In this case by Whitney Parkinson, the detail is architectural, but things like paint and wallpaper can also be used to great effect.

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  • 13 of 20

    Wall to Wall

    white wall to wall built in shelves

    LeClair Decor

    Honestly, is there really such a thing as too much storage? These customized built-ins stretch across the entire back wall, though the crisp white color makes the room feel refreshing rather than cramped. The simple style with open shelving at the top and closed cabinets at the bottom provide plenty of space to store or display whatever you'd like—and with plenty of room to do so.

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  • 14 of 20

    Two Tone

    teal blue long built in shelves

    Kendall Wilkinson Design

    Customization of built-in shelves doesn't have to stop with the measurements. Painting built-ins so that they contrast or compliment other colors in the room is a great way to add interest to a room and create a focal wall.

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  • 15 of 20

    A Warm Embrace

    chestnut color built ins

    Whittney Parkinson

    Traditional built-in cabinets in a warm chestnut color help give this living room a comforting and comfortable atmosphere. To create a look like this, make sure that the built-in cabinets are a solid extension of the room. They act like an embrace, framing the seating arrangement and creating a sense of warmth.

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  • 16 of 20

    Small Arches

    arched built in shelves in off white on either side of fireplace

    Morse Design

    Not everything has to be big to be useful. This set of small arched built-ins add the perfect amount of shelf space on either side of the fireplace. The matching color for both the lower cabinets, mantle, and shelving creates a cohesive feel.

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  • 17 of 20

    Floating Shelves

    floating wooden shelves on either side of white brick fireplacd

    Ashley Montgomery Design

    Floating shelves make the built-in process that much simpler. Pieces of wood can be custom cut to fit a variety of spaces regardless of height or width. This living room designed by Ashley Montgomery combines a white-painted brick fireplace with wooden floating shelves and deep blue lower cabinets—a modern dream.

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  • 18 of 20

    Customize Your Shelf Size

    tall skinny white built in shelves in living room

    Amy Lefernik at Interior Impressions

    When we think of shelving, we often picture having the exact same style and size happening on each level—but that doesn't have to be the case. This built-in has a range of sizes to fit different types of decor, rather than having the same size and shape throughout. This subtle shift creates visual interest and is ultimately more convenient to ensure the things you want on display can actually fit.

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  • 19 of 20

    Built-In Seating

    built in arch shelves and nook by window

    Jessica Nelson Design

    The term"built-in" doesn't just refer to shelving. Seating can also be a component. This gorgeous nook (with storage underneath) creates a picturesque view to sit and read by the window. The two arched built-in shelves on either side complete the look.

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  • 20 of 20

    Short and Sweet

    small built in shelves on top of fireplace mantle

    Amy Lefernik at Interior Impressions

    Ultimately, built-ins should be created to fit the preferences and needs of the homeowner. While for some, that may mean floor-to-ceiling options, for others with smaller living rooms, something short and sweet does the trick. This small built-in is nestled right on top of the fireplace, almost serving as its own vertical extension (rather than keeping the shelving on the sides for a wider appearance). A few books, some small decor items, and the television are all right at home.