Everyday solutions: Built-in furniture and custom cabinetry

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 13, 2013 - 2:43 PM

Built-in furniture and cabinetry deliver smart storage space, pet control and handsome character.


Architect Todd Hansen added bookshelves, built-in desk and china cabinet, with matching cafe doors to the kitchen, to turn this seldom used front room into a combination dining room and office.

Photo: Photos by Adan Torres and Albertsson Hansen Architecture,

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The challenge: Lisa Schwartz Powell and Doug Powell wanted a bigger open kitchen with more counter space to make family meals in their 1920s Mediterranean-style home in Minneapolis. They often had to confine their dog, Iggy, in the kitchen — or keep him out when they had guests. Lisa worked from home and longed for an organized home office area. And more storage space, for everything from dishes to books, sure would be nice. The Powells asked architect Todd Hansen to combine traditional design with an updated modern aesthetic in the remodeled spaces. “We wanted to do a more contemporary take on the original 1920s architecture,” Hansen said.

Architect: Todd Hansen, Albertsson Hansen Architecture, Minneapolis, www.aharchitecture.com, 612-823-0233.

The solution: Hansen added a 50-square-foot bump-out off the back of the home and utilized space from the existing kitchen and dining room to create a new, updated kitchen. Within the kitchen, he designed practical built-in furniture and cabinets in an eating and sitting area, as well as a sliding dog gate. He converted a seldom-used front room into a combination dining room/home office. One wall holds a built-in desk, china cabinet and bookshelves.

Now you see it, now you don’t: The long, narrow 30-by-14-foot kitchen couldn’t accommodate a walk-in pantry. So Hansen designed two pull-out pantries hidden inside the wood casing on opposite sides of the kitchen. One pantry is for cooking and baking supplies, the other for prepared foods.

“They’re invisible, but so accessible and easy to reach,” said Lisa. “It’s surprising how much they hold.” The built-in pantries also create a division between the breakfast banquette and main cooking area and break up the long room, said Hansen.

Keeping Iggy out: A pet gate under an arched doorway between the kitchen and front hallway helps contain Iggy. The gate, which slides out of a cabinet and hooks onto a small cleat in the floor, is hidden when not in use. It’s sturdier than a typical baby gate and fits the kitchen’s architectural style, said Lisa. “I didn’t want to worry about a pet when I’m entertaining or cooking and there’s food everywhere.”

Space-saving banquette: The wrap-around corner bench also has drawers for storage.

Flex room: The dining room’s built-in buffet does double duty as a computer desk and a sideboard for serving food. Built-in bookcases grace two walls. “I love the feel of books and being able to display them,” said Lisa. Hansen created symmetry in the dining room with a glass-front china cabinet on the left and matching pivoting cafe doors that open into the kitchen on the right.

Built-in benefits: “We view custom cabinetry as part of the architecture itself,” said Hansen, whose firm’s projects were featured in “All New Built-Ins Idea Book” ($19.95, Taunton Press). “They save space, add character and put everyday functions conveniently close at hand.”

Best part: “It’s nice to be in spaces that are so organized and easy to use,” said Lisa. “It makes me feel more organized than I really am.”

Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619

  • related content

  • Everyday Solutions by Todd Hansen, Albertsson Hansen Architecture. Photo by Adan Torres.

  • Clockwise from top:  A space-saving pull-out pantry is hidden inside the casing dividing the kitchen prep and eating areas. The sliding pet gate is built into custom cabinetry.At left:   The before front sitting room and kitchen.

  • CLOCKWISE FROM TOP A space-saving pull-out pantry is hidden inside the casing dividing the kitchen prep and eating areas. The sliding pet gate is built into custom cabinetry.

  • Everyday Solutions by Todd Hansen. Provided by Albertsson Hansen.

  • Everyday Solutions by Todd Hansen. Provided by Albertsson Hansen.

  • The “before” front sitting room and kitchen.

  • Todd Hansen

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