7 Must-Try Built-in Ideas to Redefine Living Room Storage
November 10, 2023
A girl sitting with coffee, looking outside the window

Written by Eliza

living room built-in storage

Ever felt like your living room is a bit like a puzzle missing some key pieces? Maybe it's the never-ending battle with stuff scattered everywhere - remote controls, charging cables, and who knows what else. It's like a daily treasure hunt, but not the fun kind!

In the pursuit of domestic harmony, I present to you a curated guide - 7 must-try built-in ideas for living room storage. I’m talking about built-in solutions that not only tackle the mess but do it in style. Wall units that will make you go, "Why didn't I think of that?" and furniture that's not just for sitting but for storing away the madness. So, my friends, let's embark on this transformative journey together. Ready, set, declutter!

living room before and after

7 living room built-in storage ideas

1. Elevate your space with a built-in bar

Transforming your living room into a sophisticated and functional entertaining space is easily achievable with the addition of a built-in bar. A built-in bar is more than just a place to store your favorite spirits; it's a statement piece that can redefine the entire ambiance of your living room. Beyond the aesthetics, this built-in storage idea contributes to the overall organization of your living room. By designating a specific area for drinks, you avoid clutter on coffee tables or makeshift bar setups. It's a clever way to optimize space, adding both storage and a touch of elegance to your living room. 

In terms of functionality, a well-designed built-in bar can include shelving for your favorite spirits, wine racks, and designated spaces for glassware and bar tools. You may also want to incorporate a countertop for mixing drinks, adding to the practicality of the space. Barstools or high-top chairs can further enhance the social aspect, making it a comfortable and inviting spot for gatherings.

living room bar shelving

Alpaca tip:

Lighting plays a significant role in creating the right ambiance; consider installing pendant lights or under-cabinet lighting to highlight the bar area.

2. Frame a fireplace to utilize space

A fireplace is often the focal point of a living room, radiating warmth and charm. The design possibilities are vast when framing a fireplace with built-in storage. You can add shelves on either side for displaying art pieces, family photos, or decorative items. Adding cabinets below the shelving provides concealed storage for firewood, fireplace tools, or other items. This combination of form and function creates a cohesive and visually appealing design that elevates the overall look of your living room.

Practicality is not sacrificed with this living room built-in storage; in fact, it enhances it. By incorporating storage around the fireplace, you optimize the use of space that might otherwise go unused. It's a creative solution that combines the aesthetic appeal of a fireplace with the functional benefits of additional storage.

living room storage around fireplace

Alpaca tip:

If your fireplace generates heat, ensure that the built-in storage design allows for proper ventilation to prevent overheating of electronic devices or potential damage to items on the shelves.

3. Choose a built-in TV media unit

In the modern living room, the television takes center stage, but managing accompanying gadgets and cables can be a real challenge. A media center with built-in storage not only addresses this issue but also contributes to a clean and streamlined look in your living space.

The design of a media center with built-in storage involves creating a customized unit that accommodates your TV, gaming consoles, and media accessories. Cable management is a crucial consideration, with built-in solutions that hide unsightly wires and maintain a clutter-free appearance. Cabinets and shelves can be tailored to store DVDs, game controllers, and other media-related items, keeping everything organized and within easy reach. Additionally, adjustable shelving can be used to accommodate varying heights of media equipment. Furthermore, drawers or closed cabinets can conceal items that you prefer out of sight when not in use.

living room built-in TV media unit

Whether you opt for a sleek, minimalist design or a more elaborate and decorative approach, a media center with built-in storage becomes an integral part of your living room, serving both functional and visual purposes.

Alpaca tip:

Design the media unit to serve multiple functions, such as incorporating a built-in desk or additional storage for non-media-related items, making it a versatile piece of furniture.

4. Upgrade to a wall to wall built-in setup

When it comes to optimizing storage space in your living room, a wall-to-wall built-in system offers a comprehensive solution. This expansive design concept involves creating a unit that spans the entire length of a wall, seamlessly integrating various storage elements into the room's overall design. The key to a successful wall-to-wall built-in system lies in customization. Tailor the unit to meet your specific storage needs by including a mix of closed cabinets, open shelves, and display nooks. This versatility allows you to showcase decorative items, store everyday essentials, and maintain a clutter-free environment.

living room wall to wall built-in storage

In addition, consider the functionality you require from this living room built-in storage. If you have a vast collection of books, adjustable shelving can accommodate various sizes. Closed cabinets are perfect for items you want to keep out of sight, while open shelves provide an opportunity for displaying art, photographs, or other cherished items. This adaptability ensures that the wall-to-wall built-in system maximizes the potential of your living space while harmonizing with the room's design. 

For more on built-in storage and additional shelf ideas for your living space, visit our blog featuring 9 perfect solutions for extra bedroom storage.

Alpaca tip:

Incorporate rotating or swiveling elements within the storage to allow for versatile use. For instance, a TV that can be turned to face different parts of the room.

5. Integrate storage into seating space

In smaller living rooms, where space is at a premium, integrating storage into seating is a smart and practical choice. The beauty of this living room built in storage lies in its dual-purpose nature. It's not just about providing a place to sit; it's about maximizing functionality. For example, opt for sofas or sectionals with built-in storage compartments underneath. This hidden storage can be used for blankets, throw pillows, board games, or any items that you want to keep within arm's reach but out of sight.

Another creative approach to building storage into seating is the use of ottomans. Ottomans that feature removable tops can reveal hidden storage space within. This versatile solution not only acts as extra seating when needed but also provides a discreet place to store items like magazines, remote controls and many more.

living room ottoman storage

Alpaca tip:

The key to successful storage in seating lies in seamless integration. Lift-up or pull-out mechanisms can provide easy access to the storage compartments.

6. Make use of the window seat

Transforming underutilized spaces into functional storage areas is a hallmark of effective interior design. Bay windows, with their unique architectural appeal, offer the perfect opportunity to create a built-in window seat with storage underneath. This area can serve as a quiet reading corner or simply a place to relax and enjoy the view. To enhance the ambiance of this living room built-in storage, consider adding built-in bookshelves or cubbies alongside the seat that can provide easy access to your favorite reads.

Moreover, if your living room is a family-oriented space, customize the built-in window seat to cater to family needs. For instance, include multiple seating levels to accommodate different age groups and ensure that the storage is easily accessible to everyone. This can make the window seat a versatile and functional area for the entire family.

living room bay window storage

Alpaca tip:

Enhance the comfort and visual appeal of the window seat with decorative cushions and pillows. Choose fabrics and patterns that complement the overall theme of your living room.

7. Go for under-stair built-in storage

Make the most of every inch of your living room by utilizing the space under the stairs for built-in storage. This area can be an ideal spot for concealed storage, perfect for items such as shoes, seasonal decorations, or even a small home office setup. For a minimalist aesthetic, opt for sleek cabinets with push-to-open mechanisms to create a seamless and clutter-free look. If closed storage isn't the primary goal, include open shelving with varying heights. This provides an opportunity to display decorative items, creating a mini-gallery under the stairs. The balance between open and closed storage can be adjusted based on your preferences and the overall design of the living room.

Living room under stairs storage

To optimize the efficiency of this living room built-in storage, leverage the vertical dimension by extending storage solutions from the floor to the ceiling. This not only maximizes the available space but also draws the eye upward, creating an illusion of height in the room. Overall, by seamlessly marrying practicality with style, under-stair built-in storage can become an integral and aesthetically pleasing component of the living room, showcasing the artistry of utilizing every nook and cranny in your home.

If you're seeking more insights into living room storage ideas, feel free to explore our blog, where we uncover 11 genius shelf ideas.

Alpaca tip:

Choose uniquely curved or slanted shelves that follow the shape of the stairs to add visual interest and enhance storage potential.

Tips for creating stylish built-In storage in your living room

Add interest by painting the inner surfaces of your shelves

Gone are the days of plain white shelves. Instead of settling for the standard white or neutral tones, consider painting the inside of your built-in shelving. The color you choose can significantly affect the overall aesthetic of the room. For a cohesive look, select a shade that complements your existing decor palette. Alternatively, for a bold statement, opt for a contrasting color that demands attention. This small yet impactful detail can turn your built-in shelving into a focal point, allowing the items on display to pop against the backdrop.

To take it a step further, explore textured paint or removable wallpaper for a dynamic and visually engaging effect. This not only adds depth to the shelves but also introduces an element of surprise and uniqueness to your living room. Experiment with patterns or subtle textures that resonate with your personal style, transforming your built-in storage into a work of art.

Light it up for a touch of luxury

Effective lighting is a cornerstone of interior design, and when it comes to built-in storage, it can be a game-changer. Lighting serves not only a practical purpose by illuminating the contents of your shelves but also contributes significantly to the overall ambiance of the room. For built-in storage, LED strips are a popular choice, offering a sleek and energy-efficient solution. Alternatively, strategically placed puck lights can highlight specific items, adding a layer of drama to your display. Small spotlights are another option to explore, providing a focused and elegant look, especially for highlighting artwork or collectibles.

To enhance the versatility of your lighting scheme, you can install dimmer switches. This allows you to control the intensity of the light, adapting it to different occasions and moods. Brighter lighting may be ideal for reading or entertaining, while softer lighting creates a cozy and relaxed atmosphere.

living room built-in storage

Alpaca tip:

Explore smart lighting solutions that can be controlled through your smartphone or voice commands. This modern touch not only adds convenience but also aligns your living room with contemporary design trends.

Combine open shelves and cabinets

The integration of both open shelving and closed cabinets in your built-in storage design offers a harmonious balance between displaying decorative items and concealing everyday necessities. Open shelves provide an opportunity to showcase your favorite books, decor pieces, and collectibles, creating a sense of openness and allowing you to express your personality through curated displays. On the other hand, closed cabinets are ideal for items that may not contribute to the overall aesthetic but are essential for daily living.

living room storage

To maximize the impact of this combination, arrange your shelves and cabinets thoughtfully. Group similar items together and use baskets or decorative boxes within the cabinets to maintain a sense of order. Additionally, implement glass doors on some cabinets to add a touch of sophistication and to display items while keeping them protected.

Eager to discover extra design tips and tricks for organizing your living space? Our other blog has you covered with valuable information and styling inspiration.

Make it minimalistic

Embracing minimalism in your built-in storage design can be a refreshing and impactful choice. Minimalist design is characterized by simplicity, functionality, and an emphasis on essential elements. Begin by decluttering your shelves and retaining only items with significant meaning or those that contribute to the overall aesthetic. A minimalist approach encourages a curated display, where each item has its space and purpose. This not only creates a visually appealing arrangement but also makes cleaning and organizing a breeze.

Minimalism extends beyond the visual realm to include the sensory experience of the space. Consider incorporating soundproofing elements or soft furnishings to absorb excess noise, creating a tranquil environment. Introduce subtle scents, such as aromatic candles or essential oils, to engage the sense of smell in a minimalist and non-intrusive manner.

Alpaca tip:

Minimalism aligns well with sustainability. Opt for furniture made from recycled or upcycled materials, contributing to a more sustainable and mindful living space.

Take advantage of small arched built-ins

Architectural elements can significantly influence the character of a space, and adding small arches into your built-in storage design adds a touch of timeless elegance. These arches contribute to a sense of cohesion and flow in the room, introducing a classic and sophisticated element that can elevate the entire design scheme.

Beyond their aesthetic appeal, small arches play a crucial role in establishing spatial harmony. They act as gentle dividers, delineating sections of your built-in storage with subtle grace. Instead of a monolithic storage unit, small arches break down the visual mass, creating a sense of openness and fluidity within the living room. For instance, implement arched detailing on the cabinet doors to add visual interest and break up the linear lines of the storage unit.

living room alcove shelving

Alpaca tip:

Experiment with different arch styles - rounded, pointed, or even asymmetrical - to add a layer of complexity to the design.


Redefining your living room storage involves thinking beyond traditional furniture. The built-in storage solutions mentioned above not only provide functional solutions but also contribute to the overall design and atmosphere of your living space. Whether you opt for a built-in bar to enhance entertainment options or frame your fireplace for added charm, these storage ideas offer a chance to redefine how you interact with your living room.

Your space deserves more than ordinary storage – it craves a touch of sophistication and a dash of innovation. Let this blog be your guide, a roadmap to a living room that not only solves storage problems but also serves as a canvas for your aspirations. So, go ahead, experiment, mix and match, and witness your living room become a true reflection of your lifestyle!