Help Sellers With Built-In Cabinetry

JWH Custom Cabinetry to maximize critical bedroom storage adds value.

Built-in cabinetry incorporated within a home’s architecture once was equated with grandeur.  It offers homeowners the opportunity to showcase personal treasures and knickknacks. But over time, the pieces may look dated. Here are ideas to update your built-in cabinetry that potential buyers may love.

Built-in cabinetry is a great way to organize and display books, artwork, or knickknacks.  It has long offered a way for homeowners to introduce a distinctive look to their interior. But with the rise of digital media and minimalist decor, buyers want an updated look for this traditional style of storage.

Sellers can usually remove dated built-ins without causing structural problems.  However, the process of demolition can be cumbersome.  Ripping them out and hauling them away is heavy work.   Patching and painting newly exposed walls, floors, and ceilings is expensive. But when faced with the challenge of tired built-ins, here are five changes you can suggest for a new lifeline.

When a house has similar architectural details to the built-ins, freshen the look with an updated paint color or a lighter stain.  This can be an eye-catching, inexpensive solution. “Try a color that matches the trim in the room for continuity,” says Howard. Generally, painting is less expensive than staining. But always go with quality paint in a semigloss or gloss finish that can withstand the wear and tear of books and other storage. 


Remove elaborate details and molding that don’t fit the home’s style.  Although such millwork was probably lovingly crafted, it may be too fussy for buyers who lean toward simplicity. Removing any over-the-top embellishments and leaving the rest of the built-in requires minimal touch-up work, says Putlack.


Change hardware. An easy switch is replacing cabinet knobs or pulls. However, these trends typically change fast, so make sure you’re up on the latest looks. Satin and Antique Brass has made a come-back, while polished chrome and satin nickel continue to be popular choices. Top Knobs features a wide variety of styles and finishes.

4.  OPEN UP:

Change or remove cabinet and drawer fronts.  If doors are too ornate for the space, switch them out for flat or Shaker style panels. Homeowners can also remove fronts entirely and finish the edges,  This turns closed cabinetry into open shelving.   Keeping the contents simple allows potential buyers to easily envision their own personal effects.


Adding LED strip lights to the top or sides of shelves can highlight displays and add drama. And by using battery-powered LEDs, homeowners can often avoid hiring an electrician. Select bulbs that work on dimmers to vary light levels and moods, says Lagrange.

JWH built-in cabinetry
Rendering of JWH Custom Built-in Cabinetry

Jennifer Howard, owner of JWH Design & Cabinetry in Rye, New York, designs and produces custom built-cabinetry in her own Millshop.  These add value to a client’s home and lifestyle.  When making the changes above are too expensive or challenging for a seller, a 3-d rendering of the newly designed space is another option.

“Our full color renderings provide clients with an accurate way to visualize their space before they tackle any project,” adds Jennifer Howard.