cupboard and shelves in alcoves advice please

19 Oct 2006
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United Kingdom
we are thinking of making cupboards with shelves above into the alcoves at either side of the chimney breast but we are not sure what would look best,whether it would be better to build the shelves under an arch flush with the chimney breast or just shelves above the cupboard?also if there are and sites which help or give ideas about shelving the alcoves as i cant seem to find any pics!we would appreciate any help/advice :)
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I'm sure somebody will have good ideas, but as it happens, I'm embarking on exactly the same kind of project next weekend. I've decided to set the cupboard back from the chimney breast - just 4 cm, but hopefully enough to still give the impression that the chimney is a 3 dimensional thing rather than just a flat wall. An idea - the alcoves easily gets quite dark, so how about installing an uplight in the ceiling of the cupboard / inset in the top shelf?
hi,our cupboards will have to sit out of the walls as the depth is only 14",i have thought about the lights but dont think we will bother as the room we are putting the shelves in is getting converted into a play room for the kids so the shelves are more for storage than display
thanks Janet
i wanted the impresion of a flat wall then with arches eitherside of chimney breast,what would u use tomake arches as i want them to look part of the wall/same colour if that makes sence?
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Hi Team

Happy New Year

Do you want fitted storage or built in storage and do you want it to look like a piece of furniture or the alcoves just filled in.


Fitted; a bespoke piece of furniture been designed and constructed to fit a given space that is totally free standing.

Built in; None furniture usually with no backs or sides just facia.


No deeper than 250mm (10”) for books fully adjustable on book case strips this allows the shelves to be adjusted every 20mm (3/4”) unless you have very deep books then the shelves will need to be deeper but generally 250mm is just the job ( take a look at your local library )

If you have shelves any deeper 250mm for general display or storage then they will look totally cluttered and a complete mess.


In general doors should be taller than they are wide and good proportions are A4, 8 x 6, 10 x 8, 7 x 5, 5 x 3 etc in other words 1: 125 ratio there or there about.
( think of photo frames )

Depth of cupboards

A lot depends on what you want to store or keep on them but a small traditional TV will need a service depth of 600mm ( 24” ) but for general use 400m (16”) is fine again if the cupboard is to deep it will be cluttered.

Consider the bottom cupboards to be drawers not cupboards but disguised as cupboards on fully extendable drawer runners ( better for storing toys etc.). Don’t forget there are no rule on the height of a drawer it is what is good for the purpose. pop up TVCabinets.html images/TV Cabinets/tv-dresser-4.jpg

Total height

In general fitted furniture can be the same height as the internal door 2000 / 2100mm or the height of the windows. This gives a clean line all round the room. For built in that’s up to you but it is better to go to the ceiling taking in to account any cornice in the room.


Magazines & the web try asking Mr Google about fitted furniture then look for images.

A little later I will dig out a drawing of something I have designed in the past and publish it on my web site just to give you some idea of design.

One last thing it is always better to try and keep the fire place / chimney breast standing by its self just like SunnyUk is saying i.e. fitted furniture any Tom Dick or Harry can have built-in. But free standing or fitted furniture is a totally different ball game it shouts quality.
There may well be other and better ways, but this is how I would attempt to do it:

1. Draw the arch on paper
2. Glue paper to plywood. Cut carefully with hacksaw along drawn arch. Clean up along edge. You now have a nice edge
3. Use plywood arch as a guide for router. Clamp to the "arch wood" and let the router follow the arch.

As I said... just an idea, and maybe there are other and better ways.
hi,and thanks for all advice outstanding work there bespoke!
we are thinking of something like this
but maybe with arches,depth of alcoves are 370mm although the depth varies 20mm up the chimney breast,width of alcoves are 1150mm one side and other 1105mm

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