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posted: 3/8/2013 4:00 AM

Large cabinets are a top-shelf design idea

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  • Big cabinets work in every sized room, from a cavernous gallery with a high ceiling that reaches up to the heavens, or a tiny little nook that's as cozy as a Hobbit hole.

      Big cabinets work in every sized room, from a cavernous gallery with a high ceiling that reaches up to the heavens, or a tiny little nook that's as cozy as a Hobbit hole.
    Scripps Howard News Service

 
By Mary Carol Garrity
Scripps Howard News Service

I have a color-outside-the-lines personality. Maybe that's why I really enjoy being a decorating myth-buster.

Here's a misconception I want to shatter: Big cabinets don't work in small spaces. Wrong! Big cabinets work in every size of room, from a cavernous gallery down to a tiny little nook.

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And they elevate the look of every room lucky enough to have one. Big cabinets more than carry their weight when it comes to decorating payoffs. They give a room instant depth and visual interest. Depending on your goals, big cabinets can serve as an exciting backdrop to a furniture grouping or star as a room's focal point. They provide a perfect place to store or display just about anything you want, from a big-screen TV to favorite accents to pretty storage baskets.

Here are some spots where you might want to place a big, beefy cabinet to elevate the look of your decor -- if you haven't done so already:

• Dining room

Forget that tiny curio cabinet in the corner of your dining room. Trade up for a large cabinet that can hold all your dishes and serving pieces, and make a huge style statement while doing so. While I love traditional china hutches in dining rooms, one of my favorite options is to instead use a large bookcase, then fill it full of dishes and other lovelies.

If your big, beefy cabinet doesn't reach the ceiling, take advantage of that empty space and fill it with a montage of framed artwork.

• Study

Many of us have studies that are cozy and warm. Accenting a study with a wall of beautiful bookcases will knock this room out of the ballpark. A friend converted an upstairs bedroom into a work hideaway. It's a small room, but a bank of bookcases actually makes it look larger, debunking that myth that bookcases don't work in small rooms. At first blush, you would never guess this many bookcases could squish into this space. But here's the amazing thing about big cabinets: They may be tall and wide enough to cover the entire wall, but they are usually thin, just 14 to 18 inches deep, so they don't hog precious floor space.

Lots of folks have TVs in their studies or dens. Large cabinets with multiple shelves and openings provide a perfect home for today's big flat-screens. Put the TV in one, then fill the others with a variety of accents, like books and pottery. That way, the TV feels more like one of several decorative elements in the cabinet, not the sole focal point.

• Living room

When you're picking out a large cabinet to add to the living room, the sky is the limit. You could showcase an antique armoire with mirrored doors. Cover an entire wall with bookcases. Use a tall secretary to break a larger room into two conversation areas. Put matching cases on either side of your fireplace mantel. Or stick a taller, thinner cabinet in a smaller space between doorways. Large cabinets will help anchor the room and provide bonus storage.

• Bedroom

Many newer homes feature huge closets with lots of built-in storage for clothes, so people aren't putting dressers in their bedrooms as often. Unfortunately, these rooms are now missing the visual weight that dressers provided. A great solution is to feature a large cabinet in the bedroom. Try a bookcase, then fill it with photos of your family. Or a hutch, using the bottom portion to hold out-of-season clothing or extra bed linens and the top to hold books and decorative accents.

• Bathroom

If the bathroom is large enough, consider finishing it off with a large cabinet. I just helped a customer design her large master bath. The space was big and open and needed something to ground it and provide some bulk. So we placed a large cabinet against an open wall, filling it with folded up towels and glass containers. She has declared her bathroom one of her favorite spots in her home.

• Kitchen

A trend I'm loving in kitchen design is to add large, free-standing cabinets to the floor plan.

While your built-in cabinets will hold the lion's share of everyday kitchen items, it's really fun to bring in a contrasting cabinet to use for more eye-catching kitchen items, like pretty soup tureens, platters and pitchers.

• Adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at www.nellhills.com.

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