Christy Allen’s clients knew they were facing a big challenge. Originally from the East Coast, the couple was living in a large rental apartment in San Francisco. Having just purchased a considerably smaller home, however, they needed help figuring out how to downsize their belongings as well as figure out which of their existing pieces would actually work in the new space. “They love modern design and are avid art collectors—so it was important to find space for as much of their existing artwork as possible, while trying to maintain a sleek modern look with furnishings.” Luckily, Christy says, “They had previously lived in New York and living in a smaller space wasn’t intimidating for them at all!”

A major factor in creating a sleek, small home in this case was the creation of custom storage furniture to get the most out of the space. Christy walks us through the three custom pieces she created in the slideshow and offers her tips for designing custom storage pieces below.

Christy’s Advice for Custom Storage

1. Consider the cost – and the value. Having something custom made for you space is never inexpensive, but in my experience it has always been worth it in the end.

2. When designing custom storage pay attention to the details—I talk to clients about what they are planning to do with the storage space and work on accommodating the pieces that are actually going to be put inside the new pieces. I measure books and objects to make sure for example that there is enough space between bookshelves to fit the tall art books, and to make sure that the amount of bookshelves will actually hold all the books they are trying to put in them.

3. Get creative. When you are building custom pieces you can do all kinds of interesting things like adding electrical outlets or lights in the cabinetry to having fun with original and interesting casework designs.

4. Details are important, so work with a professional—this is not the place to save money; you want someone who is experienced and a good communicator. I built these with a local furniture maker I have worked with for years, Greg Bergere of Go Build Studios. When the built-in cabinet and bookshelves were finally in place, he told me they looked like they had always been there—which is what you want to hear when you are doing custom built-ins!