How to make the most of alcove space

Alcoves can be a tricky space to use effectively, which is why fitted furniture is a great solution. Read the full article to find out how to make the most of your alcove space.

Alcoves exist in many rooms in period properties, most commonly in Bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms. Alcoves can be a tricky space to use effectively, which is why fitted furniture is a great solution. But first, let’s start with the issues surrounding alcove spaces and what to do with yours.

Beautiful Edwardian fireplace and fitted alcove storage

Beautiful Edwardian fireplace and fitted alcove storage


The issues with alcove spaces and how to overcome them


The issue with alcoves is that the typical chimney breast is around 25-35cm, which isn’t very deep.

Uneven walls:

In addition, they are not usually plumb at the edges, meaning you cannot practically fit to line up with them, without highlighting these imperfections in building structure. Alcoves are also often different sizes – be it slightly or to a greater extreme – causing an unsightly aesthetic, with asymmetry where it isn’t wanted.


The benefits of alcove spaces

Alcoves can give dimension to what would otherwise be a bland rectangular shape. They can also make up part of focal point walls, for example by drawing attention to a period fireplaces in between the alcoves, or a television set or mirror mounted centrally. Fitted furniture makes the most of alcove spaces for many reasons.

Contemporary bespoke fitted alcove bookshelves and cupboards

Contemporary bespoke fitted alcove bookshelves and cupboards

It can be fitted beyond the chimney breast:

Using the furniture line to tidy up any areas that are not plumb, furniture can come in front of the breast to even out the width of the recesses and then the resulting shallower internal depth can be put to use, for items such as toiletries in a bedroom, or glassware or books/DVDs in living spaces.

Interior white wardrobes

Furniture can be fitted across the whole of the space:

By fitting cabinetry / shelving across the whole wall (including in front of the chimney breast) you can iron out any unwanted alcove spaces – without removing the chimney breast which might be needed for a feature fireplace in a living room, but not wanted in the bedroom above. The centre section is shallower in depth and can be a great place to create a dressing table/makeup area with a mirror and shelves for baskets for makeup, straighteners, etc.



Fitted bedroom drawers and wardrobes with built in vanity unit.

Fitted bedroom drawers and wardrobes with built in vanity unit.

Gives you a choice of furniture layouts and uses, to fit your needs:

Furniture can be fitted floor to ceiling doors as a wardrobe shape, or simply some shelves to make an instant recessed bookcase. There’s so many options to make the perfect space for your needs. Others include bottom cupboards with bookcase shelves above, for a library look, or bottom and top doors divided by a worktop for either a concealed desk, bar, storage for china (where the top doors are glass), or niches to specific sizes and shapes, even featuring LED lighting to highlight specific objet.

Bespoke alcove traditional grey bookshelf and cupboard storage

Bespoke alcove bookshelves and objet display cabinetry

Door styles and handles to complement your alcove furniture and home style:

Door styles are endless and can range from handleless through to shaker, or even Victorian, depending upon the desired look.

Handle free options offer clean lines, look architectural and work well with the current trend for mid century furniture. Shaker styling can be created to be either traditional or contemporary in design, depending upon the choice of colour and handle or knob, or the use of glass in the centre panel.

Victorian or more ornate or period styles can restore missing character elements in period properties, giving the appearance of being there since when the house was built.

Hand painted fitted furniture has the added benefit of being flexible, as the room style evolves. Colourful furniture can be painted to suit the scheme and painted neutrally for a traditional look, or boldly for a mid-century look.

Want some more inspiration for making the most of your alcove space? 

There’s plenty of great examples to inspire you for your own home, in several sections of our site. We’d recommend checking out our bookcase inspiration and bedroom inspiration pages as a starting point.

Thanks for reading!