Custom-built furniture is designed to fit a specific space, giving you full control over its design, size, style and finish.
Put together a detailed brief
Find pictures from magazines or the internet, and perhaps even samples of materials you like. If you're confident enough, you could draw up the plans yourself before commissioning a carpenter; if you need help with ideas, a furniture designer can come up with a bespoke solution for you (but, of course, this will increase the cost of your project).
Find a reputable carpenter in your area
Ask friends for recommendations, or search at findacraftsman.com, a site which gives contact details for members of The Guild of Master Craftsmen. Also, check out Rated People, for local tradespeople in your area.
Do your research
Check the quality, finish and workmanship of their work for yourself before commissioning any work. Go through the quote in detail, making sure you know exactly what you're getting. Will the furniture be solid wood, veneer or painted MDF? Does the price include both labour and materials?
Take advantage of architectural features
Make the most of existing alcoves, cubbyholes and bay windows. Many period properties already have original built-in cupboards that are excellent for storage. If not, it's a fairly straightforward job for a carpenter to fit some.
Create extra storage in areas that are often overlooked
If you've got a large book collection, think about having shelves built at one end of a landing, corridor or over and around a doorway. Shallow shelves can be fitted in all sorts of places and can be more useful than very deep shelves, where items often get lost at the back.
Organise your understairs area properly
This space is often underused - with careful planning, you might even be able to squeeze in a home office. Remove any partitioning and doors and open up the area completely so you can fit shelves and a worksurface. Simple bi-fold doors are an option if you prefer to shut everything away at the end of the day.