It was all building up to this point…

So the plan all along was to “practice” building a bunch of built-in furniture for the house in various places, and then use all that I’d learned and what were sure to be burgeoning master cabinet making skills (ha!) to complete the coup de grace: a built-in entertainment center in the den; the most viewed, most sat-in, most enjoyed, most regularly occupied room of the house.

We all assumed that would be months and months after the first project back in January (the guest room bookcase). But then Lily started crawling. And crawling and crawling.

So after about the hundredth time yelling “NO!” and pulling Lily away after she crawled over to where the TV is and grabbed the power cords on the floor and started to put ’em to her mouth, we figured that in the interest of childproofing, it was time to create the new integrated entertainment center for the den. Like, now. Something with doors that would close down at baby level and hide all of the cords inside.

There were some constraints to the design.

  • Don’t overwhelm the room. Limited depth to keep it from sticking out so far into the den, which would look terrible from the foyer looking into the den.
  • Keep it flush or nearly flush with the channel for the ductwork that runs in the corner (see any picture below)
  • Don’t fill in with solid walls on the side or above the TV, so open shelves above the teevee.
  • Hide all the cords in the wall or inside the furniture
  • Make do with salvaged cabinet doors so I don’t have to make any. Because, um, I can’t make good cabinet doors yet.

So first, the sketches. I like to make a lot of sketches apparently.

entertainment center sketches 3


But the first iteration was this rough idea here.

entertainment center sketches 2

I already had a pair of cabinet doors ($4 each at Community Forklift) that were the exact same size as the ones I bought for the dining room project — those would go below the TV in that larger pair. And then I thought I might be able to go back and find two or three matching ones at Community Forklift to fill the space to the right of the television in a taller cabinet.

I struck out on my attempt to find good cabinet doors. I did find some that could have worked, but they were just too large. So we quickly tried to come up with a plan B that didn’t involve ordering some custom cabinet doors from somewhere.

We came up with the idea of taking the door off of one of our existing pieces of furniture, painting it to match, and then leaving the space above that open for a lamp, pictures or something else pretty that we want visible.

entertainment center cabinet doors


The fact that it had glass in the door and was a completely different pattern meant that matching the other cabinet doors was less of an issue than it had been when trying to find other salvaged doors in a similar style. This door is so different it just didn’t matter. Incidentally, this was the first piece of furniture we bought when we got married. It’s a set of three that goes together — one other exactly like this, and then a shorter piece that goes between them. We bought ’em in downtown Rogers, Arkansas for $150 or something for the set. They’ve served us well, but it’s time to make one into something better.

(Oh, and we’d already been keeping one of them to the right of the TV anyway. It was all of our ‘entertainment’ storage.)

Behold, plan B:

entertainment center sketches

All three of the existing doors I was going to use were stained various dark shades, so to make painting easier, I went ahead and sanded them all down and roughed up the hard to get to places to make primer adhere a little better.

2013-03-16entertainment center cabinet doors entertainment center cabinet doorsentertainment center cabinet doors

With everything measured and planned out (on my 15 sheets of paper), I turned my attention to building the cabinet boxes. I decided to build the boxes (short left and tall right) as separate pieces so they’d be easier to work with and move around. Other than having to stop to resupply with wood at Home Depot, I churned out those pretty quick in two nights after work. And once they were done, I could test fit them into the space, which helped me plan out the face frame for the cabinets.

entertainment center cabinet box entertainment center cabinet box

With the cabinet boxes built, the space filled and measured out, the boxes and all the components go away to get painted in another room. And we’re left with a bare wall where everything is going to go. I had to do a little work on the wall to move the holes that hide the cords around. The top hole was right on the edge of the top, so it needed to move up and then have the hole filled, and the bottom one needed to move up so they weren’t so far away.

A little bit of drywall work, and the cord hiding apparatus, as well as the wall mount for the TV, were all in place. (The TV had to get moved higher up the wall to be above the level of the cabinet.)

entertainment center site before entertainment center site before

So that’s where we’ll leave things today.

Lest you worry about quality assurance on this job, I did have my special tester on site for the job. She checked out the cabinets to make sure they were plumb, square, and suitable for sitting with small stuffed animals.

lily testing entertainment center


Next post, we’ll wrap it all up and show off the finished product.

Leave a Reply