Semi-built-in entertainment unit

Some of our projects are planned for a long time, while others happen spontaneously.  We’ve been thinking about how to better store our TV- and stereo-related electronics for months if not years.  When we finally got a flat screen TV last year and mounted it above the fireplace, we freecycled our old entertainment unit and temporarily placed the various boxes on a sewing table + wooden box combo right next to it.  Not attractive at all.  

About 6 weeks ago, we were doing some wiring work.  The outlet next to the fireplace was still on an old circuit that was not grounded, so we actually had all that stuff plugged in to a heavy duty extension cord.  We were upgrading the outlet to a new circuit, and since we were already messing around in that wall it seemed like possibly the time to cut a big hole in it and put in some recessed shelves.  Matt and I discussed the possibilities for a couple of hours, and we just couldn’t agree on the design.  I wanted a floor-to-ceiling set of shelves recessed into the wall with integrated electrical outlets and ethernet jacks, all made to look seamless with the mantel.  Matt wanted sort of a nook recessed into the wall, but not floor-to-ceiling, instead it would be smaller and at the height of the TV, with all the outlets and ethernet jacks on the other side of the wall and accessible through some holes.  I hope that makes sense.  Anyway, we wanted different things, either of which would have taken a lot of work to do.  We hadn’t budgeted the time to do it, and since one of us wouldn’t have been happy with either solution, we decided to do nothing at the time.  We just put in a new double outlet.  And we felt great about our decision.  Sometimes it’s best to wait and see how we feel later than to dive in when we’re not 100% sure it’s what we want.

Then last weekend, we were trying to clear some space in our bedroom for things like a crib and large bins full of baby gear.  We had this Ikea shelving unit that I guess we originally purchased for extra clothes storage, but we had just been keeping random things on it and decided this was not a good use of space in the bedroom.  Matt had the genius idea of making it our entertainment unit.  Luckily, the dimensions were just perfect.  He cut some holes in the back for easy access to cables, attached some 2x4s to anchor it to the wall (and again, give a little room to access the cables, and had all our stuff moved in a jiffy. 

He also got the big speakers up off the floor - and attached them to their shelves with screws so they can’t fall on us in an earthquake.  Here’s the “after” shot again so you don’t have to scroll up.

Doesn’t it look great?  (Yes everything is still awaiting a coat of paint, but for now I don’t care.)  I love it.  So much easier than our various ideas for recessed shelves.  We originally thought that recessing the shelves was necessary for traffic flow to the hallway, but this doesn’t block it at all.  In fact, there is more room now than there was before with our makeshift solution.  It’s functional and looks good.  


p.s. I freecycled the old sewing table, having never used it for its intended purpose and decided that we don’t have the room for it.

We LOVE freecycle.  Here in Seattle, there is a very active community of freecyclers.  It is amazing what random objects you can acquire and find new homes for, from the tiniest knickknack to the largest appliance.  We all save money and prevent useful things from going to the landfill.  It’s fantastic.  If you live in Seattle, have a decent vehicle, and are willing to vigilantly watch your email all day, you could get away with never buying another piece of furniture, appliance, child’s toys, clothes, paint, building supplies, computers/electronics, decorations, books/magazines/videos, dishes, etc. for the rest of your life.  Not only have we kept things from going to the landfill and saved money, but we’ve met some really cool people along the way.

Things we have given:

  • electric range/oven from 1950’s (fully functional but too big for our space)
  • car roof rack towers to car we no longer have
  • plastic toilet lid (came with our new toilet and promptly replaced with nicer one)
  • 12 foot baseboard heater (still in box, age unknown, found in garage when we bought the house)
  • shop vac
  • moving boxes
  • book shelves

Things we have gotten:

  • queen sized nice wooden bed frame + thick futon mattress (several satisfied house guests served thus far)
  • electric oven/range (of modern era, fully functional)
  • bag of several nice pieces of wool fabric
  • set of Ikea drinking glasses
  • footrest
  • moving boxes
  • shelving unit
  • pair of vintage armchairs
  • roll-out tabletop keyboard (musical kind, not computer kind)
  • nice jacket/blazer
  • gardening boots
  • various interior and exterior paints

Other things we have found along the side of the road or next to dumpsters at our old apartment:

  • push lawn mower (spotted with “free” sign on the side of the road not one block from our house 5 minutes after discussing our desire to have one of these as an alternative to the noisy, leaky, gas-guzzler the former owner of our house generously left for us)
  • chest of drawers (a little worse for wear, but we took it anyway because it just happened to match the set we already had)
  • book shelves (later given via freecycle)
  • table (given to friends)
  • chest of drawers (given to friends)
  • chair
  • good quality stereo speakers

Why waste money and resources manufacturing/transporting/selling/buying new things when there are so many perfectly usable things being discarded every day locally?