Money Saving Media Center
September 14, 2009
When we expanded our home three years ago, we added a small studio above our garage. We wanted to add value by building a separate “granny” unit, and also provide a place for guests. The studio was intended as a source of future income. With its own small kitchen, it can be rented out to a tenant, or perhaps even turned into a vacation rental someday.
For the first two years after our remodel, this space was completely unfinished. Over the last year, we’ve slowly brought this space up to livability standards. We even had my folks staying with us while their house was on the market.
Since we are expecting a boatload of family and friends through the harvest season and holidays, it was high time I provided my guests with a comfortable space. This weekend I focused on the media wall. Formerly plain and sad, it is now organized and media friendly. I built my own media center by repurposing some bookshelves and adding a custom display ledge.
Here is the Before:
Here’s the After:
Here’s how I did it.
First, I had two bookshelves in my garage leftover from the upgrades going on in the home office.
At Lowe’s, I had a piece of half inch plywood cut to fit the width and length of my bookshelves. Plywood’s edges are unattractive, so I used wood filler to give the shelf a finished edge. I smooth it right on with my fingers. I really love wood filler – I use it all the time to erase imperfections.
Now if only I could use it to fill in those crevices beginning to show between my furrowed brows, then I’d really be happy.
When the filler was dry, I sanded the edges with a fine sanding pad.
Plywood is too raw to apply your paint directly, so I primed it first with my Zinsser oil based primer. Can you tell I’ve used this can before?
DIY tip: On raw wood, oil based primer covers and seals better than water based primer. Water based primer is good for all sorts of other surfaces, but that’s a whole different article.
The only thing I don’t like about oil based primer is the cleanup. It requires paint thinner or mineral spirits. So on smaller projects like this, I simply use the cheap brush then dispose of it when I’m done. One thing to keep in mind: cheaper brushes tend to loose their bristles, so you’ll find you sometimes have to pick them out. And I detest balding brushes!
Once my primer was dry, I sanded it down to remove brush marks and drips. Then I used some Rustoleum espresso spray paint to darken the shelf.
You can see how skipping the primer step with raw wood would leave you with a much rougher surface.
I used my drill bit to make holes in the bookcases to run the wires through the back. Then I connected them all to a surge protector.
When my painted shelf was dry, I screwed it to the top of my shelving units to create one cohesive media center.
Before, the technology looked hodge podge balanced on top of the gargantuan TV.
Now the media is organized off to the right side, and contained within the shelves. And the size of the television is diminished by the surrounding woodwork.
Can you guess the movie on the screen?
I compare mine to this media center available for purchase at Crate + Barrel for $2,300 plus tax and shipping ! And that’s cheap, compared to other retailers.
I really like how my media unit has an additional shelf for display. I’m still playing around with the vignette.
How much did my media center cost? The shelving units were from Target for $99, and I purchased them back in 2006. The coffee table was a floor sample from Jennifer Convertibles that used to sit in the kids’ playroom. It was $89. The plywood and paint was $30. Total for my media center? $317 (without tax).
So if you’re in the market for your own media center, but don’t want to spend thousands of dollars, keep your eyes open for a coffee table, some bookcases, and some primed and painted plywood. Or you could simply buy stain grade wood, and stain your upper shelf to match. It’s the same look, just for pennies on the dollar !
Now, let’s watch some football - Go Niners !