Sunday, September 17, 2006

I just saved a bunch of money on my entertainment center.

Very recently I finally bit the bullet and got myself a 50 inch plasma. It wasn't the Panasonic I'd been hoping for, but it was such a good deal (open box at Best Buy) that I decided to compromise and go with a Samsung.

I didn't really want to mount this thing on my wall which meant I had to find a new entertainment center that would hold this beast. Everyone I looked at was $300 and up. Most didn't look that cool and were usually made of crappy materials anyway.

Frustrated with the selection atplaces like Target, Ikea and Crate & Barrel, I decided to look for an old credenza that I could turn into an entertainment center. I thought something long and sleek with pointy legs would look cool and drew up this little sketch:

I started poking around on Ebay searching the word credenza and sorting the results by nearest to my zipcode. (You can also search for "sideboard" and "buffet" too.) The idea was to find something within driving range because shipping something huge like this was out of the question.

I found some cool ones, but they were pricey. I was leary on spending over $250 since I was intending to do some hacking away at the thing like rip out drawers and make holes for all the wires to run inside, so I started looking at local thrift and antique stores. I really wanted something that had cabinets on both sides and drawers in the middle that I could rip out to make shelves. After months of searching I finally found this one at a local thrift store for $30.

Don't let the pictures fool you. This thing was in ratty shape in some areas. I would've loved to have just cleaned it up and been done with it. Had it been solid wood I would've stained it instead of painting, but in the end painting was the way to go.

It was in good shape. No wobbly legs. No major problems.

The worst part was this messed up corner. Nothing a little wood putty couldn't fix. I knew it'd have a somewhat "weathered" feel when I was all done, so I few bumps and blemishes just added character.

Here you can see what I had to work with once the drawers were pulled out. In the beginning I thought of leaving the bottom drawer in for storage, but it ended up looking weird so I just pulled them all out.

The first thing I did was scuff everything up with 100 grit sand paper. Then I pulled out all the stapes which held the back panel on (which is just thin masonite.) I also ripped out all of the tracks for the drawers.

We're looking at the back view here. I left all the framing for the drawer tracks because I wanted to use them as support for my shelves. I ended up cutting pieces of masonite large enough to fit on top of the framing so that it would be one nice smooth shelf from above. To hide the layers from the front I bought some thin molding to finish it off. You'll see that in the final photos.

At this stage I wasn't sure of final details so I did a quick little photoshop mock-up of my living room, TV and a couple options for the credenza. I kicked around the idea of throwing a little color into the door panels but ultimately decided to make it all the same color.

I hate wires with a passion. (Just look how angry I am.) In an effort to hide them, I cut notches behind all the shelf supports. I planned to put the surge protector inside one of the cabinets, so this allowed me a place to run all the wires in a stealthier fashion.

It ain't pretty but it works. No ones sees these notches because they're all on the back side. I'd just cut two slots and then chisel out all the particle board crap. Here you can also see that I'd tried spray painting the inside of everything black. I thought this would save me time and look good next to the really dark brown paint on the outside of the unit. It didn't so I ended up painting over all this black spray paint with the final color anyway. Waste of time!

Here it is. Done. (That robot to the right was done by my friend, Alan Joyner.)

I'd like to eventually get a wireless surround sound unit so that ugly subwoofer thingie you see on the right can go across the room under an endtable or something.

There you have it -- $30 for the unit, $20 for a tank of gas (had to borrow a truck from a friend,) and about $50 in paint and supplies. So for about $100 total and a couple weekends of work I've got something more unique than anything I could buy in a store.

I really like these credenzas. They come in all shapes and sizes and have many different uses. I'm looking for a higher, longer one to put in my kitchen right now. I've got this odd open space in there that one of these would fit nicely into. I'm thinking I could outfit the top of it with stainless steel and a cutting boards so we can use the top as a prep area and the bottom cabinets as storage. I also wouldn't mind getting a lower one to use in my office. Right now I have this giant L-shaped desk that I call "The Command Center." If I found another credenza it could be used as storage and to hold all my components. Then I'd only need a small desk to hold my monitor, keyboard and wacom tablet.


At 4:34 PM, Blogger Jorge said...


At 7:08 AM, Blogger James Groman said...

Great job, Ryan...
This inspires me a bit to try one of my own...why settle for this old furniture as is.
That robot is way-cool.

At 12:46 PM, Blogger Alina Chau said...

WOW!! YOur are goooood!!

At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

really awesome job ryan! i loved the diff colored panel mock-ups. u could change them w/your mood. ha! even making a slide in panel that you could change fabrics.
actually some kinda metal would look cool too or even amber glass w/a design in it so you still wouldn't see wiring...and i'm really w/you on the whole wiring thang...hate it! squeekers


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