The Media Center Right Now

A long, long time ago (let’s call it August), Scott and I took a field trip to one of our favorite second-hand stores, Jubilee. While we weren’t planning on bringing home anything for our media wall that day, well, we did! Remember?:

During a burst of motivation and productivity, we finally incorporated it into our living room, where it holds all of our media gear – the television, speakers, our receiver and Playstation, with drawers that keep miscellaneous cables, dominoes and inappropriate card games handy. (You can see this was pre-tile, as we still have subfloor there, on the left.)

Okay, obviously we’re not calling the above photo an ‘after’ by any means! After all, there are (and were) a few things to address to make the credenza work for us, our space and our current media equipment:

  • Those speakers! Scott is all about having the proper surround sound for movie watching, sports and – most importantly – listening to our record collection, and although I sincerely appreciate this, I just cannot get on board with these big, light-sucking boxes anymore. Consider the above very, very temporary.
  • We are, however, on board with in-wall speakers, which is totally in Scott’s wheelhouse, so we’ll be moving forward with that once he decides and pulls the trigger.
  • With that said, we had initial thoughts to create a built-in around the credenza (similar to our last wall unit, which stayed with our tenants in the condo), but now we’re leaning towards something much more minimal (and who knows, we could change our minds again!). Right this second, we’d hang my grandparents clock above the television – which will eventually be wall mounted – and use the credenza top as a resting place for some books, a vase of flowers and things; things that are pretty.
  • As for what we’ve already done to modify the credenza: You might notice in the first photo that the center of the unit with the sliding doors is slightly recessed. In the second photo, it’s now flush with the drawers to its left and right! Let’s talk about that …

Once we pulled the credenza in place and tried to put our receiver and Playstation in the middle section, we quickly realized that there wasn’t enough depth to accommodate our hulking equipment. (Some fast measurements told us we might barely squeeze everything in, so we had high hopes it would work – nope!). We turned the whole unit on its side, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that all we’d need to do is unscrew the center-panel-bottom (got that?), shave down each side so it could move forward and flush, then screw everything back into place.

Because the front lip of the center-panel-bottom had the ridges for the sliding doors, this was our only option to make it work. Scott used his multi-tool to easily take off the 4″ or so that were needed to slide the whole section forward, then drilled pilot holes for his new screw placement. Everything went back together seamlessly – success! (Bonus: By moving the entire center-panel-bottom forward, we gained open air space in the back. This would, in turn, allow for better air flow for our media equipment.)

The clean lines of this credenza are definitely what drew us in, but the piece itself didn’t feel too precious to hack; it’s built mostly from plywood with a veneer. With this in mind, we went one step further and used our hole saw to create a pass-through for cables to run from behind the credenza and into the middle unit – therefore keeping messy cables off the floor. (You know how we feel about cables!)

Now, we’re able to slide the doors to the right for access to the receiver, and to the left for the Playstation. If both items are in use, we’ll center the doors (for example, if we’re having a Netflix marathon) to allow for better airflow and remote use.

As a full disclosure, we’re on the fence regarding the finish of the credenza itself. Do we like the wood tone? (Sometimes.) Is the veneer too orange for our tastes? (Kind of.) Ugh, is that a chip in the veneer? (Damn!) But until the living room becomes more pulled together, we’re having a hard time wrapping our heads around alternatives. Paint? A concrete top? A marble top? (Oooh!)

Then again, another streak of motivation and productivity may find this credenza made over sooner than later… (It’s all about the mood, you know?)

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  • Holly Fuller1.15.14 - 7:41 AM

    We used an infrared receiver for our console and FIOS receiver so that we can leave the doors closed and still be able to use the remote. Works like a charm! We just fished the wire from the receiver through the back of the console where the rest of the cables are and used two way tape to attach it to the side of the tv. No one would know it’s there!

  • Kim1.15.14 - 8:04 AM

    Holly, thank you for the link! That’s definitely something we’ve discussed doing as well. Do you find that your receiver gets too warm if the doors are always closed though?ReplyCancel

  • Susan @ Jubilee Furniture1.15.14 - 8:20 AM

    Good for you to think to move the doors! So glad it worked out perfectly. Can’t wait to see how this piece (and the rest of your fabulous home) evolves!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah1.15.14 - 8:29 AM

    You’re lucky to be able to fit the Playstation and stuff in the middle. I am using a mid century dresser as my media center. It’s great for holding DVDs in the drawers, but all our equipment has to sit on top. It, like yours, isn’t too precious, so you’ve got me wondering what modifications I could make to get things off the top.ReplyCancel

  • Kim1.15.14 - 9:02 AM

    Susan, we see a lot of trips to Jubilee in our future…

    Sarah, definitely flip that dresser over, pull it apart and play with it! There’s always a way. Maybe only use the drawer fronts as false fronts, then gut a section of the inside to fit everything?ReplyCancel

  • Holly Fuller1.15.14 - 9:03 AM

    I haven’t noticed a problem with the receiver getting too warm so far. There is a fan on the back of the receiver and I added two holes to the back of the console for circulation. Excited to see what you decide for the finish!ReplyCancel

  • Kim1.15.14 - 9:15 AM

    Thanks, Holly!ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square1.15.14 - 10:09 AM

    Is there any way to stain the veneer a different shade? I know veneer is sometimes tricky to deal with that way…ReplyCancel

  • Kim1.15.14 - 10:17 AM

    It can definitely be done (with ours, we could do it on all the larger flat surfaces), but all the edging is a peel + stick veneer, so it wouldn’t work with that. Like I mentioned above, we don’t feel that this piece is so precious that we can’t paint it, but we’re just so on the fence!ReplyCancel

  • misie1.15.14 - 12:57 PM

    I love the concrete top idea – maybe dip the legs in some color to hold you over until you figure out what you want to do with the color/finish. That may be overdone but it’s something in the meantime.ReplyCancel

  • Kim1.15.14 - 1:25 PM

    Misie, thanks for the concrete vote! I do think it could look pretty neat, right?ReplyCancel

  • caroline [the diy nurse]1.15.14 - 7:39 PM

    What a gorgeous piece! And what is it with men and their speakers lol?!ReplyCancel

  • Racer51.16.14 - 3:12 AM

    OPTION 1:
    Drill rows of holes on the back panel with the hole saw. Maybe two rows worth, top and bottom. That will allow some convection-type air circulation.

    OPTION 2:
    Even better drill holes many holes in the bottom, under the equipment. Then holes in the back panel at the top. The heat from the receiver will draw the cooler room air in from the bottom and convection will vent it out the holes you made at the top of the back panel.ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.16.14 - 8:19 AM

      Racer, there’s actually a large open panel at the back (on the bottom) of the middle section, so it seems like there really should be enough air circulation. However, I’ll talk to Scott about a few more holes at the top – couldn’t hurt! Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda @ Our Humble Abode1.16.14 - 1:22 PM

    Hooray for progress! We’ve got the same issue with huge speakers and a receiver. In fact, it looks like we have the same system. Just a warning, Onkyo receivers tend to run hot, so make sure you have adequate air movement. Our HDMI ports no longer work because it got too hot.

    I do agree the wood seems too orange. Can you use Polyshades to go over and darken it up a bit? Whatever you do, I know it’ll be amazing. :)ReplyCancel

  • Scott1.16.14 - 1:31 PM

    Amanda, our receiver also runs hot. I actually bought it cheap on craigslist with cooked HDMI’s. With a little research and $10 worth of new capacitors, a buddy and I had everything working in top shape in about 30 minutes. There are diagrams all over the internet walking you through which ones to replace. It’s a bit of an intimidating task, but actually pretty simple. Hope this helps!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda @ Our Humble Abode1.17.14 - 2:02 PM

    Thanks for the info, Scott! I’ll have to tell Ben that capacitors fixed your problem. He looked into sending it back to Onkyo to fix it. You are a (receiver) life saver!! :)ReplyCancel

  • Scott1.17.14 - 11:43 PM

    Amanda, no problem! If you can’t find the info I’m referring to (it’s been a while), let me know and I’ll dig around and see if I still have any if the sites bookmarked in a long lost folder. Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design1.20.14 - 7:40 PM

    It’s totally all about the mood!
    I think it looks awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Malia12.27.16 - 11:56 PM

    Hi Kim! Love your media cabinet! Sorry if you’ve mentioned this before (I tried searching all the posts :) would you mind sharing the height & width of the cabinet after you put the casters on? Thank you, thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.28.16 - 9:11 AM

      Hi, Malia! It’s about 5′ wide x 18″ deep and 2′ high.ReplyCancel


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