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Media Room makeover

This project has been nearly a year in the making! I started just a few months into 2020 but between a pregnancy and pandemic I honestly just lost a bit of the drive I needed to finish up. About 4.5 months after having Crew I felt nearly completely like myself again and this project was the first thing to bring me pure JOY outside of being a mom! I'll start from the beginning but just a reminder- big projects sometimes (most of the time) won't happen as fast as you'd like when you have kids around. And that's okay! The process is something you should be enjoying while DIY-ing, not just trying to get through. Thank you for being here and supporting me through ALL of my DIYs...including my babies. :)

So this is what we started with! My goal was to turn this space into more of a comfy, loungy, family room than a theatre room so I knew I wanted to lighten it up! If I was going to be spending time in here, I didn't want to feel like I was sitting in a depressing, dark hole. :)

We had a few speakers Phil wanted built in, but otherwise I could do whatever I wanted! I envisioned large cabinets along the bottom, shelving on either side and I wanted to involve brick somehow after doing lime wash brick in our laundry room and falling in LOVE.

I came up with this design (Jackson wanted me to draw him in as well!) and got started on the base cabinets! I wanted to add dimension so the outside two cabinets would be a bit taller than the middle 3 sections, but the middle section would be deeper. Giving dimension in both height and depth and upping the difficulty level just a bit but gives SO much to the final look!

I'm using 3/4" blonde wood for all of the cabinets and shelves. For the supports I'm using 1x3 poplar because it's what I had as scraps.

Once the cabinets were built, I used 1/4" plywood for the backing. I attached it with wood glue + 1/2" brad nails. I recommend sanding the blacking BEFORE attaching it- much easier than sanding inside of a cabinet!

Ta-da! We have one cabinet done. Why I left that little stick on the back I a good representation of my 'do as I say, not as I do'. If I would've sanded before attaching the backing I would have caught that!

I wanted to build a base for the cabinets to lift them up- it's not necessary but I think it looks nicer and also adds an extra level of security since you can attach the cabinets directly down onto the base. These are 1x4s and they're 3" more shallow than the depth of my cabinets, to act as a toe kick.

Once the cabinets were up on on the base, I decided I wanted the toe kick set a little father back, so I added a piece of 3/4" plywood and screwed it directly into the stud. Make sure to 'dry fit' all of your cabinets before securing anything so you know everything fits and looks right. Then I secured the cabinets directly into the base with screws, and into the wood against the back wall.

This is what it looks like from the top.

Phil wanted to add lighting on the bottom and top of the built ins and we figured the easier way would be to plug them in behind one of the side cabinets. There wasn't an outlet in either so he added one to the left base cabinet! Before you attach anything make sure to cut holes where you need them for any outlets/plugs.

This is the 'dry fit'. You can see the 3rd and 4th cabinet bases don't have the backing yet because I need to mark/cut out holes for the backing.

This shows how we ran the lighting. I cut a hole for the wire to go through and it's plugged into the outlet Phil installed in the cabinet. I planned on replacing the baseboards so I wasn't so worried about how much I cut off but afterwards decided to just keep them. Definitely a mistake and ended up being more work to fix the gap that was left!

Phil used an outdoor HUE lightstrip because the length was perfect for our cabinets. They're also more 'heavy-duty' so we our hope is that we won't have to replace them because they've gone out after some time! You screw in the brackets and then push the lights up into those to secure them.

Next I built the upper shelving units for both sides.

I wanted the shelves to look like they were one thick slab of floating, stained wood that would match the countertops. So I attached a piece of plywood 1" tall to the sides of the cabinet where the shelves would be. These will support the shelves and hold them in place.

Then I built the shelves themselves. I used 3/4" blonde wood for the top + bottom and then a 1x3 piece of poplar for the front. My countertop will be made out of poplar so when I go to stain them, they should match! I glued 1" pieces of blonde wood to the center and back for support.

Secured everything together with wood glue and clamped it together to dry.

See? I'll slide them right into place and nail them in from the top after staining!

I tried a few different stain combinations on a scrap piece of the countertop and ended up going with my favorite - General Finishes White Wash (just a little!) mixed with Antique Oak. I was a little worried the stain on the counter wouldn't match the plywood on the shelves but you can hardly tell a difference!

After staining the shelves, I went ahead and added the front trim to the base cabinets. I used 1x2 and 1x3 poplar and used wood glue + my nail gun to secure them in place.

This is what it looked like before wood filler + sanding.

You can see the 1x2 boards going horizontally and 1x3 going vertically.

I put the shelves on top to make sure everything was lining up. Once they were right where I wanted them, I measured the width from the bottom and made sure that's how wide the backing would be. I also drilled pocket holes into the bottom insides of the shelves so I could secure them directly into the countertop.

I cut out the backing with 1/2" plywood and used wood glue + my nail gun to secure it.

Next I went ahead and sanded down the entire base. I wanted to finish it before adding the countertop. I sanded everything with 80 grit, then 220 grit. I caulked, primed and finished by sanding one more time with 220 grit. Now she was ready for paint!

This is what I used for paint! It's important to let this specific paint 'cure' for a few days before messing with it! I only waited about 3 days, but for a bathroom or somewhere there may be moisture you want to wait at LEAST a full week! I chose the color 'At Ease Soldier'.

Next I cut down and sanded my countertop. Isn't she BEAUTIFUL!? I get all my countertops at Houston Hardwoods, but check your local mill to have one made for you! This one is 1.5" thick poplar.

I was so excited to get this counter in! I used one coat of wood conditioner, sanded with 220, one coat of stain and then a polyurethane sealer. You can see here the top piece is stained but the bottom is natural wood. I wanted a raw wood look, but wanted to get out any orange and I think I achieved that!

Here the top piece is stained, but not the sides. See what a difference the stain makes for the sides?

I attached the outside units directly down into the counter

I trimmed out the upper cabinets with 1x2 poplar boards and started painting white samples on the wall to decide a wall color. You can see here the pocket holes where I attached the top cabinets down into the counter. I also secured them to the back and sides walls.

Next I started on the crown molding! I wanted a pretty thick, chunky crown so I decided to buy the crown and baseboard and stack them to create the look I wanted.

See where I'm going with this!?

We wanted lighting above the crown so I didn't mount it to the ceiling. This made it much trickier since our ceiling is pretty wonky and it needed to be about an inch off the ceiling- much after lots of cussing I pulled it off! We used the same outdoor HUE light strips as on the bottom of the cabinets.

I actually cut my long piece of molding a littttttle short, and was so frustrated I didn't want to have to buy a whole new board. SO I tried cutting off a small 'shim' of it and I have to say it looks phenomenally not messed up after caulk! :)

I had a bunch of Old Mill Brick Co brick tiles and wanted to use them for behind the projector. I secured them to the wall with Loctite and used one spacer between each brick when applying them. I hung up the screen to see exactly where I would need them- I wanted them to go just past the screen so it looks like the entire will is brick, but didn't want to waste a bunch of brick that you won't see!

I taped off the edge of the cabinet and then grouted them.

I waited a bit for the grout to dry, then ran a damp sponge over the grout pushing it into the cracks and smoothing it out.

At the time, I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep the brick natural or paint it black. Once it was grouted I decided it definitely needed to be black! the red and green was giving me Christmas vibes and not quite the look I was going for!

Much better! :)

I decided to be a little 'extra' with the toe kick and had this sort of reeded look in my head! I went and bought 3/8" half rounds, primed + painted them and then cut them down to size.

To attach them I used wood glue and a finishing nail to hold them in place while the glue dried.

For the doors, I used 1x3 poplar boards and attached them with pocket holes. There are SO many ways to make doors but this way was the easiest way to make them with the tools I have!

Then I used a router to cut 1/4" deep 1/2" in.

I cut a 1/4" plywood down and cut the corners to fit inside and attached it with wood glue + 1/2" finishing nails. I used wood filler in the seams and sanded everything down smooth!

This was the front before I added the 1/4" plywood. I used my router again to chamfer the edges and make it look a little nicer. LOVE how that turned out!

I used the SUPER handy Kreg hinge jig to cut out the hinges I bought. It made it so quick and easy! These hinges are great too because once you attach the doors you can adjust the so they're perfectly level!

I can't explain how happy I am with the doors. Building doors intimidated me SO much just a few months ago but I feel like I finally got a handle on them with this project!



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