Alright folks. I’ve made the complete switch to batty house lady. I spend all of my time working, unpacking, organizing or surfing the interwebs, trolling for photos of inspirational decor. That has become my life over the last few weeks. Luckily, I’ve been in this place before and I know that in a few more weeks I’ll move on to what I normally consider my ‘real’ life. Which is exactly the same, except I spend my OCD cred on Vogue and the Pattern Review instead of Flea Market Style and my current home decor blog obsession, Cote de Texas.
Today I’m all on about our television. When we moved into our last house four years ago we splurged and bought a 40″ LCD TV. (Sidenote: I cannot BELIEVE how much TV prices have dropped in the last four years!!) The TV was fine, we got an espresso veneer TV stand from Target, plopped the TV on top and commenced with watching as much NCIS as possible. I love me some old people TV, after all. The only real problem we had with the TV was that it only had 2 HMDI ports and we really needed 3, so we were forced to watch DVDs on old school video/audio connection – you know the kind with 3 separate plugs? Eventually we ended up cancelling cable all together in favor of a lower monthly bill and Netflix on demand. I missed Abby and the gang at NCIS, but the whole TV thing was FINE. I didn’t think about it much at all, except that I hated how dusty the cords got.
Cue to the new house. One of the cool things about the house is that it has two fireplaces and one is in the family room where we planned to put the TV. The previous owners had their TV mounted above the fireplace and I hoped that they might leave the mounting brackets when they moved out so we could just put our TV right in. In fact, we sold our TV stand before we left Minneapolis because we agreed that we really wanted it above the fireplace instead of right next to it.
Lucky us, the sellers did, indeed, leave the mounting bracket.
They also left us those awful white shelves in the nook to the right of the fireplace. And now we get to the point of this post… peripherals. Since flatscreen TVs have become so popular, I’ve really liked the super-uncluttered look of wall mounting. But where to put the cable box, DVD player and ever important Roku box? I really dislike the look of a half-used media table, sitting off to the side with no real purpose other than to hold DVD players and such. All that wasted space, what with not holding the TV. And when you throw a fireplace into the mix it makes it even worse. It’s just so…. awkward. What is the point of that elegant TV mounting if one still ends up with the exact same media stand off to the right, partially decomissioned, but still pressed into service to hold the lowly non-mounted supporting cast?
My problem was also compounded by the difficulties for my symmetry-loving pea brain in deciding what to do with the shelving on one side and the doorway on the other. That doorway leads to my new sewing room. My preference would be for either doorways or storage on either side. This is how the previous owners laid out their furniture:
I didn’t care for walkway left on the left side, or how it made the room oddly empty and yet tipping over to the right. I also wasn’t a fan of blocking those lovely, tall windows with big bulky sofas. I played in my 3D software, trying to come up with a furniture layout that worked for me, and it finally came to me that I didn’t HAVE to make access to the sewing room my #1 priority! Right now this is how I have the room…
Note the lovely broom handle, just visible through the doorway into the sewing room…
Also! You can see that I removed the awful shelves. Seriously, people, I almost refused to look at the house because I thought the shelves looked so bad! Here’s a closeup…
They’re actually three separate shelving units that are white melamine with ‘brushed stainless’ supports. I just think they are so bizarre, from the odd choice of style with the rather rustic fireplace to the spacing – see how the little gap between the middle and lower unit is used for the peripherals? I was so not into that.
I thought of putting a sideboard or dresser in the space – something with character that could hold the cable box and hopefully hide it out of sight in some way, but that put me back in the spot of having an orphaned media stand, taking up space that should rightfully have been reclaimed when the TV was mounted on the wall.
I found this photo on Cote de Texas! The nook space and fireplace reminded me of our new layout and I am a huge fan of hidey hole spots!
While I’m not usually a huge fan of drapery unless it’s actually attached to a window, I even liked it in this case to soften up the edges and downplay the jagged arch of my room. Plus, I could install portieres on BOTH sides of the fireplace to balance out the space and add a bit more sound-muffling fabric – the giant room with tile floor echoes like a gymnasium! Here’s a rendering of what I’m thinking…
As longer time readers might now, I have a MacGyver-like need to reuse, thrift or fabricate my home furnishings. As much as I love Pottery Barn, it’s much more fun to struggle for furniture solutions, right? I wandered around the house, measuring and plotting. Eventually I realized that one of the sections from the ‘built in’ windowseat in Minneapolis fits the nook perfectly! The bonus? I already have the cushion made!
Here’s the windowseat in the Minneapolis house. It already looks so odd to me! Did I really live there?
Unfortunately either the cable box grew after I measured it, or I am incapable of using a measuring tape. I removed the shelves (HEAVY!!), leaving giant, unsightly holes in our hard-to-repair knockdown walls. I took apart the windowseat section to cut a hole in the back for the cords to pass through. I bolted the burlap-wrapped top piece to the bench and reattached the legs, moved into place, unhooked all the cables, passed through the hole I’d cut and then… the cable box didn’t fit. I needed 15 inches and only had 14 and a half. I think I’d measured the depth of the cable box rather than the width.
Grr. Here’s how it looks now.
It’s hard to see, but for the Ikea-philes out there, this is a Billy bookcase – the one that’s meant to go on TOP of doorways as a bridge. We added the plastic feet from the Ikea kitchen section that are meant for kitchen cabinets – you have to actually go to the Kitchen section and order from someone there. The plastic feet are awesome because they are meant to work with toekicks (also bought in the kitchen section) that come with easy to use plastic mounting rings and matching iron-on veneer. The toekicks are easy to cut to size with a handsaw and finish with the veneer, making it really easy to make it look built in. Since the shelves are only 11 inches deep we added a slightly wider (15″) piece of burlap-wrapped MDF to the top so Lucy would have enough room to laze about like a walrus.
Unfortunately, this solution is not walrus-friendly – see how the cable box has to sit on top (on the left?) We’re in a holding pattern. Here’s the current options…
Option #1: Do some more engineering. I COULD take the whole thing apart, drill new holes and move the center supports to make enough space for the cable box. Apart from being YET another project, this might be the best solution. I’d planned on making a slipcover for the entire unit to hide away the clutter and to eradicate the espresso finish from my sight. I’m SO over expresso finish, aren’t all y’all? My main concern with this option is that these bookcases aren’t really meant for such overengineering and I’m concerned the resulting piece will be wobbly.
Option #2: Find a bench that DOES fit. I’ve looked a bit and the problem is that most entry-type benches that have storage places where we can put DVDs and perpherals aren’t meant for media so the cubbies are all narrow, similar to our current situation. Also, most would need pass-through holes cut in the back and that’s not super easy to do.
Option #3: Back to some sort of media cabinet. This is Mr. Bug’s favorite option – he’s not a lover of secret hidey hole nooks like me! We’re in agreement, though, that if we DO put a cabinet in the spot, we’d like something that’s more of a sideboard or dresser nature rather than a forlorn media cabinet sidekick. I’d like something of this nature. But I would like it to cost about $750 less than the Pottery Barn pricetag of $999. And potentially less green.
Oh, who’m I kidding? I love green.
So. Where do YOU guys put your cable box? Especially if you’ve got your TV stuck to the wall?
Oh the problems of technology.
Also, I snapped a photo of my sewing room. It’s TRASHED, people! Ugh. Moving stinks. Check out my lovely new cutting table! A craigslist find that rules the world. It’s currently sitting on bed risers to get it to the right height, but someday the plan is to attach some fencing finials to the legs for a nicer look. In the meantime I plan to hide the ugly bed risers by just piling all of my supplies on the floor…