Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another Adventure in Carpentry?

One of the lame things about living in a small condo is the lack of storage. (Even lamer is that nobody wants to buy a condo right now, so we have to Tim Gunn this and make it work because we're not going anywhere.) We had plenty of space when I moved in, way back before I opened my shop. But as my business grows and my beady children multiply, I need more and more space.

So the Hubs and I have been thinking about what we can do to make things more functional around here, and we started eyeballing this guy:

Nice to look at, yes, but not very useful anymore. The shelves are especially annoying because they have no sides or back, hence the weird stacking of books and magazines. We have a couple of options for making it better. First, we keep the TV stand and add "real" side-shelving:

Our front runner is the Hemnes from IKEA. I like all the space, and for $180 it's hard to beat the price. However, I'm afraid that at 35½" wide, two of them will be too bulky on that wall, and having only one will look bizarre. Hmm...

On the other hand, we could ixnay the whole setup and start fresh with something totally different. Like THIS:

The small(!) version is 10.5 feet long, which is the perfect size. I'm intrigued by the idea of having one giant console instead of a traditional entertainment center. The problem? It's from Pottery Barn and is $1,489--before shipping.

What if--and this is totally crazytown--what if we just built something? I saw this on Pinterest yesterday and it got the wheels a-turnin':

It's made from unfinished kitchen cabinets that are available at most hardware stores. I priced it out at Home Depot, and we could build a 9 foot custom console for about $400.

That blows my mind.

Of course, there's the issue of WHERE we would build something that big, because we sure don't have a yard or a garage, but if we got all the wood cut at the store and only had to attach things...

But I'm getting ahead of myself. What's your entertainment center like? Does it have a lot of storage? Did you realize that unfinished kitchen cabinets could be so handy? Should I give it a shot?!


  1. My entertainment center looks alot like your current one, but we do have regular book shelves. Ours are from target and probably about 2 feet wide. Personally I love that option - we have lots of book storage and I keep my scrapbooks there, and we have wicker baskets on the bottom shelves for video game controllers (yes, a whole basket full!) and one for DVDS and games.

    I love what they did with the unfinished kitchen cabinets - that would be a fun project - but the lack of space I agree would hinder a bit - grab a drop cloth for the living room and turn it into a workshop for a weekend :-)

  2. All good options really, over the open shelves you have right now. I have to say that I love Hemnes, and if you pushed them right up against the wall (and maybe screwed them in) with a console between them, then it might look like built-ins. Do they still have the bridge piece to go at the top, too? I always liked the look of that.

    Admittedly, I LOVE PB and would move into the catalog if I could, but it is pricey. Maybe IKEA it to find some consoles you could hook together? Right now we have no furniture in our living room, but we have a giant corner cabinet in our basement that was in the living room. I think we're going to get something like your option A when we finally decide to live in the living room. In about 3 years.

  3. good luck! it is really hard living in a small space, i do too! i store things EVERYWHERE i think you definitely need some better shelving!


  4. Paige - have you tried the Ikea Hacker's website for idea?

  5. Right now our TV sits on my cedar chest. It's very pathetic.

    I think that bookshelves could be too much and look bulky. However you could do a lot of different things with them creatively. Like, paint them or add some really fun wall paper to the backing and maybe that would make it look less bulky?

    If I had the money, I would definitely do Numero 2. I love the glass display. Maybe you could put glass into the doors of the kitchen cabinets?

    I love all the ideas and I'm looking forward to seeing what you do!


  6. I really like the Pottery Barn choice...ridiculous price though and that's without shipping. Whoever stages their photos should get paid well since they always make me want their stuff.

    Have you checked out World Market? I think they have a console and you could buy a couple, avoid doing carpentry and still have one of the looks you like.

  7. You guys are so smart. Now I have a bunch of new stuff to look at while I eat my delicious ramen lunch!

  8. If you can get everything cut at the store, you should absolutely build it yourself! I think that's awesome. It probably wouldn't be that much more labor intensive than putting together IKEA shelves, which you can totally do in your apt. Plus, you'll get exactly what you want in terms of size and storage options.

  9. As someone suggested here, maybe by giving the Hemnes pair a lighter finish you could get a radically different effect. Although I hate how that type of boxy bookshelf cuts out a lot of light from a room (except when neatly cornered)

    I like how organizing books by color makes a boring bookshelf look playful and cheeky. (Alphabetization be damned!) ^_^


    We got these guys and find them very versatile, especially for the displaying of little items —not so much books. They can be stacked as a tower, or be used as little side tables.

  10. I actually bought 2 dressers and put them side-by-side for a console. They total 13 drawers and the space is incredible. I can store so much in them! I bought them at a department store (think JCPenny) for about $450 each and they were able to line an entire wall in my first studio apartment.