Tuesday, December 18, 2012

TV Stand Upgrade

To read this post you need to know two things:

(1) I (not-so) secretly wish that I had a home and lifestyle blog.

(2) I've hated our TV stand from the moment we brought it home and put it together.  The fake-cherry-wood particle-board ickiness of it has mocked me for years.

this is the "before" except David had already moved the cedar chest.  Can I just say that my husband was not especially great about accommodating my desire to photograph every step of this progress.  As though he's not interested in being part of the DIY blogging community?  Appalling!  #we'renotallmarriedtojonpetersik  And yes,dog beds are a prominent feature in our home decor.
The TV stand was perfectly sufficient.  It was doing its job (holding up the TV) and it didn't take up too much space in our living room and it's not like we have money to burn and don't fix it if it ain't broken and all that jazz.

And yet...  I envisioned something different there.  I wanted something with character, something that would give us some storage for the clutter educational and engaging baby toys that threaten to overtake the living space, something from the Restoration Hardware catalog.  I considered hanging the TV on the wall, but punching a bunch of holes in drywall didn't seem like the best plan when we're talking about putting our house on the market this spring summer eventually.  (Another topic that makes me kind of want to hyperventilate.)  Plus I thought we'd still need something underneath it.  Anyway, I hated what was there, but I couldn't really justify purchasing an expensive replacement.  Still, I had a vision and I knew that I'd recognize the perfect TV stand when I saw it.

Given that it is December and I have Christmas cards to address and mail and Christmas goodies to bake and package and a couple of sewing projects and some gifts to wrap and packing lists to make before we head out of town for a week, not to mention various work-related things that need to get finished (syllabi, an article, and some other reports to write), it's no surprise that I found myself trolling Craigs.list one morning.  You know, just to see.

And there is was! An antique sideboard or buffet.  No fancy pedigree, but solid wood, with nice-sized drawers and cabinets.  And at $125, the price was right.  And it was only about 10 minutes from our house!

A few e-mails, texts, one cancelled viewing, and another rescheduled visit later, David and I found ourselves the proud owners of a sideboard/buffet that was incredibly heavy and wouldn't fit in the Prius or the Honda.  This is why it's very smart to have a neighbor who has a truck.  And some muscles.  And is agreeable to moving furniture on the spur of a moment on a Saturday afternoon.

Of course, once in was in our living room, I did my typical freak out when it comes to changing things.  I decided it was too big, the TV would sit too high, it would never work, what were thinking, how were my measurements so far off, gosh 60 inches seemed smaller in my head, etc.

See how HUGE it is in my tiny living room?
My cousin Amanda (the crafty one) had been in on this purchase since it was a little Craigslist dream, so I was frantically texting her pictures and bemoaning my failure to adequately envision furniture in my home.  She talked me down from my ledge via text and then I convinced David we should just go for it.  Yes, it meant un-wiring and re-wiring the TV, but my word.  It's not like there was anything serious at stake here.  As Amanda suggested, we'd live with it for a few weeks and if we hated it, I'd sell it on Craigslist.

For $300, natch.

Using it as a TV stand meant that we had to remove drawers and create shelving for the satellite receiver, the playstation, and the sound-system thingy.  We pulled out two drawers to create two shelves that were the perfect size for housing our electronic gadgets.

the light sticks that look like paint-stirrers are the drawer guides that ran down the middle--we popped them off so the shelves would be even and smooth, but kept them in case we want to use the drawers again in the future
Of course, the wood inside the drawer spaces was light and unfinished, and I wanted to make it dark so that it wouldn't draw the eye and be a distraction.  However, I also wanted to keep the sideboard as close to its original condition as possible, so we decided to use 1/4 plywood (painted black) to line the drawer space and make little black caves for our electronic devices.  David cut the plywood to the exact dimensions of the bottom drawer space (including the little curved front) and the sides, and I bought a $3 jar of test paint in Behr's Black Suede and a mini-roller and did a super quick paint job.  This way the electronic equipment just sort of blends into the black-lined drawer space.

painting on the deck--thank goodness for the unseasonably warm weather!
Mom, you are kind of crazy painting outside in the dark.
We stored the drawers in the garage so that if we ever want to use the sideboard as an actual sideboard/buffet someday, we can just remove the black plywood shelf-lining and replace the drawers. And after letting it dry overnight, we slipped the plywood into place.

shelf lining fit perfectly in place
David did have to drill two small holes in the back of the piece in order to thread the cords through, but we figure that you'll never see the back of the furniture anyway, and if the drawers are in use, you'd never see the holes from the front either.

We wiped it down with some Old English and I put coffee-sachets in the drawers and cabinets to get rid of any musty smells (I saw this on Pinterest, and I guess it works.  I'm not sure it was transformative by any means, but my living room smells faintly like a coffee house, which is awesome and makes me feel like studying.)  By this time, I was starting to fall in love with the old sideboard.  How had I ever doubted it?

Nevermind the weird marks on the left cabinet--that's just the reflection of our Christmas tree lights.
We had to do some rearranging to make it fit in our living room.  Our cedar chest made a move to the backroom, and a trunk that had previously been in the backroom storing some sewing supplies was relegated to the garage to hold outgrown baby clothes.  I didn't realize how much it would open up the living room just to move out the cedar chest.  Even with a bigger piece of furniture under the TV, I think the room feels more open and spacious.  (David thinks it looks like we need a bigger TV, but I think it looks far more appropriate for the TV we have.)  I'm not crazy about the bookshelf next to it, but we need the storage, so it stays (for now...).

OK, in the spirit of DIY/home improvement, here's a before and after:


Like I said, we're not sure the bookcase will stay there, but we've decided to hold off on further rearrangement until we take down the Christmas tree and remember what the room normally looks like.  The wall hangings need to be reconfigured (the clock is necessary as we look to it all the time, but I miss my Tempest poster from Shakespeare in the Park), but overall I think we're happy with the new piece of furniture.  The TV definitely sits higher, but it's still comfortable for viewing.  After the first day, I can't say I even notice the difference.  And I really like how it looks like a "real" piece of furniture instead of that awful fake-cherry wood / cardboard box that had been there (which is awesome!  If you want to buy it!).

I know, I would really need to improve my photography/lighting skills if I ever hope to be a home decor blogger.
OK, now I feel weird--like I'm fishing for compliments.  You don't have to tell me you like it.  But if you've ever gotten a steal of a deal on a piece of gently-used furniture or reconfigured a piece of furniture for other purposes, I'd love to hear about it.  I'm pretty pleased with my dining-room-sideboard-to-living-room-television-stand transformation (and it was a good deal, right?).

Oh, and Zuzu is such a big girl these days.  Sitting around on her deliciously fat thighs. Wearing seasonally festive head- and footwear.  #gratuitousbabyphoto

I'm 24 weeks old?  How did that happen?


  1. I love how you create jobs for your husband. And how dare he not allow for the photographing of every. little. step. I mean... doesn't he know you have a blog to write?

    And if he's like Elliot and reads all the comments, I better shut up now. ;)

    All is looking marvelous and I think you're super creative for painting the boards and attaching them and even having a vision for such a cool piece of furniture.

    Also, I really like cedar chests. I have two and almost an obsession.

    We also have an annoying particle board TV stand that we just attached our TV to so a little nugget won't pull it on himself. Gah. I dislike the stand, but felt totally fine drilling into crappy furniture and not the walls we ripped wallpaper off, meticulously sanded and panted over multiple times.

    And, I love that bookshelf!

  2. We hung all TVs so Cooper wouldn't smash himself. I love the sideboard-- what a great find!

  3. You can come decorate my house any day!

    And holy cow, zuzu is getting so big! And stinking adorable!

  4. I love it! I have high hopes for decorating my house, then when the time comes to change things I have to breath in a bag for a week. You did really good with this one, and I'm sure you're loving the extra storage!

  5. I would kill for that sideboard- beautiful! And SUCH a steal!!! I'm currently trying to convince Scott we should go get a dining room table and chairs for the Christmas dinner we're hosting next week... But he knows this means work for him as I am 1) weak and incapable of lifting heavy things 2) afraid of being kidnapped if I were to go check it out 3) he thinks people will be fine with eating off our kitchen table, which while correct is not what I have plans of.

    Grace approves of the festive bow. :)

    Sometimes I think G and C look similar. I think it's the squishy cheeks, bald heads, and huge grins. ;)

  6. I love/hate Craigslist. That's where I got the dresser I redid and am looking on it all the time for the exact same reason you did - I HATE our TV stand. It's far uglier than your old one though - it's a Target one, with these ugly knobs and modern looking edges and I just want it GONE.

    GREAT upgrade on your end though.

    And who the hell does that baby think she is sitting up on her own!?

  7. Oh - and I must add that when I zoomed in on your tree because I really dig the ribbon you have hanging down from it - I just fell in love with you a little bit more. . .A train track under the tree?! 1950's mom of the year! So cute.

  8. Brooke I love it! The second I hit the "after" photo of it all put together the first thought that went through my head was, Oh I love it!!! Looks so good!!

    I have a hatred for TV stands myself. They always look contrived. I think it always looks much nicer if you simply have good furniture instead. Fabulous job!

  9. I like your before and after pictures. The TV stand looks great!

  10. I'm with David. Bigger tv


  11. Looks good though


  12. I love that. Now I want to do something similar. Yeah, with all my spare time...

  13. Great post. I love the new piece. My vote is for a bookshelf like you other one on the right side of the new piece. It would look great. Happy 2013!

  14. Lovely great post. GREAT upgrade on your end though. I want to upgrade my TV stand..... Find out more here

  15. The TV stand looks great! I love that. Now I want to do something similar.
    find more