Center of Attention

We’re all over the house lately.  Last weekend we worked on the bathroom.  Ben took a few days off last week to start the slow process of tearing cedar shakes off the roof in preparation for new asphalt shingles.  Local weather forecasters gave an 80 percent chance of rain on Saturday morning, so Ben chose to work inside.  {Have you ever noticed weather forecasting is the only profession you can be wrong 90 percent of the time and not get fired?  It didn’t start raining until five in the afternoon.}  Not wanting him to get burned out with a single project, I told him to work on anything he wanted.  Of course, his man-stincts (man instincts) kicked in and he started our entertainment center.  In most American homes, the entertainment center is the center of attention.  Am I right?

After building a few bookshelves, entertainment centers, and cabinets, we’ve figured out the quickest, easiest, squarest (totally a word) way to build.  Following that same process, Ben and Handy Sammy cut pieces of cabinet plywood to size and assembled three 33 inch wide by 30 inch tall by 24 inch deep boxes.

Yes, that is one huge entertainment center.  We considered a smaller size, but the living room can handle it, and we spend plenty of time here.  For everything to look built-in and sit flush with the wall, Ben pried the baseboard off the wall.  Then he started with the toe kick frames.  Two by four boards on edge are strong and a perfect height.

Though built-in furniture lends itself to being permanent, we didn’t want to damage the floors if we decided to pull this out down the road.  Instead, Ben used long screws to hold the toe kick frames tightly against the wall, securing to studs.

Before going any further, Ben ran wiring from an outlet to add another behind the TV.  Just after this, he decided to add spacers between each box to beef up the frame he’ll add.

The spacers aren’t anything intricate, just pieces of 1/2 inch thick scrap MDF strips at the front and back.

Before attaching the cabinets to the base, Ben screwed the boxes together.  This helps keep the entire piece level, rather than adjusting the individual pieces.

My biggest concern with a large cabinet is walking space.  We’ve still got about 4 feet between the stairs and the edge of the cabinet.  Plenty of room to move.

That’s where we’re at now.  Bubinga left over from our kitchen remodel will go on top with open shelving above and on either side of the TV.  In the future, we might get a bigger TV, so we’re leaving a 64-ish inch opening.  Drawers below is a new thing for us.  But it seems just as functional as a cabinet.

While looking for paint color inspiration, I found this pretty media center; similar to our plan.

I mentioned before that this thing is a beast, but pictures can show that better.  The five foot wide bookshelf turned media cabinet looked tiny.

Now the TV looks little.  Ha.  And that red has to go.  One step at a time.

If only I could decide on a paint color.  White is always an option, but I don’t know if I’m sold on it.  We loved the wood paired with warm gray, but I’m fairly certain I’ve settled on Wood Smoke for the walls.  South facing windows let in a lot of natural light, but I don’t know I’d like a black entertainment center.  Wood is out of the question because we’re using MDF.  Then again, I could paint it white and paint the backs of the shelves a poppy color.  Yellow maybe?  Green?  We’ll carry the room crown molding over the top and I don’t want that to look strange against a color.

Do you have any color suggestions?  Have you painted the back of a shelf for color in a safer place?

19 thoughts on “Center of Attention

  1. I read your blog often, but this is the first time I’ve ever commented. I love your new house…it’s beautiful! I look forward to watching all the progress you’re making! On another note, I keep wondering…who is Handy
    Sammy? I just can’t figure it out!

  2. Wood smoke is pretty – good choice! I’d paint the cabinet white which would look great against the gray. I also like the idea of a color in the back of the shelves – you can pick up pillow colors or other accents. I’d love to borrow your hubby and Sammy to do some building around my house! We have built decks and walls, etc but never furniture. My dream is to get a wall of cabinet in our family room (adjacent to the kitchen) that matches the cabinets in the kitchen (which are also still a dream!) I also want to re-paint my living room – what do you think about a color to go with Brazilian cherry floors?? Any opinion?

    1. Hi Dawn!

      Don’t Ben and Sam make a great team?!? Ben is teaching Sam how to build things. 🙂

      I love Brazilian cherry and nearly every color goes with it. Treat wood floors as a neutral. Our Bubinga counters are a similar color and the gray looked great next to it. You could go with blues, greens, yellows, almost any color. Look around your house to see what your favorite colors are and start there. 🙂


  3. I like the idea of gray wall and a white entertainment center with a poppy color on the back of the shelves. What about the actual color “poppy”? I think an orange-y-red would look pretty fab.

    Looking good so far!

    1. Hi Corie!

      Typically I’m not a fan of warm colors. Yellow is great, but red doesn’t do anything for me. Though lately I’ve liked coral. Maybe I’m coming around. Just not sure if I have the guts to look at an orange-red backing that long. We’ll see what Ben thinks. 🙂


    1. Hi Sarah!

      I’m glad you caught that. 🙂 I didn’t know if it would make sense to anyone but me. Bows just aren’t as cute as arrows, so I had to make an adjustment. Glad you like the make over!


  4. If you choose a neutral color for the wall (like gray, as you mentioned) what about going a shade or two darker for the built-ins? The entertainment system you posted as an example reads as gray to me, and maybe that’s one reason why you like it. You could still add a high-contrast color to the inside.

    1. Hey Christine,

      That’s an option. It’s tricky because we can’t paint the walls yet (we’ve got trim to install first). Without the wall color, I don’t know if a darker version on the entertainment center would look too dark. And Ben has a sounds system including 7 black speakers that darken the shelves. But I love the idea!


  5. Amanda, I love that your family works like mine, keeping things interesting by working on several projects at once. So envious of the professional cabinet-building skills!

    Did you recently update the look of your blog, or am I just noticing it now because I updated mine? I love the arrows on the background, and the new header. It looks great.

    1. Hi Amelia!

      I think we have project ADD. Too difficult to focus when we’ve got 80 other projects we could work on too.

      I did update the blog today! So glad you like it!


    1. Hi Erin,

      That’s an option, but in our experience the veneer just isn’t durable enough to hold up to two crazy boys. 🙂


  6. Hello! I read avidly read your blog and I just wanted to let you know that I absolutely love all of the phenomenal work you guys do! You mountain home is adorable and I can’t wait to read more about your upcoming projects. Keep up the great work! 🙂

    1. Hey Mindy!

      Aw, thanks so much! We’ve got tons of work to do so we’ve got plenty to share for years to come. Haha.


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