Information and inspiration on how to DIY a large entertainment center that includes four bookcases, lower cabinets, drawers and a place for all of the equipment needed like gaming consoles, surround sound, subwoofers and dvd players.
When I was designing the basement, which was so fun, I knew that I wanted to fill one of the walls with a massive, 20 foot entertainment center. We still had a lot of boxes still packed from the move and full of things that we wanted to display. I knew that the basement would be the perfect place for all of it! The sports paraphernalia is fun and colorful and wouldn’t be cohesive upstairs in the more neutral, calm family room.
I thought carefully about what our needs were going to be.
I knew that we would need:
- A space for the T.V. because that would be our movie watching, football watching and family hang out room.
- Cabinets for storage because you just can’t ever have enough of that!
- Shelves. Shelves for days.
- Drawers for our extensive dvd collection.
- Space for all of the electronics.
We had set a budget to finish the basement and we decided that I would be the general contractor for the whole project. We decided that I could do the finish work myself, including building all the storage needed, and you can read more about that here.
To have someone build it for me was going to be $$$. I wanted to get new furniture, etc. so to spend the whole budget on paying someone to build the entertainment center just didn’t make sense.
I also didn’t think that placing a small, basic cabinet for the T.V. was going to be very impressive on that 20 x 9 foot wall.
Oh, and….I am stubborn and tenacious. If I want something, I usually figure out how to get it even if it means that I have to do it myself. So, I started to sketch out what I wanted.
I had the experience of building the craft room (you can see the reveal here). I figured that I could take what I learned there and apply it to the large DIY entertainment center. So, while the basement was in the process of being finished I just decided to add to the work and began to build it.
I wanted to take advantage of the fact that there was no carpet and I wouldn’t have to worry about any paint on the new, fresh carpet. (Insert eye roll here because things never go as planned.)
I built a base out of left over maple from the sheets that I ripped down. Ripping down a sheet of plywood means that I took a large 8′ x 4′ sheet of wood and cut it into the sizes that I needed for the shelves and cabinets with my saw.
I brought the middle of the entertainment center forward a few inches (where the a/v equipment would be housed) to add a little dimension. Normally I would use just standard 2×4 for the base, but I already had this left over from another project so I just used what I had.
I also started to put the cabinets together using this jig. You can see that I took advantage of my painter being there and had him spray primer on the wood after I cut it all and before I put it together. (I made the cabinets flush with the front of the base because I was adding trim to the front of the base, but if you wanted a toe-kick, you would make your cabinets a little deeper than the frame.)
You can see the paint all over the floor, but it was going to be covered with carpet so…who cares?! Priming and sanding your cabinet pieces before you build is the best advice I can give. It will save you so much time on your project.
Need to know where to start when you finish a basement?
Click photo to get all of my BEST tips!
Once the cabinets were built I added a face frame made of Poplar to each of them and then made the countertop. I used 3/4″ Birch for the counter and added a 1×2 trim piece along the front of the whole counter to make it more substantial.
Then I ran my router with an Ogee bit along the edge of the counter to give it a pretty edge and look a little more expensive and custom. These are the little details that take a project from good to great! I love having a router! I can do so many things with it and it’s not scary at all!!!! Not going to lie, I kind of feel cool when I see what I can do with it. (I also made all of the window sills in the basement with my router.)
When I had the basement framed, I had them install a heavy plywood where I knew the T.V. was going to be mounted. That way, no matter where the bracket for the T.V. would go within that space, it would have a good base to screw into. I had the electrician run the wires for the A/V equipment before the drywall and paint. They are tucked into the junction boxes so they don’t get covered with paint.
**TIP** We have 6 HDMI cords running through the wall. I labeled each end of each HDMI cord in the wall with a coordinating number so that at the bottom I could see the end of wire (and which device it was plugged in to) and then be able to tell what I was plugging in at the top. Example: The HDMI cord for the speakers is #1. The HDMI cord for the Playstation is #2. Both are labeled at the top and bottom of the wire using my label maker and wrapping it around the wire, but you can use tape, too!
Time to move on to the upper shelving/bookcases. As I was building them I did run into issues that were beyond my control. For instance, one of the sides of one of the bookcases was warped. I didn’t notice it until I had cut, primed, drilled all of the shelf pin holes (which felt like 1 million) and screwed it all together. I couldn’t get the box to be square no matter what I did.
So, I had to start all over and cut a new piece and go from there. It is frustrating, but these are the things that are out of your control when you are using natural elements like wood. You can see that here in the craft room I built.
I used another jig to add the shelf pin holes so that my shelves could be adjustable. It was time consuming but I am so glad that I did that because now I have so much flexibility with the decor. Once they were all built I put them on top of the cabinets and I spaced apart the bookcases with a scrap 2×4 between the unit and the wall and then each other so that I could add a 1×3 face frame that was large enough to add some interest and it would appear to be more massive in size.
I took into consideration how big I wanted my crown moulding and added a piece of MDF to the top of each bookcase to fill in the gap between the ceiling and the top of the bookcase. I mitered the corners to make it look well finished, but you could butt the ends together if you want.
I added a shelf for the A/V equipment and gaming systems in the center cabinet. I cut the shelf and then used my pocket hole jig again to make pocket holes on the underside of the shelf to attach the shelf to the inside of the center cabinet.
In hindsight, I would have painted the interior of the opening and the shelf separately. It was REALLY a pain to paint the area with the shelf already installed.
I also purchased a sheet of 3/8 ” plywood and ripped it down into strips for my shiplap. I just wanted the effect of it and our T.V. was going to be hung over it so I didn’t need it to be too substantial. It was inexpensive and added a lot of texture.
Once the unit was built I hand-painted the entire thing! I used my favorite Emerald paint from Sherwin Williams. It is made for cabinets and trim and looks beautiful in the end! It is self leveling – that means that it will fill in the small brush marks or roller marks itself (as long as they are not too substantial) and hardens over time as it cures.
For this project I ordered the doors. It was the dead of winter in the Midwest and I don’t have an actual wood shop. The company I use is so fast and they are great to work with so it is just easier to order them and my time is better spent in other areas of my life. They aren’t too expensive and, since I don’t have a planer (to run the doors through to make them all the exact same thickness) they were able to make them faster and better than me….perfect!
I order them in unfinished maple. The painting I CAN DO INSIDE so I have them sent to me unfinished and then I finish them. It is very cost-effective so if you are refinishing cabinets and just want to replace the doors, you might keep that in mind for your cabinets! You can get them at my favorite place!
Which leads me to telling you about my drawers! In my craft room I made all of my drawers. It was summertime for that project and it was fun to be outside. Again, it was the dead of Winter in the Midwest and it is NOT fun to be outside!
Drawers aren’t hard and are actually rewarding to build so if this was a summertime build, I would to it again. They came quickly and are perfect! The drawer pulls were on clearance at Williams-Sonoma and I got them for $1.00/pull!
I knew that I wanted the entertainment center hardware to tie into the aged brass sconces in the bar. I looked and looked but couldn’t find any that were the what I wanted or the color for a reasonable amount of money. So, I bought the drawer pulls on clearance and the door handles from a local hardware store (both in satin nickel) and took my favorite spray paint to create what I wanted for a fraction of the cost. 8 handles + 6 drawer pulls + 1 can a spray paint = $56 for everything!
The Finished Product:
I am so incredibly proud of this entertainment center that I built all by myself. What an accomplishment! I go downstairs sometimes just to look at it and I am secretly surprised at myself. And I told you I am tenacious.
The entire project was around $1100 to build. Do you know what a carpenter would have charged me?? Thousands. I can’t tell you how long it took me because I honestly don’t know! I made the mistake of starting three HUGE projects at the same time, and doing them myself, so they all took a really long time. Apologies to my family and thanks for their patience as the house was topsy-turvy for a while!
You have no idea the power you possess. While you may look at this and think that I am crazy, I still hope that you are inspired to do something amazing! It doesn’t matter how large or small, if you believe you can do it, you will!!!