DIY entertainment center
My Basement | Projects

Building an Entertainment Center | Still Dreaming of a Finished Basement

March 26, 2018

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 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.  We would also need cabinets for storage because you just can’t ever have enough of that!  And shelves.  Shelves for days.  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 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 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.  I was going to take advantage of the fact that there was no carpet and I wouldn’t have to worry about any paint on the carpet. (Insert eye roll here because things never go as planned.)

how to build a cabinet

I built a base out of left over maple from the sheets that I ripped down.  Ripping down a sheet 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, where the a/v equipment would be housed, to add a little dimension.  I also started to put the cabinets together.  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.  You can see the paint all over the floor, but it was going to be covered with carpet so…who cares?!

I added a countertop of birch to each cabinet and added a 1×2 trim piece along the front.  Then I ran my router 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.

DIY cabinets

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*** I labeled each end of each HDMI cord 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 into the t.v.  i.e. the HDMI cord for the speakers is #1.  I plug one end of #1 into the speaker unit and where it comes out the top behind the t.v., I plug #1 into the t.v.

DIY cabinets

I created base cabinets for storage and would be putting doors on them.   I moved 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 use a simple little tool that attaches to my tape measure to make sure that the boxes (cabinets) are squared up and I just couldn’t get the box to be square.  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.  You can see that here in the craft room I built.

I used a Kreg jig to add the shelf pin holes so that my shelves could be adjustable.  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 so that I could add a 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 what kind of top piece I wanted to add to the top of the bookcases before I built it all.  That allowed me to plan how tall I wanted to build the bookcases. Planning is such a HUGE part of your success!

diy shiplap

You probably noticed there is carpet and this thing still isn’t painted.  Well, I didn’t get to the painting before the carpet was installed….I got sick instead.  So, I left off the bottom moulding until I painted the entire unit and painted the baseboard separate and then installed it.

Here you can see that I added a top piece to all of the bookcases to fill in the gap between the top of the bookcases and ceiling before I added crown moulding.  I also 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 to make pocket holes 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.  It is always good to take away experiences to share with others.

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 an inexpensive and added a lot of texture.  I got my husband to sand the shiplap.  Thank you!

DIY bookcase

For this project I ordered the doors.  It was the dead of winter 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 used in other areas of my life.  They aren’t 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 made 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!

DIY entertainment center

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.  Right now, in Indiana, it is NOT fun to be outside!  Drawers aren’t hard and are actually rewarding to build.  But, again, since it was winter I decided to order my drawers.  They came quickly and are perfect!  The drawer pulls are from my go to hardware place! They were from Williams-Sonoma and I got them for $1.00/pull!

DIY door hardware

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 nickel) and took my favorite spray paint and created what I wanted for a fraction of the cost.  8 handles + 6 drawer pulls + 1 can a spray paint = $56 for everything!  You look like the real thing and still look perfect!

The Finished Product:

DIY entertainment center

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.  #canigetahallelujah  Do you know what a carpenter would have charged me????  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!

she believed she could so she did

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!!!

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    1. Thank you!! I am sorry I am just seeing this now. The color is a custom color that I had color matched to a different cabinet I have. I had it mixed at Sherwin Williams.

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