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Our DIY Built-in Media Center Reveal

Step 1 – Create the base & ATTACH WALL CABINETS

The base was constructed using 1″x6″ boards because I wanted the cabinet bases to be raised 6 inches off the ground. Looking back I probably should have used 1x4s and reduced some of the work, but hey, lesson learned.

Each cabinet platform was constructed separately, and then attached together before being anchored to the wall. This was due to the bump out of the center cabinet console.

Top View of Cabinet Platform

After the platform was installed it was topped with three sections of plywood and attached to the base so that you can sit the cabinets on top. Finally you’ll want to secure the cabinets to the platform base and wall once you’ve made sure they’re level.

*A note about securing the cabinets to the wall…Because I chose to have the middle section bump out a few inches, we couldn’t secure those cabinets directly to the wall. Instead, we used 1×4 boards to act as a spacer between the wall and cabinets and attached the cabinets directly to those boards once they were anchored to the wall studs.

Cabinets secured to wall and platform base

STEP 2 – Attach tops to the wall cabinets

Next, you’ll want to create 3 separate tops to attach on top of your cabinets to serve as the base for your built-in bookshelves (the top structures). For all of these visible areas, we used a high quality sanded plywood so that we could achieve a flawless paint finish.

STEP 3 – construct 3 upper sections & SECURE to cABINETS AND WALL

Honestly, this is the part that seemed so darn scary and overwhelming to me. I’ve never attempted to create built-in shelves before, but our new Kreg Jig made this ridiculously easy. It was as simple as measuring the height of the sides of our bookcases and cutting 2 identical boards for each side. And then 3 boards for the actual shelves to be attached.

Adding an MDF panel to the back of each unit helps to keep it stabilized. But it’s also great for creating a smooth surface to paint.

The only difference in constructing the center unit was the overall width and only needing to cut 2 boards for the top shelf versus 3.

Finally when the upper units are stable and level, you can then secure them to the studs in your wall.

STEP 4 – trim it out

My husband would tell you that adding the trim to this massive unit was easily the longest part of the project.

Baseboards were attached to the bottom of the platform base. And 1″x6″ MDF boards were secured to the top of the base to allow crown molding to be attached to it. A simple nail gun was all that was needed to add the trim work to the unit.

The exposed, rough sides of the cabinets were all covered in 1/4″ sanded plywood to match the smoother sides of the upper units.

Finally, the entire face frame was trimmed out in 1″x6″ MDF board. This covered the rough areas of the cut plywood shelves and bases. It also wrapped around the side of the unit where the upper built-in bookshelves met the lower cabinet bases to cover the wood seams.

STEP 5 – caulk all seams and fill holes

Everyone’s least favorite step to installing trim, but definitely the most necessary if you want a professionally finished look. You’ll want to caulk all trim seams and fill all screw and nail holes with wood filler. Personally I’d recommend filling your holes and sanding them down before adding your caulk. This prevents a lot of dust debris from settling in your fresh caulk lines.

STEP 6 – paint and add hardware

We used the same steps to paint the new built-in entertainment center as we did in our bathroom vanity makeover. The only difference was hand rolling everything. It was way too cold outside to use the paint sprayer in the garage. This piece took two coats of primer and was finished with three coats of Satin finish Benjamin Moore Advance Paint in the color “Simply White”.

Turned out pretty good right? Oh and if you’re wondering about those pretty brass sconce lights, they’re strictly decorative. At least until we get around to running the electric for them. But I’ll be sure to let you know how that goes.

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