Constructing a Built-In Media Center: Part 2, The Build

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

As I explained in Part 1, I felt pretty good that my vision would look decent in real life. So, after drawing up a quick sketch of my dimensions, I went to my local Lowes and picked up some lumber.

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

I began by constructing a base for my Ikea cabinets to sit on. All cabinets were the same depth, but I knew I wanted my middle cabinet to jut out a bit further than the window seats to give it a little more interest. So, when building my base I made sure to compensate for the difference and add an extra horizontal board for the back of the middle cabinet to sit on. I screwed the base into the studs of the wall so that they wouldn’t go anywhere.

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

After I had my base constructed, I set my cabinets on top and started filling in the gaps with more 2x4s. I simply screwed in these pieces through the insides of the smaller cabinets. A lot of the real bloggers use fancy Kreg Jigs and pocket holes but I don’t have one of those so I just screw ’em in and fill ’em later.

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

Then, because I wanted the gaps to be flush with the doors that would eventually be on the smaller cabinets, and so that my filler pieces were smooth like the finish of the cabinets, I nailed a pre-finished (smooth and painted white) 1×4 onto the front of my 2×4 filler pieces. I also nailed these smooth 1×4 boards to the front of my 2×4 base, so that it was smooth and pretty too. Also, it meant less painting. Win-win. I finished off the base with quarter-round trim along the floor to match the quarter round that is in the rest of the downstairs. (You can see the quarter round installed two pictures down.) This helped to make the whole thing look truly built-in.

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

As you can kind of see above, I cut a large round hole in the side of the right window cabinet to allow for my power cords to flow to the outlet and cable jack that sat on that wall. (I took the backs out of my cabinets so that the outlets wouldn’t be obstructed!) I ended up also getting a large, 3inch PVC pipe and elbow and set it behind the middle cabinet to make it easier for the cords to flow to the window cabinet. It ended up working out pretty well!

At this point I began to fit the tops of my cabinets. I knew I wanted a stained wood top to warm up the whole thing, so I used these stain-ready pine boards at my local Lowes. They come in several different sizes and are nice and smooth and ready to be stained. I did have to cut them down on my table saw a bit to be the correct depth/width and then I lightly sanded the edges. Before staining I did a dry-fit to make sure they went in smoothly with little gaps!

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

Time for stain! The adjacent kitchen came with deep cherry colored cabinets. They wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I’m not about to replace perfectly good wood cabinets, so I’ve tried to work with them in my design decisions in this home. The stain I used on these wood tops, and almost all the other wood furniture I’ve made so far in my home, is Minwax Red Mahogany followed by a light coat of Minwax Dark Walnut, just to tone down the red hue a bit. The result is a beautiful, rich color that goes perfectly with both the floors and the kitchen cabinets in the next room.

As you can see below, I cut out a notch in what would be the top of the center cabinet to make room for the television cords to reach the cable box and outlets in the cabinets below. I actually ended up making this notch bigger later, so that I could easily fit my hand in it to maneuver cords if I needed too. This notch is covered by the upper portion of the media center I made further down in this post.

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

The wood tops made the center look so beautiful already!

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

Next came the top portion. I measured and marked where my studs were on the wall with some fancy blue painter’s tape.

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

I screwed 2x4s into the studs where I wanted the outside edges to be, and then screwed a 2×4 on its side into those 2x4s. This would give me the depth I needed to later attach the front paneling. I then replaced the basic TV mount seen below with a swing arm mount I purchased on Amazon. This would allow me to pull the TV out if I ever needed access to the ports or to replace the TV.  (Notice I hadn’t taken down the original TV bracket or cord cover to paint. #lazy)

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

I repeated the same for the middle, although what you can’t see is that the middle 2x4s are separated in the middle by the TV bracket. They just go right up to under the bracket and then start again above the bracket to the ceiling.

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

Now that I had my 2×4 supports in, it was time to finish it off with the paneling, or “shiplap” if you like to be trendy. Which I do. Of course I didn’t use real shiplap because it is expensive and I am always trying to save a penny. Instead, I used what I believe is intended to be floor underlayment. It is the same thing that Thrifty Decor Chick (from where I got my inspiration for this project) uses in her paneling projects. It is thin and cheap but comes in a 4ft by 8ft sheet and also has a pinkish hue. I don’t care about that though because I could easily rip it down on my table saw and obviously I was going to paint it anyways.

I originally was just going to nail my shiplap strips directly to the 2x4s, but then I worried that you would be able to see the 2x4s though the gaps between the strips. So, I took the same material I used for my shiplap strips and just screwed the boards onto the 2x4s first, so that I had a solid background to nail my shiplap to. I also made sure to leave a gap at the bottom so that I could access those cords if I needed to.

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

After I had these boards up I gave them a quick coat of white paint so that the pinkness wouldn’t show through the gaps either. Now, it was finally time for the actual faux shiplap!

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

My shiplap strips are about 5.25″ high, with a higher 10″ board at the top. I knew that I was going to add crown molding to finish it off which would compensate for at least part of the taller board on top. I nailed them to the front of the paneling I had painted white above, careful to nail into the studs I created behind the paneling. I made sure my first row was level, and then I used a penny to create a uniform space between each board. I also nailed small pieces of shiplap to the sides to finish it off, but didn’t worry too much about the intersection of the front and sides as i knew I would use corner molding to finish it off. It’s hard to see the definition of each individual shiplap strip in the photo below, due to the horrible cell phone shot, but this is what it looked like after all the shiplap strips were up:

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

You can see the unpainted corner molding below that I applied after I gave my shiplap a quick coat of white paint. I had also installed the crown molding at this point. (Oh, hi Kevin Hart! #tvalwayson)

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

The only thing left to do was apply a final coat of paint and put everything back together! Stay tuned for the final reveal!

How to construct a built-in media center with shiplap and window seats!

What do you think?