The Wall

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Hey, oh my gosh, guess what? This past weekend was spent, for the most part, enjoying our new wall! And if it weren’t for a hot, sunny Sunday or a few evenings dining with friends, we’d have spent every moment parked on the sofa, staring at the wall. The wall that we built! We made it! Okay, so with the help of friends, Ross and Patti, but yeah, the four of us made it! (See how it came to be here, here, here, and here.)

We’re totally smitten with the newest addition, but I think it’s important – and easily more gratifying – to remember where we started from. For the better part of almost-four-years, our media center consisted of two Ikea Traby units (no longer sold in the US), tucked along a kelly green wall (Behr’s Chlorophyll):

To be honest, I can’t remember who suggested it first, but I do remember a tiring back and forth of should we do it? Should we try for a built-in? There was a whole lotta yeah, maybe one day and a lot of omg, where do we start?, followed by a aw, hell, let’s just do it! One fateful email to our friends Ross & Patti started a chain reaction of sketches, plans, and ultimately, a whirlwind weekend working in Ross’ wood shop to knock it out.

Somewhere between our Cincinnati road trip and this past Friday, you’d find our casa looking a lot like this. For the better part of a week, we spent our time in painting pants and ordering take-out, shuffling around ladders, Polycrylic bins, and drop cloths.

We were being extra weird about making sure we painted everything just so, going so far as to re-research our favorite painting tips. So rather than have anyone reinvent the so-called wheel, we started with one base coat of Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 water based primer, followed that with two coats of Behr’s Muslin White latex paint (a creamy, warm white), and sealed it off with two coats of Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish in satin. We’re thrilled with the results, and the low sheen is still fully wipeable. But of course we hung out for four more days with this (while the poly fully cured)…

… Until finally, we put every piece back together. After an evening of reigning in an other worldly amount of cable chaos, we had our wall! Everything above the sturdy sideboard is secured to the top, and we used L-brackets on the ends of the top shelf and in the middle of the 3-part shelf above the tube. A dab of paint left them invisible, and we like to think we achieved the whole built-in look we were hoping for.

Then came the scary part. Other than our living room shelves stacked with art, I’d never really had to “style” a shelf before. It sounds totally cheesy, but I actually had to pump myself up for what I considered the most daunting task of the whole process. (Yes, more so than building, painting, and installation.) I started by gathering all the hoopla we were thinking of displaying – everything from collected glossies, favorite books, and my mom’s camera.

And I kid you not, for 3 hours I styled. Is that normal? Maybe you shouldn’t answer that. But dang, I gained a new appreciation and understanding for pro stylists. I referred to my inspiration images a few times (couldn’t have finished the task without ’em) and played with stacks, colors, and groupings until I settled on this:

I then proceeded to obnoxiously call Scott and check up on how far he was from home. (I was excited.) But realizing that I had a good hour until I’d see him, I decided to put the whole room back together for the big look what I did! sha-bang. And then I barely let him drop him his keys on the console before I tackled him to the living room. (He loved it, by the way.) This was snapped just yesterday, which explains our finished terrarium on the shelf (more on that later):

As much as we loved our cheerful green, we’re really enjoying the whole light and bright thing we’ve got going on. Here’s how the edges flow into our hallway-slash-foyer:

But, okay, this is probably one of our favorite features. The hidden storage on the left houses our turntable, and we were able to build in a pull-out shelf for easy record flipping action. As if that wasn’t sweet enough, we painted the platform a cheery robin’s egg blue (hello, spring!) and gave it a finger pull to mimic the door. I’ve been told I’m easily amused, but come on. Coolio.

The other door hides our receiver, game controllers, and a small bin for Netflix DVDs, headphones, and miscellaneous adapters. We of course played the game of inches and customized the depth of the entire unit to match our deepest gadgets. The receiver (from tip of knob to back) is the biggest space hog at 17 inches, giving us an overall depth of 18 inches. (Btw, the turntable pulls out completely. Again, how cool is that.)

And the middle panel houses the center channel speaker, as well as our internet modem and router. Because this was a panel we’d rarely need access to, we nixed the hinges to gain a thinner wooden frame. To keep things snug, the door simply pops on with hidden cut-to-size 1x2s on the back. The metal insert was picked up at Home Depot, generally advertised as decorative ventilation (think: radiators), or, you know, for something like this.

So I know I’m crazy wordy (and probably not always for good reason), but I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve yet to share how everything comes together. From the round table that started it all, to the rug, the pet portraits, and finally, the wall, here’s how we’re hanging these days:

To put it simply, we’re so happy. The toes are still totally into the shag, and the coffee table lends more than enough space for drinks and stuff, while maintaining a weightlessness the former table was unable to provide. We’ve tucked our teal chair in the office, and we’ve pulled out Jack’s favorite ottoman as an extra place to perch.

But what would all of my rambling be without a big, bad money breakdown? Crazy as it seems, this’ll be the first time I’ll add up the numbers; most often we just reach for a budget-friendly-as-possble approach. Here goes:

MDF, oak and poplar = $150
drawer suspension, hinges and brackets = $26
decorative metal sheet = $17
8 legs and mounting plates = $24
primer, Polycryclic, dark walnut stain = $35
paint, brushes and trays = free (on hand)
TOTAL =  $252

Not bad for a completely customized wall – especially considering that similar retail units are upwards of $750 + (and I’m estimating on the low side.) Even better, Ross was able to cut us a break from his original invoice, seen here:

Of course he was kidding, but after a long weekend of drilling, sanding, and boy grunts, it certainly got a chuckle from us. And for those of you that actually stuck with me up there, virtual hugs and kisses to you! The wall chapter has officially closed, so excuse us while we gorge ourselves on popcorn and stay-in movie nights.

Any all-time-consuming-mega-payoff projects you’re working on now? Or maybe you’re wrapping up just in time for some warm, sunny weather? We’d love to see!

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