Coming Soon: A Custom TV Stand

Posted by John on April 10th, 2013

Sorry if it seems like we’ve been blog slacking lately.  Things are busy with baby #2 almost here.  I suspect a media blackout for a few days is forthcoming.  I’m hoping to sneak an instagram pic or two of our newborn so stay tuned.  No promises though.  If you haven’t noticed, Lisa and I are sticklers about keeping our kids off of the internet so we won’t be posting about the delivery or anything.  Sorry.

The rest of the week I’m going to be wrapping up the trim on the built-in cabinets to make it look more “built-in” and less free-standing “cabinet.”  I’m planning a thorough How-to on adding crown molding to cabinetry, similar to what YHL just did with some variations in the process.  Since this is a slow week around here otherwise, I thought I’d reveal our next build project.  We’re going to be building a custom TV stand to match our built-in.

flat screen tv hiding power

I’ve been browsing Pinterest for a few ideas in terms of layout and came across a couple ideas.

tv standI like the look of the baseboard molding wrapping around the bottom, but to keep it similar to the built-in I’d skip the round cut outs.  We’re not sure if we’re going to have the electronics exposed or not.  We only have a Playstation in the sitting room, so it’s not like we need a ton of open shelving or anything.

white tv stand

We’re planning on keeping some DVDs for our daughter (and some first person shooter games for me) in there.

Just like with the built-in project, we’re going cover the entire build from start to finish.  This time however, I’m adding a twist.  I’m going to try to build the stand out of what material I have left over from the built-in.  Specifically, I have a good amount of plywood leftover and I don’t want to buy anymore.  I’ll need more poplar, but that’s not a big deal.  Plus it’s relatively cheap compared to the plywood.

So that’s what’s coming to a blog near you.  It won’t be as exciting as the Star Trek sequel, but I hope we’ll all get something out of it.

Any exciting projects on your horizon?  What summer movies are you looking forward to the most?  I’m looking forward to Star Trek 2, Superman and Iron Man 3.  No rom-coms. 


Posted in Carpentry,Home Decor. Tagged in ,, ,

Finishing Up the Flat Screen TV

Posted by John on February 5th, 2013

So it’s been around a month or so since we started setting up our sitting room. We added a couch and finished hiding the HDMI cable now we’ve just finished up the work on the power cables for our flat screen TV. We really enjoy the space so far. It’s nice to have a place to hang out upstairs without being in bed.

Last time we left off on this project, I had run a power cable to the new outlet location.

hiding flat screen tv cables

Since then, I’ve had my work inspected and was cleared to device out the box. Instead of installing a typical outlet, I added a receptacle designed to accommodate the TV plug.

flat screen tv outlet

The recessed outlet permits the plug end to avoid hitting the back of the TV. Here’s what the wall looks like now..

flat screen tv outlet 2

Once the TV was back on the mount, I used a simple zip tie to keep the long TV power cord up and out of the way.

flat screen tv hiding power

All done.

flat screen tv hiding power

Before I started this little cable hiding project, I thought I could pull it off for around $30 as compared to the Powerbridge install we did at a neighbor’s house for $90.

Here are the rough material costs. I didn’t keep receipts.

-HDMI Cable boxes (the orange ones in the wall) $8
-HDMI Cover plate $14
-Outlet box $4
-Recessed outlet $13

That’s a total of about $39. Close. Now I didn’t include any tools or cable since I already owned them nor did I include the permit cost. The permit for the dining room outlet was only about $20. For some reason, the township charged me $60 for this one. I was expecting to pay $20. So, all told, I spent about as much as the Powerbridge. Oh well. In any case, this dual box approach is a little more flexible for smaller TVs compared to the one larger Powerbridge box.

So now we have to add some furniture. More on that next time 😉

Posted in Electrical,Home Decor. Tagged in ,, ,

Hide Flat Screen TV Cables

Posted by John on January 8th, 2013

There are a number of items in our sitting room that are still up in the air.  We haven’t decided what kind of book shelf we’re going to go with, what kind of decor the room will have, paint colors, etc.  We did decide, however, on the couch and mounting our old flat screen TV.  Now we’ve hanged a flat screen TV before at our neighbor’s house and went through that whole how-to procedure. Back then we used a Powerbridge available from Amazon or Best Buy to hide the HDMI cables.  Both my neighbor and I really like that product, but in this case we’re going to skip it and use another method.  The Powerbridge, in my opinion is probably a little more useful for larger TVs where you have a lot of wall real estate behind the TV to hide it.  If you have a smaller TV (in this case we have a 32″ TV), the Powerbridge may not be ideal.  Plus, the Powerbridge will run you around $80.  This method we’re going to show you will only run you around $30 or so.

Here’s how to hide flat screen TV cables:

flatscreen mount before

Impressive, no?

We’ll skip the actual TV mounting part since we used the identical mount from our earlier post as we did a step by step there.

Here’s what it looked like on the wall.

flatscreen mounted

Now for the fun part, hiding the cables.  We’re breaking this into at least two posts.  First, we’ll go over how to hide the audio and video cables and in another post we’ll show you how to add an outlet for the TV power.  I had to pull a permit to add the additional receptacle and I need to wait until it’s approved before I can begin that part.  We can still cut some holes in the wall though!

I start by drawing an outline of the electrical boxes behind where the TV will mount.  I draw one box for the cables and one for the power.  I’ll also draw an extra box well below the audio/video box and roughly behind where the console will be located.  By placing it directly below the top box, I won’t have to drill through any studs.  The open box in the photos is a phone jack.  I took the cover off to help locate any studs.

hiding tv cables

The box I’m using for the HDMI cables looks like this…

hiding tv wires box

I use a handheld drywall saw (see this post) and a box cutter to cut out the holes for the boxes.  With the holes cut, I can pop these orange boxes right into the hole and use the screws to tighten down the tabs that hold them in place.

hdmi boxes

Once the boxes are in place, I can just fish the HDMI cable into the wall from the top down to the lower box.  The cables will come through a small screen for aesthetics.

hiding tv wires

Then both boxes will get an outlet cover.

flat screen mount afterNot too bad, right?  The orange boxes only run a couple bucks and I already owned the HDMI cable.  The decorative screens are around $7 a piece.
Can’t wait to get this power portion done! Do you have your TV mounted or do you use the base it came with?***Full disclosure:  Lisa and I are members of Amazon.com associates.  If you purchase a Powerbridge, we get a small kickback.  If you’re interested in joining Amazon Associates, go to Affiliate-Program.Amazon.com ***

Posted in Home Decor. Tagged in ,, ,

Our Favorite Fall TV Shows

Posted by John on August 29th, 2012

Hey everybody!  If you can’t tell, we’re pretty much on coast around here until the weekend.  We’re soaking up the calm before the storm since we knocked out some big projects.  Lisa and I are super excited about the return of some of our favorite television shows.  In reality, we’re watching all of these on Hulu+ and not actually on our TV.  Same thing though, right?

1.  30 Rock.  We started watching this show while Lisa was on her maternity leave.  About five years late to the party, we really took to this show.  Liz Lemon gets quoted a lot around here. What the what?  She’s also originally from the Philly area and has dropped some Flyers and Bobby Clarke references on the show before.  Really looking forward to this one.

2.  Community.   We started watching this show while waiting for 30 Rock to resume and I was shocked at how funny it is.  I personally think Community is actually funnier than 30 Rock.  The humor is a little less subtle, but very clever.   Every character on this show brings a unique comedic flavor that usually leaves Lisa and I in stitches.  The cast is brilliant.   This is another show we started watching late.  We picked it up on Hulu after season three and quickly blew through every episode.  The school dean is a riot and we pretty much quote him all day long.  “Sweet Deans.”

3.  The New Girl.  This was one of those shows that Lisa checked out.  She was hooked after the first episode.  Halfway through the first season I started watching it with her.  Very good show.  The cast has great chemistry and the episodes are always fun stories.  The characters are all in their mid to late twenties, are approaching the “you should be married by now” age and are dealing with their respective places in life.  After a couple episodes you’ll get attached to the cast and start rooting for them.  We recommend it.

4. The Mindy Project.  Not going to lie.  I’ve only seen one episode.  Lisa’s watched two so far.  It’s hugely funny.  Mindy Kaling has a sharp biting wit that’s refreshing and most definitely worth watching.  I think it’s brand new.  Check it out.

Honestly, we don’t watch a ton of TV.  We’ve mainly watching a show here and there before bed with an iPad.  These four shows will definitely be on our radar though this fall along with the occasional Modern Family and Happy Endings now and then.

Are you looking forward to any shows this fall??

Posted in Favorites. Tagged in ,, ,

Hiding Flat Screen TV Cables

Posted by John on July 31st, 2012

So on Monday we shared our experience mounting a flat screen TV to a wall. Today, we’re going to show you how to hide the TV’s cables to get a totally sleek look. This is the second TV we’ve done this procedure to at Mike and Dana’s house and this version seemed to work better than the first, which used a slightly different product. In my opinion, this modification isn’t very difficult to do and can probably be done by anyone with a little bit of DIY experience.

We last left off with the TV hanging on the wall to test the bracket out. It had to come down in order to hide the wires. To hide these cables, Mike bought a Powerbridge from Best Buy.  (This current model is no longer available from Amazon, but you can try Option 1 or  Option 2 as they are essentially equivalent).  This device consists of two plastic boxes that get inserted into the wall. One will be located behind the TV and the other will go behind the TV stand. Between the two, the wires will be run in the wall for the power and whatever audio or visual cables are required.powerbridge-1024x682


In order to install these two Powerbridge boxes so you don’t see them, we need to make sure we’re putting it behind the footprint of the TV. Before we took the TV off the wall, we marked the perimeter of the TV with a couple of post-it notes. The boxes will need to stay within that area AND since the Powerbridge box is fairly large, it will need to sit roughly in the middle of the area between two wall studs.flat-screen-TV-mount-1024x682


We used those magnetic wall stud locators we discussed in our last post and then marked our wall with the wall template that was provided with the Powerbridge. We needed to mark the wall for both the top box and the bottom. The bottom was pretty much directly below the top box and low enough to be out of view behind the TV stand.powerbridge-template-1024x682


With the templates marked, Mike used a drywall saw to cut the openings for the boxes. You need to be careful whenever cutting into a wall so you don’t actually cut into a gas line or a power cable.drywall-saw-1024x682



After the holes were cut, Mike inserted the top Powerbridge cable and fished it through the wall. This was apparently an exciting moment for him. The boxes stay in place by pop out wings that are tightened with screws. Very simple. Before we connected the bottom box, Mike pulled through a couple HDMI cables.fishing-cable-e1343788365105-836x1024


The power cable that comes with the Powerbridge is connected with a unique click together fastener.  We actually needed to fix it before we made that connection as one of the wires was visibly detached, but that wasn’t very hard.  After you snap the connector together, the cable slack gets stuffed into the wall and the bottom plate gets tightened to the drywall.


The photo above shows it all completed. The Powerbridge comes with an additional cable to plug into a nearby outlet that gets run to the bottom box.Flatscreen-TV-mounted-1024x682


All told, it took a little over an hour to get this project done. Mike and Dana really like the new look and Lisa and I are considering it for our family room at some point.

Any upgrades coming to your TV? Cut any holes in your walls lately?

***Full disclosure:  Lisa and I are members of Amazon.com associates.  If you purchase a Powerbridge, we get a small kickback.  If you’re interested in joining Amazon Associates, go to Affiliate-Program.Amazon.com ***

Posted in Drywall,Electrical,Home Decor. Tagged in ,, , , ,

Mounting a Flat Screen TV

Posted by John on July 30th, 2012

One of the perks of moving into a new development two years ago has definitely been the wonderful neighbors we’ve met.  Since the neighborhood is fairly small, it’s been pretty easy to meet all of them, which is a big change from when we were living in the city.  We regularly hang out with a bunch of them, especially in the summer.  A lot of them have very young children, so we’re excited that our daughter will have friends close by to play with.

Another perk to having great neighbors is getting them to help you with home improvement projects!  Case in point:  Mike and Dana (M&D) are neighbors from down the street and they asked us for some help hanging their flat screen TV set.  Of course we agreed.  They even sweetened the deal with free dinner beforehand (as if they had to).  Dana made a great chicken dish.

I know Mike doesn’t consider himself terribly handy, but I think he would agree that mounting a flat screen TV is not very hard and could probably be done in under an hour.  It definitely adds a sleeker look to any room and can help eliminate TV stand clutter.  Plus, all the cool kids are doing it.

We started by clearing a spot behind the TV stand and then marking the center of the wall.  M&D wanted to get the TV as close to the center of the wall (left to right) as possible.IMG_4224-1024x682



The mount Mike chose is a Sanus model and he bought it from Best Buy, but he’s pretty certain you can pick one up cheaper from other vendors, like monoprice.com.  The mount is essentially a three piece design with two brackets that get fastened to the back of the TV and a larger bracket gets mounted to the wall.  The bracket comes with the necessary fasteners and gets lagged into the wall studs.  The manufacturer also supplies molly bolts in case you don’t want to or can’t mount the bracket into a stud.  Call us crazy, but we both thought that hanging a nearly 100lb plasma screen TV to the wall without hitting the studs was a bad idea.  Molly bolts are nice, but let’s save those for hanging artwork.

Once we knew where the TV was going to be centered, we tried to find the studs.  We literally had three different stud finders and they weren’t really working very well.  There was also a LOT of lousy stud finder jokes.  A LOT.  Luckily Mike had picked up this magnet stud finder set from Lowes.  I’ve never seen this before, but it’s a brilliant idea.IMG_4226-1024x682


This package comes with a few small, but powerful magnetic, plastic disks.  These disks can be dragged across a wall until they ‘grab’ a drywall screw or nail.  If you find a drywall fastener, you essentially find the stud.IMG_4227-1024x682


Now that the studs were located, we centered the mount on the wall, leveled it off and then marked the walls for our lag bolt holes.  Mike then got drilling.  He only drilled two holes to start.IMG_4230-1024x682


When the left holes were drilled, we put the bracket on the wall then leveled it off.  With the bracket leveled, we drilled the right most holes and tightened the bolts into the wall.IMG_4231-1024x682



With the mount secured to the wall and the brackets attached to the TV, we lifted the TV up to make sure it went on okay.IMG_4234



Next up, we are going to add a special outlet box system to completely hide the TV’s cables.  We’ll discuss hiding those wires in the next post.

Do any of you have your TV’s mounted to the walls?  Would you like to or do you prefer it on the stand?  We don’t have ours up yet either.

Posted in DIY Projects. Tagged in ,, , , ,

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