Media cabinet makeover: lightening up and finding space for new equipment

The media cabinet in our tiny 2bedroom has a tall order to fill–it must hold our TV, DVD player, VCR (I know, I know), books, DVDs, and of course, plenty of DH’s CDs.  We love the unit itself, which we purchased from IKEA when we first moved here in 2007, and it has already seen some changes through the years.  However, I never figured out the best way to maximize the space.  Here’s a pic of what I’m dealing with on a typical, not-at-all cleaned up day:

Right now, I’m just talking about the media cabinet (that piece in the middle with the TV on it).  Don’t even get me started on the bookcases on either side.  That’s a hurdle for another day.  Here’s a closer up pic of the actual media cabinet before I started this makeover:Not exactly horrible, not not perfect either.  My main complaint has been the storage “boxes.”  We were never able to find anything in our price range that filled out the space on the six shelves very well.  Most of what we saw was either much too small or way too big.  We eventually got tired of looking for actual baskets and ended up using pull-out fabric bins (meant for one of those hanging closet organizers), which I later covered in the fabric you see above.  However, the bins themselves are actually pretty flimsy as they were meant to store clothes, not DVDs or CDs.  DH had reinforced them with cardboard, but they still never worked great.  And they don’t have handles.  Plus, they just felt waaaaay too dark with the new, lighter, color scheme for the living room (read more about that here and here):
Adding to my design dilemma was the fact that DH has taken up another music-related hobby (in addition to the CD habit mentioned here): collecting vinyl.  For his birthday last year we purchased a turntable for him.  Even though he’s super excited about his new piece of equipment (and growing cache of LPs) we never really found a good spot for the unit itsel.  It has been hanging out in the nursery since we purchased it, but it is of limited use to him there because much of the music he wants to listen is not exactly baby-friendly, so he’d prefer to have the turntable in the living room so he can use it during her naps.  Of course, we decided this made sense months ago, but we only recently got around to making this dream a reality.
We started this project the way I suggest you start any re-organization or re-design project: go through and pare down your stuff.  Before we purchased anything or moved anything around, we found some extra space (what I like to call “wiggle room”) by going through our DVD collection and getting rid of a bunch of box sets and movies we never re-watch.  At first we were having a difficult time parting with some of our favorite TV box sets, but once we checked and saw that we could get them streaming with our Netflix subscription, it was much easier to let them go.
I then started shopping around for new baskets or bins to use in place of the fabric closet-organizing boxes.  I finally found some baskets on sale at Container Store that were perfect.  Getting all six was  a little pricy, but they fit great, are VERY sturdy, have handles, and are really beautiful.
Finally, we had to figure out how to incorporate the turntable into the open space in the middle section of the media cabinet:
We knew we could easily part with the VCR because we had previously parted with all our VHS tapes during the office-to-nursery conversion, so we quickly found it a new home using our local Freecycle Network.  We also were able to part with a few of the oversize books that we had stacked in there–some of which DH had already marked as ones to get rid of but just hadn’t followed through with getting them out of the house!
Once we had pared down our collections of CDs, DVDs, books, and electronics, we set to work on fitting in the record player.  Luckily, this being an IKEA piece, the shelves were highly adjustable.  After trying a few combinations we found one that worked very well.  And an added bonus?  I have my charging station back!  I’d been trying for close to a year to find it a new home, but it wasn’t until we were re-arranging the media cabinet that I found that this would also fit.  Previously it lived in our office on DH’s desk, back before our office became the nursery, and it was a really nice place to charge our electronic devices (cell phones, camera, video camera, etc.).  Here it is back in its old home:
Anyway, enough waiting.  Here’s our newly re-designed, re-basketed turntable-holding media cabinet:

Obviously I still need to deal with that cord clutter in back (one of my New Years organizing resolutions, after all!).  There is actually a pretty good built-in cord curbing system as part of this piece (hooray IKEA!), but it does require pulling the whole thing out from the wall and re-routing some of the cords and wires and is definitely a two-person job.  DH has promised we can do this soon.  I will hold him to that.

Here’s the before and after side-by-side, just for fun:
What do you think?  Have you recently found space for a turntable?  Do you also also own a VCR you never use?  Do you also love baskets on sale at the Container Store?

6 thoughts on “Media cabinet makeover: lightening up and finding space for new equipment

  1. I love the new blog look!! The updated media cabinet is awesome too, although I am a little disappointed you got rid of the VCR, because I didn’t realize you still had one and when I read that you did I was momentarily excited to have somewhere to watch my Blair Witch Project VHS.

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