I’ve always wanted a home theater. To have the cinematic experience right at home is a blessing: leather reclining theater seats, a wall projecting a film on a massive scale and surround sound to make your ears bleed, yes, this is what I want! And, finally, after years of dreaming up my idea of having a home entertainment room to dazzle friends and family, I have come to the forlorn conclusion that I will not have such a room. Well, not any time soon at least. But, I can still make a budget friendly (extremely friendly) home theater to entertain both family and friends as well as, more importantly, for my own enjoyment.
Having been in our new home for a little over a year, I abandoned my interests in the prospect of having a home theater. Not because I didn’t want one but the thought of putting it all together was daunting, to say the least. I just didn’t have time to tackle such a project nor, dare I say it, the skills. What can I say, I’m still a city guy at heart and home ownership requires handyman skills. Make no mistake, I’m up for the challenge so long as it is within my current skill level which is, in all honesty, zilch! The idea is to start with seemingly “easy” projects and work my way up from there. First project: make a Bluray/DVD shelf. Currently, my Blurays amount to a little over 300 in total, a small and modest collection by my standards. I had them tightly stored just below our television within our media console. The console itself was big enough to accommodate all of the movies, but, it came with a little snag. The console was deep (depth), and so, I had to place rows of movies in front of the others which is annoying and rather inconvenient. Sure, I have apps with a library of my collection but sometimes, usually, I like to see what I have visually. My solution, get a new media cabinet.
I perused the internet with ideas on making DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Bluray and DVD shelves and saw a few nifty ideas that I thought would be fairly simple to adapt into my own living space. “I can do this,” I thought to myself out loud prompting the inevitable question from my wife, “Do what?” I explained to her what I wanted to do and had her complete support in hammering and drilling holes into the wall. I wanted shelves on either side of the TV where I would situate my collection and just kept the idea as simple as possible: brackets and shelves.
First thing I did was go to Home Depot and picked up three 1″ X 6″ X 8ft pieces of pine. I figured that if I cut them up into sections of three, I would have enough room to fill them up with my movies. Of course, this meant that I would be left with three 2ft pieces of shelving which I can use for something else or as scrap. In addition, I bought some wood screws and eighteen 4″ corner braces to support the shelf. My idea was to implement three braces per shelf, one on each end and one in the middle to prevent the shelf from bending in the middle.
The lumber was pre-primed a dull white or gray and thought maybe I can just leave it as-is on the wall – me being lazy and my hatred of painting doing the talking. But, eventually, with a little thought and a discussion with the wife, we opted to paint them black – and when I saw “we”, I mean I.
I brought the three pieces of lumber into my garage and made the cuts I wanted using a circular saw – two from each piece, making a total of six 3ft shelves.
I then went into my basement, located studs on the wall and attached the corner braces. I left a decent-sized gap from the bottom shelf to the middle shelf in the event of putting in some sort of decor just to add to overall look of the shelves – some may say it was an error in measuring, I say the gap was purposeful and intended.
Next up, my “favorite” part – painting! (heavy sarcasm) I brought the shelves back into the garage, made a make-shift table using my saw horses, propped the shelves on top of an old bed sheet (with my wife’s blessing) and sprayed to my heart’s content, or, until my fingertips went numb from applying pressure on the valve.
It was a pitiful day out – cats and dogs came from the heavens and reached the earth in puddles of water. Still, it was a hell of a lot better than being inside of my garage at scorching temperatures. For my wife, it was a lazy Saturday afternoon. My daughter wanted in on the action and kept popping her head inside the garage to see what I was doing. I let her stay for a few seconds to satisfy her curiosities and then kicked her out so as to get her away from the fumes. Of course, I ran out of spray paint and had to make a a run in the pouring rain to pick up some more paint. This was fine as I finished one side and this was opportune to kill some time while the paint dried.
I let it sit for about 6 hours, painted the other side, let that sit for another few hours and, at long last, I was done painting!
Again, I let it sit until the next day. Woke up and went downstairs to see what it would look like as well as get the approval of my wife. I got the thumbs up. This is where I got to thinking, “Why stop here?” Thoughts of that home theater flashed before my eyes. Yes! This is what I wanted to do. But, no, I was not ready to make an all out conversion. No, I was not going to invest thousands of dollars, let alone hundreds! Simplicity was the key. I just wanted something simple and cozy for my family to kick back, relax and watch a movie. And so, I ran it by my wife and, again I got the thumbs up – she was on board! What started as a simple project to accommodate space for my movies turned into a little something more and I was all for it.
I scoured my closet and storage bins in the garage for things that I saved from my college days with the hopes of finally being able to utilize them. I found a few 16mm reels from my film classes and thought it would be great to incorporate them into my project. I had a tin popcorn bucket that’s been sitting in my closet since forever and had an idea to brew up some fake popcorn and throw it into the bucket to make it, well, pop. Fake popcorn you ask? Initially, I thought about maybe just making some real popcorn and then spraying it with clear shellac spray to harden and preserve the popcorn, but, I was not really keen on utilizing real food for, you know, fear of attracting bugs. So, I went online and found a really cool idea by way of Artzcool’s Blog and decided to adopt the same for my own project. Take a look at my popcorn below:
Of course, I needed more than just a bucket of popcorn to fill in the space. I pulled out my old popcorn maker that my brother had gifted me so many Christmases ago, ordered a few decor pieces and hung them up. Still, I felt like there were a few things missing and could add to the ambience. Curtains, for one, would be a great idea. The downstairs space is divided in such a way so that we can watch TV and our daughter can play with her toys should she not want to partake in family time. Still, I had to figure this bit out before proceeding; something to tackle some time in the future, perhaps. In the meantime, this is what I came up with.
Sure, there’s no state of the art equipment nor theater seats, but, until I win the lottery, this will just have to do!