media bench

We finished the media bench and it’s not even April yet! Actually, we were 90% done a week and a half ago, but we kept on tweaking. You know how it goes.

photo-22 copy

The bench itself is made of two fir 2×10’s. Kyle took them down to OB Williams one afternoon where they ran them through the jointer and sander so they could be fit together without any wonkiness. (Our process photos are sparse, but it was a similar (although much simpler) to the office desk.)


Once the boards were back home in the shop, Kyle biscuited them together and applied a few coats of SatinThane. (He also added a radius to the outboard edge to make it a bit more baby-friendly.)


Once the bench was ready, it was go time. We put Avery to bed then emptied out the space (and did a celebratory high-five that we were finally, finally getting rid of the last of our college furniture).

(Sorry for these crappy iPhone photos.)


The media unit is an IKEA Besta box.


In lieu of legs, Kyle used the cutoffs from the 2×10’s to create a solid wood plinth. (We actually ended up moving the plinth closer to the face of the cabinet and adding blocking behind for extra stability.) The bench sits on the Besta unit on one end and on two IKEA Godmorgon legs on the other (the legs have metal cuffs that hide the plastic adjuster). The span is only 4′-6″, so the 1 1/2″ thickness of the wood is adequate. Our original design was to do a wall-mounted unit but we realized that it would be better to be able to pull the unit out in order to access cords, etc.


We went with glass doors for the Besta unit, but did our own window film to downplay the components (yet still allow our remotes to work). We used this film, which is the same thing we used at our back door.


Bam! (I now realize I should have taken some “action” shots but Avery was napping and Kyle and Bailey were at the hardware store when I took these. Next time.)


Although Avery wasn’t crawling when we wrote the last post, your comments about keeping the records out of reach convinced us to go ahead and make it happen and to use the space for toy storage instead. (Good thing too, as she is now all over the place.)


The subwoofer sits under the bench and we put the protective cover back on (even though it doesn’t look as cool). We still need to add a cushion and although I’m sure we could have easily had a custom one made, in a moment of lets-just-get-it-done we ordered this one from West Elm. It’s meant for outdoors but the color and size was right so we’ll see.

Ahh…new bench, new storage, new TV.

Yeah, we’ll get to that.


We also decided to go ahead and move the turntable to the cabinet as well. We bought this pull-out frame (with shelf insert) which works perfectly. (We intentionally left the handles off the doors and have catches that we’ll install once Avery figures that one out.)


The next dilemma was that we couldn’t fit all of the media components on one side to allow record storage on the other. Our stupid cable box was gigantic and taking up too much room so Kyle spent one morning haggling his way to a newer (and significantly smaller) version. “It’s for our child’s safety”, was the tagline of the day. Our xbox is on the other side still and we use it primarily as a DVD player. We’ll probably eventually swap it out for a small blu-ray player. (The small black box on the left is our all-in-one receiver that we use to watch TV, stream music and listen to the radio.) We also left the masonite backing off of the Besta unit for cord management purposes and to allow better ventilation.


We also removed the clunky plastic cover on the turntable. Good riddance, I say! We have noticed that it’s easy for the turntable pull-out tray to catch on the door if it’s not opened all the way so we’ll probably add a tiny bumper to protect the window film from getting scratched.


I looked high and low for modern/fun/affordable toy storage options and finally landed on these felt bins from Land of Nod. These are 11″ cubes – they had 18″ versions that I preferred but they were slightly too tall. Now that the smaller ones are in place, I think they work fine. (We have to preserve a bit of space between the toy storage and subwoofer for an existing heat vent.) The bins come in other colors but we liked the yellow the best (I originally got aqua but it was much greener in real life than on the website).


So, the TV. Somewhere in the process Kyle bought a new TV. (My mom was in town visiting and I must have been distracted.) Ok, really I just like to give Kyle a hard time about it for being such a guy. πŸ˜‰ We bought our old TV 4 years ago off Craigslist so the acquisition wasn’t terribly unreasonable. For those of you that have been following us for a while, you may recall that the original plan was to make the downstairs bedroom a media room and avoid a TV upstairs altogether. Maybe we’ll do that eventually, but we noticed that we’ve used the space a lot more since moving a TV in there (it used to be in the nursery when that was a flex room). We’re trying to keep the TV off around Avery, but most of our viewing time is after she goes to bed so it usually works out.


As part of our baby-proofing efforts, I had bought some anti-tip TV straps before we purchased the new TV. But they’re not all that attractive and the backside of the TV is actually somewhat visible so Kyle ordered this crazy wall mount that not only secured the TV but it has an adjustable arm so the TV can be rotated to an optimal viewing angle. Also, the base that came with the TV was an ugly chrome thing, so…win!


I also had concerns about Avery eventually being able to tip the speakers over so we installed these straps to the speakers and wall.


Done! Besides the cushion (which should arrive this week) we also would like to add some type of art piece above the TV. We’re thinking something organic or free-form so it’s not a rectangle sitting above another rectangle, you know? No idea what this piece of art would be, but we’ll keep an eye out.

All in all, we love it. It’s amazing how it changes the feel of the space and Avery has already logged some quality (supervised and supported) window seat time. This area of the house has always felt the least finished so it’s nice to finally remedy that.


45 Responses to “media bench”

  1. Jeff says:

    Looks wonderful! I always marvel at how you two can A.) envision something and B.) end up making it a reality. Thanks for the update!

  2. amy h says:

    It looks so good!

  3. Maria says:

    Hi I don’t remember how I found you guys but I have been following you for a couple of months and always find your updates interesting and informative. Your home is beautiful and your baby is a wonder. Thanks for sharing.

    Now I have a question about the picture of your living room. The ceiling is what I have been dreaming of doing in my hallway to get rid of a soffit. Did you add those beams to the ceiling or did you remove drywall to expose floor joists from the room above??

    P.S. I’m in Seattle area too.

    • Lauren says:

      Hi Maria, the ceiling joists are original and used to be covered with lath and plaster. During the remodel of this space we demolished the ceiling and installed painted MDO plywood on top of the joists, which also serves as a subfloor for the loft above. (We also sanded and refinished the joists in place.)

  4. It’s awesome! We were actually thinking of doing something similar (just yesterday I posted our current TV unit on sale) so this will definitely come in handy.

  5. Kelly says:

    do you have information on what brand of record player you have? our old one broke and I’m looking for a new one.

    I love the media bench – great job!

  6. Keira says:

    Wow!! This is a classy Ikea hack! Well planned and made. I absolutely love it!

  7. Alex says:

    Wow– the bench really unifies the space. You guys make everything look so easy. As long as the art you’re planning is mounted high enough to pose to risk to Avery, check out these modular wire prisms that you can connect to create your own “installation.”

    I bought them for my boyfriend’s apartment and have been really happy with them. My favorite element is that they actually project from the wall– a little or a lot, depending on how you hang them. The 3D element adds a lot of visual interest, esp over a flat screen TV. (And it doesn’t hurt that they are affordable…at least by art standards.) I ordered mine from a store in Bridgehampton, NY called Comorford Collection. Looks like they do online sales? But not totally sure.

    Here’s a (grainy) photo of what they looked like installed in my boyfriend’s apartment. I bought and combined 3 modules if I recall correctly:

    Anyway, just an idea! I’m sure you guys will come up with something super awesome.

  8. Alex says:

    Oh, wait… I just realized you two could probably make wire prisms instead of buying them for $40. A much better idea!

  9. katie says:

    great solution, i like that you were able to incorporate everything you needed for media components, plus baby storage, plus seating! i’m also jealous of your nice looking speakers!

    as i’m reading this i’m also realizing just how much baby proofing we’re going to need to do… yikes.

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks Katie (and congratulations!). I think there are some different strategies for baby proofing but since our house is small enough and wasn’t that un-baby proof to start with we decided to just remedy a few areas and give her free reign instead of sectioning off a “safe” area. We’ll see how that works out. πŸ™‚

  10. Sara says:

    Looks awesome!
    And as the parent of two 19 month olds i think you are very wise about setting up a well baby proofed space πŸ™‚
    For the doors, we have used magnetic locks instead of catches. They are nice because you can turn them off, and they don’t allow the doors to open at all so you don’t risk little fingers being pinched, or the annoying opening and banging closed.

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks sara, I’ve heard velcro can work too. I’m sure we’ll be experimenting when the time comes. Do you remember what brand of magnetic locks you got?

      • Sara says:

        we have these

        they work pretty smoothly and the key is unoffensive looking. you can kind of hold the magnetic key near the lock and it “finds” it and you let go.

        i hadn’t heard of velcro. i think our boys would be able to open anything that is just strength based, im always surprised at how strong they can be for such a small size πŸ™‚

        I’m interested to hear how the toy storage holds up, we need a few more boxes, I’ve sewn some buckets but the felt look nice.

        • Lauren says:

          Very interesting…I hadn’t heard of these!

          • Sara says:

            they are the ones recommended by the childproofing guy we had come over (we have a long wall of 9 bookcases i wanted professionally attached to the studs and I didnt trust myself. Had him do a few other things).
            Apparently they take a few steps to install but they are quite solid/well made.

  11. Laura says:

    Looks so good, guys! And let’s be honest Lauren, no one is surprised you went with the mustard-ish yellow toy bins πŸ™‚

  12. mariane says:

    Good show people, good show! I love how thorough your comments always are. It looks really good! I love Alex prism art idea.

  13. sasha says:

    Where did you source the 2×10? Looks good.

    • Kyle Zerbey says:

      Hi Sasha, We sourced them from our local lumber store in Ballard called Limbacks Lumber. Most quality lumber yards should stock them. Won’t find them at any of the big box stores though. Each 2×10 was about $150 so $300 total!

  14. Amy says:

    That was quick! I love the turntable pull-out thing and all of your baby-proofing efforts πŸ™‚ It must be nice to sit back and relax with that new tv!

  15. maja says:

    Looks great! I really love the turntable pull out- nice touch! A great and efficient use of space.

  16. maja says:

    Sorry, also a quick unrelated question- would you mind telling me the height on your fauxdenza on the side of the stairs? We will be doing something similar in our house. The existing railing that we will replace is 40 inches high, which seems a little much for a built in.

  17. KMP Modern says:

    So amazing to see from plans to DIY photos to finish. Congratulations! It seems like you really worked all the kinks out too. I really like the film over the glass. It creates a little mystery and hides your things just enough, and you added the right amount of baby-proofing. Now you can relax for a moment.

  18. alison says:

    Really great! We are tv shopping – curious to know the size & make of your tv?

  19. Mandolin says:

    Umbra makes some really cool 3D wall hangings that can be applied in any way you choose. They’re pretty affordable and they even sell some of them at Target. I have a set of the flowers in my living room above my tv because I had the same thought about not wanting rectangular art above my rectangular tv.

  20. cheri says:

    Haven’t stopped in to snoop in several months so was amazed with everything you’ve done at home AND with your own business AND with a seven month old human being around!! (Loved Bailey on the bed…!) Will be very curious to see your choice of art and was happy to hear you you would go “free form”. There are a lot of 90 degree angles going on here, have you noticed? Not only the tv and clever new media center but the windows and rug and sofa and door and art and…does that have anything to do with being architects??!!

  21. Erin says:

    You guys are inspiring! Where do you get the time? and with a new business and baby! Looks great…definitely trolling for ideas for our house!

  22. Blake says:

    Looks very nice. What brand are the speakers?

  23. Nathan says:

    i know this is an old post but what speakers are those?

  24. Serge Small says:

    I’m looking to do something similar in my house with Besta units, but could not find the pull-out shelf you are using for the turntable…could you possible send me a link to it? Thanks, and love your blog.

  25. Jeff says:

    Love how your media console turned out. I tried following your link for the pull out shelf from Ikea but it didn’t seem to work.

    Any further information you could share?


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