Note: this post has a rather long prologue. Those of you who enjoy my ramblings, please read on. Those of you who think I’m a bloviating windbag with bad facial hair, please click here to get right to the action.
There has been an odd correlation in my life between emphatic declarations of I will NEVER… and me ultimately doing the thing I swore I’d never do. The first such incident came in high school, where as a senior who had never taken an economics course (didn’t interest me in the least), I declared to any and all who would listen, I will NEVER take an economics course! It is sooo boring!
Fast forward to my freshman year spring term in college, and I not only needed to figure out a major, but I needed to fill some time on my schedule. With my own words reverberating through my head, I marked down ECON101 on my course selection sheet. I justified my decision by telling myself that it was just one course, so how bad could it be?
Fast forward to Sophomore year, and I was expected to declare a major. But what would I study? I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. As I looked at the course catalog, my eyes kept drifting back to Economics. It’ll look good on a resume, I told myself. It will be useful. I marked it off as my choice of major. Why? What are you thinking? You hate Economics! My brain wanted answers, but none were forthcoming.
During those same high school and college years, I was an avid skier with a healthy disdain for snowboards. I called them “knuckle-draggers,” and they were the lowest form of life. I will NEVER snowboard! I announced to an indifferent world. Never!
Fast forward to the year after I graduated college. I lived in Winter Park, Colorado with some friends, and I had no ambition beyond skiing as much as possible and working only enough to pay the bills. One morning, as I rode the chairlift alone to the summit of Mary Jane, I spied a solitary snowboarder carving beautiful turns on a well-groomed trail. It was early in the morning, and he was the only person on the hill. His board kicked up a fine spray with each turn that caught the morning light and refracted prisms of color against the white snow. It was the most beautiful run I’d ever seen.
The next day, I rented a board and found someone to teach me how to ride it. I never skied again.
I left the Colorado and “The Year of Slacking” behind and moved to Boston. I still had no earthly idea what I wanted to do with my life, but I sure as hell knew what I didn’t want to do with my life: work on Wall Street trading stocks like my father and sister did at the time. Blech. What a bunch of stuffed shirts! I still fancied myself something of a hippie. I couldn’t join the ranks of those pompous slicksters! I will NEVER be a trader! EVER!
The summer of 1995 wore on, my funds ran out, yet I was no closer to finding a career. It was August, and I had no money for rent. My sister, who lived in Manhattan, learned of my plight and said, “I trade with a guy who runs a trading desk in Boston. He’s looking for an assistant. Why don’t you call him?”
And so I became a trader, the thing I despised most in the world, since I no longer despised snowboarders.
Well, I may have been a jerkfaced trader, but there was still one certainty in my life. Since I was a teenager I shouted from every rooftop I could find that I would NEVER EVER EVER live in California! GAH! The very thought!
I don’t remember why I held California in such low regard. I just remember thinking that it must be the absolute worst place on Planet Earth.
Then one day while I was trading stocks in Boston, I just had enough. Like a light switching off, I was done with Boston. But where would I go? It was a great big country, and my options were unlimited! I opened a map on my computer.
There it was.
Staring right at me.
Pulling at my brain.
The only place I could possibly ever go. No other place even mattered.
California. My home for the next ten years.
Okay, two more quick examples. I’ve been yammering on a little too long here. And you thought you were going to be reading about a DiY Media Console? HA!
While in California, I swore that I would never live in the Middle East (way too hot!) and that I would NEVER go to Afghanistan (Taliban, war, beheadings, etc.). Then I met Handan, and we know what happened to those promises, right?
And for most of my adult life, I swore up and down that I would never move back to Connecticut and sure as hell NEVER move back to my hometown of Glastonbury. I was a city man! I had big city plans! I couldn’t live in a small(ish) town again! But then I lived abroad, and I lived in a war zone. And my thinking changed about almost everything in life. After a time, I could think of nothing finer than living back in Glastonbury. My parents were there. That was home. And that is where Handan and I are now.
Astute readers may remember back in the first few months of The Navage Patch, I wrote a post chronicling my misadventures in giving a vintage desk a makeover. I began that post with a rant directed at IKEA, one of my many retail nemeses (Joanns and any flavor of Dollar Store are also on my list). Though I don’t say it explicitly in the post, I’ve said it to Handan many times: I’ll NEVER shop at IKEA again!
So it should come as no surprise to you to learn that this project involves IKEA. It all started because Handan wanted to save me some time and frustration. We wanted to get rid of our old media console (purchased at IKEA my last time there, three years ago.)
Instead, Handan wanted two tall built-in bookshelves flanking a media console in the middle. The original plan was for me to build the entire thing from scratch. But my dearest and most thoughtful wife wanted to save me a lot of time and frustration by buying the bookshelves, so I would only have to make the media console. I thought it was a fabulous idea. Then she told me about the bookshelves.
It felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room. My ears rang. My pulse quickened, and my face turned red.
The name brought a cold sweat to my brow, as I imagined fighting off hordes of sheeple all angling and bleating for the same 100 lb box of deconstructed Swedish engineering.
I shivered. I whined. I protested. And in the end, I caved like a rookie soufflé.
We planned the trip to New Haven for the following Saturday. This is what we were after.
I had to admit, it was a handsome piece of furniture, and the quality seemed to be at the upper end of the spectrum for IKEA. It had a price tag to match. We checked the inventory at the New Haven store.
Not in stock.
We checked in all of the surrounding states.
Not in stock.
Handan said that we would have to get it delivered, and my heart did a little happy dance. Then she told me the delivery charge, and my heart nearly seized. But she had to have it, and I liked it too. In fact, I was liking it more and more, now that I didn’t have to actually go to IKEA. She pressed the “Order” button, and we waited.
While we waited for our bookcases to arrive, I began to plan the media console using Sketchup. I came up with the following design.
With the IKEA pieces, it would look like this.
I designed the cabinet to be made from a single 4 foot x 8 foot sheet of 3/4 inch plywood with a back panel made from 1/4 inch plywood. The doors would be made from 1 x 3 lumber, and the muntins would be made from 5/8 inch square dowels. The top would be made from 3 pieces of 6 foot shiplap. To tie everything together, I would install crown molding all around the base. The height of the console is 21 inches. A large flat screen television sitting on the console would be at the perfect viewing height. Many people make the mistake of mounting their flat screens way too high off the floor. This leads to cramped necks, headaches and misery. Don’t get me started on TVs hung over fireplaces. Grrrrr….
The IKEA men arrived one chilly Sunday evening, and I remembered the other thing I hate about IKEA.
The boxes. The infernal boxes.
And all the tiresome building that comes after.
I prepared for the build by trying to comprehend the subtle art of Swedish cartoonery.
The what goes into where, now?
It took a lot of grunting and crawling and muttering obscenities, but I built the two bookcases with only minor damage to my pride. There are no pictures of that process, because they are IKEA, and building them is not blog-worthy material.
Once they were built, we pushed them into their proposed places and measured and marked for the console. Handan found the midpoint of the entire ensemble using a laser level referenced off of some black pipe we installed near the ceiling a few years back to hang wall art from (Handan will have a post about that soon). She marked the midpoint with a pencil. This way, we could move things out of the way and still have a point of reference for the build.
With the midpoint marked, I pulled out the baseboard with a pry bar.
I then went down to the basement with my plans and cut sheet. I studied my plans…
When building cabinets, I like to label all my pieces with pencil and mark with arrows which ones will get drilled with pocket holes.
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