Easy DIY Display Shelf

It’s kind of weird that the room we spend the most time in has gotten the least amount of attention on the blog- but that’s probably because it’s not the most beautiful space in our house, even though it’s definitely the coziest (and the most awesome). Also, it’s a basement so there’s limited lighting andddd we painted super dark walls.

Matt & I are really into movies, and we own over 5,000 of them. Some of them are autographed, some are limited editions, some have collectibles to go along with them. We have plenty of space to store all the movies, but not the space to display some of the stuff we love. So I built 3 super easy floating display shelves using 1×2 and 1×8 boards.

diy floating display shelves

Let’s side track for a second: Not too long ago when I’d read a DIY post and it would have lumber measurements in it my eyes would glaze over and I’d assume I couldn’t do it. YOU CAN TOTALLY BUY LUMBER. That section of big orange or big blue is extremely intimidating… but you can do hard things! Go! Wander around! Find wood!

Ok. Back on track. Shelves.

shallowed floating shelves

I built one long shelf for along a side wall, and then 2 to go above our windows. I used a miter saw to make the cuts (the 1×2 was 1 cut, the 1×8 required me to cut one side then flip it to cut the other). A jigsaw or circular saw would work just as well.

Make pilot holes in your 1×2, then screw it into the wall- if you can find studs that would be best but these aren’t holding a lot of weight so it didn’t matter too much for us. I spaced my screws about a foot and a half apart, and buried them so I could fill them in and paint smoothly over them.

I applied Gorilla Glue on top of the 1×2, then placed the 1×8 on top and screwed it in, spacing those screws similarly and being really careful to drill straight so they didn’t pop through.

display shelf above window


I painted the shelves the same color as the walls (City Nights by Clark + Kensington). For the two shelves above the window, I screwed the 1×2 directly above the molding and it blends in really well.

blu ray storageThe 3 light wood shelving systems you see above are for our blu-rays, each one holds 500 so we’ve got plenty of room to grow. We can use the top of those, plus the 3 display shelves to keep our autographed movies and paraphernalia out and about.

Behind the couch is where all our DVD’s are…

built in shelf for movies


Those shelves were similarly built- 1×2’s along the side walls with 1×8’s on top. We did that when we first moved in with the intention of painting them (and the whole built in area) white… but… that never happened. And now there’s thousands of movie sin the way. Womp womp.

Got any questions? Leave them in the comments!

(PS- to see how we hid the wires for our 7 speaker surround sound, check here.)






How To Install a TV Wall Mount

A little while back when I had the Sanus wall mount giveaway, they offered me a mount as well. Which I happily accepted. It is full motion and tiltable– so cool! They said there was an easy 1, 2, 3 install process and I decided to put that to the test.

So here’s how it went, in picture progression:

On the instructions is a link to an under 5 minute install video, and you should totally watch it. It explains that the mount is universal and you are going to have far more screws and pieces then you actually need.

In instructions is a link to an under 5 minute install video, and you should totally watch it. It explains that the mount is universal and you are going to have far more screws and pieces then you actually need.

add brackets to tv

Once you’ve figured out what type of tv back you have (ours is flat), you can install the brackets accordingly. Don’t forget to account for where you will need to plug in your power cord and cables… we forgot. And then when we were completely done with the whole thing we had to take it down and adjust the brackets (which only took about 2 minutes, but was still very frustrating).

attach plate to wall

Installing the plate on the wall was by far the most challenging part of this, because we are absolutely deficient at centering things and keeping them level. Basically, we decided that visually the tv needed to be centered with the window sill. But the studs were not cooperating with that plan, so we attached the plate off center and then attached the mount off center on the plate but on center with the window sill. Does that make sense to you? That little pointy part above is the only part the tv actually hangs off of.

Once you’ve got the plate on the wall, and the mount attached to that, you hang your tv off that little arrow part, level it 700 times, then use one screw to attach the brackets on your tv to the wall mount.

wall mounted tv

The whole process took about 2 hours, because we had trouble figuring out where to put the plate and where on earth the studs were. But in the end, it looks freaking awesome and is a far safer option then having it propped up on old shelves behind a speaker.

My biggest tips would be to measure a million times and just drill once and also to check that things are level at every step of that game. But really, Sanus made it super easy and anyone can do this. You will need a second set of hands though.

We do plan on hiding the wires, but in the next few months we’re going to be installing a floor in the basement and to do so we’re going to have to move everything- so beautifying the room will come after that.

Thanks Sanus!!

Attack of the Stink Stairs: Part II

I know, I know- you’re wondering when on earth part I was. Yikes. I’m embarrassed to tell you that it was July 23, 2012. Ripping up carpet is THE WORST so basically I worked on it for one day and decided it was far too hot and awful and I’d do it in the winter.

So clearly, I got back to it yesterday… in a 90* heatwave.

Here’s the timeline: last July, I removed the carpet from 2.5 of our 8 stairs before I called it quits. Then, when our basement flooded the stairs got even stinkier and Matt removed carpet from another 2.5 stairs before calling it quits. Yesterday I finally got the rest of the beast up!

And to recap the how-to, since I had basically 0 readers at this time last year, these are the tools I used to rip up the stair carpet:



I used the utility knife to cut up carpet and padding as I went, and the pliers to pull out staples too small for the screwdriver (use needle nose pliers, not the ones pictured). The crowbar plied up the carpet death strips (which are strips of nails used at the creases of your stairs to hold the carpet and padding down), the screwdriver pulled up more staples, and the hammer was to work the crowbar and screwdriver in underneath the  death strips and staples. It is not a fun process. You should also have a dust pan on hand because it gets nasty.

Here’s some tips:

  • Don’t do this in the middle of summer in an un-airconditioned house. You will want to die at least 3 times.
  • Once you think you’ve got all your staples pulled up, check again, you missed some. And then you know what, check a third time because there will still be more.
  • Sweep each stair as you free it from carpet, then sweep all the stairs once you’re done, then vacuum the stairs, then wash them. Then once they dry do that all again too. Where does the filth come from?!
  • Don’t try to hold back the swears, let them fly! Sometimes those stairs need to be told who’s boss.


Once the stairs were cleaned, I went back and spackled some spots where there were dings and dents (from prying out the staples). Are you supposed to spackle stairs? I don’t know. Seemed like a good idea though.



Hopefully in the next week or two I will complete them, which entails the following:

  • Sand, sand, sand, then sand some more
  • Sweep and wash at least 3 times
  • Prime & Paint
  • Add carpet tiles to the top of each step (already purchased!)
  • Stencil the front kicks of each stairs (muah ha ha! I have a delicious idea for this!)


So as you can tell, I’m totally relaxing the week before my wedding. Living the life of leisure, if you will. …I promised Matt I’d go get my nails done tomorrow because at least then I’ll be forced to put. the. paint. brush. down.

How to hide your pesky wires!

On Monday I showed you some in progress photos of our movie room, and then on Wednesday Matt popped in to talk to you about our 7 speaker surround sound system and DIY subwoofer isolation pad.

That’s right, SEVEN speakers…. and you thought hiding the cord of a lamp was hard!



In the front of the room we’ve got two tall speakers flanking the tv and one subwoofer right next to it, and those wires are easily scooted under our baseboard and behind our tv stand. However, hiding the wires from our two back speakers and our two sound speakers was a bit trickier. And trickier still…we couldn’t hide them in the walls because the insulation was installed backwards and there wasn’t enough space.

The solution… these awesome, adhesive, paintable wire covers. (And no, I’m not being compensated to tell you that, we just seriously love these things).



Is it completely invisible? Of course not. But it really does a solid job at blending, and anything is better then trailing  wires from the very back of a room to the very front of it.

The packs also come with corner elbows and T-shaped fittings so you can get around tricky areas, like giant beams that span the length of your ceiling:



Overall, I absolutely think these are a lifesaver. It’s Matt’s room and it looks just how he wants it to… but let’s face it- left to his own devices they’re probably wouldn’t be a gallery wall of framed posters, concealed wires, and a plush  comfy rug.

You can definitely use these to hide lamp cords, tv wires (especially if you have a mounted tv!), speaker wires, etc.

So tell me, what are your wire hiding secrets?

Guest Post: How to DIY a Subwoofer Isolation Pad


Today’s guest post is written by my better half, Matt! On Monday I shared what the movie room looks like, but he’s popping in today to share how we got it to sound awesome as well. Take it away Matt……

Seeing as Stephanie normally gets to do all of the writing (it is her blog after all) I thought that I should get a chance to contribute as well.

To make a long story short, we were in the process of revamping our basement with a shiny new paint job and a new surround sound configuration. On average, we probably watch about 5-7 movies a week so sound is key. We have a 7.1 (7 speakers and 1 subwoofer) surround sound system set up in our basement. You will have to forgive me but I need to geek out here and describe the system in brief detail before moving on—be patient.

            Everything is powered by a Denon AVR-791 receiver that I am in absolute love with. My center channel speaker (where most of the dialogue comes from) is a Klipsch KC-25 and my front left and right speakers are Klipsch KF-28 floor standing speakers. This is where most of the power comes from in the system so it was important for me to have nice clear sounding speakers. The KF-28s, in particular, are excellent sounding speakers. For my surround left and rights, I eventually went with Klipsch KS-14 2-way speakers. Your surrounds give off most of your “moving sound.” For example, if a car whizzes by in a movie you will hear it as it moves from left to right across your whole room. The term 2-way just means that there are 2 individual speakers in each main speaker. This gives the speakers more movement and reach in your room. My surround back left and rights are Polk Audio TSi 100 bookshelf speakers. I bought these many moons ago and while they don’t match the remainder of my setup they do sound excellent—and have a nice cherry wood finish to boot. Last but not least I have a Klipsch SW-450 for my subwoofer (the subwoofer puts out the entirety of the bass or low end in your surround sound; in other words, it is an extremely important part of your system). I had replaced a Polk Audio subwoofer with this new monster and I immediately had a problem: my room was vibrating. This leads us to my featured project, a DIY Subwoofer Isolation Pad.

DIY subwoofer isolation pad

I did a great deal of research online about ways to fix vibration in a room from a subwoofer. What I kept coming to was something called an isolation pad. Essentially, this setup raises your subwoofer off the ground by about 2 to 3 inches. This coupled with heavy carpeting and soundproofing underneath was supposed to drastically cut down the vibration in a room. Basically, having a subwoofer on the ground can create many problems due to unwanted vibration and an overall “boominess.” We have the luxury of living in a house and not having to worry about neighbors so volume isn’t a problem. Apartment dwellers should especially take care here, as nothing is worse than having an awe inspiring setup but not being to use it thanks to sharing a space.

I found that you could purchase several different types ranging from $50-$100 online (mainly from Auralex), but this didn’t work for me. I had just spent a good deal of my hard earned money on upgrading my system, so I decided to build my own isolation pad.

The purpose of an isolation pad is in the name: it is meant to isolate the bass frequencies from the surfaces around the subwoofer. Raising it off the ground allows the bass to travel to the viewer and not to the walls, heating vents, and doors in your room.

subwoofer isolation pad supply list

Total cost: under $40

1. I started by laying the MDF down on the ground and placed my 2X3s 6” in on both sides. I made pencil lines to mark where the 2X3s would sit on the MDF. I then applied the Liquid Nails to the 2X3s making a zigzag pattern as I went.

how to make a subwoofer isolation pad

2. Next, I lined up the 2X3s (with Stephanie’s help) and pressed them firmly against the MDF. I wiped away the excess adhesive and gave them about 15 minutes to dry. I then made pencil marks on the 2X3 bases every 2” or so. These would be my rough positions for my drywall screws. I then drilled in the screws to firmly hold and seal the 2X3s to the MDF. This part was loud and long but it’s important to secure these boards.

movie room speaker set up

3. Once the screws were in we flipped the pad over to its top. I sprayed the bottom of the carpet and the top of the MDF with the 3M adhesive (awesome stuff by the way!) and let them sit for 2 minutes before lining up the carpet and pressing it down firmly on the MDF. It will adhere quickly but be forewarned: the 3M spray has a strong smell. If it’s a nice day I would recommend spraying it outside—we didn’t! We let the carpet sit again for about 15 minutes.

movie room sound set up

4. Once the carpet adhered on we busted out our trusty staple gun. I flipped over the pad and folded the excess carpet onto the bottom. Once it was pulled tight, I put in a liberal amount of staples to ensure it was secure and snug. I repeated the step on the opposite side. Next we had some excess on the front side of the pad so we folded that under and stapled it to the front (Stephanie used a black Sharpie to color in the staples—what a woman!).

homemade isolation pad

5. Once the carpet was secure I decided to use some of the Auralex soundproofing I bought to fill in the middle of the pad’s underside (in between the 2X3s). I had already bought some for the room so I cannot say how it would sound without it but you could always try it to start. This stuff can be expensive but I believe you can buy it in small quantities from Amazon. I cut a piece to size using a bread knife (you needed to use something with teeth, like this or an electric carving knife). We broke out the foul smelling 3M adhesive once more and sprayed both the bottom of the pad and the soundproofing foam. After 2 minutes I pressed the foam tightly and snuggly into the section. I flipped it back over and it was finished.

soundproofing a movie room

I can vouch for the quality of an isolation pad. From the second I put my subwoofer back on it and went through a few of my favorite sounding blu-rays I heard the difference in the room. The bass was louder but clearer. It was no longer muddy sounding and I had done away with vibration in the room. Obviously, every room is different and you might need to do some extra work to make the room “tighter.” For about $35, however, you cannot go wrong with making your own isolation pad. For the home theater enthusiast or for the noise-restricted apartment dweller, an isolation pad is a must have!

DIY subwoofer isolation pad____________________________


Movie Room Progress

I was going to call this post a room reveal, but then I started labeling one of the pictures with what we still have left to do and I thought “progress” would be a better word. This room has been a long time coming, it is the basement of our house and it’s Matt’s man cave. He spent a lot of time thinking about how he wanted it set up, what color he wanted it, and how he wanted everything to look. So note that this is not a beautiful professional blog room, it’s our realistic DIY budget room makeover and we think it’s freaking awesome.

To see what the room looked like 2 full years ago, when we first set it up, check here. And here’s what the room looked like while we were prepping to paint, the only thing missing is some of the DVD shelving but I really wanted you to get a sense of the nasty ox blood colored walls:

The walls were an unevenly painted crimson red, only half of the overhead lights worked, and the ceiling was dingy

The walls were an unevenly painted crimson red, only half of the overhead lights worked, and the ceiling was dingy

Dutch thought the wall color was fine… but what does he know. I thought it was incredibly stressful and harsh. It had to goooooo. We’ve been putting off painting it because we were afraid of how many coats of primer it would take to cover the red, then we discovered the awesomeness of paint + primer in one and realized if we chose a dark enough color we wouldn’t have to prime at all.

I got a lot of weird looks when I told people we were painting our basement a dark ashy blue… “but won’t it be all cave like down there?” YES. That is the point, this room is for movie watching so we wanted it dark, comfy, and inviting.

After 2 coats of City Nights by Clark+Kensington brand paint, the room was looking a million times better:

from stairsWe got it in an eggshell finish to minimize reflection and honestly, it makes me want to go back and paint my whole house in eggshell finish. It’s perfect. It’s also about a million times calmer and less aggressive.

My only complaint about the paint is it took FOREVER to dry. It was extremely thick… but to only have to do 2 coats instead of 5 or 6 was totally worth it.

Here’s a few more views of the room:

corner to left

The DVD shelves are from Best Buy, there’s 3 of them and the shelves can be adjusted to whatever height you’d like them. Each one can fit up to 500 movies. The tv stand is also from Best Buy, and the ottomans are from Walmart. The ottoman’s are both the same- you can take the top off and flip it to either be a tray or a soft top and inside is room for storage.

from woofer

When we moved in that back wall was just three built in cabinets, so we converted them to shelves so they could store more movies. Yes… more movies. 🙂 The doors on the right wall are to the half bath and to the unfinished part of the basement.

Here’s a run down of what we’ve done to the room:

  • Painted the walls
  • Soundproofed
  • Bought a new rug (after our 3rd basement flood)
  • Concealed the wires from the surround sound
  • Replaced a broken light fixture (with an exact match we found at the Habitat Restore!)
  • Created built in shelves

And here’s a detailed picture of what we’ve got left to do:

left to window

Come back all week to learn more about soundproofing, speaker set up, and wire concealing!

The 1%

I was supposed to have a really fun reveal of our newly painted and updated movie room today. But I don’t… because of what we are now calling “the 1%”.

For the past year and a half Matt’s been mulling over how he wants his movie room (the finished basement room) to look: what color he wants the room, how he wants his speakers set up, what he wants to do about sound proofing. Finally he decided exactly what he wanted it to look like and we got to work.

Last Friday morning he painted the ceiling, last Friday night I put coat number 1 on the walls, Saturday morning we both put coat number two on the walls, Sunday he started on speaker wire concealing and put up sound absorption pads. Then Monday we came home from work and found a pipe gushing extremely hot water everywhere.

I vacuumed TWENTY GALLONS of water out of the room. The water had been pouring out of the hot water heater so not only was everything soaked, it was so hot that the cement paint on our floor had literally bubbled. We swore. We cried. We ate a lot of carbs. And that’s when we decided that 99% of the time owning a house is the most awesome thing in the world, but the 1% of the time things go wrong they go so wrong that you basically want to die.

Instead of the beautiful after I was going to share with you, here’s the current state of the room:


At least we love the new paint color?

Every single problem we have/have had with our house has been water related:

  • The upstairs toilet runs for a solid 5 minutes every single time it’s flushed. We have no idea why or how to stop it
  • The downstairs toilet worked perfectly fine during the home inspection but was broken by the time we moved in
  • The kitchen sink was sitting on top of the pipes and not actually attached to it
  • The shower faucet was so old and coroded it literally came off in my hand when I turned it (after a FULL DAY of painting mind you, I needed to shower)
  • One of the pipes got backed up and water had nowhere to go so it overflowed out of the toilet (basement flood #1)
  • I tried to wash our old comforter in our washing machine and it didn’t fit so the water overflowed out of the washer (basement flood #2)
  • And now, apparently basement flood #3 was because we had 130 pounds of water pressure coming into our home with no valve to regulate it down to the 60 it should have been

Ugh. Hopefully we’ll have things up and running in time to show you next week!

So friends, commiserate with me please. What’s your 1%?