TV Cabinet before + after

Whenever I need a piece of furniture my first thought is never ‘Where can I buy one of those?’ but always, ‘How can I make something similar?’

I wanted a mid century modern style credenza but my budget wouldn’t allow it. So I decided I would have to make a ‘poor man’s’ version. My inspiration were pieces like this.

Lovely aren’t they?

So when we found this ugly, old laminate covered cupboard I immediately saw the potential.

TV cabinet before#1
Really? Really.

The first step was to remove all the doors and throw them away. I wanted lovely, slick sliding doors, but more on that later. We then cut off the top part using a jigsaw. I’m sorry I have no photos of the during steps, when I was doing this I did not realise I would later be writing a blog about it!

The next step was filling any screw holes left from the door hinges and then we gave the thing a good sand all over, to rough up the laminate and help the paint stick.

We started with a really good quality primer, this is essential for painting laminate or the paint will just scratch off. It was August, so I had to wait until 11pm to be able to paint the thing otherwise it would have been too hot and the paint would have been drying as I was applying it (primer dries very quickly). For projects like this I usually use a fine sponge roller. 1. Because the paint goes on quickly and evenly. 2. If you sand between coats I find it produces a more professional finish than applying with a paintbrush.

So because it was dark brown and we wanted it white, I applied 3 coats of primer and sanded with fine sandpaper in between each coat to give a nice, smooth base coat. I left it to dry for 24 hours before applying the top coats. I used white acrylic and if I remember correctly it needed 2 coats. Phew. Painting laminate is a shit.

I always intended to seal it with a top coat of polyacrylic (from many hours of research I have come to the conclusion that this is the only varnish suitable for using on white paint as apparently it doesn’t yellow.) But as yet I still haven’t managed to find anywhere in Spain that stocks it and postage from other countries is high! It’s held up OK though. It’s now about 3 years old and did suffer a little chip on the top when we moved, but for a high traffic piece it’s done well. but if you have good polyacrylic I would definitely recommend that you use it.

So we now had a white box; it needed some legs. I initially started investigating hairpin legs, but again I could only find them available in other countries and the shipping was astronomical. At the time we didn’t have a car so couldn’t even get the the decent hardware shop, which was far from where we lived. (We tried going on the bus once, it took us 5 hours to get there and back and involved walking along a very busy, narrow road with our long pieces of wood under our arms. We decided that wasn’t really practical.)

What do you do if you need a wooden pole and can’t get to the hardware shop? Use a wooden mop handle, obviously.

TV Cabinet after - side view

Again, I wouldn’t recommend this as such. The wood is not going to be as good quality as a thick dowel bought from a proper supplier and would probably break under a lot of weight. But as always, we were resourceful and did what we could with what we could get. However, it did only cost 60 cents, so …..

M did a fine job whittling the ends into a subtle taper. I stained and waxed them and we attached them to the base with brackets like these.


We now had a much more functional TV stand, with enough room to hide the speakers and all the unsightly cables. We wanted sliding doors so that when the speakers were on they could be opened and then closed to hide them away the rest of the time. I think that the proper way to do that would have been to use a router to create grooves in the wood. We didn’t have a router.

TV cabinet during#2
Is that Escape to The Country on the TV?

It stayed like this for a long time (with all those messy cables underneath!) before we came up with a solution to how to do the doors. Things rarely get finished quickly around here. Especially in those days when we always had to think of a way around the lack of tools and equipment needed for the job.

Plastic strip for sliding doors

Eventually, we found this plastic strip, I have no idea what it is actually for, but it was perfect for the job. We nailed it to the base and top of the cupboard, inserted our (very thin) cupboard doors, which were stained to match the legs and Bob’s your uncle we have a TV stand.

TV Cabinet after

I’m sure we can do better in the future, but until then it does the job nicely.