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What to do about ugly built in
amymarie1234
January 31, 2013 in Design Dilemma
We're a young couple buying our first home. Love this space with windows and fireplace but we can't stand the pre-made built in the builder created. What can we do with it? The shapes are odd and don't fit our tv. HELP!
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amymarie1234
Anyone??
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:04AM
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ispeakwhale
A big bookcase and fill it full with all the books you read in college, lol. Balance the other side with 2 -3 large art pieces hung vertically. A big roundish mirror over the fire place, and just a few substantial and meaningful objets on the mantle.

Have fun and congrats on your new home.
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:09AM
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amymarie1234
So are you saying put a bookcase in front of it or have more of a custom one built in it? I like the idea of the art on the opposite side to balance it. Thank you!
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:12AM
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ispeakwhale
Well, if you can invest in a built-in I think so, yes, that would be best. I was thinking you could put one in front, but you would need a small console under the art on the other side - or something if you did that. Built-ins would be best and most of the wall is cut out anyway. ;)
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 12:16AM
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ispeakwhale
After thinking more...maybe not a LARGE mirror, if you try that...more medium size... have some wall space around it so your eye can have a place to rest, and that whole wall wouldn't look so full. If you do built-ins, you can do the top half shelves and the bottom half with doors, so it doesn't get too busy looking.
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 12:20AM
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amymarie1234
I like that idea of the shelves and then doors on bottom
2 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:23AM
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ispeakwhale
gah, I didn't even look at the second pic. Are you planning on putting a dining table in front of the windows? Now that I see windows are there, maybe just a shelf placed on the wall so it breaks up the line of the wall as it comes around to the windows.
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:23AM
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amymarie1234
No we have a separate dining area. This is just the family room so it will have a sofa and loveseat
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:25AM
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ispeakwhale
Might be easier to try a shelf first and keep the receipt. ;)

I know people who have built-ins on both sides with a flat screen tv on the left side with open shelving above it, built in, so the TV can be seen from the kitchen, and the other side has built-in shelves on top and cabinets on bottom. But your walls aren't the same width on both sides. hmm.
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:26AM
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amymarie1234
Exactly. That's why it's a little challenging... I'd like to have shelving and doors built in like you mentioned, just don't want it to look too heavy on that left side since there's a window next to it. I have a hard time visualizing how it will turn out!
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:30AM
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amymarie1234
I wonder of it would be costly to demo out those pre-made shelves that are the same material as the wall and have woodwork done to fill that space and hold a flat screen?
2 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:33AM
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ispeakwhale
I really dislike cutouts in walls...I've lived with them before and they are so wierd, lol. I'm afraid that whatever you do it will look very cramped. You may need that wall for chair or table placement. If you were willing to do built-ins, maybe just have it plastered to a solid wall if you aren't going to utilize this anyway?
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 12:36AM
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ispeakwhale
I don't think it would be more more costly than anything else. Call around and see! That's the perfect half-way solution, plus it gives you a place for the tv.
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:39AM
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Judit
Put art on the shelves an enlighten them.
3 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 1:09AM
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Frances Shears
Looks like a TV should go there! I personally would do maybe a basket on one of the shelves! I am a big PLATE fan! Porcelain plates on a plate stand ALWAYS take up space! Then add some kind of "greenery"! i LOVE dried boxwood! A nice glass fluted bowl (TJMAXX...:-)) with boxwood or moss "balls" or even some good looking green apples (not the cheap ones)...Flea markets and antique stores have great "SETS" of books that have rich colors that you can bring color to your book case with! If you do not plan on using a TV in the space a big basket (again..TJMAXX) would look GREAT with wood in it! Even paint the basket black to bring some contrast! THAT is what I would do! :-) you dont want to cludder it with TOO much color or too many "THINGS"...keep it clean and simple with a little punch! Can't wait to see a picture of what you have done! :-) Have fun with your new home!
3 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 1:36AM
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groveraxle
I agree about the niche; it distracts from the obvious focal point of the fireplace. I would drywall over it and make it go away.
9 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 3:21AM
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peetsoo
How about wrapping your curtains/drapes around the corner so that the niche gets covered up? Would at least be a temporary solution until you know exactly what you want to do with it....
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 3:46AM
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feeny
I agree with groveraxle on this one. I was at first tempted to say do more formal built ins on both sides, in white trim to flank your mantel, but with all those beautiful windows and the different widths of wall on the sides of the mantel, I think it will all just look too cluttered. So drywalling over it and letting windows and mantel be the focus seems more attractive to me.
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 4:31AM
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thelmalouisemom
Since you have an outlet in the right cubby, what about a lamp? Use the top shelf for books, a box, vase, or other objects in the other spaces. Art work to balance the other side of the fireplace.
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 5:04AM
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Gabberts Design Studio
I would suggest the TV above the fireplace and run the components into the built in shelving. Hide them with accessories. Or, if it's in the budget, cover them up. It would cost a few hundred dollars to fix the area.
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 5:08AM
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Mary Dancey Interiors
If the budget allows think about having the same sized custom cabinets built for both sides. Once you hang draperies you won't notice there is more wall space on the left. The cubbies offer a great opportunity to have a hidden panel in the back of the cabinetry to hide away valuables.
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 5:13AM
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Glori DeJure
I had the same thing in my house and it bothered me for years. The only solution was to drywall over it, which wasn't very expensive, and I'm glad I finally did it. The carpenter pulled the electric and cable hook ups to the front of the wall for us. The whole job took a few hours.
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 5:16AM
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Jayme H.
Thinking drywalling it in would be best. It is high and large/wide and the space on the other side does not balance it out...
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 5:16AM
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Jayme H.
The windows are another thing, now that I see those.....A lot going on to the left and nothing to the right...Can u take u take a pic with most of that wall in there, includ. windows please?
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 5:18AM
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kingslane
I love is space. it looks like the room is open to. The island/ kitchen. if that's true I would use the built in. Fr cookbooks and other funky kitchen pieces,,
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 6:53AM
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nFORMAL design
This is my 2-cents as a designer with a background in building and custom furniture making. First, whoever put that in the house was either JUST a builder or not a good designer. The opening lines up with nothing...unless it references something in another room or outside the house. Haha. Jayme...for a Registered Nurse, you gave the perfect advice! Drywall that sucker in and start fresh. The only other option I would suggest is to fix the height of it so it matches the mantel and then goes all the way to the ground. Then, I would line it with some durable material -- Richlite, Paperstone, Slate, Soapstone, Finished metal, and use it as firewood storage.
2 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 7:20AM
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Jayme H.
Nurses need to know where to put things, and what looks right....LOL!
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 7:25AM
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amymarie1234
Thank you all for your input. My husband's suggestion from the get go was to cover it up right away. I thought about framing it out to make it more decorative and add woodworking on the inside. Bad thing is, it doesn't balance the room with the fireplace very well.
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 7:26AM
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Jayme H.
Good choice!! home....good luck, show us the results!!
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 7:55AM
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Barbara Griffith Designs
You could still achieve balance in the room..you seem to equate symmetry with balance and they are not the same. You could attain balance by the following. As someone earlier said, place large single objects and some large books (laying flat) on the shelves. On the opposite side of the fireplace have a large stuffed chair, maybe with ottoman angled into the room, above it 2, stacked pieces of framed art very large that would almost fill the space. Lastly, if the TV is NOT going above the fireplace, a very large, round framed mirror. Possibly a bench with a stuffed cushion on top under the built-in. You would now have balance.
2 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 8:09AM
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amymarie1234
Oh I like that idea too!
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 8:13AM
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Jayme H.
With all the windows and the built in on that side...I felt as if it would be just too much to try to work with...that whole wall would be "filled"..but I could be wrong.
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 8:20AM
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nFORMAL design
Barbara makes a good point about balance...symmetry isn't needed for balance, and in design, a lot of us try to shy away from symmetry. However, I personally think you can "ground" the recess with a bench or hanging "box" that would make it touch the floor. My only issue is that the top and bottom of the recess do not reference anything. It looks out of place. Though it isn't even with the top and bottom of the windows, it should be centered or something. It really is "off" all the way around. As someone stated in another discussion I'm in, it is all opinion.
2 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 8:26AM
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Jayme H.
It probably could be made to look, and balance better...but if you can just start over it may be better???
I love all the great minds here-it's a brain storm!!
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 8:28AM
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Barbara Griffith Designs
Who needs another piece of blank wall..while challenging, I think it could look quite awesome and unique..I suggest photoshopping my idea. A picture is worth a thousand words.
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 8:37AM
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designgrl01
Balance the right side of the fire place with something large - artwork, plant grouping, sculpture, etc. Try to take the fireplace to the ceiling somehow - add moulding and visibly raise the mantel height, add tile that compliments the surround inside the molding detail. Use the same tile on the back of the nIches then fill them with decorative items that are shaply and colorful
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 8:47AM
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amymarie1234
These are all great ideas, however i still need to find a place to put the tv. The opposite side of this wall is an open kitchen so a tv must go somewhere on this side.
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 10:13AM
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Ramona
The more I look at it the more I want to drywall that sucker. Builders got wise to giving use somewhere for the tv about five years before we all went flat screen so a lot of places have these ugly boxes. Something simple like this wouldn't cost much at all. A matching one on the other side would balance it out. Search built in tv under photos here.

I think the worst thing about this figuring out how to move the opening and centering things once it is covered up. The carpenter you get had better have his thinking hat on. What is on the other side of this wall? Maybe you can reclaim some space on the other side of the wall and have a storage place in that other room.

[houzz=
]
3 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 10:24AM
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bester
Congratulations on your new home ! I would take out the shelving configuration and put in adjustable glass shelves which would make the area a little more interesting. Would mean a little drywall repair. Good luck.
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 10:45AM
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hilphillips
Consider using molding to from floor to ceiling to make the thing look more like a bookcase. Paint everything between glossy white and use decorative molding to make it look more "believable"
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 11:01AM
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jgoodmon
Consider removing all of the drywalled shelves and adding wood shelves inside the niche. Put your TV in there there with a mount that would allow you to pull it out a bit and angle it toward your seating area. Add retractable/slide-in doors to hide the TV when not in use. Thick molding that would tie in this area with the windows to the left would be fab.
2 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 11:19AM
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jgoodmon
Had this thought to add to my previous one... How about plantation shutters for the niche and the windows. It would make the niche look like another window.
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 11:29AM
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Eagledzines
I wouldn't try to fudge it. I will just look like you tried to fudge it. If you want bookshelves, tear it out and make bookshelves that are balanced. If you don't care for bookshelves, just have it sheetrocked over.
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 11:31AM
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amymarie1234
Hmm...I'd have to look into that, hadn't thought about that. I do really like your first idea.
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 11:32AM
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amymarie1234
So when you say balanced, do you mean add a similar bookshelf on the other side of the fireplace? I'm not sure there's quite enough room.
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 11:33AM
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Eagledzines
No, I mean whatever size you like on one side, match on the other. If you go with 1', 2', 3' on the left, do the same on the right. Unless you really like the built in, tear it out, start over and put in what you like.
2 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 11:35AM
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Ramona
There is plenty of room for another shelving unit on the right side. You just need to put the left side unit in a completely different place. It can't be saved as it is wrong in size and shape and placement. What is your budget? If you are short from buying the home, just drywall and put your tv in front of the outlets for the time being and then built a custom unit later. This is going to bug you until you get rid of it and plain drywall will cost the least.
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 11:45AM
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ldfield
Here is a thought- what about trimming out the entire built-in area and fireplace area into one centerpiece on the wall? Can't tell from pictures, but would it achieve the "balance" you feel it needs? Is there space under the build-ins that could be opened up and added to the built-in area taking it from floor to ceiling? No matter what, I'd remove the current shelves, add glass shelves and put lights in the top to light your art or decorative display pieces. Using an accent color behind the shelves would be bright. If the bottom can be opened, a wooden shelf to hold your television would be nice and doors could be used to hid components inside. A beautiful large plant in a large pot or arrangement of plants on the opposite side to "balance" the window would be refreshing. Or, as others have suggested, use an art arrangement, however, I feel this would be over-busy.
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 11:48AM
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Eagledzines
Scrap the built-in.
Pic 1: http://www.decorpad.com/photo.htm?photoId=88254&index=0&searchQuery=fireplace&searchType=photos
Pic 2: http://www.vandykehome.com/carpentry.html
Pci 3:http://cotedetexas.blogspot.com/2011/08/munger-interiors.html
3 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:00PM
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amymarie1234
We have saved enough to make upgrades to the home since there were a few things we didn't care for (such as the cut outs). I would love to do the whole wall in a custom piece, but that seems really pricey!! I love those photos you just added. That's where my mind was going initially. Who would I call about something like this? A contractor? If we're going to put money into it, I'd like it to look custom.
2 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:09PM
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Mary Dancey Interiors
You want to find a good cabinet maker, you shouldn't need to go through a contractor for this. Make sure that you see a portfolio and some of their clients should be happy to let you see work in person as well as be happy to give referrals. It will be expensive and if it's want you want then save for it and do it when your budget allows. Not only will you end up with a beautiful space but it will increase the value of your home as well.
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:15PM
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Galleria Place
We have some very nice decor, wall decor and electronics that would go great redirect the focus from the built in cabinets..
Here is a link to our decor: http://www.bargainbacker.com/Decor-_c_8.html
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:17PM
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Eagledzines
Call a custom cabinet maker.They know the skills and machinery at their disposal to give you a design that they can execute. Design time is charged either up front (in which case, you should then own the the print and be able to get a price from another cabinet maker) or they will charge it within the price of the job and you will not own the print but the design remains their property. A lot of them do that. You could ask an interior decorator for design ideas. He/she will charge you for the design work. But unless she/he is used to working with a custom cabinet maker won't necessarily know the extent of expertise or machinery capability of the shop. Most cabinet makers and designers will charge to come out and measure.
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 12:18PM
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ldfield
To find a cabinetry/ trim carpenter, drive around a new custom housing developement and look for cabinetry/trim guys (company vehicles in the driveway). Often they will allow you to look at the project they are working on and then you can talk directly with them without a builder as your contact person/middleman, which can also save you money. Have your pictures handy to show the caprenter. They often keep their own albums in their vehicles so you can see some other jobs they have done. Then, look for another couple of carpenters. Collect quotes. If you like one guy over another, but his prices are higher, share the lower quote and ask what he can do to get you into that ballpark. He will likely work with you to achieve your desires and price range.
2 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:20PM
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ldfield
You don't need custom cabinetry, per say, but custom trim/carpentry. Builing custom cabinets for the build-in space is unnecessary and much more expensive. Trimmed properly it will look like custom cabinetry.
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 12:24PM
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Eagledzines
The only other tradesperson that you may need is an electrician as there may be wiring in the wall and if you want lighting in the units. No, you shouldn't need a general contractor. Some cabinet makers will also be able to give you references to electricians they usually use.
You DON'T want to hire a carpenter. There is a huge difference between a cabinet maker and a carpenter. Cabinet makers work with tolerances of 1/16th-1/32nd of an inch. There is a joke around here that if something doesn't fit, a framing carpenter just gets a bigger hammer.
Click on the "FIND LOCAL PROS" button above this page in the black band and find someone in your area. Check the Better Business Bureau. Check references and was mentioned, take a look at their design portfolio and website.
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:26PM
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ldfield
If your trim carpenter is building on-site he won't need to have a bigger hammer as he will be doing custom work. Explore both options and go with what you are comfortable with and what you can afford. Be comfortable with the work either provides before you commit. Trim carpenters do amazing work and their work is custom, too. Be sure through your research that the trim carpenter you choose does more than put in trim around doors and windows, but you will be able to see his work in photos and in person.
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 12:34PM
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Ramona
Sorry that I used the term carpenter. Yes, cabinet maker or trim carpenter are the right terms. I don't think simple cabinets flanking your fireplace will cost that much. If you aren't going for expensive wood, it can be made out of mdf and painted white or another color.

The picture below is in your idea book. I think you can get simple cabinets like this for a reasonable price. The simpler they are the lower the price.

No doors, less price. All you really need to hide are the tv components such as they are. A simple shelving unit with enough space between shelves for your tv shouldn't cost much at all.

I looked at your ideabook. Your taste is similar to mine. A little traditional but not fussy. You can mix simple built ins with that style easily.

[houzz=
]
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 12:34PM
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ldfield
There is a differnce between a TRIM carpenter and a framer!
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:36PM
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Mary Dancey Interiors
This is something that should be pre-painted before installation so in my opinion you need a cabinet maker. I'm not saying that a trim carpenter couldn't do the work and build you a beautiful unit but he's not likely to have a shop where the units can be properly sprayed. If he does than he is a cabinet maker. Bottom line is do your research, ask your parents and their friends, your friends, your neighbours, someone will be able to recommend the right person with the right tools.
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 12:39PM
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solraven
When we walked in our home and saw a similar set up, in our minds, there was no need for discussion. We considered the price to replace the wall, and the added square footage, we would be adding, to the garage on the other side, part of the cost of the home. We stayed in our rental an extra 6 weeks so that we wouldn't have to deal with living in a construction zone. It was one of the best things we ever did.
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 12:46PM
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madster572
Have shelf coming out from the bottom of the bottom in shelf (to put tv on) and put all sky boxes and stuff behind on builders shelf ... Just an idea
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 12:53PM
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Eagledzines
ldfield--That is true. However, I found I still had to train trim carpenters to be cabinetmakers in my shop.
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 1:01PM
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ldfield
Eagledzines- Sounds like your expections are high, as are mine. I would re-train anyone who worked for me, too. I am accustomed to working with high-end trim carpenters who do amazing work. That is why my confidence is high in their abilities.
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 1:18PM
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Eagledzines
Another difference between a cabinetmaker and a trim carpenter is the materials they use. Wood used in a cabinet shop is obtained from a wholesaler that dries the wood to about 6% for cabinetmakers, leaving less chance for shrinkage. Trim carpenters generally obtain their wood from a lumber yard. The moisture content in wood from a lumber yard can be up to 12%.
Cabinet makers are often in need of custom made jigs to get the look they want and keep them in stock. Some even have custom bits and shaper knives made and on hand to do special things.
Most will use sprayed lacquer or conversion varnish, whereas most (not all) trim carpenters will paint latex or oil. Some trim carpenters are very good and can come up with some nice designs. But by and large, if you want trim work done, you should call a trim carpenter. If you want cabinets built, you should call a cabinet maker.
1 Like   February 1, 2013 at 1:26PM
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ispeakwhale
The info that was just shared is so valuable and what makes houzz so great. It's not just people throwing their opinions around! Thanks, I might need to know this in the future! :)

I look forward to seeing how the room turns out! Please come back and share!
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 6:42PM
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amymarie1234
I couldn't agree more! Thank you everyone for your thoughts and ideas. It has been so helpful!!
0 Likes   February 1, 2013 at 6:44PM
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amymarie1234
This is how it turned out! Thanks for all of your help!
2 Likes   March 15, 2013 at 2:56PM
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amymarie1234
We're still decorating (hence the boxes and broom in corner) but it looks like a new room!
2 Likes   March 15, 2013 at 2:59PM
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Barbara Griffith Designs
Wow..It looks really great...don't forget to put something tall/large on that far wall for balance. Maybe something under the TV opening, like some ottoman cubes that could be pulled out when needed. You are definitely on the right track.
1 Like   March 15, 2013 at 3:23PM
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Karen Naylor
you could hang reclaimed window shutters so you can close the TV off when you have guests round? love waht you have done with the space xxx
1 Like   March 15, 2013 at 3:48PM
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Eagledzines
What a difference! It's great! Thanks for sharing!
0 Likes   March 15, 2013 at 4:03PM
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Madeline
It;s great. I would consider painting the molding the same color as the wall. After all it is not exactly art. I'd make it less obvious. Otherwise it's fabulous and believe me I've lived with a huge strange cut out for 12 years, just as my DH how much I hate it!
1 Like   March 15, 2013 at 4:44PM
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amymarie1234
I think of it as the same category as the trim and baseboards, so it's staying white. Thanks for the suggestion though. ;)
0 Likes   March 15, 2013 at 4:47PM
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CMR Interiors & Design Consultations Inc.
I don't believe at all that flat screens look dumb over fireplaces...what looks stupid is two focal points next to each other . The fact is that tv is as American as apple pie and if you can afford a 6K box to put your tv in over your tv with an electronic art screen to come down over it and a frame-to make it--then good for you.

Otherwise, put a samsung 1" thick tv over the fireplace where it belongs because there should never be multiple focal points in rooms-they confuse people and look tacky. The ideas above to try to make it work look like silly to me.

Here is what those art boxes look like for those who like the idea of the concealed tv thing: Palos Park Builder's Home . Here is a similar fireplace with a tv above it. CMR Interiors & Design Consultations Inc

Good luck with your future decorating- ; )
1 Like   March 15, 2013 at 4:57PM
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amymarie1234
I wouldn't say a tv "belongs" over a fireplace. I think it's all personal preference. Thanks for your comment and interest in post though. ;)
0 Likes   March 15, 2013 at 5:27PM
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Kathleen Amatangelo
The shelves are nothing more than decorative, not structural. Take them out, and have a unit build into the space, like a built in Armoire, with doors that when open slide back into the wall on the side. Have the doors match the style of the other doors in the room. ( http://www.yestertec.com/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/media/Mamasopen500.jpg ) This space could become a dry bar or a place for your TV).
1 Like   March 15, 2013 at 5:49PM
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Close to pulling all my hair out. HELP PLEASE!
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