This article describes the creation of a built-in entertainment system using built-to-order Arthur Brown Face Frame bookcases and cabinets with custom trim used to trim it out and give it a built-in look. The bookcases and cabinets were made in a simple face frame style so that moulding could be chosen and added to fill in the gaps between the cabinets and the wall.

This particular home has a step-down family room with a raised opening in the wall, which isn’t exactly your typical situation. This made it all the more tricky, since the base of the opening is 12 inches off the floor and the top has a bulkhead that is 12 inches from the ceiling, leaving 7 feet of vertical space to work with. It is about 11.5 feet wide.

Step 1: Design of the Space and Ordering of Components

The project began by coming up with a design plan and then choosing bookcases and cabinets that would fit comfortably into the space without leaving too much space to fill on the sides and top. Since this was to be used as an entertainment system, there needed to be space for a large TV, speakers to the sides and above, media components below, and plenty of storage space for DVDs, books, and other items. The center bottom piece is a “CN4” entertainment console with a TV hutch above. The side pieces are bookcases with lower doors. Each piece has pull-out trays behind the doors. The center console section has a pull-out shelf so that a heavy receiver can be rolled in and out to make it easier to connect the wiring.

Step 2: Preparation of the Area

First, the wood flooring was removed from this area since it was no longer needed. Plus, the extra 3/4″ of space gained by removing the flooring made sure the 84″ tall bookcases fit in easily. The photo below shows two 30″W x 84″H x 24″D unfinished bookcases, which just barely fit into the space after having removed the flooring. The bottom section has pull-out trays and doors, but these were taken off so that they could be more efficiently painted. The other pieces were moved to another area for painting.

Step 3: Painting and Installation

All the pieces were painted and then positioned in the wall space, leaving some gaps between them, which will later be covered with mouldings.

Step 4: Installation of Wiring and Power Access

Before the pieces were permanently installed, it was necessary to run wires from where the media components go to where the speakers and TV will go. Holes were cut into the back panels and connector panels installed to enable wires to pass through from one piece to the next. Cables were connected to the backs of the panels so that some of the audio/video cables could be quickly and easily plugged directly into the front of each panel. Power was run to the bottom cabinet.


Step 5: Finishing the Installation of Doors and Accessories

The outer two bookcases were screwed to the side walls to ensure they do not move, while the center pieces were then screwed to the side pieces. On the floor, you can see the moulding that will be used to frame out the pieces and cover the gaps.

Step 6: Installation of Equipment

Equipment was installed in the entertainment console. At the bottom center opening is a battery backup/surge protector and receiver.A pull-out shelf was installed to make it easier to slide the receiver in and out while connecting cables. In the short open shelf above are the media boxes, such as a cable TV box, Apple TV, and Blu-Ray player.

Step 7: Installation of Moulding Around Frame

Unfinished moulding was then nailed to the wall and face frame of the bookcases and cabinets. In between each piece is a custom-built column consisting of several stacked pieces: a plinth block at the bottom, a piece of fluted column above, and a rosette at the top. In between the plinth blocks are flat pieces of Maple wood with upside down chair rail moulding added to its top. Above the cabinets is an inverted piece of base moulding was placed in between the columns. Finally, a piece of crown moulding was added at the very top.

Step 8: Painting of Moulding

The moulding had holes filled, caulk applied to any gaps, and was then painted so everything flowed seemlessly together. You can’t even tell which pieces are separate from each other. The first photo below shows the plinth block with fluted moulding stacked on top. To the side are flat pieces of wood with chair rail placed upside down on top. The second photo shows the rosette block at the top of the fluted moulding, with upside down base moulding on each side and crown above.


Step 9: Finishing Touches

Finally, everything is installed and plugged in. No more hole in the wall–it now looks completely built in! Inside the taller doors are pull-out trays for DVDs and other items.