Part three of the media room: The finishes

Once everything was installed and in working order, it was time to finish the room off so that we could actually use it.

Since the back wall of the room is original plaster and somewhat uneven hanging artwork was problematic.  Wallpaper seemed like a good option to give the room some interest.  At first, we thought a mural would be fun but worried it walked the fine line between modern and dated.  We considered some patterns and colors and eventually chose Big Apple by York Wallpaper.  We liked the simple pattern of the repeating buildings and the way it had some depth to give the room a little extra dimension.

RK4507 Big Apple by York

York Wall coverings RK4505 Urban Chic Big Apple Wallpaper, Cream/Beige/Brown

We bought the cream/beige color but there is also one with a blue tone.

Normally, we are DIY’ers but we’d never wallpapered before and did not want to mess it up, and well, we are getting tired. We found an installer on Yelp.  We called a few and, as usual, not many installers were interested in such a small job.  One guy was rude, one guy was out of town indefinitely, the only female company wanted $750 to do one wall! We ultimately chose Jorge, from 78 & Sunny wallpapering.  He arrived on time, put on his headphones, and went to work.  He was efficient, polite and cleaned up after himself.  At this point, we know that is all you can ask of a contractor.  We were very happy with the outcome.




The room is pretty small, especially with the cabinets, so there weren’t very many design/decorating decisions to make.  Our cats like to scratch furniture so we did not want to get an expensive sofa.  We also needed one that we could pull out for guests.  We chose IKEA for the price as well as design and are very happy with the quality so far and at $599, it won’t be such a great loss if it gets damaged over time.  Pillows are also from IKEA.

IMG_9363 (1)

For artwork, we dug through boxes in the basement to find old family photos, original as well as our daughter’s artwork.  For this room, we decided to use only black frames and we also used the Keepsake app to have a couple of Instagram photos printed and framed.  We mixed family photos with artwork and scenery photos taken during our travels to give it a mixture of color and balance.


I wish I could say we had it all planned out before we hung the first photo but we basically started at one end and moved along the wall.   We still have a few spaces to fill but have an exciting trip planned for this summer and will surely take lots of photos.

For furnishings, we finished the room off with two side tables from CB2 and exported a lamp from our living room upstairs.  We also ordered the pouf from to use as a footstool.


We love our new TV/storage/laundry room of requirement!

Part two: Installing a Media Room

While waiting for the cabinets to arrive we prepared all the wiring for the TV and surround speakers and plumbing for the kitty litter (we’ll explain later).


We were already ahead of the game because we had the plumbing and the cable wires already installed, we just needed extra outlets.

We wanted to make sure there were enough outlets for the appliances, tv, printer and our new Xbox (it’s been a long time coming).  We also needed to make sure that we had the proper wiring for the surround sound speakers.  Before the walls went up we made sure we installed wiring already before the contractors put the drywall up so that when the time came we had options about where we wanted outlets and cable wiring.

Our first step in cabinet installation was to lay down a raised foundation to be the base of the cabinets.



The electric washer and dryer were too large for standard cabinet sizes so we ordered custom doors and had to create a cabinet box for them with no back.  So that the cabinet would not move and warp we put in a bar to keep the false cabinet stable.  We chose electric appliances because they are smaller than those sets with a gas dryer.




flushable kitty litter

You can’t see it here but we also cut extra holes in the side of the cabinet to accommodate the plumbing pipes that would attach to the water pipes for the washer and dryer for our flushable kitty litter.


Next, we had to lay a strong base for the top cabinets to rest on because drywall is not strong enough to support the cabinets.



Who can spot the mistake? We hadn’t planned on this set up before we installed the ceiling lights – they are a little close to the cabinet than we’d have liked but c’est la vie.


Once all the top cabinets were in place we created a support for the TV panel.  Our cabinets are very deep to accommodate the washer and dryer.  We did not want deep bottom cabinets and shallow top cabinets so we chose all deep cabinets for extra storage. Basically, we were creating a false back for the TV so the cabinets would appear uniform.

Once that was ready, we cut all the holes and installed all the electrical outlets and


The whole layout with all our hookups but there are still a lot of empty cupboards for storage left.


You can see the Cat Genie in the center cabinet here. It works really great by scooping the solids and sending them through the drain pipe and sending water through the other pipe to rinse and clean the bowl that contains washable litter pellets.  Every once in a while you need to spray some bleach during the wash cycle to keep it smelling clean.


We did not want any unsightly wires leading to the TV so we installed outlets on the panel and the support to hold the TV.


We’d already installed the speakers (see white speaker in corner) in the wall and hooked them up.


The finished product, complete with the hole for the cat litter.


The Room of Requirement becomes the media room at last! Part one.

Back when we were working with our architect to tweak the layout of garden floor of the house, we looked at a few options.

The choices…

In the end, we decided that we’d plan for a separate laundry/storage room sandwiched between the bedrooms with the option of turning it into a media room later on.


Once the renovations on our living space were completed we moved in and forgot about that room.  We set up laundry on the 3rd floor temporarily while we were renovating that space so we didn’t have to face schlepping to the laundry mat.  Hence, the “middle room” on the garden floor became our Room of Requirement.  In the Harry Potter books, the Room of Requirement is located on the 7th floor of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  When you need someplace to hide something, the room opens for you.  So if you did not know where to put something, it went in there.  We were derelict in our blogging duty of taking “before” photos, but you get the idea.

Then the day came when we had to get our own washer and dryer.  During renovations, we’d changed our minds again and thought we’d put the laundry in the basement and went back to the idea of using the spare room for an office/media room. The basement, however,  wasn’t getting any cleaner now that my spouse had turned it into a workshop.  It also meant another set of stairs to travel when we do the laundry.  So, it was back to the original plan.

The challenge now was how to get the room to serve both purposes.  First, we had to get rid of the half-wall (what were we thinking when we agreed to it?!).

We had not finished the floors in that room yet because we knew there needed to be plumbing installed. Installing a new gas line for the dryer, we knew, was going to be tricky and costly.  We called several plumbers who came out and then either never came, never gave us a quote, or gave us one that was ridiculously high (a common problem with tradespeople in NYC).  If we wanted any liveable space in the room having a giant washer and dryer in the corner would be awkward.  The size of washer/dryers available were also problematic.  With all the small apartments out there you’d think there would be more options for city dwellers.

After much back and forth, we decided on the Whirlpool Duet electric washer/dryer set because they were several inches smaller than all gas washer/dryer sets.  We were concerned about how well an electric dryer would dry clothes but it has worked out fine.

The next step was painting and installing the floors.


After completing all the necessary plumbing, which actually went through the walls and not the floor, we installed the hardwood floors.  This took less than a day and was easy to do yourself if you have the tools.  We hired Keith to assist–he helped us install the floors in the rental unit so he had all the necessary tools already like a nail gun and two hands work more quickly than one.  This room was square and there was no baseboard molding so it was pretty simple.



What a difference nice floors make!


We made a trip out to Kuiken Brothers in Fairlawn, New Jersey to get the molding.  We like their moldings better than anything you can get at Home Depot or even Dykes Lumber, and the service is much better.  We bought colonial casings in primed poplar to match the rest of the house.  There are also really great hiking trails out there near Sterling Lake so we made a day of it.

The next issue was how to hide the appliances.  We could stack them and build a closet but again you are left with something awkward.  We chose the only other option, put them side by side and install cabinetry around them.

We went to our local cabinetry shop, Park Slope Kitchens, where we previously purchased both of our kitchen cabinets.  After we got a price on a high-end modern cabinet, we came down to earth and purchased painted wood cabinets instead.

We had a lot of needs.  We wanted to hide the laundry appliances as well as our printer and internet equipment like the Mac mini and tuner.  We also needed storage for laundry supplies and all household supplies.  If that wasn’t enough, we wanted to hide the cat litter box.  After having an unsightly junk room for years we desired something that would hide our chaos.

After having a junk room for a few years, we desired something that would hide the chaos. We chose the budget-friendly Design-Craft line with maple door and plywood construction.

We worked with one of the designers and came up with a design that, while not perfectly lined up, worked.


The challenges of installation and how to install a self-flushing kitty litter box, that’s another story….