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….



Some finishing touches, finally!

It’s been a while since we’ve published a post but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been working.  The never ending projects and upkeep of a 100+ year old row house still keep many of our weekends busy.

We will soon be finished an external and internal door installation on the ground floor and an exciting TV and laundry room reveal but this week we (me) decided that it is time to pay a little attention to detail.

Our daughter’s room is a perfect example of the transition from child to teen.  There are still lots of childhood paraphernalia hanging around but we’ve recently noticed that dolls and other toys have been surreptitiously moved into the closet.

small bedroom pan finished

The room back when it was empty

So we’d thought we’d kill two birds with one stone by making her room a little more “grown up” and at the same time cover a bare wall.

To do this we used a nifty little App called Mixtiles.  With the App you can create 8×8 square photo tiles that are already mounted on a thick foam core and do not need frames.  It also happens to work well with high quality Instagram photos.  One of my hobbies is taking photos of street art when we travel and they were perfect to use for a teenager’s room because they are colorful and urban.

The wall we wanted to cover was over the fireplace mantle.  This wall is original plaster so Mixtiles photos are perfect since they stick on the wall with removable adhesives and therefore there is no damage and no worries about cracked plaster.

First, I took a page out of my spouse’s playbook and planned where to put the photos using a complex mathematical formula.  Really, I just used my 5th grade addition and subtraction skills.

img_9342 This will also have to serve as the before photo–I always forget to take before photos!

After we had the placement all set out it was easy, just peel and stick.


And that’s all there is to it.  These photos are great because they are inexpensive and when your teen’s tastes change, it is not a big financial investment to change them.  According to Mixtiles, they are designed so you can remove them and stick them someplace else.  I’ll believe that when I see it for myself!

The teen was very happy with the final product:




We did not receive any compensation or product from Mixtiles, we just liked how they turned out.