Here’s an entertainment center I made from IKEA kitchen cabinets with GRIMSLÖV doors and shiplap.
We initially wanted our favorite contractor friend to build a custom media storage unit for us, but he was too busy at the time. We looked for prefab wall units at IKEA, Amazon, Wayfair, etc., but couldn’t find just what we wanted. My wife wanted the speakers hidden, and we both wanted a built-in look, so I know I would have to do some IKEA hacking.
Looking through IKEAhackers, a BESTÅ unit is a favourite when it comes to entertainment centers. But having built two IKEA kitchens in the past, I thought maybe I could use IKEA kitchen cabinets and modify them. I bought the 15-inch deep variety, as opposed to the usual cabinets with 24″ depth typically used in kitchen storage. (Caution, some A/V receivers won’t fit in a 15-inch deep cabinet, so be sure to measure your components.) I think using the 15-inch deep cabinets makes it look more like an entertainment wall unit; nobody suspects it’s actually modified kitchen cabinets.
We also used a mix of glass and solid doors. The glass doors with adjustable shelves on the upper sections of the high cabinet gave the entire media set-up a lighter look. And the glass windows blend better with the speaker cloth at the bottom panels.
We were inspired by some custom wall units online that used shiplap, which we liked. We thought that adding shiplap would give it a more custom look. Initially, I planned to use smooth, white shiplap for a more formal look, but then I came across the gray “barn wood” shiplap with the somewhat “distressed” look. I thought that would be the perfect rustic feel since it was going in a lake house. Definitely glad I went with the gray; gives it a nice contrast and unique style.
How to DIY a built-in entertainment center with shiplap
1. Assemble the kitchen cabinets
The first step was to build IKEA cabinetry per IKEA instructions. Then, I put them in place and added trim to sides and tops to give it that built-in look.
For the sides, I bought some primed 1x4s and cut them to fit. Attached them with L-brackets. For the tops, I just cut some of the same 1x4s and nailed them in place with a finish nailer, then caulked. I painted those pieces with a coat of paint (Behr Ivory Palace) which perfectly matched the off-white of the IKEA GRIMSLÖV cabinets.
2. Install the shiplap
The barnwood shiplap we got from Home Depot has the look of unique reclaimed wood and we knew it would create a strong focal point in the room. Installation of the shiplap was simple. It was already primed and painted so we didn’t need the additional step of prepping the board, compared to buying raw lumber.
How to install shiplap:
Mark where the wall framing studs were.
Measured the width of the back wall and cut the shiplap to size.
Nailed in place with brad nailer with 15-gauge trim nails into wall studs.
3. Construct speaker cabinet with speaker cloth
I wanted to house my speakers inside the bottom shelf on the left and right cabinet. And to place my electronic devices in the middle horizontal front. Converting the solid doors into doors with speaker fabric will allow sound to come through and also signals from the remote control to pass through to the electronics.
Cutting the kitchen cabinet doors for the speaker openings was simple.
I used a circular saw and just did a plunge cut until I got near the corners.
There I finished the cut with a sabre saw/jigsaw.
(For a smoother cut, use a circular saw blade with a high tooth count. You’ll need this to cut the countertop, too.)
To make things perfect, you should probably sand after you cut. I didn’t, but after painting where I cut with the Behr Ivory Palace paint, it blended in nearly perfectly.
Adding the speaker cloth
I initially bought pure white speaker fabric from Amazon.com. But as you can see from the photos, it didn’t match well with the off-white of the IKEA GRIMSLÖV cabinets. They ended up looking gray instead.
So, then I bought some off-white speaker fabric from Amazon, and they match pretty well. After putting the speakers in the cabinet, it made the fabric darken somewhat. Doubling-up on the off-white fabric did the trick visually and didn’t impact the sound quality.
How much does it cost to build this shiplap entertainment center?
About $1500 for the IKEA stuff, $100 for the shiplap and $15 for the speaker fabric.
What do you like most about the project?
The shiplap, the hidden speakers, and the built-in look. I was worried about the sound quality with the speakers in the cabinet, but the sound is great! Besides that the media unit gave us a lot more storage flexibility and display of memorabilia.
What was the hardest part about this shiplap entertainment center?
Keeping everything plumb and level. When you put in the trim pieces between the unit and the wall/ceiling, you find out that your wall and ceiling are not perfectly plumb and level! Caulking solved a lot of that. But also needed to add wood shims to level things out.
What to pay special attention to?
Be careful when cutting the doors for the speaker openings. I kind of messed up on one, but found that the paint hid the blunder pretty well. If you screw it up too badly you can always buy another door.
Looking back, would you have done it differently?
Initially, I cut out a space in the shiplap for the TV mount, but later realized that made it too recessed to hang the TV. So, I had to reinstall the TV mount on top of the shiplap. Also, don’t just cut several shiplap boards the same length. You may find out that your tall cabinets are not perfectly plumb. Measure each board as you go. Ideally, you want to measure the height of the boards so you don’t have a really small one on top or bottom. I screwed up my measurements (not accounting for the gap in the shiplap), so it didn’t turn out perfect. But I can live with it!
Very happy with it, and we’ve received lots of compliments on it. My carpenter buddy asked me if I wanted a job! 😉 Of course, he can build stuff from scratch, whereas I can only hack IKEA stuff!