Sunday, March 1, 2009

New Use for a Closet

Living with a 4.5 year old presents many challenges. One of these challenges is negotiating for television access for watching TV shows. Yes, we could force her off the TV, however our child would never leave us alone long enough to watch the show in peace (thank goodness for TiVo). We have one very old TV (as my co-workers remind me of on a seemingly daily basis). It's a Mitsubishi VS-5051; a vintage 50" rear-screen projection TV that is now 15 years old. There is a Picture-in-Picture capability. Our daughter typically watches TV "small" (in a small PIP window), while we watch a show on the, full size screen. It is a pain to setup, and we miss about an 1/8 of the show as the PIP takes up a sizable chunk of screen real-estate. It also "takes us out of the show," if, for example, an intense scene in Lost is being shown while an episode of Caillou is playing in the PIP window we often get distracted.

Another issue is that often times we want to have a computer close by while we are watching TV. We usually have one of the laptops on in the dining area while watching TV, however it is removed from the main TV viewing area.

My wife had a great idea a couple of months ago to address these 2 shortcomings of our current living configuration. In the main entry to our house, there is a small closet that has housed our audio/video equipment for many years. Because of changing configurations, nothing that was currently in the closet was really being used; it was basically just taking up space. My wife was at IKEA a month or so ago when she noticed a closet shelf, meant to be used as a valet for a wardrobe. We had this great idea that it would be a cool basis for a pull-out shelf which we could put the laptop on. We also thought that if we could put a TV in the closet it would help to end the TV-wars; our daughter could watch the small (HD mind you) TV while we watch the old 50" beast.

So to get started on the project, I first cleared out the closet. Here is what it looks like once all the old video/audio equipment was taken out. There were many cords coming up from under the house and for the time being I've let them stay on the floor.

I next mounted the pull out shelf.

I mounted the shelf, and then we realized that we should get a small chair that would easily fit in the closet when the door was closed. The weekend before we bought the chair, I had mounted the shelf. Naturally there was not enough space to put the chair in which forced me to move the sliding shelf back about 8 inches. Once this adjustment was made, I was able to keep on moving on the project

It's hard to see, but after the pullout shelf was mounted, I cut a piece of laminated MDF to fit between the pullout shelf and the back wall of the closet. This gave me a good base to store the TV on at the back of the closet. The TV has a built in DVD player and headphone jacks so that the child can watch TV without bothering us. Additionally there is an audio/video line running from the TiVos to the TV here in the closet so if our daughter wants to watch a recorded show, it's easy to switch by selecting a different input on the TV.

The laptop can be placed on the table surface and pulled out ...

Over time we're planning on adding an additional shelf or two and some other holders of some sort to store pens and other regularly used items. I've used the "media nook" a couple of times myself and it's worked out quite well.

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