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Mom’s console TV becomes flat screen TV cabinet | retro modern makeover

My mom loved her Zenith TV console. Me, not so much. When she died it became mine and, even though I thought it was an eyesore, I kept using it because it still worked. And for the most part I don’t like to get rid of things that are still useful. And that’s another thing I inherited from her.

zenith tv console
My mom’s old Zenith console TV

Anyway, one fine day the old Zenith finally pooped out and I was able to get a new 32 inch flat screen TV.

I was sure someone on Craigslist would love to take this precious relic off my hands for the bargain price of $10. A month later I officially gave up that dream and considered my options.

Option 1: smash it into little bits and throw it out, or
Option 2: convert it into a cabinet for my new flat screen

While Option 1 was very tempting, I still needed a cabinet for my new TV and didn’t want to spend $100 to $200, so I chose Option 2.

And so the transformation began.

Important: Wait before disconnecting the TV tube

It turned out to be a good thing I didn’t attempt this project sooner because I discovered that you need to let the electricity drain out to avoid electrocution or, at the very least, a nasty shock. But if you’re in a hurry, here’s a short YouTube video showing how to safely discharge the tube.

How to safely discharge a TV

Dismantling the old TV cabinet

I’m not gonna lie. If I had known upfront what I was in for, I might have gone for Option 1. There were so many things that were screwed into things, that were screwed into other things that were bolted here, there and everywhere…it just seemed endless. But I decided this thing was not going to defeat me so I kept on.

back of console tv
TV console back
inside console tv
Inside the TV cabinet. So many wires!

Then it came time to disconnect and remove the TV tube.

tv tube plug
TV tube plug

I braced myself and pulled the plug. I did not get shocked. But I did get some weird red stuff on me.

tv tube plug underneath
TV tube plug removed
red fluid under tv tube plug
Weird red stuff that got all over me

I don’t want to know what it was.

Then I took it down to Best Buy for recycling. That was an adventure in itself because a 25 pound roundish TV tube is not easy to maneuver. I put it in a box and made it safely down there.

Customizing my new flat screen TV cabinet

When I was done removing all the innards and taking off the fake plastic molding from the front, it was just a plain old wooden box.

plastic tv cabinet molding
Fake plastic molding
empty tv cabinet
Inside the empty TV cabinet
dismantling tv cabinet
Cabinet upside down to remove casters

My plan was to put in a shelf to hold the new TV with enough room underneath to place my satellite receiver, DVD player and CDs/DVDs.

And I wanted to add chrome legs to the bottom to make it taller and metal trim on the front to make it go with my retro modern coffee table.

Being a resourceful DIYer and not a carpenter, I made do with the few tools I have. I used my jigsaw to cut the metal trim and wood for the shelves. And then smoothed the rough edges with my mouse sander.

jigsaw cutting wood
Cutting wood with my jigsaw
cabinet bottom
Cabinet bottom after TV tube removed
gluing wood to cabinet bottom
Gluing wood to cabinet bottom

Tricking out the new cabinet

I put wood veneer edging on the outside edge of the shelf and at the bottom of the cabinet where I had added a piece of wood for reinforcement.

wood veneer and metal edging
Wood veneer and metal trim (Everbilt 3/4 x 1/2 x 1/16 x 48 in)

I spray painted the shelves, back and inside cabinet black with Rustoleum gloss protective enamel.

black spray paint
Rustoleum black gloss protective enamel
spray painting tv cabinet
Spray painting TV cabinet

On the bottom front of the cabinet I did some faux finishing.

before faux finishing
Before faux finishing, three strips of veneer with space in between

I mixed up some acrylic paint (black, brown, red and wine) to match the dark wood stain and painted the three wood veneer strips. For the spaces in between I used metallic silver acrylic paint.

faux finishing paint
Faux finishing supplies
faux finishing
Faux finishing, silver stripes

Then I coated everything with satin varnish.

I added the legs, glued on the metal trim and voila! My new cabinet was done! And it only cost me about $30 in supplies.

And here is the final result. I love my TV cabinet!

tv cabinet transformation after photo
Retro modern flat screen TV cabinet