Meet Madonna

No, not THE Madonna, but her namesake, and the latest member of our furniture family!

We have been working very hard on a furniture project for way too long now, and I am SO EXCITED that it is finally done! The Boy is equally excited, but I suspect for all the wrong reasons. We have an enormous coffee table (seriously big, like 3.5 feet x 3.5 feet), and it slides open to reveal storage.

Hi. My name is Jim.

Would you like me to hold your things?

How awesome is that?? The problem is that we got it on clearance at the Scan Design outlet, it is a beautiful solid teak (haven’t gotten to the actual problem yet …) and everything we like that matches is also solid teak and is painfully expensive. I bought a very long stand from Ikea (in the “scratch and dent” section) as a temporary fix, because it was cheap and similar in color.

And by the way, in case you were wondering, when you purchase something from the Ikea scratch and dent section, and it is already assembled, and you cannot fit it into your car, no one is going to help you disassemble that bad boy. The Swedes do a decent job at telling you how to assemble Bjorn or Skevarkin (or whatever its name is), but there are no disassembly instructions. And why? Because disassembly is impossible, unless you are a rocket scientist or a Nobel Prize winner or a Rhodes scholar or a Steve Jobs (rest his soul). When you ask for help, some jokester will point you over to the “tool” section, which is a station built out of plywood that has a few tools attached to it with ridiculously short leashes. Try getting a 1.5 foot long tool leash to reach the end of a 6 foot long entertainment center. IMPOSSIBLE. It was a frustrating evening, and those employees are lucky that I do not know how to curse in Swedish.

However, searching Craigslist and thrift stores has yielded no fruit (or teak entertainment centers in my price range), and the temporary fix has lasted about 3 years. What is The Girl to do?  BUILD IT, obviously.

I had a lot of inspiration from a variety of sources, which I pinned with the caption “DIY this!” about 8 times. Here are a few of the items I was pining after (not pinning after – the world post-Pinterest is getting very confusing; also, click on pictures for their sources):

I fell head over heels for the first one, which was actually pretty affordable, but much too small to be an entertainment center. The metal frame with rustic wood shelves was exactly what I was hoping to achieve, and once I realized that I had a crap load of unfortunate-looking oak flooring taking up space in the garage, I knew I could DIY this! Oak flooring rejected by the factory + same oak flooring rejected by us for use as flooring = really “distressed” wood (a/k/a firewood). Some pieces were split, other looked like victims of a drive-by shooting, and yet more looked as though the planer had chewed them up and spit them out (which may actually have been the case).

I started furiously scouring casually browsing on Craigslist, and within a few days, the perfect shelving unit arrived. It was meant to be.

This is the actual photo from the ad. Dog was not included – yes, I asked. Owner was not amused.

I snagged this dirty and only slightly rusty unit for a mere $40. He wanted $50 but I showed up with all twenties and he didn’t have change (hint: works EVERY TIME). Just to give you guys an idea on the timeframe, I bought this in September. And just finished it last night. We may be slow, but we are [insert appropriate adjective here – determined? hard-working? stupid?].

I spray painted the shelving unit a hammered brown, to match the ceiling fan and curtain rod in the living room, and because I am just not a huge fan of shiny chrome, and also because I needed to cover some rust spots. After 6 1/2 cans of spray paint and many concerned looks from the Home Depot employees when I went back for “just one more can!” with my hands covered in spray paint and looking cracked out, the entire thing was covered in paint. I am pretty sure my boss thinks I am huffing paint. Please, Mr. Bossman, I would not resort to such cheap recreational drugs. I have standards.

The other step in this process involved making shelves out of wood flooring. This process is slow, because it requires gluing several together, clamping them to dry for several hours, and then continuing on, until I had four very large and rustic shelves.


Then I cut them down to size using the circular saw, and cut out squares on the corners (to fit inside the square legs) using the jig saw.


The Boy and I sanded them all, stained them all, and polyurethaned them all. I tried many different stains, including a homemade one, but finally settled on Weathered Oak by Minwax, and it turned out perfectly! (I am pretty sure we have EVERY color of Minwax stain and oil in our garage right now! See why here.)

At no point was The Boy enthusiastic about this project, but bless his little heart, he played along, and that is why I keep him around (because he is really good at sanding).

So here she is, in her new home, and I am thrilled with the results.

I need a better camera and some photography lessons stat, because these photos do not do Madonna justice. I asked The Boy what he thinks of her, and his response: “It is … very large?” He doesn’t get it, and I don’t care! Madonna and I will live happily ever after!

Oh! Madonna? Well, I had to come up with a name for something that was old, weathered, a little beat up, but still strangely attractive, with very hard and skinny appendages, who never ceases to be entertaining in some way.


5 thoughts on “Meet Madonna

  1. Bah! I love it! I can’t believe you created that entertainment center (ahem, Madonna, hehe) from your own creative hands. Impressivimo! And as always, your posts are wildly entertaining. Have a great weekend!

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