Building a backlit media console using IKEA BESTÅ

Building a backlit media console using IKEA BESTÅ

May 04, 2018

In this post, I walk through the considerations that went into designing and building a media console for my lounge-room-cum-media-room and how Hubby and I found a happy compromise between his desire for a large-screen, surround-sound theatre experience and my desire for an affordable solution that hides all the freaking equipment and cables. Read how the project came together and, of course, links to the IKEA products we used!

This is the project

Shock horrorI'm reminded of an episode of 'Friends' where Joey meets a couple who don't own a television set. Joey, looking shocked and flabbergasted as only Matt "The Blank" can pull off, asks them "But what does all your furniture point at?!" Like Joey and for most of us, the TV is the focal point of our lounge rooms, so let's make it look good. More to the point, let's make it look and function great without spending all of our Choc-top and popcorn money on the outcome!

That was pretty much the brief when Hubby and I started designing a media console for a large blank wall in our lounge room. We got a cabinetmaker into quote on drawers and shelves and when he came back with a price of $3000, we turned to old Trusty, IKEA's online BESTÅ Planner tool. It's a free desktop app that allows you to drag and drop different product options into a customised virtual room.

In our previous place, we'd built a backlit board for our TV and wanted to do the same again. Here are a couple of ideas that I bookmarked in Houzz:

From Houzz Australia

We decided on a minimalist look with a row of floating cabinets above and below the TV. Here's what it looks like in IKEA's planner. Keep scrolling to read how it came together and what we used.

 IKEA Besta Planner

 

The first step was to hang wallpaper. Because the plan was to back-light the TV mounting board, we selected a textured, palm leaf print paper that would catch the light. We set to assembling the furniture while Gold Coast wallpaper wizard, Keith Bryant, did his work. (This would also be the right time to have any power/data points moved so that they're positioned behind the console and/or to paint your wall.)

Textured wallpaper

 

The overhead cabinets went up next. They consist of five IKEA BESTÅ shelf units (60 cm x 38 cm) with white Lappviken doors ($60 each). BESTÅ units come in two depths (20 cm and 40 cm). For the top units, we selected the 20 cm option and for the bottom units, the 40 cm depth, to accommodate all the aforementioned electronic equipment. 

The bottom console is constructed from two IKEA BESTÅ shelf units (120 cm x 38 cm x 40 cm) with white Lappviken doors ($160 each) on the left and right ends of the bench. The middle unit is a 120 cm BESTÅ TV bench ($100) with two Lappviken doors ($15 each) - making the console a total length of 360 cm.

It's important for the middle unit to be a TV bench because it comes pre-notched for cable management (high-five to IKEA!) You will need to reveal your power/data points by marking and cutting the back of the cabinet. We jigsawed it, but a hacksaw would do the trick.

IKEA Besta TV bench

 

To suspend the units from the wall, do yourself a favour and use IKEA's BESTÅ suspension rails ($5 each). In IKEA's own words, the rails "work as a reinforcement and makes it both easier and safer to mount the BESTÅ frame to the wall." (Another high-five to IKEA.) With plasterboard walls, the rails must be secured into the timber studs that form the structure behind the plasterboard. With solid brick or masonry walls, you'll need Dynabolts or masonry anchors. Once hooked onto the rail, the shelf units are then screwed into place.

IKEA Besta suspension rail

In our case, we decided on a 20 cm gap between the bottom of our cabinets and the floor.

Now to build the TV mounting board! In the blank space between the top and bottom rows of cabinets, we created a rough frame using 90 mm x 45 mm framing timber from Bunnings ($3.50/metre) - see the sketch below - onto which we screwed 16mm MDF board that would become the backboard for the TV. Note that we left a 0.5 cm gap between the top of the cabinets and the MDF backboard to accommodate BESTA glass top panels ($35 each).

 Sketch

When designing the frame, a few considerations:

  • You need your framing timber to be thick enough that, once in place, the mounting board will conceal the cable notch on the top of the TV bench. This way, the cords connecting your TV and AV equipment will be completely hidden.
  • Anchor your frame into studs or, for solid brick walls, use masonry anchors.
  • Leave the centre area open (no framing) to accommodate your equipment cables.
  • You will need to add a hole in the center of the MDF board for your AV cables to go through. You can do this before or after screwing the board into place.
  • If you have a soundbar that will sit in front of the backboard, create a small notch to accommodate its cables. (We later acquired a soundbar because, you know, it's "essential".)

Before screwing the MDF to the frame, attach flexible LED self-adhesive strip lighting to the outside edge of the frame ($40 from Bunnings).

Flexible LED strip lighting for cabinetry

In our case, the size of the finished backboard meant that it had to have a join in the middle and be screwed into place as two pieces. Before the board was painted, we prepared it by filling and sanding the screw holes and join line. Using a hole saw, we created provision for the cables in the middle of the MDF board, but you could always jigsaw these before mounting.

Nearing the end!

After priming and a couple of coats of paint, we were ready to attach the TV mounting plate, put our AV equipment into place and drop the cables down through the backboard and into the top of the TV bench. That was probably the trickiest part of the entire project. The notch in the TV bench isn't particularly generous and the last ones can be a bit tricky. Suffice to say, we got them all connected in the end and are still happily married.

The final step was to hang the TV and slide the glass tops into place!

The completed project

We did decide that the strip lighting was a little too bright for our liking. Our solution was to glue a piece of dressed 2 cm x 2 cm timber bead behind the backboard, about 5 cm from the internal frame. This masked the lights and emitted a more gentle "glow". It would also be a good solution in cases where the backboard is visible from the ends because of an open wall or being adjacent a thoroughfare. Another option would be to position your strip lighting under the bottom cabinets and above the top ones.

Behind the scenes

TOTAL COST

The cost for IKEA inventory + MDF, timber and fasteners + strip lighting + paint came to $1200. Not bad considering an initial quote of $3000 from a cabinetmaker!

 

Obviously, I've also had lots of fun applying the finishes touches using Stylkea peel-and-stick customisation Styl-Panels:

Stylkea peel-and-stick panels to suit IKEA Besta

And here are some customer photos of their Stylkea'd TV consoles:

Customer photos of their Stylkea's consoles

If you have any questions about this project or others, please don't hesitate to send us an email with any questions to: hello@stylkea.com

While you're here, feel welcome to take a look at some of our other projects!

Happy "hacking"

Kylie