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The Big Empty Hole in the Wall

drywall fixer frame television wood

When we moved into our (then) new house five years ago we were pretty pleased with ourselves. We thought - hey new house, move in ready, no work! Well as it turned out, we were so very wrong. I could go on and on about the minor and not so minor 'fixes' we have needed to address over the last few years (and believe me, I have) ranging from uneven cabinet doors, a warped faux mantle (literally a ping pong ball rolled right off) plumbing issues (yes you have to actually connect the pipe to the sewer), inferior drywall, poor paint application and all with a builder who never responded and in short order filed for bankruptcy. Yep. That happened.

But my intention isn't to whine about our builder (grr, hiss, boo) but rather to brag about one of the items on our fixing the mess to-do list. In a design element that harkens back to the 90's, the builder appointed our home with a great big hole in the space above our fireplace. It went back quite deep, roughly 28 inches.

See? Feel free to chuckle at the 'Everything included!' announcement there. We did. I could not understand what that opening to nowhere was supposed to be for?  The agent gave me the helpful suggestion of "put a vase with fake flowers there" which would be a spectacular method to collect dust bunnies. I knew before we signed that this would be a pretty immediate project.

Side note: When looking for the pics I took during this project I noticed (only just now) that the fireplace surround was different before closing than after. Those sneaky builders actually took off the nice trim that was on the fireplace and replaced it with a 6in x 8in block of wood that is normally use as a framing header support maybe? #toolatetocomplainnow

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, big hole - what to do. We knew we were going to put our television on that wall. One thing the builder did right was to hide a smurf tube within the opening that led down to the electrical and cable outlet. But we thought that since the hole was fairly large it would be a great place to hide the ugly equipment with access - although not 100% convenient - and with a good wi-fi set up this just might work.

The first step was to square off the opening for the subsequent frame. We (and by "we" I mean the darling man) chipped off the drywall that lined the interior edge of the arch and all the way down to the bottom to expose the framing. At this point, he had already installed a heavy duty swing arm TV bracket. Cart before horse? Um, maybe. Turns out ripping out drywall is kind of a mess.


Once the drywall was removed we attached a 2x4 across the bottom of the arch to make a square. We then created a short frame to close up the hole, which would raise the location of the tv and provide more room on the mantle.  While the hubby was doing the demo and the framing I got to work making a box which would insert into the hole and frame the television. I happened to have a piece of 1/2in drywall that was almost exactly the size we needed. The box needed to measure 46in x 30in x 5.5in deep. I cut a 1x6 into two pieces @ 30in and two pieces @ 46in.

I made the basic box by attaching the 2x6s together using wood glue and wood screws, being careful to ensure the box is precisely square. Then I attached the plywood to the back the same way. I used a piece of 3ft molding from the scrap pile in the garage and cut the lengths to match the front face of the box, using the miter saw to cut 45-degree angles. (This is where you will appreciate having taken the time to ensure the box is square so you won't have difficult corner cuts - not that I'm speaking from experience or anything here #took4triestogetright.) I attached the molding with a thin bead of wood glue and finish nails.

Ain't she pretty? I'm not certain why there is a random piece of ivy on the floor there. But I digress.

We then cut a square opening in the back for the television bracket to pull through in order to mount the television outside the box, but in a way that it wouldn't protrude out into the room. The swing arm on the bracket allows for angle adjustment and access to the cable box and other equipment which would be placed later. We settled the box in the 2x4 framing previously installed and secured it with two wood screws on each side. I primed and painted the box the same white as the rest of the molding in the house. We patched the areas which were missing drywall, primed and painted the wall all around the frame.

And woot! The great cavernous abyss to nowhere was now completely hidden and the TV was set back in the wall and framed. It now feels far less like a big piece of electronics stuck on the wall and more like a component of the overall design. I'm not kidding myself - it's a great big black shiny thing in my otherwise rustic vintage styled room but we do use it. I find it blends a little better than if we hadn't framed it. Things I would do differently? I would go bigger on the molding - and maybe do a rustic barn wood instead of the picture frame stuff. Well, there's always next time...

What did it cost?

  • 1/2in plywood $0. We had some but the cost to purchase is about $12.00 for an 8ft x 4ft common board - not stain grade.
  • 1x6 x 8ft pine board for $9.16. 
  • 3in x 12ft molding $0. Again I used what we had but you can expect to pay anywhere between $10. - $20 for stain grade but you can also buy composite for far less.
  • (qty 2) 2x4 x 8ft for about $3 each.

What's your television solution?



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