Monday, April 8, 2013

New use for an old TV-VCR stand

If you're of a certain age, you can remember a time about 20+ years ago when we first experienced a revolution in home entertainment: video cassette recorders (VCRs) became the essential link between your cable TV outlet and your 200-pound jumbo CRT.  You'd screw the coaxial cable from the wall directly into your VCR and then hook the VCR to that massive black blob known as the television, that inconveniently-stout item that was almost as deep as it was wide, and the set-up was revolutionary. 

Of course, nobody knew how to actually program their VCRs (except, as this humorous article claims, ten-year-old children), but the important thing was how incredibly advanced this whole scheme was.

Well, I guess we assumed we'd thereby hit the zenith of what the market was going to offer us in terms of home entertainment technology, because a lot of us invested in furniture designed for this exact configuration.  And only this configuration.

Many popular pieces were designed so that you'd store your VHS tapes in the cabinet below the VCR slot. 
Screengrabbed from this site
But of course, VCRs went the way of the dinosaur, and so did CRT TVs.  Collectively, we were then stuck with a whole lot of furniture that didn't seem to fit any other purpose.
You can now pick these up for a song (which in this case, is fifteen bucks), because most people don't know what the heck to do with them. 

Screengrabbed from this site
I must confess that, for a long time, I had no idea what else our TV-VCR stand might be good for.  I almost gave it to charity many times, but it was locally made (by the wonderful folks at Bald Furniture in Webster) and such good quality (solid wood plus high-quality oak veneer plywood) that I mentally worked on the problem until I finally came up with this:
An outdoor sideboard and storage cabinet for our patio.

The footprint of this unit measured 17" x 32", so I placed two 16"x16" concrete pavers on top, of the type that can be found at any big home improvement store.  They cost about $3.00 apiece.  One could also have a piece of stone cut to fit the top, but it would be much more expensive. 

We have a dining table on this patio, but it's not a large one.  I needed something to use as a sideboard to hold trays of food and other stuff brought from the kitchen. 

And those two pillows you see in the VCR slot... they go with a bistro table that we also have.  But if we leave those pillows on the chairs, they get wet and blow around the yard.  So they get stashed in that slot until they are needed. 
Here's what I did to make this piece of indoor furniture outdoor-worthy:
  1. Sanded the whole thing lightly (it was originally finished with an oil stain).
  2. Painted it a charcoal grey using an oil-based exterior paint.
  3. Pulled off the original stub feet and installed the four casters you see here.  This is a "damp" area meaning it doesn't get directly rained on except when we have a strong north wind, but water does wet this patio when it rains, so I had to raise it up a few inches.
  4. Changed out the cabinet pulls to match the rest of what's installed in our house.
It's now been outdoors for about a year and is doing fine.  The right side of it does get several hours of direct sun per day, which caused this to happen:
Weatherbeaten.  I pressure washed it to get the loose paint off.  Oil applied over oil does this sometimes. 
And this is what it looked like after another coat of paint this past weekend:
Largely restored.  The hinges are not exterior rust-proof hinges, and so I will probably have to replace those at some point.  The screws are rusting moreso than the hinges. 
And what about that bottom cabinet?
It holds all the loose crap that I don't want littering up the patio:
Bleach for shocking the fountain.
My rubber boots.
Dog food (the dog gets fed outdoors).
Tiki torch fuel.
Table-top tiki torches (behind the dog food).
Small containers and items in the plastic bin (pesticides, ant repelling neem oil, dog poop bags, BBQ grease pans, etc).
Anyway, between the concrete pavers and the paint, this repurposing cost about twenty bucks.  I'm not sure how well it will stand up to the weather long-term, but given that I have no better use for it any more, that doesn't concern me too much. 

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