For years, our TV armoires have served us faithfully, concealing our old, chunky televisions from public view. But as we upgrade to more attractive flat-screen televisions that don't need to be hidden away in hulking cabinets, these hardworking armoires are fast becoming white elephants. They don't need to be. So many of my friends and customers are coming up with creative ways to transform their old TV armoires, giving these great pieces of furniture a new purpose in life. Here are a few ideas to spark your creativity and imagination.
Bar: Turn your old TV chest into a chic bar, reminiscent of the glamorous '50s. To trick up the space, secure a mirror at the back of the cabinet, then insert glass shelves to hold glassware. Install a light at the top of the chest to make the space sparkle. When the bar is open, cover the rollout shelf with a silver tray, outfitted with a beautiful silver ice bucket and bar essentials like olives, limes and lemons displayed in small, cut-glass bowls. Use the lower cabinet to house apothecary jars filled with bar snacks. Or slip in an attractive cooler to chill beer.
Linen press: When you live in an older home, like I do, you are always hungry for storage space. So that's why I've converted an antique armoire that used to house a television into a linen press. I keep extra quilts and sheets inside, and when I'm done laundering and ironing my fine table linens, I store them away in the armoire as well. The colorful linens look so lovely stacked on the shelves that I sometimes leave the armoire's doors open so I can enjoy the view.
Hidden office: Old TV armoires are an ideal spot for a small, self-contained home office. Open it up when you're ready to get down to business, then shut the doors when you clock out. To make this small space work hard for you, utilize every inch. Place your computer on the rollout shelf in the top portion of the cabinet, then fit the rest of the space with shelves, drawers or cubbyholes. Hang galvanized bins or baskets for important papers. Cover door surfaces in cork, chalkboard paint, metal sheeting or fabric-lined foam core to hold memos.
Display cabinet: Through the years, I've seen lots of people turn old armoires into attractive display cabinets simply by replacing the wood inserts on the doors and side panels with glass. To punch up the piece a bit more, line the back of the cabinet with fine fabric or wall covering or paint it an interesting accent color. Then fill it with a few pieces of your favorite collections, stacks of dishes, small pieces of artwork and a book or two.
Entry storage: Most foyers need one heavy piece of furniture to give them weight. So what would be better than your TV armoire, refurbished to provide much-needed storage by your front door? Use it to hang guests' coats, or store hats, gloves and umbrellas there. Or create cubbies for your purse, briefcase and gym bag. Place a pretty tray on the rollout shelf to hold car keys and mail.
Craft station: Place your sewing machine on the rollout shelf or use the space as a work surface. Fit the cabinets with shelves to hold bins filled with craft supplies.