Custom furniture in Boston?
February 12, 2010 7:59 AM   Subscribe

Due to an oddly arranged living room and an unfortunately placed cold air return duct, I have some very specific requirements in a corner media cabinet and I think I need to have one custom built. I’m in the Boston / Metrowest area.

I apologize, but this post is way longer than any post about furniture should ever be.

I have a large, (roughly one square foot) cold-air return duct right where my TV cabinet needs to be. This requires that there be enough space under the cabinet so the airflow isn’t compromised. Poor planning on my part. I was told by an HVAC guy that there should be at least one foot of clearance between the bottom of the furniture and the floor. Is this really true? Wouldn’t just having 144 sq. inches of open space be enough? So a cabinet with a 4x36” opening in the base would be ok? Or would this still prevent proper air flow in the room? This is not the only return duct, there is another on the other side of the room.

I also need the TV (42 inch plasma) to be pretty high up, maybe four feet or so, so I can see it over the back of a chair.

In shopping around, most media cabinets have a solid base and are somewhat low to the ground.

Currently I have the TV sitting on a not-made-for-a-TV corner hutch with the components sitting on a table next to it. This is less than optimal. The current cabinet cannot be modified to work with the components.

Wall mounting is not an option and wouldn’t solve the problem with the components. Neither is re-locating the TV.


Moving the duct? This would be a pain and I would need to patch the hardwood floor where the current duct is, one corner of which would stick out from under the cabinet. I’d need to put another curve or two in the duct, possibly screwing with the airflow. I also don’t think my wife likes this option for some reason.

Build a pedestal to put a stock cabinet on? This would look pretty crappy.

Get a custom cabinet built. I think this might be my only/best option. Where can I get this done? Who can build me a cabinet to my specs?

Big enough for a 42 inch flat screen TV
Enough clearance over the duct
High enough up to see over the chair from the couch
Room for components (Tivo, receiver, Apple TV, DVD player, Wii, Squeezebox)
Doesn’t look like shit

Our tastes run towards the less-modern stuff with natural wood. Think Circle Furniture, not Ikea.

I’m in the Boston / Metrowest area.
posted by bondcliff to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Moving the duct could be a nightmare and unearth other must-fixes.

Custom is probably the way to go. We had a similar issue and could not find any pre-made pieces (even crazy expensive) that would work. Even online "custom-sizing" didn't work.
I asked around and found a neighbor who knows alot about woodworking. I supplied materials, sweat, and a couple dinners, he supplied the know-how & tools. Ended up with a nice piece that fits our needs perfectly.

I would suggest just talking to neighbors and co-workers about this. Someone will no doubt know someone who can do this for you. Good luck!!
posted by smelvis at 8:07 AM on February 12, 2010

As a semi-custom fix, have you ever seen the ikea hacker blog? They've got loads of ideas from people who have been in wacky situations like yours. The modular nature, low expense and somewhat cheap, soft materials on many of their pieces make them ideal for experimentation.
posted by Madamina at 8:15 AM on February 12, 2010

Response by poster: Re: the duct. It's a new house and the duct is accessible and fully visible from the basement. As far as duct relocations go, I think this would be on the easier side, but I think it could still end up looking like crap. I could hire a pro to do it, but a duct relocating pro would probably not be a floor patching pro.

Re: Ikea. No. Ikea has its place, my living room is not that place.

I'm not opposed to modifying other stuff, but other than raising it off the floor I'm not sure what could be done with an off-the-shelf cabinet.
posted by bondcliff at 8:21 AM on February 12, 2010

Dining room sideboards come in a variety of styles, but htere's one type with significant legs on them, and are roughly 18" deep x 48-60" long, stand maybe 30-34" high, and some combination of shelves and cabinet doors in the body of the piece. example. I don't know your style, so it's hard to make a particular suggestion, but you can take a look at sideboards in general, and maybe see something you like.
posted by aimedwander at 8:36 AM on February 12, 2010

I was thinking along the same lines as aimedwander. Something like this buffet might work nicely and has a classic look. Possibly you could modify the middle section to accomodate the DVD player/stereo receiver.
posted by electroboy at 9:04 AM on February 12, 2010

Response by poster: To be clear: I need a corner cabinet. A regular cabinet put in the corner won't work in the space.
posted by bondcliff at 9:49 AM on February 12, 2010

We've had a few custom pieces made by Evergreen Furniture in Watertown . Their prices were quite reasonable, and they were able to accurately follow a roughly-sketched plan.

Their web site seems to be occupied by squatters, but they're at 57 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown, MA, (617) 924-7412.

We had another custom piece done by Dovetail. We were also very well satisfied with the work, responsiveness, and attention to detail, but the price was significantly higher than we would have paid to Evergreen.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 11:45 AM on February 12, 2010

we had a similar problem with a piece of furniture in our dining room, so we've just had a custom cabinet built. It's being delivered next week, so can't give a real thumbs up/down yet, but so far, the person we've ben working with has been really helpful, with some good ideas.

I'm in Watertown, MA so MeMail me if you want name / phone number, to get a conversation started.
posted by darsh at 7:09 AM on February 13, 2010

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