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How ironic is it that my last post was entitled “Sometimes DIY Sucks” and this one contains “DIY” as a descriptive? You win some. You lose some. Thank you all so much for your words of encouragement! We’re feeling more hopeful about tackling the bathroom tile this weekend and will be sure to share what goes down. xo

subwoofer cover DIY 5

I’ve already discussed my thoughts on surround sound here. In short, I don’t care for it. BUT my husband enjoys it and I do care for him so I’m dealing with it – boob speakers and all – the best way I know how. And that involves creative disguises…or squinting.

subwoofer cover b&a

Take the subwoofer for instance. It’s basically this big black box that is responsible for low bass frequencies. (i.e., it’s the speaker that makes the floor shake when we watch movies…and we’re on a slab, soooooo yeah, I don’t get it.) We’ve had the thing for 10+ years. There’s probably some new sound technology that doesn’t require such an eyesore but we aren’t willing to invest any money into something like that when what we have works just fine. (i.e., it creates small earthquakes.)

In our first house, the subwoofer was in plain sight next to our media console. In our previous house, it sat behind an accent chair in the family room. I draped a floor-length curtain around it to disguise it even more.

In our current home, due to the placement of media components and audio wiring, the subwoofer sits between our sofa and media cabinet. The blue power light drives me bonkers. I tried concealing it behind the curtain but, at best, it looked like a small child hiding. I decided enough was enough and Steve and I came up with a plan for a DIY subwoofer cover. The cover doesn’t interfere with Steve’s audio experience and it keeps me from giving the subwoofer the stink eye so Steve and I are still married. Best of all, we made it from leftover supplies so it was “free.”

Steve created the basic box from premium grade plywood leftover from topping off the fauxdenza and building the living room shelves. It’s just four sides with a top and no bottom. The inside measures ¼” larger than the subwoofer on all sides to allow the box to slip over the speaker. There is a 2″ gap between the bottom of the box and the floor to let sound waves flow freely. (Apparently, sound waves come from the bottom of this subwoofer. I learned something new.) Wood glue and finish nails hold it together. Veneer edge banding was added to all visible cut edges except for the one on the back. #cheap #lazy

subwoofer cover DIY

The back is cut out for wire access. (Can you see where I inconspicuously tested out some stain on the back?) We added felt pads inside to protect the subwoofer and achieve a snug fit.

subwoofer cover collage

I applied Minwax wood conditioner and Minwax natural stain to the external surfaces. Then I set to work creating a design for the front panel. Basically, I drew up a bunch of ideas on paper and when I had a winner I transferred the design to the cover with a pencil.

1 // I wanted at least one section of the design to be a darker stain but I predicted the edges would bleed so I decided to tackle that triangle first. My thought was at least I could clean up one edge with a neighboring painted triangle. I taped off one section using Frog Tape and applied two coats of Minwax special walnut stain. I left the tape on until the stain was completely dry to avoid as much bleeding as possible. The stain did bleed a little but it wasn’t too bad.

2 // I taped off the second section and took the cover outside to apply two coats of Design Master Gold Medal spray paint. For crisp lines, I carefully removed the tape before the paint dried.

3 // I brought the cover back inside (looking good!) to hand paint the final two sections.

4 // One at a time, I taped off the sections and brushed on two coats of Benjamin Moore white dove primer + paint in satin. Again, I carefully removed the tape before the paint dried.

subwoofer cover design

The Frog Tape marked up the gold section when I was taping and painting the last white triangle but it’s only noticeable when light shines on it in a certain way. For the most part, the edges are crisp (save for the one stained edge that has no neighboring paint) and the points meet up like I had envisioned. I especially like the texture of the wood grain in the gold section.

subwoofer cover DIY 8

Subwoofer-turned-table, voilà!

I opted out of a topcoat because I like the unsealed look so a cloth napkin or coaster under sweaty glasses is a must. In real life, Mabrey likes to climb on top of the subwoofer to catapult herself onto the sofa (!) so there’s usually just a magazine or book resting here. I shot this during nap time so I had fun styling without kids in mind.

subwoofer cover DIY 4

subwoofer DIY 1

I’m happy I went with a natural stain on the majority of the cover. Anything darker would have been too brown next to the sofa. The natural stain picks up on lighter wood tones in the room: coffee table, woven shades, decorative bowl (on the media cabinet) and scalloped side table (not shown).

In case you’re wondering, I moved the lil’ red table to the boys’ room. Some changes are happening in there but that’s a whole ‘nother post.

subwoofer cover DIY 6

Steve didn’t see the painted / stained front panel until after it was finished. He loves it! That makes me happy. Know what else makes me happy? No more big black box.

Good design can save marriages. It’s a fact.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

61 Comments

26.March.2014

I love it! And I’m totally stealing the idea-the light (red at my house) drives me crazy. And it provides another small end table for my impossibly small living room. You rock!

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26.March.2014

What a great idea! We have an ugly ol’ subwoofer, but I think the sound comes out the front. I am definitely going to investigate to see if it actually works like yours – and then start working on a plan to disguise it. Thanks for the inspiration!

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replied on March 26th, 2014

Yeah, this probably wouldn’t work for a subwoofer that projects sound through the front. But maybe you could adapt it with a circle cutout on the front or something? Then paint a fun bullseye design?? Just throwing out ideas.

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replied on March 26th, 2014

*Maybe* you could cover the circle cutout with a cute but breathable fabric.

I think I’m going to convince my husband to try this and use it as an end table between two chairs. Hopefully it’s not too rumbly. Have you checked to see if the subwoofer ever gets overheated? Our surround sound is the only sound set up for regular TV viewing as well as movies (not my idea). I’d be worried that frequent use would trap too much heat under there.

My husband is also big on suround sound, so we have a big subwoofer as well. Ours is relatively new, so I don’t think you can get away from a big boxy thing if you/someone else really wants the bass sounds.

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26.March.2014

What a beautiful solution. Thanks for the creative eye candy this morning :)

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26.March.2014

I hear ya when it comes to these surround sound systems. Our husbands are still thinking they are cool. I think it’s very 90s. My husband and I use to fight about getting a system. I would complain that I don’t want a bunch of crap hanging from the walls and I don’t want to see a bunch of black boxes in every corner of the room. Well one day he came home with a sound bar that he wanted to hang right above the tv. I was pissed and had to leave. I thought, “he we go!” When I came home it was hung snug to the tv and didn’t look like a eye sore. Then my husband played one of my favorite songs and the sound was amazing. Now I’m happy we have it and he got to win…a little. So maybe one day soon Steve would consider dumping the old sound system and opting for a sound bar that he could put under your tv behind the cover he built. They are making them more and more sophisticated.

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26.March.2014

Wow. You turned an eyesore into my FAVORITE thing in the room. Crazy good.

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26.March.2014

The solution is lovely but is this something that you will remove when it’s in use? Seems like sound will be muffled otherwise.

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replied on March 26th, 2014

While the cover is removable, we don’t remove it to watch TV or movies. As mentioned, our subwoofer projects sound waves from the bottom so by leaving a gap between the floor and cover we are able to have the same audio experience as with no cover. There’s no muffling whatsoever. Steve wouldn’t have let me cover the subwoofer if it interfered with the speaker’s function.

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26.March.2014

Love! Love! Love! Love! Love!

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26.March.2014

A brilliant idea!

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26.March.2014

Seriously, that’s brilliant!

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Way to get right back on that DIY horse! Looks great!

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26.March.2014

What a great solution! It looks fantastic.

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26.March.2014

Wow. That looks ravishingly beautiful!! My husband and I have the same arguments. We don’t yet live the lifestyle to have that, but whenever he talks about getting it in the future I cringe. You have thought of a wonderful compromising solution I’m sure will be of use for us!!

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26.March.2014

Nice solution. I’ve seen similar techniques applied in the past. However, that would never work at my house. haha. I like my movie watching experience to be quite immersive. Anything I place on top of my subwoofer (BIC F12) would rattle itself off in seconds, so I would never be able to use it as an actual table top. Then again, my sub is front firing, so that wouldn’t work anyways.

Also, I’m definitely jealous of HH’s Orb Audio setup. Would love to have those in a secondary setup. You should be thrilled that he went with something like that for your living room. I have giant floor standing speakers on either side of my media cabinet and a massive center channel as well. Plus satellite surrounds. A way more intrusive look than those “boobs” and in-walls. ;)

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replied on March 26th, 2014

Oh we used to have the floor-standing speakers on pedestals. I strongly encouraged Steve to give those up when we moved from our first to second home ;)

We haven’t yet tried out the subwoofer with an actual glass of anything on it. (Like I mentioned, the styling shown here is only realistic during nap time at our house anyway.) I wonder what would happen? With the dimensions we used plus the felt pads, the cover doesn’t rattle around or anything when the subwoofer is pounding bass.

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replied on March 26th, 2014

Congrats, Jeff! You’re my new favorite reader!

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26.March.2014

What a stylish solution! Our subwoofer is currently hiding behind our sectional. As for the speakers; ours are wood. They are also located in our basement family room. You can have a look at the speakers here- http://www.klipsch.com/reference-speakers I actually don’t mind them (because they are downstairs). They are richer in color than they look in the pictures. We have had the awful black boxes in the past; these are an improvement. I think you and your husband do a great job of compromising- in turn leads to these wonderful solutions that inspire the rest of us.

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26.March.2014

Great idea and it looks awesome! Any reason why you didn’t fill in the nail holes though? It kinda makes it look a little unfinished.

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replied on March 26th, 2014

Steve wishes we would have filled the nail holes. Honestly, I didn’t think about it. I was probably too impatient to get to the staining / painting part. They don’t bother me but I’m not the perfectionist in the relationship ;)

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replied on March 26th, 2014

It’s killing me, Mara. Dana’s too fast for me sometimes.

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replied on March 27th, 2014

Try some wood putty in the nail holes and dab some gold paint on the painted area. Should fix it right up!

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26.March.2014

Seriously creative, turning an eyesore into an eye-pleaser. Also, I appreciate the “keeping it real” comment about what the subwoofer cover-table looks like when it’s Mabrey’s launching pad. :)

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26.March.2014

Question: I know that when people post things like this to disguise electrical components on other sites, there are always comments about ensuring good ventilation. Is that something you’ve looked into?

I don’t know how much heat a sub-woofer produces compared to something like a wireless router (which are like freakin furnaces!), but even if it doesn’t overheat, all electronics have a much longer lifespan when they’re kept cool. If you’ve ever been in a room dedicated to servers, you know how cold they keep it.

Just curious! I figured as an engineer, your husband probably has this covered. Love the look of the new side table. Put a glass of water on it and watch Jurassic Park, then watch the water vibrate when the t-rex shows up :)

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replied on March 26th, 2014

Good comment! Our subwoofer is barely warm to the touch when in use and only on the back where the hook-up panel is located. It doesn’t get warm anywhere else. The cutout on the back of the cover allows what little heat is produced to dissipate. If only the subwoofer would fry – that would solve all my problems! Haha.

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26.March.2014

Hi! I have a similar problem on a much larger scale – the crate to house my 110 lb. black lab. It’s black plastic-coated wire and humongous. I can’t put a wood box over it and truthfully, it gets used as a side table quite often. It’s in a corner of the room that you don’t immediately see upon entering, but there’s no denying that it’s the BIG black elephant in the room. We eventually want to add another furball to our family, but the thought of another giant crate makes me cringe. Any ideas? I’m honestly at a loss and have just been ignoring the fact that it’s there.

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replied on March 26th, 2014

I know exactly what type of crate you’re talking about. We used to have a boxer (she passed away a few years ago) and had the same setup. The best I could think of was to put the crate somewhere inconspicuous. In our first home the crate was in our finished basement or sometimes upstairs in our bedroom when our dog was having problems. (She had a LOT of medical issues.)

In our second (previous) home, we set it up in the sunroom at the back of the house.

Do you have a guest room or laundry room or some other less-frequently used room that could house the crate? In this instance, I think disguising something so large would have the opposite effect…you might actually draw more attention to it. Ah, the things we do for pets, huh?

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26.March.2014

LOVE IT. PERIOD.

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26.March.2014

This looks awesome! I love it as just a side table, but it is even more lovable since it doubles as a subwoofer cover.

My boyfriend is the same way with the speakers and stuff so that is all I see when I look at the entertainment stand (luckily the subwoofer is about 1/3 of the size). I may have to come up with something cool like this.

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Love this solution!! We also have the ugly subwoofer and right now it’s sort of camouflaged by being nestled into a Lack table. I just plan on putting a larger decorative item in front of it and that should work well enough.

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26.March.2014

Great Idea! It looks awesome!

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26.March.2014

Holy Sh*T that’s awesome!! Genius! I want one now.

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26.March.2014

I love this clever solution, which is genius because it looks fantastic AND it saved you $$$ in couples therapy. : ) I will be honest and say that seeing the curtain draped over the speaker always bugged me. I’m know it bugged you even more, so I am extra glad that you guys were able to think outside of the (black) box to come up with this great plan! Honestly, you could probably market these to frustrated couples everywhere and make a killing.

jbhat

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26.March.2014

will you please do a pillow post soon?

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26.March.2014

Looks great! I love the different metallics. Side question (I’m sure you have it in a different post somewhere) where did you get your gray curtains and curtain hardware from covering the main window in your living room?

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replied on March 26th, 2014

Curtains are West Elm a few years back. Hardware is from Overstock and Amazon.

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the thorn in my side! this is a relationship saving idea, lol. luckily we moved ours to the basement and we are building a whole bench that will encompass this beast, plus the dvd and other fancy nonsense my boyfriend has to have.

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Brilliant! I have the same ugly subwoofer in my living room that is currently hiding behind a chair. We also have the ugly speakers on stands too *groan* Now if only I could find a way to cover up my husbands ugly recliner…… ;)

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26.March.2014

Your talent is limitless!! Luv, Luv, Luv this solution turned art work! Fabulous design!!

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26.March.2014

AHmazing. I need to talk to the husband ASAP.

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Oh my goodness, I need to copy you so badly. Our subwoofer is a little smaller (i.e. not really big enough to function as a table), but still ugly — maybe I could just make a bigger cover! Thaaank you for the inspiration!

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I think that’d look awesome even if it were just a normal side table. Genius!

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26.March.2014

Love it! It looks fantastic.

One tip about preventing bleeding stains – if you use an exacto knife to lightly score the wood along the line and then, stain. The line will be perfect and you won’t see the score.

Although I think it looks just fine the way it is.

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replied on March 26th, 2014

I knew there had to be a ‘trick’ – but I was too impatient to google it. Thanks!

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26.March.2014

This makes me wish I had a subwoofer to cover. LOVE!

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26.March.2014

LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!
I have been looking at our horrid black box near the TV for ages, resenting every bit of it!
This is the perfect solution.
Looks like we have a new project for the weekend.
Just lovely!!!

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That looks amazing! Nothing like an eyesore to bring out your creative juices. How wonderful it doesn’t interfere with sound quality, I’d be afraid of that. {{a p p l a u s e }}

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26.March.2014

Absolutely love it! Such a great compromise solution:)

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26.March.2014

Total genius! Love it

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26.March.2014

Love how the blonde color picks up on the shades. Hope he realizes how lucky he is to have a wife that DIY’s in his honor!

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26.March.2014

Love it. It fits so perfectly in the room.

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26.March.2014

So cute! It’s definitely you.

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27.March.2014

This is rad! I get so much inspiration from your blog.

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30.March.2014

Love!!!! Ps-where did u get the rug from??? I need it!

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replied on March 30th, 2014

Rugs USA!

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03.April.2014

What saved our marriage was actually getting rid of the coffee table. More space for the kids to play, less piles of my husbands bills. No coffee table for the win.

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replied on April 3rd, 2014

More like no coffee table for the win-win-win!!

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03.April.2014

I just had to comment to say that this is amazing! I love creative solutions that make everyone happy. I hate when you can tell a husband had no say in the home decor (florals and pink everywhere!) but it’s also equally as awful when there are TVs on every wall and overstuffed leather couches in every room. All that to say – you guys are my favorite home-blogger couple as far as compromising and working together goes. I love this!

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22.April.2014

You just gave me an awesome idea! Reading that you didn’t want to replace your sub unit because it still works makes me realize that something can still be done about my impulse purchase of a subwoofer. I will probably line the enclosure with foam so that the bass isn’t too overpowering. Have an idea already for the design of the box, can’t wait to try this!

Happy greetings from the Philippines!

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02.July.2014

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