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DIY Series: My AMLI DIY Grand Prize Winner Spotlight: The Johnsons

Aug 20th, 2015

How to maximize space without sacrificing personal style is the dilemma of most apartment dwellers. And while there are plenty of design tricks to make a room feel larger, what if you want more than just the illusion of space? What if you really want more space?

By using less furniture, you can free up square footage in any room, and it’s possible to do if said furniture serve multiple functions. Our resident and grand prize winner of the My AMLI DIY contest, Michael Johnson, made the mother of all multi-functional furniture pieces: A gorgeous entertainment center. Not only does it house his television and related electronics, but it’s also an artistic focal point by acting as a display for antiques, photos, and other beloved ornaments.

We asked Michael to tell us more about his project and found out everything from his inspiration, design style, and advice he has for other DIYers.

What is your design style?

I would describe our style as vintage industrial.

How did you build the entertainment center?

We used PVC pipe as the main support frame. We added steel rivets to make it look more like metal and then painted it with a rusty brown textured paint to give it an old metal look. The shelves were made from wooden shipping crates used to ship glass in from Germany. There is a fellow in our area who disassembles them and sells the pieces. This gave us wood that had some distress to it. After we stained the boards they had the look of being older than they really were.

What was the total cost?

Total cost was around 00.

What were your goals for the project?

We wanted an entertainment center that was a centerpiece of the living room and had the vintage, industrial feel. We also wanted it to be relatively shallow so as not to take up too much space in the living room.

What is your favorite element of this project?

We were really happy with the results of transforming PVC plastic pipe into a frame with a real steel look.

What do your friends say about the project?

Many really love the look it gives the room. We’ve received a lot of positive comments, but most are surprised to find out the frame is not made of steel.

What was your biggest challenge when building/creating your project?

Over the years, we’ve done a lot of construction type projects so this one was not exceptionally difficult. Space to work on the project was a big deal because we really don’t have room in our one-bedroom apartment. We took the pieces to our in-laws’ and did the majority of the work there, then brought them back and assembled it in our apartment. Being in a third-floor apartment, we try to be respectful of those below us and tried not to start work too early or too late, so time restrictions were a bit of a challenge as well.

What’s your best advice for other DIYers?

It’s hard to give advice as I’m not sure how others like to work, but my wife and I start with a basic idea. Then we go to home improvement stores and Craigslist to look around and see what we can find. Generally we look to minimize cost and effort without sacrificing the final look and feel of the project. Often the project is modified several times as we go forward, but for us that is a big part of the fun. We just enjoy figuring out how to do more for less as well as recycling materials whenever we can.

Stay tuned to the AMLI Blog as our DIY Series wraps up in September!

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