Design Process 2

This page will go into greater detail regarding what is involved in designing a project.  It outlines the thought process that went into the design and construction of an entertainment unit for my house.  The design is based on ideas gathered from pictures I'd seen on the internet of other units.  My wife and I worked closely in the design process, but because things had to start somewhere, I tossed out the initial ideas and then we followed various lines of thought until we reached our final decision.

While we are both very happy with the final product, it's nothing like what I had originally envisioned.  But that's a big part of the design process.  We toss around different ideas, look at various pictures of other units, decide what we like and what we don't until we narrow it down to a final choice.  I had originally wanted to incorporate turned pillars into the design, maybe as supports for the shelf where the TV would sit.  However, we couldn't find an appealing way to integrate them with the rest of our design ideas, so out the window they went.  We looked at numerous photos on the internet, and our final design is very much like one we saw, which unfortunately has disappeared so I can't include it here.  From there, I did a very rough computer sketch to see how the major dimensions would look in relation to our TV.  I also wanted to make sure that there would be room for components like our DVD player, stereo, etc. underneath the TV.  That's the image below:

From there, I expanded the sketch to see how a full sized unit would fit in relation to the windows in our great room.

When I was convinced the position of the unit would integrate with the layout of the room (and the final height of the unit was determined by height of the trim around the windows, although that's not the case with the above sketch) I drew a more detailed working diagram to scale.

This would become our final design, however in the process of reaching it, I toyed around with different ideas like two levels of drawers in the centre unit, glass in the large doors, etc.  While this diagram gives a very accurate idea of what the scaled unit will look like, some of the detailed elements like the corbels on top of the pillars and the details of the base trim have been left off (I'm still not that good with my CAD program).  From a design standpoint, this CAD program is very helpful because it allows me to rotate the image to see it from any vantage point.  And then I can pull out all the dimensions I need to aid in construction, as the next two images demonstrate.

Even with all the detailed dimensions and 3D views, the final product will vary a little from the working diagram simply because some things just can't be accounted for on paper.  With a project like this, there are some absolutes that need to be maintained:  The TV has to fit and then sit at a certain height and the speakers (which are hidden behind black speaker cloth panels) and components need a certain amount of space and wiggle room for shelf placement, etc.  Therefore, the bottom drawers could only be finalized once the component areas were mapped out on the actual pieces of plywood.  Door dimensions are derived from openings, and not the other way around.  Below you will find some photos of the assembly process and the final finished product.  Click on a thumbnail to view it full size.

Two end units


Attaching the middle unit


Attaching the 2nd end unit



Fully assembled, fastened to
the wall, waiting for base trim,
doors, drawers and shelves


Finished unit


Doors and Drawers open



Crown and Pillar detail


Base detail


Upper shelf lights



Crown lights for background lighting while watching TV