Restoring Wood Finish & Hiding The Cable Box With A Remote

When we last left off with our little media cabinet we had cleaned all of the grime off (with a Magic Eraser of all things) as well as removing the musty smell from the drawers with vinegar, but we mentioned that we still wanted to hide the cable box in one of the drawers somehow, and also had to seal the wood with something to lock in the color and shine. Well, we finally got ‘er done thanks to some technology and some good old fashioned elbow grease. So here’s how we went about getting that cable box off the ground.

We drilled a bunch of large holes in the back of the top middle drawer (and the back of the unit) with a large drill bit (it was a 1 3/4″ bit). Sorry about the bad lighting here, we needed a flashlight shining into the drawer to illuminate things, and it photographed really oddly.

Here’s an idea of how it looked when we had finished one side of Project Ventilation. Not to be confused with Project Runway, which is a lot more exciting, and usually involves at least seven kids from my Alma Mater (FIT – represent!). Anyway, so we did the same thing on the left side of the back of the piece (made four more holes) and then made the same type of holes in the back of the drawer itself (which was also open on the top, so any heat could easily escape).

Then we just hooked up the box, slid it into the drawer, and shut it. It’s nice that we can pull it out (if we ever want to access it) but we don’t have to keep the drawer open whenever it’s in use in order for the cable box to get a signal. Why don’t we? Why, because we got an IR extender. And it’s dreamy.

Wait, you can’t see it? Allow me to point it out. See this little black dome that’s about an inch wide?

Well, that’s an IR extender. We got it from Amazon (here’s the one we bought) and for $15.99, with tons of great reviews, it’s a deal that saved us from having to ditch/hack up/attempt to hinge a drawer front. The way it works is that you place the small round receiver (the black dome-looking thing) somewhere discreet on the front of your TV, and that picks up the signal whenever you use your remote from the couch. Then you just plug it into your cable box (there’s a wire that snakes around back).

In a word: it’s genius. It has been just as reliable as pointing the remote at the cable box itself, and thanks to ventilating that drawer we haven’t had any overheating issues (even if we leave the drawer closed for a week and then open it, it’s not steamy in there).

But now onto what we did to restore some color and shine to the media cabinet itself. Because it looks pretty good in the two photos above – but those were taken after we put a little effort into it. So let’s go back in time for a second. Since it had already been scrubbed down and de-grimed we needed to work on restoring some luster and sealing it all in for long-lasting protection. Step 1: pull out the drawers and roll back the rug.

Step 2: Bring those drawers into the sunroom (where I had more space to tackle them) and grab some Restor A Finish and Howard Feed-N-Wax (we found it at Home Depot) since I’ve pretty much heard only the most amazing things about both products, especially when they’re used in cahoots.

Here’s how the drawers were looking before any luster-restoration or sealing. See how the wood looked a little dry and had small dings and scratches in the finish?

Step 3: Rub Restore-A-Finish onto each drawer as well as the frame of the cabinet with a rag according to the directions on the back (which are pretty much “rub it on and wait 30 minutes”). Look at the difference! In person, it was like seeing a crusty old foot in one of those lotion ads that gets some much-needed cream and transforms into a gorgeous and smooth beach-ready model-foot. Seriously, our drawers went from crusty to modelesque.

After the Restore-A-Finish application, there were still a few more heavy duty chips that weren’t quite solved (it was great for the small dings and scratches as well as moisturizing all of the wood though).

So that brings us to step 4: raid Clara’s art drawer. Ah yes, a brown magic marker will do.

Step 5: rub the brown magic marker into those bigger chips and immediately blend with your finger. Might as well rename it Chip-Be-Gone. Or at least Chip-Be-Way-Less-Obvious.

Then after the wait time on the can of Restore-A-Finish (30 mins) it was time to move on to our little bottle of Howard Feed-N-Wax to seal everything in. I was fresh out of clean rags, so I used an old white sock. Worked like a charm.

Step 6: Apply the wax to the wood drawers and frame of the cabinet, let it sit and soak in for 30 minutes, and then buff away any remaining wax with another clean rag (or sock in my case).

“Bling bling. Everytime I come into the sunroom bling bling.” That’s what I was singing with these flossy & glossy babies in front of me. Just call me Lil Wayne.

Once I slid the drawers back into place, our media cabinet was all “Can’t nobody take my pride. Can’t nobody hold me down. Oh no. I got to show those movies” a la Puff & Mace.

It was like a bonafide hip-hop throwback concert at my house. With slightly altered home-related lyrics.

Ok, I’m satisfied with the amount of hip-hop references that I worked into this post. Although I gotta say, it would make my life to someday drop this little ditty: “I’m sorry momma. I never meant to hurt you. I never meant to make you cry, but tonight I’m cleaning out my armoire.”

And now, let’s take a moment to appreciate how far this baby has come. Best $59 we ever spent. And the crazy part to us is that this cabinet sat at the thrift store long enough to get marked down by $20 (which means it was probably there for at least a month). Nobody saw the beauty.

Also, on the subject of hip hop, dude why isn’t the magical pairing of Adam Levine, 50 Cent, and Eminem getting more radio play (warning, this isn’t the clean version, it’s the official video)? I first heard it last fall but it’s still not on the radio. What the heck, DJs of America? Help a sister out.

What are you guys up to when it comes to furniture upgrades. Any wax-on-wax-off-ing going on? Any other RF remote (or IR extender) lovers out there? It’s a pretty sweet piece of machinery, I gotta say.


  1. Kim says

    I think I need to buy one of those remote things! Think it could work on gaming consoles? I HATE seeing my boyfriend’s Xbox and PS3 and their millions of wires in my nice pretty media console. Would love to banish them to the coat closet!

  2. Brittany D says

    Oh, thank you, Petersiks! We found a beautiful piece at ReStore (a steal at $42!) last summer and ran into the same problem with needed access to the cable box. I had almost given up hope of using the piece and was considering putting it up on Craigs List earlier this week. Your post was quite timely! Do you know if you can wire more than one device to the RF reader? Thanks again!

    • says

      Brittany D., I know they have three eye splitters that you plug in to the wireless remote extenders. They will allow you use three remotes with the same extender. I was looking at them before we moved. They allow you to place your devices in a closet or another room, but you can still operate them with the remote. I was looking at one that looked like a flying saucer. The splitter was extra and an add on. HTH. :)

  3. Renae says

    Furniture, blah, blah, blah (just kidding, it really does look fantastic!). But Levine, 50 and Eminem collaborating…say whaaaaaat?! Where have I been? I’m guessing it hasn’t made the radio because there’s no real way to edit that to acceptable language! All the “blurs” would make it sound like it was in another language!! Sherry I’m pretty sure you and I could hang out. I’m just another hip hop/rap lover. None of my friends ever got it and my husband STILL doesn’t. Oh well.

  4. Tabitha says

    Thank you! Over a year ago (Jan ’12 to be precise) I got an amazing looking dresser for our entertainment center and with a small mirror back on it, the cables leading to the TV on the wall are even hidden…but the cable box and DVD player have been driving me nuts with the eye-soreness they cause me. When y’all got a dresser for your center a few months ago I realized I’d just have to sit around and wait for the answer and not have to rack my own brain on what to do ;) I didn’t even realize there was such a device to send the signal (which is now being shipped to me via Amazon). Thanks!!!

  5. says

    Love those Howard products! My parents are antique flippers and have a collection of Howard products they use to quickly refresh furniture and get it sold. Have to make sure and use the ‘Feed N Wax’ if you want to the results to last. Glad to see the Howard products getting some love on a big blog like yours. You guys constantly amaze me with your creativity and great ideas!

  6. says

    You guys are my heroes today! :) I was starting the search next week for a way to keep my bonus daughter’s dvd player in a basket rather than on top of her dresser, but needed to figure out how to work it! Perfect! I hadn’t seen one that wasn’t wireless either, and I didn’t want to go for that kind of a purchase on this upgrade.

    Thanks! And that peice looks awesome. I have a mid-century that needs some love still…. I hate to paint a really well made piece. I may just give this a go. If I don’t like it after that I can always paint!

  7. says

    We’ve got a walnut TV cabinet/used to be dresser with nicks too. (I know it used to be a dresser because there were tighty whitey’s, sock, and shoe brushes still in it when we bought it. Haha!) I’ve been thinking about looking into touching it up. This is perfect! Thanks for the info.

  8. says

    Ha! I had to snicker a little when I read your “Chip-Be-Gone” magic marker trick. I did the same thing just this morning, right before I logged on to read your blog. Magic Markers hide a multitude of sins perpetrated by my dog, cat, and son. :)

  9. says

    this is exactly what i needed! i have a very, very similar piece of furniture that my tv sits on…and this is exactly what it needs. thanks!

  10. Tom M says

    As an a/v geek, I very much approve. Now we need to talk you into some sound upgrades. Built-in speakers? Soundbar? So many possibilities…

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