Bill crafted his artisanal home theater out of wood and stained glass

CNET's Show Us Yours visits Bill's bargain-priced, high-quality entertainment center, much of which he built himself.


David Carnoy

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This is Bill and his wife Megan. They are originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but now live in a small cabin in the woods, on the outskirts of Lehighton, Pennsylvania. Some of Bill's hobbies include dabbling in stained-glass, woodworking, playing guitar and more generally, "makin' stuff."   

Bill admits with pride that he's frugal. "I like quality, but don't want to spend a lot of money. Doesn't everyone? So when I pry open the wallet, it's for a product that has been well-reviewed, is of decent quality, and a good price."

The home theater he built is a reflection of his bargain hunting DIY mentality, but it is undeniably unique and definitely high quality.

Click here to see more Show Us Yours home-theater showcases. or submit your own!

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Here's the equipment rundown. The front left and right speakers are ELAC B6s. The center speaker is a Pioneer SP-C22 and rear speakers are Pioneer SP-B22s.

Bill says: "I bought the speakers based on [CNET home audio editor] Ty Pendlebury's stellar reviews, and I couldn't be happier. Thanks Ty! The speakers are representative of everything I look for in a purchase: decent, affordable quality."

The TV is a Samsung PN60F5500, which Bill also purchased after reading a CNET review. As for the Onkyo TX- SR309 receiver, CNET was not involved in his decision. He bought it used, on Craigslist. 

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Bill built the "entertainment center" holding the receiver, cable box, and an old Athena ASF-2 speaker out of oak. The top is made from a slab of poplar. The second, smaller slab, just under the TV, is maple. And the speaker skins on the Elacs are constructed out of hickory and walnut.

Bill says the "odd-looking artwork" on the wall was made by simply cutting down tree branches and gluing them to an old cabinet door that he purchased second-hand for a dollar. 

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Bill hates seeing cords and wires, but hiding the wires for this setup proved to be quite challenging. The walls of the home are made of solid logs, so he didn't have any space behind or inside the walls to hide wires. So he routed channels into the base of the speaker stand, and ran the wires up through the pipe.

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You can see the speaker wire exiting the back of the stand, from another channel that he routed in the top of the stand.

"While it's not complete concealment," he says, "at least you can't see the wires when viewing the speakers from the front of the entertainment center."

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Yes, that's a PlayStation 3, circa 2012. Bill has an explanation: "I try to stay a couple years behind the latest technology as a way to save money -- eventually that PS4 will be mine."

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Lighting: Bill ran a cheap LED string-light behind the TV in order to set off the red tones of the brick wall. The green lighting under the the TV serves two functions: To support the slab under the TV and provide some soothing green light. The original glass in those lights was clear, but Bill replaced them with stained glass to get the eerie, "X-Files"-ish green glow.

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Another view of the lighting.

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The TV doesn't handle well-lit rooms very well, so Bill had to find a way to control the ambient light during the daylight hours. At first he used curtains on the windows, but they were a bit of a chore to open and close all the time. His cheapie-guy solution?

"I bought some used cabinet doors, for a dollar each," he says, and screwed them together to form a large panel." He then mounted the panel to barn-door hardware attached to the wall above the windows.  Now covering up the windows and blocking light "is a cinch." 

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Bill calls this "the throne" of his home-theater palace. In the background you can also see more of the cabinet doors on the track to cover the windows.

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The cords running from the cable box, PS3 and receiver, to the TV are mostly hidden from sight by the "Flintstones"-looking wooden slab just under the TV, and the center-channel speaker.

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Some of Bill's stained-glass work. 

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The Onkyo TX- SR309 receiver bought on Craigslist.

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Side view of the setup. 

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The room is actually a great room that is connected to a kitchen and dining room.

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View of the dining area.

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View from the kitchen.

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That's the end of the tour. Want to check out more CNET users' home-theater set-ups? We've got lots more here.

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