Fixer To Fabulous Shows Us How To Turn An Old TV Into A Showstopping Bar Cabinet

Sometimes you plan a statement piece, and sometimes the universe plans one for you. When Jenny and Dave Marrs went exploring in a new local antique shop, they didn't have anything particular in mind. But it didn't take long for the "Fixer to Fabulous" team to see the potential in a 1966 console TV cabinet. The perfect spot for it was already on Jenny Marrs' mind. "I need to find some really cool furniture, too, for this space," Marrs said of the home they were renovating for an episode called "Lakeside House in the Trees" from Season 5. "I really would like to find a piece that would fit. Just something, like, unexpected. So, we might have to do a little shopping." And so they did.

From one point of view, their shopping yielded some junk. For $250, the pair drove away with an old TV cabinet with a missing knob, a record player on one side, a radio on the other, and most significantly, no television. "It was missing the TV, which gave us kind of the perfect opportunity to fill that hole with something cool," Jenny said. To which Dave replied, simply, "Liquor." We'll talk about alternatives to liquor, and keep in mind that a console like this can be a focal point that offsets a modern gallery wall built around your television, or at least makes a good TV stand you can use to hide your TV cords.

Team Marrs makes a funky retro bar

Dave Marrs' project for the console TV was pretty simple ... at least as far as we know. He isolated the TV compartment and built in an elevated shelf in the rear to make bottles in the back more visible. He left a channel in the bottom of this enclosure for electrical wiring and speaker wire. We don't know from the episode if any additional work was required to make the turntable work. If so, it was probably fairly minor since replacement parts can be difficult to come by for retro vacuum tubes and solid-state electronics.

From there, it was all downhill. Dave mentions putting a back on the piece. And it obviously needed a bit of cleaning. Clearly, someone found a knob that fit but was very mismatched, and they ran with it. Marrs is shown at one point in the episode repairing the grille cloth over the speakers, and he mentions polishing the cabinet for its new owners. The result was a statement piece, indeed. "I ... love the vintage TV console turned funky bar we were able to create," Jenny Marrs wrote in her blog. "It's such a fun, unexpected piece that fits this space perfectly."

Some ideas for your own retro console bar ... or whatever

These old console cabinets still exist in such abundance that you can pick them up cheaply and make whatever strikes your fancy. Dave Marrs made a bar, but other options include a sewing station, dining room sideboard, pet bed, aquarium enclosure, kids' desk, or simply a side table. Perhaps the most intuitive use is continuing to hide unsightly modern electronics like a gaming console, Bluetooth receiver, amplifier, and cable or streaming box. There's little need to wrestle with restoring the inner workings; just replace the components with their modern equivalents. If you make shelving in the TV compartment, why not throw in a strip or two of LEDs as well? (If you do try to keep any old components, bear in mind that electronics of this era can present a few hazards, including lead exposure, ungrounded electrical components, and unsealed electrical parts.)

Whatever cabinet you find is likely compatible with a midcentury modern aesthetic, but the retro vintage vibe goes with many styles. Many consoles are wide and originally housed the same components, while others are narrower and might only have held a television. They vary in style from little art deco masterpieces with cabinet doors that completely conceal their original purpose to space-age cubes that conceal nothing (because what greater masterpiece could there have been at the time than a huge, mildly radioactive television?). And in case you need one, eBay has a huge selection of vintage TV knobs.