I have a refinished garage that acts as a second living room. But it was lacking a proper entertainment center, ready access to a refrigerator, and a heat source in the winter months. I'm just thrilled to say that this media center is exactly the answer to my top three woes!
The exquisite cabinet is made of an absolutely beautiful solid oak. It has a nice finish to it that gives of a very nice color, and a pleasant smell. The pieces of wood are chosen such that the grain can be seen and admired. The cabinet is well designed and incredibly sturdy. You could do a dance on top of this thing. It's tough to move, but that's a good thing! The door to the fridge/cooler has a lock, preventing the children or unruly guests from ransacking your beverages.
The cabinet comes delivered in pieces that are individually carefully wrapped with sheets of foam and cardboard. A lot of care went into packing the pieces. The foam is very brittle and causes quite a mess when unpacking. The cabinet itself is very heavy; i needed a dolly to move it around. The assembly instructions were very thorough. Each piece is labeled with a letter, and the reference guide tells you which screws you need. There was absolutely no confusion what so ever with the assembly. The pieces go together smoothly and present a nice frontal appearance. Despite one step which was a bit tricky without a second pair of hands, i was able to assemble this unit by myself in just over an hour.
Width: 50 3/4" Height: 34 3/4" Depth: 20 3/4"
Another item of note is that this unit is modular. In the future, if either the fridge or fireplace were to break, you could easily purchase just that replacement and swap it out. No need to buy a whole new cabinet.
This cabinet features a top of the line 23” Electric Fireplace Insert from ClassicFlame. Despite being visually stunning, the fireplace offers warmth via built-in electric heater. The heater is very effective and can heat up a 20x20 space in no time. It comes with a remote that makes it a snap to use. Different buttons change the visual and temperature settings, allowing comfortable control from afar. There is also a timer that turns off everything after a specified amount of time. Each one of these functions pops up on a display on the front of the fireplace for a short period of time, giving you a very good indication of what is going on, while not distracting from the actual fire show. The fireplace fits right in with the warm color of the oak and really completes this piece of furniture. With the heater running full blast, i had no issues with any other compartments getting unduly warm.
When i first lifted this box up, i almost fell over because i expected it to be much heaver than it was. That is because it is actually a "cooler." Instead of a standard compressor, it uses a Peltier thermoelectric cooler and a fan to keep the insides cool. The upside is that there's pretty much no noise coming from this unit. The downside is that it is not as effective (or efficient) as a refrigerator, and that the internal temperature is determined by the difference to the outside air temperature. I put in a digital thermometer that records min/max temperatures, and my readings currently vary from 37F to 49F on the coldest setting. A perfect beer temperature is at around 33F, so this is a bit warmer, but not completely unreasonable. Another upside is that coolers theoretically should last much longer, as they don't have a compressor that can burn out, or freon that can leak out.
Size wise, i was concerned that this unit wouldn't hold much beer because it was so small. Boy was i wrong! Due to the absence of a "freezer," there is plenty of room inside to hold two 12 packs of beer in a standard beer bottle. See picture below.
MEDIA CENTER DESIGN
If there is one questionable aspect to this design, it is the designation as a "media console." As you can see from the picture, the stereo receiver takes up the entire space above the fireplace. This leaves no room for other electronic devices such as a cable tuner, TIVO, DVD player, game console, etc. There is a nice sized alcove above the fridge, but this required two modifications as it was not meant for this application.
First, a hole needed to be cut in the back so that cables could pass through.
I have a PlayStation 3 that i use to watch DVDs on. I placed it in this alcove, closed the door, and watched a movie. After two hours, i opened the door to discover the PS3 was HOT to the touch, and entire space was extremely warm. This can be catastrophic to electronics and shorten their lifespans considerably.
The use of this space for electronics requires the door to be unlocked and open to allow access/ventilation to the device. By design, the fridge door is coupled to the front door so they open together. I had to remove this to allow the fridge to remain closed while the cabinet was opened. Perhaps a different design (such as a shorter door) would allow more room for electronics, and allow some flexibility in your media setup.
It's not a problem if you don't mind the electronics sitting on top; i simply prefer a more "managed" appearance,
An absolutely beautiful piece of furniture that offers two great additional functions: room heating and chilling beverages. Cooler has a decent capacity, and the fireplace puts out a good amount of heat. It is well designed, and is quite pleasing to the eyes. Cabinet is solid, sturdy and assembly is a piece of cake. This ideal piece fits my needs perfectly. Highly recommended.