Media Centers that Entertain the Whole Family

The keys to a fun and functional media center are cabinets, drawers, and shelves that can hold all of your stuff.


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built-in gray wall unit
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Measure Up

    The first step in deciding on a media center is finding the right cabinetry. Make sure your cabinetry can hold the size and number of items you own -- or plan to own. Be sure you have enough spaces for power cords, surge protectors, and cables. It's likely that your next television will be larger and thinner, so plan accordingly. Also, allow enough airflow to prevent the equipment from overheating.

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Mix and Match

    Pair a wall-mounted TV with a storage-savvy credenza. Use a combination of open shelves with baskets and cabinets to organize movies, CDs, and books. The top of the credenza is ideal for displaying accessories or framed photos.

    Tip: Avoid glare by placing the TV so that it can be viewed from multiple spots in the room without the sun reflecting off the screen.

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Undercover Media

    If you're building a custom media center, like this one, make a list of all the things you'll want to store along with your TV, including stereo and gaming systems, DVD players, and the accessories and extras that go along with them. Once you have your list, you?ll know how to plan your storage strategy. Also consider if you want your TV to be visible all the time. If you want the ability to hide it, plan for cabinet doors.

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Lower Level

    Make the most of a basement media room with a simple arrangement. A built-in cabinet hides movies and other equipment behind closed doors. A two-tier coffee table organizes reading material and doubles as a snack table while the television is on. The entire arrangement is framed by the brick arch in the room that features accent lighting to illuminate the area.

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Kid Approved

    Kids have a lot of electronic equipment, so keep it at their level atop a shorter shelving unit. Placing a television and DVD player at a lower level enables kids to help themselves. Plus, the storage cubbies below provide a place to stash toys, games, and art supplies, creating an instant playroom.

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Cover Up

    An armoire-style arrangement gives the homeowners the option of hiding the screen. Expose the television for everyday use, or hide it during more formal events. Built-in shelves surrounding the television provide storage and display space. When the TV is covered, these items become the focal point of the room.

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Plain and Simple

    Use easy-to-install shelves to create inexpensive custom storage. The open display makes it easier to see what's available. Group CDs and DVDs by category and genre, or organize them alphabetically by title and place them vertically on shelves so that you can see the titles. Use baskets for smaller items and items you don't want on display.

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Some Assembly Required

    When investing in media storage, think long term. Choose ready-made units that offer flexible shelving so it can grow and change with your collection.

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On Display

    Placing the television above the fireplace is a popular arrangement; however it doesn't leave a lot of storage opportunities. A coffee table or ottoman that has storage space is a good alternative to a traditional entertainment center.

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Multi-Purpose Space

    If your media room is also your living room or entertaining space, arrange the furniture to serve multiple purposes. Anchor the area with your heaviest piece of furniture (most likely your couch) facing the TV and arrange accent chairs facing the couch to create a conversation area. If movie-watching is on the agenda, the lightweight chairs can be easily repositioned to face the TV. If you have wood flooring, be sure to put felt padding on the feet of moveable furniture to prevent floor scratches.

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Channel Surf

    Create a relaxing escape by placing a miniature media center in the bathroom. Recessed shelves provide amble space for a small television. Keep the area safe by keeping cords away from the water.

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Nighttime Escape

    A media center is a natural addition to a master suite. Built-in shelves divide the bedroom and bathroom. The television and other entertainment fits on the shelves.

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On a Roll

    Make the most of a small space by using roll-out shelving to create a media center in your kitchen or bedroom. In a space such as a kitchen or bedroom, where you spend a lot of time moving around the room and might not have seating right in front of the TV, placing it on a higher shelf ensures you can see it from different angles in the room.

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Family Space

    Make your entertainment center work as hard as you do. This modular system of shelves and cabinets keeps toys and games in plain sight while concealing media components behind the cabinet doors. The TV sits nicely on top, visible from all corners of the room.

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Tailor-Made

    Can't find the right unit to hold your television and growing DVD collection? Customize your media center by mixing and matching modular units to fit your storage needs. Give your media center a unified look by choosing matching baskets to hold movies and games. Be sure to file with the spine facing up; this will make it easier to locate items when you need them.

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