Media Centers and Integrating a TV
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. Include 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 equipment from overheating.
Staight-on viewing is ideal. But flat panels, especially plasma TVs, have a wide viewing angle. As a result, side viewing is less of a compromise; you have greater freedom in the placement of your TV since not all seats will need to have a straight line of sight.
At Eye Level
Determine the eye-level placement of your TV by sitting in the prime viewing spot or lying in bed. Have a helper mark the TV outline on the wall using painters's tape. The middle of the TV should be close to eye level; pick a TV that fits this spot.
A long-standing guideline is that the best viewing distance is twice the screen's diagonal measurement. But with improved technology, you can sit farther away. At home, measure the distance from the TV to your viewing spot; view from that distance in the store to assess the picture's quality.
A bigger TV isn't always better. Consider the dimensions of your room and where you sit relative to the TV. An oversize TV will overwhelm the room.
In lieu of built-ins, several simpler options can be just as effective, especially if you have a basic entertainment system. If your TV is mounted to the wall, place a cabinet or table beneath the unit to help it feel anchored in the room.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Change the purpose of your room from casual conversation to comfortable lounging simply by hiding and revealing a flat-screen TV. Mounted above the fireplace, this TV is located at a focal point in the room, but white panels close to keep the TV out of sight when desired. The panels match those on the ceiling, making the cover look like part of the architecture.
A ceiling-high bookshelf flanked by windows gives this media center a simple design, yet allows it to be the focal point of the room. Open shelving on the sides and top is perfect for display and decor, while the cabinets provide hidden space for media equipment. The molding on the top and edges of the unit adds detail and sophistication to the look.
Take inventory of all the media-related items you need to store. A large lidded ottoman is perfect for stowing larger gaming components and also offers seating. Use labeled boxes to corral videos and games by category.
Place the TV so that it can be viewed from multiple spots in the room without the sun reflecting off the screen.
An armoire-style arrangement gives the homeowners the option of hiding the screen. Expose the television for everyday use, and hide it during 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.
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.
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 this 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.
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 cabinet doors. The TV sits nicely on top, visible from all corners of the room.
Cohesive Home Design
Make your media center cohesive with the design of the room by incorporating it into custom cabinetry and shelving. Cabinet space below provides room for TV essentials, like a DVD player or cable box, but decor on the shelves keeps the space looking homey, not overtaken by electronics.
Concealed Shelving: Cabinet Doors
For a more permanent fix to hide open shelving, order custom cabinet doors built to fit the shelving unit's dimensions. Wooden doors give the room a more sophisticated, put-together look, as well as a sense of warmth and coziness. Ribbed-glass inserts allow remote controls to work with the doors closed while still hiding the media equipment.
Media Cabinet Storage
Utilize space in a bedroom media cabinet by upgrading the storage to fit your personal needs. The TV is still visible and easy to use, but additional storage space can keep your room neat and tidy. Use organizational products like baskets, bin shelves, and fabric wall organizers to store your belongings, and try labeling each group of items with gift tags or luggage labels.
Divide and Conquer
Separate an open living area with a floating TV cabinet. This antique cabinet is used as a shelf, a media center, and a room divider. The simple design corresponds with the warm, rustic tone of the space and provides enough storage to hold a TV, DVD player, and other entertainment components. Even though the cabinet is in the middle of the room, because it doesn't stretch to the ceiling, the zones still feel like one space.
Framed Flat Screen
Stray away from a conventional media center and instead mount a TV on the wall and surround it with a simple, yet bold frame to draw attention. Decorative shelves can be placed in front to complete the look and arrangement.
A corner-oriented media center is a perfect way to efficiently utilize space in a small room. The angled design sits perfectly in the corner, providing plenty of storage and TV space, but saving floor and wall space in the room.