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How to Choose the Right Entertainment Center

how to choose an entertainment center
For most families, the entertainment center is the focal point of the living room. It's where they gather on family movie nights, reminisce while watching home videos, or enjoy their favorite weekly TV show together. Choosing the right piece of entertainment furniture can be difficult, but we are here to help make your search easier. Read below to learn about the different types of entertainment furniture, how to choose properly sized piece, and more.

Types of Entertainment Units

entertainment center

Entertainment Centers


Also called wall units, entertainment centers are large pieces of furniture that usually surround and hold the TV. Often they contain drawers, cabinets, and shelves for storage of DVDs, media components, games, and more. Entertainment centers can be as tall as 72 inches and the width varies per unit. They are available in a variety of styles to match any décor. Due to their size, entertainment centers a more expensive option. However, the price varies greatly based upon materials and construction. They aren't ideal for small rooms, as their size will dominate the space.

tv stand

TV Stands


TV stands, or TV consoles, are one of the simplest pieces of entertainment furniture. They are long cabinets on which to place your TV. Generally TV stands feature additional storage (drawers, shelves, or cabinets) for DVDs, games, media components, and more. TV stands can hold most sizes of TVs, or you can mount your flat screen to the wall behind your stand. Triangular corner TV stands are also available if your room layout determines you need to place the TV in a corner. TV stands work well in rooms of all sizes.

media chest

Media Chests and Armoires


These slender units take up less floor space and instead use vertical space to store the TV and other accessories. TV armoires and media chests are ideal for small spaces where vertical storage is necessary.

  • In TV armoires, the TV is often contained in a cabinet with doors, which conceal the TV when its not in use. TV armoires are one of the tallest options.
  • Media chests (left) resemble tall dressers, but have shelves for easy storage and access to media components, such as DVD players or cable boxes.

entertainment fireplaces

Entertainment Fireplaces


Entertainment fireplaces do double duty as both a TV stand and fireplace. An electric fireplace below adds heat and personality to a space, while the shelf above is ideal for a TV. Entertainment fireplaces are ideal for spaces without a mantel or fireplace, such as a secondary family room, game room, or basement.

flat screen

Options for Flat Screen Televisions


If you have a flat screen TV, you can still find a TV stand or unit that will allow you to mount the TV on the wall. If you still want the look and feel of a unit, opt for an entertainment center that allows you to mount the TV to it. If you are looking for a smaller piece of furniture, try a TV stand with flat screen panel mounts.

Entertainment Unit Styles


Entertainment units come in all styles, so you're sure to find one that matches your existing décor. Identify your room's style and select a unit in that same style so it doesn't clash. Also, if you already have wood furniture in your room, you can, but don't have to, find a unit in a matching wood shade. Here are some characteristics of popular entertainment unit styles:

  • Contemporary units are often made of metal or glass. They feature clean, crisp lines and very little ornamentation.
  • Modern units also feature crisp, clean lines, but are generally made of wood.
  • Traditional units are generally made of wood and often feature crown molding at the top of the unit and turned legs at the bottom.
  • Country or cottage units are usually made of lighter wood or feature a distressed painted finish.


Measurements to Know


Measure Your Television


  • Before making a purchase, measure your TV. The size of your TV (the size written on the TV box) is based on the diagonal measurement from corner to corner. This number (in inches) will be helpful as you shop because most TV stands or entertainment centers will denote which size TV they can hold.
  • Also measure the height (from stand to top of the frame) and width (from the end of the TV frame) of your TV. If you are purchasing a unit, you should know these measurements and compare them to the TV opening in the unit.
  • Finally, if your TV isn't a flat screen or plasma, measure the depth of your TV to ensure if will fit comfortably on or in your entertainment center without any overhang.

Measure Your Room


  • Know the floor space (width and depth) you have available for the stand or unit.
  • For the most enjoyable watching experience, you should leave plenty of space between the viewer and the TV. For a 29 inch TV allow for between 3 and 4 feet of open space, a 39 inch TV requires 4 or 5 feet of space, a 46 inch TV needs 5 or 6 feet of space, and anything larger requires between 7 and 8 feet of space.
For comfortable viewing, the lower half of the TV screen should be level with your line of sight when seated. Sit on your furniture and measure where your sight line is. The shelf where the TV rests should be no lower than 12 inches below that measurement.

Unit Placement


Where you place the entertainment unit or TV stand in your room depends upon the layout, the location of the cable connections, and other factors. However, here are some rules of thumb to follow:

  • Placing the TV or entertainment center in front of a window isn't ideal. The backlighting from the window will make it difficult to see the screen, and you're blocking natural light from entering the room. If your cable is below a window, run a little extra cable to an open wall.
  • For ideal viewing, try to center the middle of your TV with the middle of the largest seating in your room.

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