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Home Media Center Solutions

The Ins and Outs of Multifunctional Home Media Furniture:

As the days grow shorter and the weather turns cool, many homeowners will find themselves spending an increasing amount of time inside their homes. Indoor activities may gradually take precedence over outdoor fun as families begin to look for easy, stay-at-home entertainment options. The less daylight hours we encounter, the more likely that backyard barbecues will be replaced by indoor entertaining. If you like to throw parties at home with friends or family, now is a good time to take inventory of your setup. The traditional "entertainment center" or "media furniture" may play strongly in your indoor social season plans.

The word "media center" or "entertainment center" can have different meanings depending on what industry is using the term. As a commercial venue, it often refers to an indoor amusement park. However, for homeowners, the terms are most commonly used to decribe a particular type of cabinet used to hold amusement activities within the home. These home media centers are a special type of cabinetry that typically includes a large, open flat space to hold a TV in addition to numerous shelves, drawers and cabinets for audio/video equipment. They can cater to a home theater experience, but most are designed to hold equipment for a more modest home movie experience. Simple, basic media centers are easily purchased ready-made, while more elaborate multifunctional systems are often custom built to the homeowners specifications and needs. Many people like to include bookshelves in their media centers, adding the functionality of a traditional wall unit for displaying books, photos and personal treasures. These "wall unit media centers" can also integrate other types of multifunctional entertainment areas into the system in addition to standard shelving. Beverage bars, computer or gaming stations and fireplace surrounds are common extra functions that are often combined with the media center. Like all cabinetry, media centers can be either ready-made or custom. Ready-made units are often referred to as "media furniture" because they are designed to be free standing. Ready-made media centers are available from most furniture stores. They usually come in standard sizes, configurations and colors that are designed to satisfy the majority of potential buyers. Features can include open shelves, closed cabinets, or any combination of storage dictated by by the latest fashion trends and demands. Custom media centers, on the other hand, are usually part of a built-in cabinetry system and will attach to the wall. Colors, sizes and features are all designed and made to order, so there is no limit to what is available. Whether ready-made or custom, there are several standard media center configurations commonly sought after by homeowners.

    TYPES OF MEDIA CENTER FURNITURE AND ENTERTAINMENT CENTER CABINETRY:

  • Single cabinet media center. This category covers most of the ready-made media furniture, but also includes custom floating media center cabinets and media credenzas as well. The typical single cabinet media center is about 3 feet tall and five to six feet wide. The television typically sits on top or is mounted to the wall directly above the unit. The area below the TV can include shelves, cabinets with doors or drawers to hold electronic components and accessories. The number of each depends on the price of the unit. Doors and drawers will cost more than just shelves.
  • Bookshelf and wall unit media centers. The bookshelf or wall unit entertainment center style of media cabinetry typically runs floor to ceiling or slightly below ceiling height. The width is intended to cover a large section of wall. Units in stock sizes can be purchased ready-made which are great for apartments. However, this category also includes many high end systems that are custom designed to fit the homeowners space. A typical configuration includes display shelves across the top and cabinets with doors and drawers along the bottom, all of which surround a large space designed to hold a TV. Variations can include systems that are all shelving and others that are all cabinetry. If the unit covers an entire wall, custom cutouts for the home's heating system and electrical cutouts are usually necessary. The better entertainment systems will include some sort of amenity for hiding all the wires from the electronics.
  • Beverage bar with media center. For those who entertain frequently, a wet bar or general beverage center that is integrated into the design is a much sought after amenity. The addition of the bar to the media area creates a complete home entertainment center that is perfect for parties. These types of entertainment centers are nearly always custom, as hook-ups to electricity for refrigeration and a water supply for a sink or ice maker are common. Typical features include a temperature controlled wine cooler and storage for barware in addition to cabinets and shelves for media components.
  • Fireplace surround & entertainment center. Media furniture can be custom built to surround a fireplace, ensuring the warm, cozy fire remains the focal point of the room, but seating can be arranged in front of it so that the large screen television is also viewable from the conversation area. Floor to ceiling shelving and/or cabinets often surround the sides of the fireplace. A central opening on the bottom accommodates the mantle and hearth. Space for the television is usually located above the fireplace and may include doors to hide the TV when not in use, however, the television can also be located next to the hearth within the media center shelving and cabinetry depending on homeowner preference.
  • Entertainment center with integrated desk. Entertainment center systems often include a desk or integrated computer workstation for gaming, homework or light home office tasks. Although a combination office and media center won't provide the quiet solitude needed for intense concentration, many people prefer to play music while they perform mundane tasks like filing, etc. Additionally, the combination of home office and entertainment center is often needed in smaller apartments where the space needs to be dual purpose — simply because there isn't very much of it. Bedroom media centers with integrated vanity table fall into his same category, as a desk and a bedroom vanity are similar in size and appearance. Many people love to watch TV or movies in bed and a bedroom media center with a vanity and drawers for clothing storage as well as cabinets for video components can provide a total storage solution for the bedroom.

The type of media center best suited to your home is determined by your individual space, needs and budget.

Custom units will generally cost more than ready-made, however, the price can often be somewhat offset by savings elsewhere due to increased usability, entertainment potential and integration with existing furnishings. No matter what type of entertainment center cabinetry you choose, a home media center is generally a smart addition to any house or apartment, and will pay for itself over time through hours of enjoyment and entertainment.

floating media center
This example of a floating media center that appears to hover weightlessly against the wall, but is actually secured to the wall studs and holds the video, sound and recording equipment behind hidden, flip down doors. A separate floating panel anchors the flat screen TV. A LED lighting system is integrated into the television panel, and a separate, floating light bridge provides ambient light across the top. A lighted display shelf rests against the floor, visually anchoring the entire media center system.
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Closet Works is Chicagolands' largest and most experienced provider of custom storage solutions. Since 1987, we have been helping homeowners by creating custom closets, pantries, bookcases and more to help create a better, less stessful lifestyle. Great ideas to "Organize Your Life" and examples of our wall units and media centers with features including everything from book shelves to hidden desks and beverage bars that wrap around a fireplace can be found throughout our website. For more information on Closet Works call toll-free at 800-4-CLOSET (800-425-6738).

EXAMPLES OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF HOME ENTERTAINMENT CENTER & MEDIA CABINET SOLUTIONS

fireplace entertainment center with beverage bar
This media center integrates a fireplace surround, beverage bar and lighted glass display shelves in addition to a hidden television cabinet over the fireplace and drawers and doors to conceal media components. The modern style, coupled with the solid wood door and drawer fronts, was custom designed to blend with the homeowners' existing decor.
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wall unit entertainment center with desk and window cutout
This media center integrates a desk, television area, cabinets for electronic components, shelves for favorite books and reading materal, plus drawers for video games. The unit is custom designed to fit around an existing window and includes a cutout for the electrical panel that is hidden behind a cabinet door. The glass door cabinets are all lit with LED lighting, creating a beautiful display in the evening.
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media center for home theater use
Media center with extra large 80" TV compartment for home theater use. The shelves are enclosed by glass cabinet doors to display favorite mementos. The lower cabinets hide all the audio and video components behind doors, including mesh cabinet doors to disperse heat build up. Drawers offer storage space for music CDs and movie DVDs, creating the perfect setup for home movie nights with the family.
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family room entertainment center
Family room entertainment center with bookshelves, cabinets to hide audio/video components in addition to board games, plus drawers for DVDs. All of these features surround a central TV opening designed to hold a large flat screen television.
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Media wall unit with center TV and computer work station plus desk
Media wall unit with center TV area includes lower cabinets for electronics and lighted shelves for displaying books and personal treasures. It also features a hidden computer work station with pull-out desk and file drawer so that the areas can do double duty as a home office.
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Bedroom media center with integrated vanity table
Bedroom media center with integrated dual his and her vanity tables includes storage for a television, cabinetry to hide the cable box and other electronics, plus drawers for lingerie and small clothing items.
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fireplace media center cabinetry
Fireplace wall unit entertainment center with bookshelves and cabinets. Media components such as video recorders and cable boxes remain hidden from view in the media center cabinetry so as not to detract from the fireplace.
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single cabinet credenza style media center
Credenza style media center cabinetry custom designed to fit under living room windows and blend with existing furnishings. Flip down doors with smoked glass panel inserts screen the electronics from view, but keep everything easily accessible.
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