Your home theater is more than a collection of electronic components; it’s the entertainment hub of your home. If you have recently purchased or are considering a new TV, your thoughts have undoubtedly turned to how you can best display and protect your system. There are countless options, so how do you choose furniture that is best for both your style and your electronics? Whether you are looking for a solution for a small TV or a complete home theater system, the basic considerations are the same.
Take a look at the electronics and other items that will be a part of your home theater. The size of your TV and the number of components will play a large part when considering your needs.
Note both the overall width of your TV as well as the size of the base on which it rests. While there are exceptions, TVs generally look best when sitting on furniture that is at least as wide as the TV. This protects the sides of the TV from being accidentally struck when extending beyond the width of the stand. If you pick a stand that is too wide for your TV, your screen may appear smaller in comparison.
Take an inventory of all of the components you are looking to house (i.e. DVD and CD player, cable box, DVR, gaming console, etc.) including a center-channel speaker, soundbar, subwoofer or media storage, if desired. Allow for a couple of open spots as well, providing space for your system to grow. When considering the number of open component spots, remember that smaller components can be stacked to save space. Avoid stacking components that generate a lot of heat, such as a receiver, DVR or gaming console.
The furniture you choose is as important as your TV when setting up the perfect home theater and this space should reflect your style. Here is where your personal taste prevails.
Contemporary, Traditional or Somewhere in the Middle?
The home theater furniture is often the biggest piece of furniture in the room and sets the tone for the living space. Steel, glass and gloss finishes provide a contemporary look, great for coordinating with modern interiors. Natural wood finishes are available in a variety of styles, ideal for settings from traditional to contemporary. Choose a finish that complements your existing furniture or start out with a fresh new look.
Open or Closed?
Open TV stands are usually constructed of some combination of glass, steel and wood. Open shelving puts your home theater system on display, giving a contemporary appearance and providing easy access to the front of components. If you would prefer your TV to be the star, then an enclosed cabinet may be the way to go. You can conceal components, speakers and even media behind closed doors, keeping them out of sight but still within easy reach. Components are well protected in an enclosed cabinet — just make sure the cabinet you choose is well ventilated to allow for heat dispersion.
Once you have an idea of the size and style of cabinet that you are looking for, you must also think about where your home theater will be placed. Consider the location that you have in mind. Is it a large wall or are you trying to nestle a home theater into the corner? Corner TV cabinets or models that swivel make smart use of a small space. Will you be watching TV while sitting on a sofa, at your desk, or in the bedroom? Position a television at or just above eye level to minimize neck strain. Most sofas sit people approximately 18 to 22 inches off the floor, putting eye level around 40 to 48 inches. In an office or the bedroom the TV is usually higher so that it can be viewed from a seated position or above the foot of the bed.
It may seem like just a pretty place to house your electronics, but your home theater furniture actually has to work much harder than that. You will find a wide range of features available on the market, all designed to improve your experience. Here are some important things to keep in mind:
Adjustability & Accessibility
Your system is sure to change over time and you need furniture that can change with it. Adjustable shelves are a must so that you may reconfigure your system as your needs change. You should always have easy access to the rear of your components and connections. Look for furniture that includes wheels for easy movement and/or has removable back panels to make set up and maintenance a breeze.
We have all seen how TV cables and connections can turn into a frustrating, tangled mess. The best home theater furniture has an integrated wire management system that allows you to interconnect your components while keeping the cables neatly controlled and out of sight.
A home theater often turns into more than just components and a TV. Whether you want to incorporate speakers into your furniture or if you want a place to house your DVD collection, consider solutions that will allow you to keep your items organized and accessible.
Your home theater shouldn’t only look cool, it needs to be cool. Electronic components put off a lot of heat and that heat has to go somewhere. Your furniture should include built in ventilation to promote airflow, allowing this heat to escape.
While many components are lightweight, receivers and multi-disc changers can weigh in excess of 40 pounds. Add a 75-150 pound TV to that and you need sturdy support. Furniture should include structural supports and all glass must be tempered.
The old adage is as true with furniture as it is with anything else, ‘you get what you pay for.’ Entry-level TV stands have their place, but may lack the features and design elements of higher quality furniture. Make sure that you choose a stand that is sturdy, full of user-friendly features and engineered to last. Quality home theater furniture can offer you a lifetime of enjoyment.