Diagonal installations take up more floor space than units that sit straight along a wall, but because their bulk is tucked into a corner they don't appear to be so massive and imposing. Another advantage of corner cabinets is that the sightlines are good from anywhere in the room. If sightlines are a problem and you can't place the unit in a corner, mount the television on a swiveling platform. One way to double-check possible locations is by tacking up sheets of butcher paper that you've trimmed to the size and shape of the TV and its cabinet. Make sure the viewing angle is comfortable and unobstructed. Unusual locations. You are not limited to the ready-made entertainment centers offered by furniture companies. Using kitchen cabinets offers lots of flexibility, with their varied sizes, door options and adjustable shelves. "Drawer units give you excellent visual access to discs and tapes," notes Austin. "They are better for organizing small items than cabinets." To lighten the look of the center, he suggests positioning shallow wall cabinets on either side of the television and using glass fronts or open shelves. Know the dimensions of your equipment to make sure it fits into its designated place, and don't forget to figure in control knobs and wire and cable connections that stick out. Beyond these measurements, make allowances for ventilation and service access. Bob Gatton, home theater manager for Philips Consumer Electronics, says, "All TVs produce heat. If you're going to recess a television into a wall, it will need to be vented somewhere--into another room, or maybe into a closet that backs up to the enclosure." When it comes to wire management, Gatton points out that audio and video manufacturers are increasingly combining multiple functions into one box, reducing the traditional tangle of wires. As far as coping with older systems is concerned, he recommends buying short (1/2-meter-long) cables rather than longer lengths. He also emphasizes the importance of having a game plan, saying: "Work on just one component at a time to avoid cross-connections. Drawing up even a simple wiring diagram before you start will help a lot." Finally, think about the future. Will you be getting any additional equipment, like a DVD player? Are you going to swap your mega-speakers for miniaturized ones? Buy a bigger TV? Will the video-game cartridges be banished to the kids' rooms? Or will you simply be adding to your CD collection? Anticipating changes like these when planning your entertainment center will help fend off the return of the Mission Control look.
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