The Details

You want to give all that fancy home--theater equipment the showcase it deserves, but you could easily eclipse your electronics spending on a large custom built-in, which costs about $12,000 if made of cherry or maple. A thriftier option is to assemble it from stock kitchen cabinets: An 8-foot-long, solid-wood media center runs about $6,000 to $8,000, even with professional installation. Most configurations have a mix of standard 24-inch-deep wall cabinets, open shelves, and vanity drawer bases in the center, and slender pantry cabinets on either side. Finish the unit with matching crown moldings, filler strips, and glass-front doors to make it look like custom furniture. Better still, since you're putting the television in a niche instead of hanging it on the wall, you'll be able to afford a big screen that's even more Super Bowl–worthy. A 50-inch hi-def rear-projection TV is about 14 inches deep, but set into a built-in, nobody will know it's not a 4-inch plasma. Specify a unit with an LED bulb, because they don't need to be replaced like other rear-projection bulbs, says Steve Samson, vice president for system design and engineering at Tweeter in Boston.
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