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Entertainment centers are "lifelines" of our leisure time. As the choice of entertainment media has evolved and grown, so has the types of entertainment centers facilitating their display and storage.

Apart from being functional, they have now "diversified" to become composite furniture units meant for exhibiting art and décor items, showcasing books and music collections, and displaying a variety of indoor flora. As such, entertainment centers have become the center of attraction in discerning homes.

Are you out shopping for an entertainment center? Read this guide to acquaint yourself with useful pre-purchase information that will help you choose the right piece.

How many types of entertainment centers are there to consider?

You can consider these currently popular trends.

Full Length and Height

These are the full-fledged entertainment centers that often cover entire wall surfaces. They are elaborate, composite multipurpose entertainment hubs that do much more than their stated purpose. Full length and height entertainment centers are usually not standardized products.

Meant for the affluent and elite, they are designed to cater to individual tastes. They are designer furniture, involving the teamwork of an interior designer, architect, and craftsmen. If you want a full-fledged unit, it is better to take ideas from catalogs and then consult experts on how to create a bespoke entertainment center for you.

Dark Brown Traditional Engineered Wood Entertainment Center
White Classic Solid Wood Entertainment Center
White Modern Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
White Traditional Solid Wood Entertainment Center
White Classic Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
Brown Traditional Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center

Low-rise

These are the cabinet-type entertainment centers that sit on the floor or are slightly raised on legs. The body is divided into neat symmetrical or asymmetrical drawers, shelves, and open decks. The TV, home theater assembly, and other entertainment gadgets sit on the top surface, accompanied by appropriate showpieces and art décor.

The TV could also be wall-mounted separately, above the entertainment center. This design has covered drawers and cabinets, hence it is maintenance-friendly. Being a conventional "closed-box" concept, it will be your type if you prefer established conventions with proven effectiveness.

Brown Classic Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
Light Brown Modern Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
Brown Classic Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
Brown Elegant Solid Wood Entertainment Center
Brown Simple Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
Black Modern Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center

High-low Combination

This is a mainstream entertainment center that you are sure to encounter in your design explorations. Among the many variations, the most standard configuration is a low-rise central piece with two towers on its sides. The TV could be placed on the top of the central piece or mounted on the recessed wall. The asymmetrical appeal of the design makes entertainment centers universally popular. You can consider it if you have other furniture of varying heights with which this new addition will blend.

Brown Elegant Metal Entertainment Center
White Classic Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
Brown Stylish Wooden Entertainment Center
Gray Modern Manufactured Entertainment Center
Gray Stylish Solid Wood Entertainment Center

Combination of Movable and Fixed Parts

These entertainment centers combine multiple units out of which some are movable or detachable. This feature offers great functional flexibility since you can move out or move in some units as and when needed. For example, the book cabinet fitted with castors can well be part of the entertainment center, but if you are in the mood to check out several books on a Sunday, you can move it to your study and swap books at will.

White Modern Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
White Modern Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
Black Stylish Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
Black Modern Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
White Stylish Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
White Modern Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center

Illuminated

These are the self-lighted entertainment centers. The lighting could be fluorescent or incandescent, concealed or external, adding interest and a decorative feature to your living space. Some designs also incorporate opulent lampshades, mini chandeliers, or wall lights. If you want to choose this type, please see that the lighting does not distract or disturb your TV viewing experience.

Black Stylish Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
White Modern Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
White Stylish Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
White Manufactured Wood Ilumunated Entertainment Center
Black Modern Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
White Stylish Manufactured Wood Entertainment Center
Black Manufactured Wood Iluminated Entertainment Center

Why Is Wood The Preferred Material For Entertainment Centers?

Throughout time and across visual cultures, wood has been the universal choice of material to make entertainment centers and other furniture. This is because of its timeless beauty, elegance, and durability. It is important to understand the benefits of having a wooden entertainment center.

  • Nature's designer material. Wood mesmerizes architects, interior designers, and furniture designers with its infinite varieties of textures and grains. Teak, oak, silky oak, pine, rosewood, ebony, walnut, birch, maple, zelkova, bubinga, bamboo… there are at least over a hundred popular wood varieties to design elegant and opulent wooden furniture from.
  • Durable and stable. Wood lasts a lifetime, is climatically stable, and non-conductive of electricity.
  • It can be seasoned and treated. Wood is easy to mill, process, and store.
  • Easy to work upon. Although tough and strong, wood offers excellent workability.
  • Wide range of byproducts. Processing and manufacturing waste is reused to produce a wide range of wooden and hybrid furniture byproducts.
  • High Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Score. The environmental impact of the entire life cycles of wooden furniture is comparatively low than other products such as plastic. Hence it is a sustainable furniture material.
  • It can be recycled and up-cycled. Wood is a zero-waste material. Each grain of wood during milling, processing, and carpentry is either recycled or up-cycled. So, wood products form an environmental loop; nothing is wasted.
  • Decomposes rapidly. Being organic, wood as furniture material decomposes in just thirteen years.
  • Responsible timber harvesting. Wood resources have adopted environmentally sustainable measures such as selection harvesting, clearcutting, and shelterwood that in fact regenerate forests more effectively. You may want to check if your manufacturer has established a holistic wood sourcing policy to ensure wooden furniture does not reduce forest cover.

You can go ahead and indulge in the guilt-free purchase of a wooden entertainment center.

Which Are the Best Wood Choices For  Entertainment Centers?

There are three types.

  • Softwood. As the name suggests, the structure of softwood is soft and malleable. Some popular species are Pine, Red Cedar, Douglas fir, Hemlock, and Larch. They grow faster than hardwood, hence they are relatively economical. Also, it is easier to work on them.
  • Hardwood. These species have more complex inner structures due to which they take longer to grow but produce harder wood quality. Typically, Oak, Beech, Birch, Maple, Walnut, Poplar, and Aspen wood is used in furniture.
  • Man-made wood. This is obtained from the up-cycling and recycling processes. It is not "wood" as such, but byproducts such as plywood, blockwood, chipboard, and the likes.

Which Are the Best Wood Finishes For Your Entertainment Center?

  • Shellac is a clear wood finishing agent that preserves the natural looks of wood while giving it surface protection. Ideal if you want an "unfinished" finish.
  • Polyurethane is a synthetic finish available in a wide range - from matt or glossy to satin. It can be either water-based or oil-based. It is highly durable and easy to apply. It can also endure surface abuse like warming and scratching.
  • Varnish is a clear topcoat that offers excellent protection, including UV protection. Use it if your entertainment canter has a large top surface susceptible to stains, scratches, and heat emitted from gadgets or devices.
  • Strainers are protective coatings available in a wide range of tones. Dark brown, mahogany, white, grey, barn red, true black, and many more.
  • Lacquer is an intense glossy protective coating. It reflects light almost like a mirror. Although it is very durable, it tends to crack in the long term. It will be a good choice if a high gloss finish suits your overall décor.
  • French polish offers even more glossy finish than lacquer. Since it is a Victorian finish, it suits royal decor environments. Not for modern ambiances, though.

Apart from the above, you can, of course, choose to have your entertainment center oil-painted.

How to Make Your Entertainment Center Gaming-compatible?

Gaming becoming a mainstream entertainment activity. In order to make your entertainment center gaming-compatible, your TV needs these features:

Input lag - This is the time-lapse between any action button pressed on the gaming console and its result on the media screen. A time lag of 25 to 50 microseconds is good to excellent, respectively.

  • Screen resolution - This should not be a concern, since most TVs today offer 1080p or 4K ultra HD quality, the optimal requirements for enjoyable gaming.

  • Display technology. High Dynamic Range or HDR is the ultimate in visual quality technology today. If your gaming hardware is HDR, your TV needs to possess compatible HDR display capability. If not, well, upgrading your television is the best option.

  • Gaming-TV interface - High Definition Multimedia Interface, or HDMI is the prevailing standard, to which most TVs adhere. However, be certain about this important compatibility, and the HDMI cable sockets in your TV.

  • Game mode - Lastly, your TV should offer this viewing mode. It makes a significant difference; it reduces the input lag by as much as 80%!

For virtual reality (VR) gaming, entertainment centers provide a separate shelf or open space for a compatible screen, since most TVs don't yet support VR headsets.

How Can You Personalize or Make Your Entertainment Center Stand Out?

Here are some tips:

  • Enhanced lighting. You can arrange for two elegant lamp shades standing by the sides of your entertainment center. They will transform the appeal of the living area. Concealed overhead LED lighting is another idea that works equally effectively.
  • Dense foliage or creepers. A row of healthy, luxuriant foliage planters running at the base of your entertainment center, or creepers running on its surface unobtrusively can change the personality of the unit.
  • Wallpaper or other graphic elements. Try them on a few cabinet doors or drawers to break the monopoly of the rest of the unit's surface finish.
  • Mirror. If you have a tall cabinet in your entertainment center, how about a mirror on its door? This will give you a quick look at your make-up on the go!
  • Miniature photo frames. Stick or nail them on the unit's surface asymmetrically but harmoniously. This will add to the décor with a dash of innovation.

The above are just a few kick-starter ideas. You could apply your creative genius to personalize your entertainment center or make it outstanding. Here's to more entertainment the classy way!