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Whereas the hearth used to be the focal point of the living room, these days, it’s much more common for the screen to take center stage. There’s so much high-quality entertainment available, and technology has made it affordable and easy to set up. However, you may have cobbled together a collection of items over the years that don’t have a unified look and feel. Especially if your entertainment center is located in your home’s main gathering space, you want it to be aesthetically pleasing and to provide all the features your family uses on a regular basis.

Choose the Ideal TV: Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to your TV, so pick yours carefully to set the right tone for your entertainment center and the room it’s in. Consider the viewing distance, opting for a smaller screen if you’re seated closer and a larger screen if the seating is farther or if, say, you watch from the kitchen as you prepare meals. Today’s LED TVs are affordable and have a high-quality image to make your entertainment center a gathering place for movies, sporting events, and quiet nights with your family and your favorite TV show.

Add a Gaming System: Before heading out and buying a DVD or Blu-ray player to go with your TV, first consider whether a gaming system may meet your needs even better. If you have kids, they’re probably already begging for one, but a system may be a good choice even if nobody in your household identifies as a gamer. Many of today’s systems can download movies and stream video through Netflix and Hulu. Plus, systems like the PS3 can even play Blu-rays, making them a multipurpose addition to your entertainment center.

Consider Custom Shelving: The old pre-made entertainment centers may be functional, but they aren’t ideal by any means. The size of your TV, types of media you store, and number of peripherals you have all affect the dimensions and types of shelving you want in your entertainment center. Rather than just getting by with something you purchased from the store, go the extra mile and have custom shelving made to fit your gear and your style. For example, you may want to have doors that hide the screen or shelves to hold your collection of records and vintage turntable.

Upgrade Your Sound System: Once you’ve gone through the process of setting up the ideal entertainment center on one wall, don’t forget to tie it in with the rest of the room. Add a more substantial sound system with surround sound to take your entertainment to the next level, particularly when you’re watching movies and sporting events. Today’s sound systems are often wireless and small, making installation much easier than when you had to run cords all the way around your room. Don’t forget you can also use your sound system to play music from CDs or your mp3 player even when you’re not using the TV.

Your entertainment center will be one of the most used parts of your home, so take the time to put it together well. If you can’t afford all the upgrades at once, that’s not a problem. Just make a plan before you start purchasing things so you know everything will work together well, be of similar quality, and not duplicate functions. Then purchase each piece as you’re able and put together your dream entertainment center over the period of a year. Items can even make fun gifts for your spouse, kids, or the whole family on special occasions throughout the year.