Home & Leisure

Here's How: Install and Modify Entertainment Center Cabinets

James Dulley on

Dear James: I am in the final stages of remodeling my house and I am working on the entertainment center. What size and type of cabinets should I use, and how can I modify them myself inexpensively for an elegant look? -- Carolyn K.

Dear Carolyn: Selecting an entertainment center is important for both its functionality and its appearance. As something new comes on the market, such as DVD players, video games, cable boxes, etc., yet you still want to keep your old CD and VCR players, the typical entertainment area can quickly become cluttered.

The least expensive method to somewhat organize your entertainment area is to build and attach shelving to the wall yourself. This may not provide as elegant an appearance as you desire, but it certainly will fit most budgets. If you plan it properly and leave some areas for future equipment, you can actually make shelving look quite nice.

When installing shelving, it is extremely important to use the proper type of anchors for the type of wall. Since audio/visual and televisions can be quite heavy, you will probably have to block or reinforce the wall attachment points. If a shelf pulls out of the wall and falls, your expensive equipment will surely be damaged.

Use some type of composite shelving board instead of solid real wood. Fiberboard is an excellent choice for this application because it is strong, inexpensive and looks good. It also is quite heavy so it will tend not to vibrate if a set of speakers is placed on it. If you do prefer real wood, choose glued pine board shelves.

These types of shelves can be trimmed nicely with molding. There are some very attractive types of decorative molding available at most home center stores. The composite trim materials are easy to work with and resist splitting if they are nailed on to a shelf edge.

Another option is to build your own entertainment center cabinets. Most home center store web sites have basic do-it-yourself plans to build these. As with the shelving, always leave some areas open for additional new equipment which you may not even imagine a need for today. It was not long ago that VCRs were the hot home entertainment item.


Depending on what is in the adjacent room, it might be a good idea to install a sound-deadening board material on the back of the entertainment center. This is the same type of wall material used in commercial and home theaters. Homasote makes some excellent and readily available wallboard that is ideal for this application.

A pyramidal-style entertain center can be very attractive and not difficult to build. The center section is the tallest and should reach the ceiling. This not only looks good, but it allows you to also anchor the entire cabinet assembly to the ceiling instead of just the wall behind it. The television should be located in the center and positioned about eye-height when you are sitting.

Your final option is to buy ready-made entertainment center cabinets. With the booming demand for these today, many of the high-quality kitchen and bathroom cabinet manufacturers now offer them. These cabinets, especially elegant ornate one, can be quite expensive, so definitely plan for your future audio and visual needs before selecting one. You may also want to install some sound-deadening wallboard first.


Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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