Design Tip: Custom Cabinets
How to ensure your cabinet is right for your room and audio/video gear.
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Photography by Dawn Martinez
September 02, 2008 by Lisa Montgomery

A great cabinet can add the finishing touch to a home entertainment system. The trouble is finding one that suits your style and the size of your system. You can scour the furniture stores in your area and find nothing that’s just right. That’s why many homeowners are choosing to have their cabinets made from scratch. A custom cabinet maker can build a piece according to your specifications, giving you something that’s totally unique. Your specifications should go beyond your penchant for maple, though. As cabinet maker Mike Schieber of La Crosse, WI–based Real Wood Products explains, there are a number of other details you’ll need to share and decisions you’ll need to make before building can begin. 

Where do you want it? The current size, shape and layout of the room will often determine the best spot for an entertainment cabinet. Your cabinet maker needs to know where that spot is so he can design a piece with the proper dimensions (width, height, and depth). Built for a specific space, your new cabinet will look as if it had always been a part of your living room.

Are you trying to match something? Would you describe your living room as traditional, contemporary or some other style? Is there a coffee table, a fireplace hearth or crown molding that you want the cabinet to complement? Be sure to tell your cabinet maker so he can pick the perfect wood, stain and hardware.

What are you going to put in it? There’s more to home entertainment than a big TV. You’ll need components like DVD players, media servers, surround-sound receivers, as well as speakers and amplifiers. You’ll need to decide whether you want your cabinet to hold everything, or just a few pieces of equipment. Your decision will determine that amount of shelving the cabinet maker puts in, as well as the overall size and shape of the cabinet.

Think about the future. Chances are, the TV you pick today will not be the same TV you’ll want five years from now. Upgrades are a fact of home electronics life, and your cabinet should be designed to adapt to those changes. This might include putting removable trim around the TV cavity. The trim will hide the space around you TV you own today. When you upgrade to a larger set, the trim can be removed. Having extra shelves and storage compartments is always helpful, too.

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Lisa Montgomery - Contributing Writer
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.

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