by Staff Writer
Lately, television consoles, stands and storage racks have been exhibiting updated designs, sporting storage for your media essentials in models that are tastefully coordinated to the rest of your living room furniture. Compact TV stands and corner TV stands are convenient in smaller apartments, dorm rooms and offices, but even large homes can benefit from the clean look and discreet presence of a television stand. As more people upgrade to lean flat-panel televisions, they are seeing that the smaller size of a TV stand is all they need. The furniture industry usually reserves the term "entertainment center" for the largest TV furniture, big enough for the television, a cadre of audio or video components and a full CD-DVD collection. TV stands tend to be smaller than full entertainment centers while still having enough shelves for a few components and some media storage. For smaller homes or for smaller rooms in larger homes a stand may be all the TV furniture you need.
Size: Whatever style you choose, be aware of the dimensions of your room and your television. If you have a flat-screen TV, depth won't be an issue because the TV stand will be deeper than the television. If you have a traditional CRT television, buy an entertainment stand that's deep enough so the TV won't hang over the front or back, a mistake that's both unsightly and hazardous. Small television consoles are ideal if the TV set is the only thing you want to prop up, but if you want to spread out, choose a console TV cabinet. Extra-wide TV consoles provide plenty of display space on which to place ceramic vases, photos of family and friends or a couple of add-on speakers.
Height: Your TV stand's height should be based on preference, but consider this rule of thumb: Position your TV so the lower half of the screen is level to your TV-viewing sightline. If you have tall chairs, consider getting a tall TV stand; if you prefer a low couch, then a short TV cabinet would be a better choice.
Shelves: TV entertainment centers usually come with at least one or two shelves, but they can feature as many as six or eight. Find TV furniture that supports your media library. A TV stand with adjustable shelves allows you to tailor the configuration to your audio-video components and distinguish a CD shelf from a DVD shelf.
TV hutches: Hutches, traditionally, are television stands that are enclosed; they have doors or drawers for hiding electronics components from view. These are especially popular among those who want to keep their television from being the focal point of their furniture.
TV consoles and credenzas: Consoles and credenzas make excellent entertainment stands, being fairly short (around 30 inches tall or less) and wide enough to support most televisions. One of the best features of consoles and credenzas is the storage space. If you need something to house a television along with other living room essentials, like blankets and throw pillows, a TV credenza is a fantastic solution. TV consoles and credenzas may or may not have drawers or doors, but they always feature backs and side panels, which is what distinguishes them from platforms.
Platform TV stands: Pared-down platform TV stands are designed to please your inner minimalist. Platforms feature one or more uprights for shelves, but their frames are usually free of backs, sides or doors. Glass and metal are their most common materials, though wood is also available.
Corner TV stands: Corner TV stands are designed as right triangles, so they can ease into a corner against both walls. They make perfect sense for small living rooms and bedrooms and give you the most entertainment bang for your buck. You can find a corner TV stand built to the specifications of a console TV stand or a platform TV stand.
Wood TV stands: Solid wood is a great option for any style of TV stand. Hardwoods such as oak, maple, cherry, teak, mahogany and ebony are premium woods. Solid wood is very durable and also more expensive than other materials. Wood veneer is a good choice for wooden TV stands. Wood veneer is made by gluing thin strips of real wood to a substrate. Premium woods are used to cover less expensive woods and engineered wood products. Wood veneer TV stands are usually quite affordable. Engineered woods include plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), medium density fiberboard (MDF) and other products. Often made from mill waste, wood scraps and other materials that would otherwise end up in the trash, engineered woods are glued and bonded into sheets. These environmentally friendly recycled products reduce the need for tree cutting and, in some ways, are better than solid wood because they cost less and do not warp.
Metal and glass TV stands: In metal TV stands, stainless steel is the alloy of choice, though aluminum and brass can be found occasionally. A stainless steel TV stand won't rust, and it takes both powder coating and chrome plating extremely well, which means it's available in a variety of attractive finishes. Glass is used mostly in shelves but occasionally in doors. Tempered glass is the best choice in furniture because it is four to six times stronger than traditional glass.Tempered glass should always be clearly marked, so be sure you are getting the safety and durability you deserve.
Mobility: If you have a large room, like to switch from couch to chair and your television isn't too large, then you might enjoy a TV stand with a swivel. Swivels also come in handy for reducing glare. Wheels, often attached to smaller TV cabinets, allow you to transfer your TV stand from room to room as needed.