4-Star Ideas for Staging Media


With today’s flat screen televisions, gaming consoles and myriad components, it’s likely you’ve outgrown your old entertainment center. Now’s the perfect time to update your look, get organized and create a functional media center for the entire family — all without sacrificing a square inch of style.

The first step to finding the right media center is to take inventory of your storage needs. Account for the size and number of electronic components you own or plan to own plus power cords and cables. Add DVDs, books and any other accessories you want to store with your media to the list.

Secondly, consider the space where your media center will go and take measurements. You’ll need to balance your storage needs with the size of the room. That way, you can be sure your media center is properly scaled to your room, so it’s not too large or too small.

Now you’re ready to select the configuration that best fits your needs. There are several options to choose from:

Media Console

The media console takes up a minimal amount of space while providing storage for all the essentials. Many cabinets offer glass fronts, so remotes work with the doors closed. Create even more space when you mount your flat screen television to the wall over your console and use the top of the credenza for your DVR or framed photos and accessories.

Open Shelving

An often inexpensive storage solution is open shelving. You can store all your electronics and media accessories together. Just keep the look neat and organized by using matching baskets to hold movies and games. A side benefit? The open display creates a welcome airy feel in smaller spaces and darker rooms.

Armoire Media Station

If you like a more traditional look and an all-in-one storage solution, choose an armoire or console with hutch. Today’s designs accommodate large flat screen televisions and offer adjustable shelves that fit your ever-changing and growing media needs. Plus, armoires with doors let you hide your television and create a more seamless look.

Modular Storage

If you like the look of custom storage but not the price, consider modular storage. It’s the most versatile solution simply because you can mix and match storage units and add on as your media needs grow. Start with a console, add a hutch and flank it with a pair of towers.

Television Tips: Find the right size & placement

You probably want to buy the largest screen that fits your room and your budget, but there is such a thing as too big. When shopping, remember this simple rule: your viewing distance should be about two to three times the screen diagonal. For example, if you have a 42-inch screen, you should be about 7 to 10 ½ feet from the screen for optimal viewing.

When placing a flat screen, be mindful of what position you like to be in to watch television. Do you like to lie on the sofa, sit in an easy chair or lie on the bed? For most people, the correct viewing height is most comfortable at about 12 inches higher than their line of sight.

Mounting the television above the fireplace is a popular placement. However, it typically is too high for viewing without straining your neck. The only way a flat screen mounted over a fireplace mantel works is if the viewers are at least 10 feet away from the screen — not always an easy thing to achieve.


Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply


    July 30, 2015

    I just stubbled upon this post while searching for media centers. I have been looking for one just like the White one pictured at the end of the post. Can you please tell me where it come from/ who makes it? Thank you so much! Your ideas are wonderful!!

  2. Reply


    January 14, 2014

    Hi, is it okay to mix brown-toned/stained woods and furniture (brown leather sofa, brown end tables, etc) with a black tv console? Or add a cream-colored/painted tv console along with dark brown furniture/sofa, with a goldish beige wall?

    • Reply

      How to Decorate Team

      January 14, 2014

      As long as you are comfortable with mixing finishes. Some people like everything to match, but Ballard’s philosophy is to mix and match.

      The How To Decorate Team

  3. Reply

    Red Russo

    August 25, 2011

    How do you style around the tv though? Our flat screen looks great sitting on the console, which has great accessories, but the wall space behind it looks so blah. Art would be hidden behind it. Any suggestions?

    • Reply

      Ballard Designs

      August 26, 2011

      Sometimes painting the wall a dramatic color will fill in the gap or you can hang a series of smaller prints or items (such as a collection of dishes) which is centered around the flat screen. Hope these suggestions help!
      The Style Studio Team

  4. Reply

    0sam defranco

    April 17, 2011

    installing a flatscreen above our fireplace we need a stand for components that is small and compact it would be visable in our cottage style family room

    • Reply

      Ballard Designs

      April 19, 2011

      Osam: Have you looked at our Devon Swivel Media Cabinet? It has a great cottage look and has the component storage you need in a very small space. Just because the top is swivel, doesn’t mean that you can’t use it for other purposes.
      The Style Studio Team

  5. Reply


    March 9, 2011

    We have a corner fireplace (don’t want the tv above it) with 2 side walls – one is shorter, another longer. Our room is big & open. The cable connections are on the short wall, but I’m thinking about having them put on the longer wall… is there a way to determine which wall is best or is it just preference? I want someone to do this for me =)

  6. Reply

    sue berggren

    February 18, 2011

    looking for a oriental rug with green-brown field, quiet teal or gray, rust colors. I like the Turkestan rug but cannot figure out sizes. I am looking for 8×8′ or 8×10. please email any ideas you have for a rug product.

    Thank you.

  7. Reply

    Chad Norris

    February 16, 2011

    I love media centers that don’t look like media centers. For example, a buffet style option that would accommodate the size of the components. You don’t need glass with today’s equipment options.

  8. Reply


    February 15, 2011

    How can I know which window panels will coordinate with my fabric upholstery? I am interested in Etiene and possibly Palomar Spa for the Gramercy Chair and need to purchase some coordinating/matching panels and pillows (chocolate brown couch and walls that are pretty much the same color as Butter Twill). I was hoping to stay in the light blue color frame for all of them but I am not married to the idea. For example, I’d be ok with complimentary drapes in a more neutral tone. The point is to bring color to the beige/brown room. Any ideas? Thank you.

  9. Reply

    Ballard Designs

    February 10, 2011

    Dear Gail: Out of necessity is born an idea! We have passed your comments onto our buyers – so you never know!
    The Style Studio Team

  10. Reply

    Gail Payne

    February 5, 2011

    Good tips but we have a dilemma. Our sectional is in front of a nice stone fireplace. We do not want to place the flat screen TV above mantle, too high for us. Instead we would loke a console that is on castors so we can keep the TV to the left of the fireplace, but be able to swing it out for groups watching movies. I look forward to Ballard Designs providing this option. I think it willl be quite popular as I haven’t seen it around. BTW we have extra wiring to allow this to work.

  11. Reply

    Swell Kel

    January 4, 2011

    I have been in search of a media console for the last 5 years. Maybe I’m not searching hard enough, but I cannot seem to find what I would truly like. I want a console that will house my tv and components while looking like a built in. I also do not want any of the components to show; behind closed doors. Then I can accessorize the glass covered cabinets/shelves;-)