Entertainment center wall unit design topics

Plans for an entertainment center is a sought after woodworking topic.

A wooden TV entertainment center with cabinets on either side on a white background

An entertainment center is a  piece of furniture that creates a focal point for a room.  They contain shelves and drawers for storage. They showcase the television while hiding companion components such as cable boxes, DVD players, home theater systems, and speakers.  The entertainment center also displays books, photos, and artwork.  Often entertainment centers feature crown molding, glass or metal grid front doors, and background lights.

I want to thank Mark Czamara at DynaMark Customs in Tonawanda N.Y. for sharing photo of a recent entertainment center he sold and built with a SketchList 3D design.  It is a nice piece of work.


image of wall unit



wall entertainment center

When designing an entertainment center wall unit you should consider and list the features you want in your entertainment center. Popular entertainment center features include:

  • Adjustable height shelves
  • Technology to allow remote controls to work.
  • Some channels to hide cords/cables
  • Media pull-out trays
  • Media or multi-purpose drawers
  • Sliding and or folding doors to hide the TV when not in use.

A step up from small floor-based TV stands, entertainment centers can be attractive furniture.  Built-in freestanding, they can segment or blend rooms and serve as a design statement. Think of it as an architectural focal point in your house.  NOTE:  Very young children climb furniture.  Children do die in furniture tip-over fatalities.  Attach your entertainment center to the wall to prevent tipping.

Be careful with your design.  Not every room will support a large wall unit. Entertainment centers don’t work well if you don’t have the right room configuration. They work best in living rooms that have a dedicated television wall.   Small or L-shaped rooms require more care in design.

Measuring is a critical step in building the appropriate unit.

First, consider placement. Study the wall on which the units are going.  Make a diagram of the area or room.  Specifically, make sure you locate and mark off doors, windows, doors,  heat and AC registers, baseboard heaters, or electrical.   Consider the location of the internet, television cable, and power outlets.

Don’t forget the viewers!  There are recommendations of screen size based on the distance of the viewers to the screen.  Those guidelines for viewing distances follow:

Viewing distance                                                        TV screen size

Three to four feet                                                        30 inches or less

Four to fie feet                                                            30 to 40 inches

Five to six feet                                                            forty-six inches

Beyond six feet                                                           Fifty inches or more

And remember that comfortable television viewing also requires the proper height of the television about the viewer’s line of sight.   The bottom edge of the screen should line up no less than a foot below the horizontal middle line of the screen.

“How do you know the design doesn’t dominate the room? “What you need to know what the right mass and scale of the entertainment center for that room are.  Try a bit of testing.

Create a model of the room and the cabinet.  A drawing might be best, but blocks can do.

Now, this video demonstrates how to create our entertainment center plan.

Part 1 – side Towers

The first video shows the sizes and relationships between the 3 assemblies in this project.

The full wall entertainment center consists of three towers – left, center, and right.

  • Overall height is 75 inches, the height of the center tower.  The side towers are 65 inches.
  • Sides are 30 inches wide, and the center is 64 inches.
  • Width of the center is 19 inches and the sides 14.

This second video shows how to add doors and a crown molding.  There is a good explanation of the use of the resize function.

The project will create a beautiful set of diy entertainment center plans. Our first pass at this project will focus on creating the towers and their face frames and doors.  We will cover details such as moldings in a future posting and video.

The project size is 75 inches tall, 19 inches deep, and 124 inches wide.  Added room [2 ½ inches] accounts for the moldings on the front and sides of the assemblies.

Within assemblies, molding allowances are as follows.

  • Left tower – 2 ½ inches on the left and front
  • Right tower – 2 ½ inches on right and front
  • Center tower – 2 ½ inches on sides and front.

The additional space required for the face frame means the front value of the sides and shelves is equal to ¾ inch.  The doors are inset.

The size of the middle entertainment center tower is determined by the:

  1. Overhang for top moldings
  2. Width of left and right stiles
  3. Clearances on the sides of the TV
  4. Width of the television.

Probably the television provides the main reason for making the entertainment center.  For a moment let’s think about that and how we can come up with the width of the center tower.

entertainment width

Many times the overall opening can’t change.  So, this means you need to work backward to determine the maximum size television that will fit.  You may not have too much flexibility with stile widths since they affect the appearance so much.  The size of the material determines the crown molding overhang.  If the television doesn’t exactly fit, you may try to cheat a bit on the side clearances.  Careful!  And if the overall width of the wall unit includes one or two side towers, those become the best places to adjust for the television size.  Making each side unit 2 inches narrower provides 4 inches of additional TV width.

The woodworker’s adage applies here.  Remember to measure [or think] twice and eliminate the return trip to the TV electronics store.

One final word on design.

Avoid creating too much open shelf display space.  To fill what may be unneeded or unwanted area, people begin to clutter.  They use the shelving to display objects they otherwise would not.  Keep things to the basics if you can.  Clean and minimal lines and designs work best.


Four years ago, we ran a survey asking what people used SketchList 3D to design.   While the winner was kitchen cabinets, entertainment center plans finished a very close second.  And it does seem every home hobby user wanted a bigger flat screen tv and somewhere to put it.   From our Pro users, we found that their clients were more insistent on seeing 3D images of what they were buying.  Entertainment centers provide opportunities for a great deal of variation and design options.  Remember the saying goes – one picture is worth a thousand words.

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