Media storage set-ups are one of those things that can really make or break the look of a living room or media room. Since it ends up becoming a primary furniture fixture, it can set the tone for the entire space. Material and style are important, but there are also some important practical add-ons to think about too.
Since a media storage center is going to be holding quite a bit of weight, you want to make sure that it's going to supply some sturdy support for your TV and other media accessories. First off, make sure that the total width of your TV stand is greater than the total width of your TV. Most flat screen TVs (if they're not installed directly onto the wall), come with a small stand that they rest on. While it's certainly important that your TV stand is wider than that, it also needs to be wider than the total width of your TV. This will prevent people from bumping into the sides of the TV that might be hanging off the media console, potentially knocking it over.
How much storage you need clearly depends on how much equipment you have, but it also depends on what you want to tuck away, and what you're okay with leaving out on display. Make a list of all your components (odds are you have a bit more than you realize), and make sure there's a space for everything that allows it to be used easily. Allow for some open space too, as you may add to your collection as time goes on.
Wood tends to be the reigning champion in terms of media storage material. Veneered plywood is always a popular choice, but you can also find media consoles and storage units in Walnut, Ash, or Oak, among other sturdy woods. Glass, stainless steel, aluminum, and various plastics are all possible choices as well. It really just depends on what kind of look you're going for.
Whatever material you chose, the stand should also be capable of supporting your TV's weight, and whatever else you're putting in there. Check the manufacturer's guidelines of the storage unit you're interested in, and make sure it's going to be a safe and sturdy set up. Furniture tip overs happen easily, and can damage equipment and cause serious injury.
Deciding where to put your media storage unit is important too. Before you start hunting, it's a good idea to figure out exactly where you want it to go so you can determine size and shape. Do you want a corner media unit? A big console for the center of a main wall? Or maybe you want separate storage units for DVDs, CDs and your TV? Sit down in the room like you would if you were watching TV to figure out which spot and height it needs to be at to be viewed comfortably.
Ventilation is something that's often forgotten about when looking at media storage, but it's still very important. DVD players, cable boxes, and CD players can get very — especially when they're not turned off on a regular basis. Avoid stacking these items, and choose a piece of furniture that will allow the heat to escape.