When it comes to home theater design and setup, rarely do we see much thought given to the best methods for storing our software media. By this, I mean being able to show off your movie library while still keeping to the design of your space in a way that’s both appealing and inviting to your guests. After spending a great deal of time buying the right equipment and creating the desired look for your entertainment area (which may or may not include the seating arrangement), the last thing you should have is a disorganized, confused mess in your DVD and Blu-ray collection. Ideally, you want to be able to find a disc in matter of a few seconds without requiring an archeological dig in order to have a relaxing movie night.
Of course, the simplest and most obvious solution is purchasing a media cabinet in the color that best suits the rest of the room. Many companies (such as Leslie Dame, Prepac, Venture Horizon, Southern Enterprises and Atlantic, to name a few) specialize in providing this sort of item for movie collectors and home theater enthusiasts. All you have to do is alphabetize your library, either by name or by genre, however you choose. I’ve even seen some folks be so bold as to group by studio production, which honestly doesn’t make much sense to me, but to each his own. To top it all off, I also recommend some type of DVD organizing software for easy, quick reference, especially for fairly large collections. Something like DVD Profiler (arguably the best, and the one I use), DVD Aficionado, DVD Corral or Collectorz are all good databases.
So, that’s all well and good. Problem solved, right? Well, not quite. My next concern is what to do when a collection ends up exceeding and sometimes overwhelming its allotted space. To put it another way, what do you do with a collection so large that the space cannot accommodate it? You could keep tacking on more furniture, but that could eventually ruin the room’s aesthetic and ultimately look tacky. Sorry, but covering an entire wall with keepcases in the same room where I watch my movies is just not my style. I’m more of a minimalist – simplicity is always better. Do we go through the library and start removing or selling the movies we no longer watch or have no desire to watch again? Again, sorry, but as a collector and HT hobbyist, that’s not as easy as it sounds. I always end up convincing myself to keep something because I never know when a guest might actually want to watch ‘Transformers 2’.
It can be such a headache to maintain an HT look that’s pleasing to the eye, yet there’s hardly anyone talking about the same issue on the ‘net. Am I the only one stuck in such a pickle? The thought crossed my mind while working on my latest HT project, one which I believe is the best solution to my dilemma. There’s plenty of great reading material out there for constructing a home theater haven, but unless you have a house with a dedicated room that accommodates an extensive collection, there are few online publications which help to consider various options for tackling this impasse.
Personally, I’ve decided to separate collector’s items (i.e. box sets or true special editions), from titles that have yet to be watched or those I’ve watched and will keep. Titles out for display sit in a standard, black media cabinet, the kind that sort of looks like a bookshelf but comes from Best Buy relatively cheaply. That piece of furniture is in the far back of the room, behind the seating area, where it can be ignored while enjoying a movie. Believe me, it’s already full, as I have a lot of catching up to do. For the already-watched movies, I bought a rather nice-looking cabinet from Atlantic which neatly organizes each disc with its respective cover art inside clear envelopes. (Click on the picture for a larger size.) One cabinet can hold up to 600 titles. Sadly, it too is growing quite full. I’ve already sold a number of my movies, including DVDs and all my HD DVDs, so what’s the best remedy in a limited space and with a desire to maintain a certain aesthetic?
After a while, I finally decided to try something new, an approach that ideally would allow me to keep more of my movies in the same space without having to buy more furniture. The project also incorporates the same organization methods as alphabetizing on a shelf or separating according to genre. Best of all, I can continue using a DVD database software, which I very much I like, that allows me to see my entire collection and figure out what I’m in the mood for. I’ve made the jump and am building my own HTPC (home theater personal computer) with an efficient and very user-friendly media server. It’s been about five years since the last time I built a computer. A great deal has changed in that time, so I have to be certain not only of the parts I purchase, but also that I keep to the room’s aesthetic. Thankfully, I have found tons of information online and an extraordinarily helpful guide at AVSForum written by forum member “assassin.”
Next time, I’ll show the early stages of my build, and continue with other blog posts until I reveal the end product – along with the permanent, ear-to-ear smile on face.