Although TVs are getting sleeker, the stuff that makes your TV work so well is NOT getting any smaller or prettier.  Our hideous TV components include audio receiver, cable box, Blu-ray player, and sub-woofer.  Although Jim thought everything looked fine on the fireplace mantle (kidding of course), I was able to easily convince him to build a place to put everything.  Knowing that we were going to need to hide this ugly stuff, when we designed our family room addition, our architect designed a nook in the corner of our family room about 7 feet from the fireplace for a built-in cabinet to hold the components, some DVDs and the wireless internet router.

Pretty, right?

Fortunately we remembered to fish the cables behind the fireplace and through the floor and into the cabinet BEFORE the basement ceiling was drywalled!  This cabinet can get HOT so it's important to ventilate it well.  We achieved that with metal radiator screen (purchased at Home Depot) painted to match the trim which is fitting for our colonial.  Even with ventilation, it was still really warm in the cabinet, so we added a small fan with a thermostat to help circulate the air further.  The fan has made a huge difference and you cannot hear it even if you are sitting next to the cabinet.

An RF remote for less than $60 allows us to keep the cabinet door closed but still control the components and TV.  Although there are certainly fancier models available, we decided to go with a less expensive model since the remote is a favorite toy for our kids! 

Every true surround sound system also needs speakers.  Since we already owned a good Bose system, we ran the speaker wire prior to drywalling the room during renovation, but there are also some nice wireless systems available which would help avoid this hassle.  Our speakers are nice because they are relatively small and white so they blend in with our white ceilings and crown molding.  Of course, surround sound makes all the difference on movie night!