The Hollywood film and TV writers' strike is over, so we can finally look forward to watching something more worthwhile than Jamie Oliver in his too-good-to-be-true Essex mansion. It's time to sort out that ugly mass of cables cluttering up the living room, connect up the TV, Sky box, PlayStation and speakers – and tidy away all the CDs and DVDs.
Furniture manufacturers are realising that excellent design should extend to everything in our homes. If we've spent a fortune on wallpaper and sofas, chairs and coffee tables, we don't want to ruin it all with one messy corner.
James Mair, the owner of Viaduct, a contemporary furniture showroom in London, says more and more customers are demanding solutions to the problem of burgeoning media centres. "The flatscreen televisions don't look too bad, but the rise of the home cinema means that there are a lot more cables to tuck away. We started off just looking at ideas for storing CDs but we realised that people need more than that.
"Often the problem is that although the TV can be wall-mounted, unless you have a big room or everyone is sitting in front of it, not everyone can see it properly, so some of our latest products have the TV mounted on an extendible arm so that it can be pushed back into an alcove or against the wall when not in use, and angled for everyone to see it when they need to," says Mair. "People want modular systems they can adapt to their own space, but they also want them to look stylish."
Many of the best designs around at the moment are Italian. Adrian Van Aalst, owner of Modenza, an Italian furniture store, says the Italians are way ahead in the field of design. "In the 1960s and 1970s, it was all about the Scandinavians, but the Italians have really come into the market now. They have brilliant design and manufacture and their products are great."
Sarah Watson, of the design shop Campbell Watson, says the furniture in which you house the equipment is as important as the equipment itself. "People don't want their TV to make a big statement.
"It's more sophisticated than saying, 'Look how much money I spent on my TV!'" she says.
Mediacentre for Porada
Attached to the ceiling and the floor by a pole, this chic stand swivels 360 degrees. There is space for boxes, DVDs and non-related accessories, such as vases.
From £2,884, www.campbellwatson.co.uk; 0121-733 1004
505 Molteni & C
This flexible modular system will house your TV, DVD player and hi-fi system, as well as books and other items. Doors and drawers can be added to suit, and can slide shut to hide the TV.
From £4,000, www.campbellwatson.co.uk; 0121-733 1004
Vision stand by Bonaldo
It won't store as much as the units mentioned previously, but if you can pare down your equipment, this circular stand, which sits on a chrome-plated steel base, makes a very stylish statement. The slot at the bottom will take a DVD player and Sky box, while the rim round the edge will store CDs and DVDs.
£1,860, www.modenza.co.uk; 0845 630 1214
Aluminium High board TV storage system for MDF Italia
A sleek system that will hold everything and hide the cables, while the drawers along the bottom can be fitted with CD and DVD racks. The upright panel at the back is where the cables are cunningly hidden.
AM2 LCD Wall mount
If you just want to mount your new television on the wall, this extendible bracket provides a neat, cheap solution.
It pulls out from the wall and swivels so that everyone in the room can see the screen, and it can then be pushed back into its corner afterwards.
£45, www.avrabbit.com; 0845 226 0166
MISS (Music, image,sofa system)
If a super-advanced technological design is needed, Philippe Starck is never far away, and so it is with the MISS. This music, image and sofa system has speakers in each arm and a projector in the back to provide the full-on surround-sound cinema experience. In front of the sofa, you have a container for the audio-visual system, although you can use your own flat screen if you already have one. Finally, you need a rug in front of the sofa to hide all the cabling.
£16,000, www.geoffreydrayton.com; 020-7387 5840
Taking the pop-up concept to another level is this sideboard out of which rises your television. It's very plain and modern, and is well suited to smaller televisions. Of course, all those drawers and cupboards will store the rest of your system.
£8,000, www.geoffreydrayton.com; 020-7387 5840Reuse content