Tricky TV Cabinet Problem

Entertainment centers can pose awkward dilemmas. Here, cabinetmakers tackle a doozy: The flat-panel TV has to swivel, and it needs pocket doors. November 12, 2005

I have a potential customer, working with a decorator, who wants an entertainment center for a 40" flat panel TV that they plan to purchase. They want a pull-out shelf with a turntable to allow the TV to be viewed from the kitchen. They also want pocket doors. This seems like a goofy combination of cabinet features for that style of TV. The flat panel TVs are only about 4" deep, but I would need a very deep cabinet to house the pocket doors. Also, the width of the TV seems like it would make it awkward to turn. I will appreciate any input that will help me give a reasonable response to this customer.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
There are nice swivel arms for plasmas. They are made to mount to a wall, but you could put a support to mount it inside the TV cavity. We just installed one from Peerless.

We use the cantilevered arms mentioned above. Works like a bedside reading lamp. You should put decent blocking in the wall or use a 3/4" back to hold onto the TV. It's heavy and these units have a huge lever arm.

As far as the doors go, what about tambour doors? And I don't mean the kind that you buy off the shelf. I've seen some really nice examples where all the slats are resawn from the same board and either slip matched or bookmatched. I bet you could even take a couple of wide boards, resaw them to 1/2 or 3/8 thick, then saw your slats, keeping them in order... Still not as nice as some fancy frame and panel doors, but a solution nonetheless.

It's definitely a waste of space either way, but we recently did a built in just like you're describing and it would take a deep cab to let doors go all the way back 26-28". So a free standing entertainment center might be kind of goofy. You could try doors that don't go all the way back - after all, they'll have the pullout swivel. You also need to allow sufficient space on each side of TV, thus widening your doors and adding even more depth to the cabinet.

We just delivered a similar unit today. We made the unit 8 ft wide with a 4 ft center section. The two outside sections were bookcases 2 ft wide each. The doors were on sliding hardware that slid in front of the bookcases when the TV section is open. The TV sits on a heavy duty pull-out swivel tray. The overall depth of the unit is 21". The depth was figured just deep enough to hold the components that go with the TV. It worked out very well and the customer was thrilled. We got the sliding door hardware from Richelieu.

That sounds like a better solution than tambours, given today's style trends.

Let me see if I understand. They want a flat screen that can be viewed in the kitchen as well as the living area? This thing is supposed to turn 180 degrees? What about all the wires? I'm not sure that's a good idea, because they will spend more time untangling crap than watching TV. As far as pocket doors, have they seen lifts? That's a great way to conceal a TV. You would be able to keep it fairly shallow then.

From the original questioner:
I appreciate all of the great feedback. Let me clarify a couple things. The TV will not need to turn more than 90 degrees to be viewed from the kitchen. Also, I just heard from the customer. She has changed her mind about the kind of TV and instead of a pricey flat panel will be getting a more affordable big screen that is almost 14" deep. Will a swivel arm work with this type of TV? I will definitely present the tambour doors as an option to the customer. Unfortunately, there are windows on each side of the TV, so the doors can't slide to the side. I had not considered a lift, but that sounds like a good solution. Has anyone ever done bi-fold pocket doors? Thanks for the ideas!

One more thing to keep in mind is the distance the slide out will have to travel to enable a 90 degree view. If my math is right, you will have to come straight out of the cabinet at least 20" for a 40" TV. I have only used Accuride's TV slides and they travel 14". You will have to find deeper hardware that will support the weight of a 40" TV and you will definitely have to attach this unit firmly to a wall. And yes, you will also need a way to keep all that extra wiring out of the way. Having said that, a little ingenuity and research could go a long way toward a well designed unit and satisfied client. And the bi-folds are likely the best bet for an opening that size.

For a recent narrow cavity unit we did for a customer, we created bi-fold doors that were then mounted to pocket door hardware. Worked out quite well

Try the Accuride 9320-258TV. It's specially made to accommodate rear projection televisions. Just be sure there is enough weight left in the cabinet or that it is bolted down so that it won't tip.