There's a tendency to want to load expensive equipment into expensive containers—usually a high-dollar, all-wood entertainment center. Watch out, though, as this could cost you time, energy, and all kinds of frustration.
Furniture manufacturers leapt into the home stereo and then home theater business early, and with both feet, with a wealth of "entertainment center" offerings.
Unfortunately, these attractive pieces of furniture can cause as many problems for your home theater as they solve. I'll list some of the problems, and some of the solutions that you can undertake.
Many home entertainment centers offer totally enclosed cabinets that are supposed to hold the electronics for the home theater. They even can include a solid set of doors for the front. But where does the heat get out? Amplifiers—and receivers in particular—generate a lot of heat, and totally enclosed shelves often result in an early death for your equipment due to heat stroke or stress.
Here are a few solutions to Problem #1:
Cut large openings in the back of any closed equipment enclosures, and don't place the entertainment center right against the wall. This way hot air can escape out the back.
Remove any solid doors for equipment cabinets so that the heat can escape out the front (of course, this might ruin the very thing you liked about the entertainment center in the first place!).
Fully enclosed equipment ...