(Welcome again to Katie, one of the finalists vying for a blogging position at the upcoming AT:Home Tech. Comment away.)
Katie says: It's easy to buy good design when money isn't an issue, and that's especially true when it comes to technology. But being on a budget doesn't have to limit you--as with design in general, it just takes a bit more ingenuity.
Our A/V electronics have been the domain of my husband, but it was time for me to take control of the design aspect. I had chaos and a rat's nest of wires to contend with, but I prevailed, turning it all into a visually pleasing sight.
The first, long-contemplated purchase was a 58" long Lack TV bench from Ikea. In retrospect, I'm not sure how I thought I'd fit everything together on a smaller one, so I'm glad I went with the long one. It seemed like a large splurge at $69.99, especially when I saw other alternatives with smaller price tags, like coffee tables. But the other options didn't have weight ratings, and I didn't want to destroy the electronics we have by risking collapse. After it was assembled, I put some felt pads on the bottoms of the legs to protect the floor.
The receiver was the first piece that had to be placed, because some receivers require space for the air to circulate so that they don't overheat. The rest fell into place based on the size and use of each piece.
See this article from TimeforDVD.com for a basic tutorial of home electronics, including receivers. [Note that it's from 2002, but if you are a technophobe or have older equipment, it's educational.]
A good cleaning with wipes meant for electronics will help repel the dust in the future. These video tutorials from ExpertVillage.com show the best way to clean and maintain your equipment. The pictures show how I lined everything up and utilized all the space on the lower shelf.