24 July 2012

Dear Miss Cote de Texas: Flatscreen Issues


Lady with Her Maidservant Holding a Letter, c. 1667
Oil on canvas, 89,5 x 78,1 cm. Frick Collection, New York

Half the fun of the Dear Miss Cote de Texas series is finding the art work to go with it.   This choice is by Jan Vermeer and was painted in 1667. 
“The mistress' expression reveals the uncertainties of love that disrupt the serenity of ordered existence. The mistress' controlled demeanor and fashionable wardrobe seems to suggest that such fleeting doubts affect even those who are most secure and content in their lives. The maid, while offering the letter, responds to her mistress' gaze with a caring yet concerned look. With her slightly opened mouth and lowered eyelids, her expression is as restrained as her mistress', yet Vermeer created a visual dialogue between them that conveys the intense psychological impact of the letter's arrival."
Here, the maid interrupts her writing and hands her a letter.  Her hand on her chin represents surprise.  This same yellow jacket with the ermine border is also seen in the painting ‘Lady Writing a Letter.’   To read more about this beautiful painting, go HERE.

Today’s reader writes with questions about her issues with her flatscreen TV.   I picked this topic because it is such a universal problem.  Who doesn’t have at least one TV in their house?  For years and years the TV presented great problems for the interior designer.   As TVs got bigger and deeper – the space required to hold these monsters grew along with the screen size.  Most everyone either had or wanted a TV cabinet – that huge brown piece of furniture which held the TV balanced in between countless shelves and drawers.   Most were hideous – creating a large eyesore in the middle of a beautiful family room or bedroom.  If you didn’t have a TV Cabinet, then you had a faux antique armoire.  The problem with having an antique armoire was they had to be deep enough to hold these TVs and the antiques  rarely were equipped for that depth or weight.  When flatscreens came out, designers everywhere rejoiced.  Finally, there was an end to those fugly TV cabinets!  No longer were we concerned with a TV whose depth could measure 36” – we could now hang these flatscreens anywhere!  It was so liberating.   But, as with all things, eventually when the rejoicing died down, the issues with flatscreens became evident. 

Remember these?  Uggg!!!!! 
Yes, you can hang flatscreens anywhere, but you still have cable boxes and DVD players to contend with.  So, while the flatscreen is hanging – you have to find space for the electronics somewhere nearby.  Wires were another issue.  If you hung the flatscreen on the wall, the wires that connected to the electronics were visible.  For that, you needed to hire an electrician to come and hide the wires inside the wall.   And while the huge TV cabinets became passé – suddenly masses of smaller consoles were being made to sit under the flatscreen to hold the electronics and to ground that huge black hole hanging off the wall.



Flatscreen TV consoles can be just as ugly as the old TV cabinets.  This one is a faux Stickley version, which for some unknown reason is quite popular.  At least these cabinets can be quite narrow – depth is no longer an issue. 
While many choose to hang the TV on the wall, others opt to put it over the fireplace mantel.  It’s a solution of course – most flatscreens fit perfectly over mantels.  But, it’s not my favorite solution.  First, there is the issue of neck pain.  TVs should be at eye level – otherwise you have to crank your neck up to watch it.  And then there is the aesthetic issue.  If the TV is on the mantel,  you lose the valuable space to place a beautiful mirror or piece of art.  You have no place to create a mantelscape – it’s such a waste of valuable design real estate.  I try to avoid putting flatscreens on mantels at all costs. 



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For instance, in this family room I just finished, the flatscreen was over the mantel.  It took a while to convince the husband that it would be much better if it was moved.  I’m not sure he is still convinced, but it looks so much without that big black box hanging down over the room.  We did have to go through a few steps that added to the costs, but they weren’t that much.  First, we had to hire a carpenter to finish out the molding over the  mantel and close up the big hole that was left after the flatscreen was moved. 

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Next, we bought a console to go under it.  This console is less than 12” deep and it holds all the electronics.   We bought the console at Nadeu in the Rice Village,  so it hardly cost anything.    We had an electrician install the TV here and hide the wires in the wall.  Viola.  Now, we could move the sofa from the middle of the room.  We put swivels on the two chairs to make watching it easier.  Lo and behold, the most expensive cost was the NEW flatscreen that hubby wanted if we were going to all this trouble.  Naturally!  Men and their toys!
(I have someone I use in Houston that comes to the house and installs the TV and sells them and does it all – if you are interested, I’ll leave his name and number in the comment section.)



My own family room has a similar layout.  My client had seen my room arraimagengement and wanted her couch against the windows too  - which is what started the entire process in her own family room.  I would hate having a TV over my mantel!   Again, I would have to float my sofa which would close off the room and then we would have to crank our necks up.  Plus, I love what I have on my mantel!


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Instead, I have the flatscreen hang over the hole that once held our old, regular large TV.  The cabinet underneath holds the electronics.  Now, the TV is not the focal point of the room.  You don’t even see it until you are completely inside the room. 

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For this client, we had the same issue as with the first client – the TV was over the fireplace.  Here we had a carpenter rework the bottom two shelves to hold the new flatscreen.  I placed a club chair and ottoman directly in front of the TV for the husband to sit and enjoy his sports, but the flatscreen does swivel to the right so the entire room can watch it too.   Again, the TV is not quite the focal point it would be if it was still over the mantel.

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For this client, Ginger Barber did the same thing – she chose to place the flatscreen on one side of the shelves.  There is NO way Ginger would put a TV over that gorgeous antique mantle!!!!  Again, here the TV is not a focal point – while the mantel is.


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Munger Interiors hid the TV in the closed cabinets – but notice how they softened the look – a row of shelves were added to display accessories! 

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One point to consider.   If you do place the TV on the shelves, you lose valuable decorating real estate space.  But, notice how beautifully Munger Interiors decorated these painted shelves.  For this reason, hanging the TV over the mantel seems to balance the shelves and it works in this instance.  Confusing?  I know!   But, here, the TV does look better where it is, with the shelves so decorated and such a part of the color scheme.


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You can always just hide the TV like Sally Wheat did.  Sally bought these beautiful old shutters and had James Farmer paint them.  Her TV is hiding behind the set on the left (I think!)


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At the Pink Ribbon House this year, Julia Blailock designed this set of doors to hide the flatscreen behind and Segreto did the finishing paint job.  I think these are beautiful and a great solution – the doors become part of the décor.


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There are still armoires that can hide flatscreens – the antique ones are much better equipped to house the flatscreens over the old, heavier TVs.  This house in Houston placed a large antique armoire in the family room and centered it between a set of herbiers. 



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Or, you can do what Carol Glasser did – hide the flatscreen behind a pair of installed antique armoire doors.  This way you save precious floor space if the doors are attached to the wall.  Ingenious!



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In this family room,  Tami Owen had a shelving unit built in to hold a HUGE flatscreen.  She cut out doors and added fabric for the electronics and speakers.  Plus, the fabric softens the piece.   With a TV this huge, you need something substantial to ground it.


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Interior designer Jenny Johnston bought an antique buffet to place under this flatscreen.  The doors have screens that let the clicker reach the electronics.  Some clickers can go work through solid doors though so this isn’t always necessary. 


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This designer put the flatscreen on her shelves.  It’s barely noticeable, but it is a smaller TV.


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At her vacation home, Cindy Hattersley installed a small flatscreen over the mantel, but notice how low the TV is – it’s not such a strain to the neck.   And notice how pretty her green painted shelves are – she didn’t want to ruin the look with the flatscreen.   This California house is available for vacation rentals!  Just ask Cindy about it!


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Even big name designers like Bunny Williams have to deal with flatscreens.  Usually you won’t see TVs in magazines like AD or Elle Décor.  The photographer will take the picture showing the other view.  This photo showing a TV is a rarity.  Notice how the flatscreen is angled down – this prevents some of the neck strain.   The client probably requested the flatscreen be placed here.  Some people just prefer this arrangement. 

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In this beautiful Houston house, the flatscreen goes on the side wall – above an antique buffet.  Again, this allows the sofa to be against the window instead of floating in the middle of the room.  And it preserves the pretty stone fireplace.  You almost don’t even see the TV where it is placed.


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In this contemporary white room with black accents – the TV becomes a piece of art work.   Strange I know, but it really seems like it is just another print hanging on the wall!  It truly disappears for some reason!

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I love this room!  It’s the house of a friend of blogger Classic Casual Home.  Again, the owner chose to put the flatscreen over the mantel so that she could decorate the shelves.   I love the way she decorated them too – leaving breathing room around the accessories so that they can show off.  And I love the library lights above the shelves.    Notice those gorgeous bobbin chairs!  I just ordered two for a client and can’t wait until they come in!  This room is so cozy and warm and inviting.  Exactly what good interior design should be!

So…let’s get to our reader’s TV problem, ok ?  Here is her family room with her large TV: 

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Our reader, Libby, has a beautiful stone fireplace and pretty cabinets that flank it.  But, their new, huge flatscreen is the issue.  Here’s what she has to say:
Dear Miss Cote de Texas:
I have a question that's not about windows!   I have a troublesome wall in my family room. I'd love to re-do my built-ins and mantle. The built ins fit a 29" TV - ha! They are also quite deep, over 2 feet deep. The current cabinets on both sides with smaller (shorter) cabinets on the bottom halves and open shelves on the top halves. We'd hang the giant TV in front of the left side cabinets, at about the height it is now (removing the dresser that currently holds it, of course)! But how do we handle the electronics? We need to be able to access our DVR and Blu-Ray player and use our remotes! And how do we handle the depth? I think two feet is too deep for open shelves, don't you? Should I take them all the way up to the ceiling or leave it open? And as long as we're replacing the built-ins, shouldn't we replace that mantle as well? I love the designer chicken wire look for the cabinet doors  but will that age well? The trim paint is aged ivory all over the house - could I do something different with these or am I locked in? If I can do something different, how do I handle the transition?
This is actually quite a small room for a main family room - 14 x 17. It doesn't have any exterior windows and therefore tends to be dark. As  The exterior of our home is stone as well - Texas Hill Country style. Please don't suggest we cover the stone!
As you can see, I'm still in the "yellow wall" phase (Concord Ivory, to be exact - fifth house I've painted this color - two in Atlanta and two in Sugar Land - but the light is different here in Alamo Heights - it looks almost yucky green in dark corners) and my hubby won the TV size argument and selected the upholstered pieces (how did that happen?). Blue couch has been a disappointment (sloppy and faded) but we need to keep it for a while. Leather chairs (one of which is a recliner) have been fantastic with our dogs. Am ready to replace the rug with seagrass (will that really be ok with my big dogs?).
I love your blog and would just DIE for personalized advice. I can handle the comments, anonymous and otherwise.
Please help!! 
LIBBY

First off – I would suggest that yes, I would tear out the upper cabinets.  Since the room is small and doesn’t have much else going on, the open shelving could be a good place for decorative objects, such as books and accessories.   And yes, 2 ft  is way too deep for shelves.   The bottom cabinets should be 2’ deep, but the shelves should be only 12'’ deep.  The TV will rest on top of the bottom cabinet and the shelves will be above it on that side.   Be sure to run the shelves all the way up to the ceiling to balance out the size of the flatscreen.   When  choosing decorative items for the shelves – try to stay in the same color range.  Such as,  look for white ironstone to display along with dark, brown books.  Or buy blue and white porcelains to display.   This will help your shelves become part of the décor.   Your mantel is fine – I wouldn’t put my money in a new mantel.   It seems proportionate for your fireplace.  And I would never suggest you replace your Texas limestone fireplace!!  I love it – plus, it adds charm to the room and warmth.  Keep it.
As for the electronics, they would go in the cabinets right beneath the TV.  Most clickers can penetrate through cabinet doors, but if not – then you could take the middle portion of the doors out and add the chicken wire – then put a gathered, neutral fabric, like linen, behind it.   Again, this could add some needed charm to the room.
As for the color of the shelves and cabinets – you could definitely keep the same trim color, which would be ideal.  But, you could paint the back of the shelves a deeper shade than is on your walls.  This will make the shelves pop and is an easy, inexpensive way to add a little pizzazz to the room!  You don’t sound as if you plan to repaint your walls, so a deeper shade of the same color would be my first color choice. 
As for the seating arrangement – if the room is really that small, have you ever thought of having just four chairs with an ottoman in the middle?  It’s hard for me to see if this would be feasible, but if so, maybe consider it.   You could use your two leather chairs and mix in two white slipcovered ones.   OR, think about getting the white slipcovered sofa from Ikea (it’s under $400) and mix it with the two leather chairs. Slipcovers are a dog’s best friend.   And yes, I think seagrass would be fabulous in your room – especially if you do white or khaki slipcovers one day!   Perhaps you could move that console piece to the wall behind the sofa or on the wall next to the door – put two tall lamps on it.  I would then move the family portrait over there  – and put a round, wood or rattan framed mirror on the fireplace.  Consider buying or sewing slipped skirts for the two French chairs – they would hide the AC vent better! 
Several of the pictures above will be helpful to you, this one in particular:

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For instance, this photo shows you how the shelves will look going up to the ceiling.  You can see how the TV will look on  top of the bottom cabinet.  And notice, the doors are solid.   No chicken wire was needed.  You can buy clickers that penetrate through the doors.

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Painted bookshelves really make the room pop!

This blogger Westhampton DIY HERE redid her family room  - she painted the back of her shelves and notice how she got a great look on her shelves by covering her books with paper!   Easy and inexpensive.  Really pretty!

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And one more look at this room,  your cabinets with painted shelves can look like this – and notice how the accessories are in the same color family.  They make quite a decorative impact themselves!
I hope this helps you and helps anyone else who is having flatscreen issues!   If you still have a décor question – you know what to do – Ask Miss Cote de Texas:
Write me at:  mrballbox329@aol.com

125 comments:

  1. I hate to admit it but I still have an old school tv in a armoire. To get a flat screen tv, I have to totally redecorate which is about time to do so. I thought I could just sell the armoire on Craigslist then use the money to fund a new console. Apparently I may have to pay someone to come take the armoire away.

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    1. Depending on its size and design, your armoire could be repurposed in another room - perhaps your kitchen to hold over flow china.

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    2. I know what you mean. We had finally had to donate ours, too, because no one has the old kind of television set anymore. For awhile mine was in the toy room, holding an arsenal of light sabers, Halloween costumes and board games.

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    3. I've seen in person installing antique armoire doors on the wall covering inset shelving behind. It's a fabulous look. Perhaps you could use your doors elsewhere in the home that way?

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  2. I wish you could have seen a Jackye Lanham decorated house that I saw in the fall of last year. The family are into sports big time, so TVs are an everyday part of their lives. In the family room, the space over the mantel did not have a tv; instead, she put it on a side wall that is visible from all of the seating in the room, and she surrounded the tv with plates in her unique style. Under the tv was an antique console that was covered with framed photographs and books. It was truly gorgeous. The tv was properly scaled for this arrangement, which is important. In their loggia area, a tv was hung on the wall and also surrounded by plates, but did not have a piece of furniture under it.

    Our family room was a bit tricky for a tv - there are windows/french doors on two sides (it is in the wing of the house), the opening to the kitchen on one side. and a fireplace with cased openings on either side on the 4th wall. Truly, the only place to put a tv was over the mantel! We created a low profile bolection mold stone fireplace - no mantel - so that the TV could sit lower on the wall, making the viewing angle comfortable. Then, since there is paneling above the fireplace, we created a hidden door with paneling so we can close it up when we don't watch tv. The tv in the family room is not the most used tv in the house (that would be the basement tv), so it works great. I have it closed much of the time because I like the look of the molding. One of the sides of the room has bookcases flanking the french door, so we have ample 'decorative' things going on (although my bookshelves have not been styled yet).

    - Holly

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  3. Fantastic post on tv dilemmas! I love the idea of putting it out of sight, but I know some people want it front and center. I agree, do not use it over a focal point mantle in most cases. I love it behind a mirror or painting. If it were me I'd only have a small tv in a book case. Your home is perfect! I love it.
    Nancy
    Powellbrowerhome.com

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  4. Very informative Joni, great topic. We are in the midst of dealing with this issue as well. Our family room cabinetry spanned a 18ft wall and we had the center section reworked by a carpenter to accommodate a 65" plasma. (going in tomorrow) The tv will be anchored to a reinforced wall with a super strong mounting arm. The tv will just touch the moulding around the opening, creating a somewhat built in look. The problem with trying to use the stands that come with the tv's is the stands protrude a few inches out from the tv so getting the tv close to the edge of cabinetry just won't work. So in comes your $600.00 arm !! At least mine is going in before the Olympics :-) Beth

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  5. Thank you for a great post, I have long admired your family room and love your solution for tv . I can't tell you how long I waited for our huge Projector tv ( remember those) to be gone. My husband finally consented to downsize from 64inch to 50 inch. And oh the Delelma to find the right cabinet to go under the flat screen! I am saving this post to help me rearrange the room( I do that often!)

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  6. What a great post. I love the way you offer several solutions. And Lots of visuals. I need lots of visuals. I would really love to know where you get your seagrass rugs. I have looked at several internet sites and am so confused. Do you have a favorite dealer that would sell retail. Thanks, so much!
    Pam in Tennessee.

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  7. What a great post. I love the way you offer several solutions. And Lots of visuals. I need lots of visuals. I would really love to know where you get your seagrass rugs. I have looked at several internet sites and am so confused. Do you have a favorite dealer that would sell retail. Thanks, so much!
    Pam in Tennessee.

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    1. I use Anthony Perez - it's on the left side of the blog after the ads!! call him - maybe he ships?

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  8. this is always an issue, and I am amazed at how many clients struggle with it. Great pictures to illustrate solutions...it is amazing to me how much time and effort you put into finding just the right rooms to tell your stories!! Last week I had a client ask me about her TV placement in her new home and she had it on the opposite wall from the fireplace. I encouraged her to put it beside the mantle on a console as she did not have the budget to create new shelves or built-ins, but she can balance the whole wall with artwork, etc.- very similar to the rooms you have shown. Your posts always give me great options and inspiration.
    Cheers,
    Meredith

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  9. Perfect timing on "what to do with the flat screen TV"..................we are finishing up a big remodel and of course we had to design our bookshelves around our flat screen. Your photos are perfect examples of wonderful ways to deal with this issue. Thanks for another great post.

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  10. Great topic for a problem that every household is confronted with. The pictures are worth a thousand words.

    Loved the bobbin chairs owned by Classic Casual Home. If you have ordered a pair recently, what was your source?

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    1. Noir - but their sister company on their web site. i love noir!

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    2. Thank you! Have checked out the website and have found that the sister company has an agent in my region. These are really cool chairs for casual sitting room, sunrooms,et. I love the unique design reflects an antique design. Hope you post how you used them in the decor you ordered them for. They are beautiful chairs.

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  11. Loved the Vermeer and the fact that the Mister's compromise was an even LARGER tv! Originally our TV was in an armoire, but when we moved to this house (a two story), I moved the TV upstairs, turning the original master bedroom into a tv room. We couldn't get the armoire upstairs so we put it inside a portable bookcase. When we went flat screen I bought a reproduction English style writing table. I made a skirt that fit inside the desk's legs and put a black metro shelf underneath to hide the electronics. To add height to the space, I bought a plate rack and hung it above the tv and filled with blue and white plates. Nuts? Yes! Works for me.

    As for the pictures showing flatscreens in rooms with many windows, most with windows opposite the tv. What's the secret to no glare? I see some curtains, but in Texas bright sun, is this enough? I made curtains with block out lining. Yes, the room is dark but that was the purpose!

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    1. i don't know about the glare - we have a large overhang? it just seem ok

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  12. I agree that TVs are not so good over a mantel. I think that your reader's shelves being open would give the feeling of a more spacious room.
    My house came with a huge niche over the fireplace for an old style TV. We haven't had the time to move the outlets an plaster over it so I painted a huge painting to cover it.

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  13. Seems like the big tv is the new leather sofa. Both are usually the wrong scale for the room and both are usually demanded by the husband. Thankfully you have provided some lovely alternatives!!

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  14. My partner is in the audio business designing and building primarily for commercial clients, so he's always wanting to install the latest toy. The 'latest' thing that I'm loving are the hidden speakers in the walls. You would never know that there are speakers behind the wall - no plate around a panel, just streamlined behind your drywall and great sound.
    Systems can include your sound equipment and can be controlled by various spots in the house via one control pad.

    A must have for all of the various equipment is to have it hooked up to an 'eye' that sits under the bottom corner of the screen. This allows you to operate everything with one remote, and there is not need to provide a line of eye to the equipment stored in the under-cabinets.
    As your professional installers to introduce you the options.

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    1. wow - speakers inside the sheet rock? wow.
      thanks!

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  15. I, too, am guilty of having a TV inside of a faux antique cabinet. When we moved into our new home 11 years ago, we had an almost new 42", "fat" TV. We needed to pour our money into landscaping and flatscreens were so much more expensive than a nice faux-tique. On top of that, cutting a hole in the back of a faux-tique did not seem as much of a violation as cutting a hole in the back of an antique.

    Personally, I hate to make the TV the center of attention in a family room. However, sometimes the issue of glare from the sun and/or space forces the TV to be over the mantel. All the rooms you showed were a generous width (14' to over 20' wide) and had at least 9' ceilings. That much space allows plenty of options for displays throughout a room to balance a TV. That is so much harder to do in a smaller room. If the fireplace wall is only 12' wide, 5' to 6' will be taken up by the fireplace itself. The remaining space on either side is really too small to create a nice look.

    Nancy from Powell Brower Home suggested putting a flatscreen behind a painting. Another option is to put it behind a tapestry. When you want your family room to be nicely decorated for entertaining, leave the tapestry up. When the guys are flopped around watching the game, their eyes are glued on the TV anyway. Simply lift the tapestry off its brackets and set aside.

    Personally, just as with a painting or mirror, I would never have a TV over a mantel that is wider than the firebox. By the way, there is a formula (which I have forgotten) to decide how large your TV should be. It has to do with how many feet away one will be from the screen. As much as the men want their big toys, often a 72" screen is completely unnecessary. Have you ever been close to a really big flatscreen? Some of them are hot, hot, hot!

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  16. Love this post! It's always so tricky when "design rules" can be broken in certain situations - it takes a good eye to know when to break them! This is how we dealt with the TV in our family room: http://house185.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/photo18.jpg A large cabinet would have been lovely, but overpowering in this small room. I like to think there isn't too much emphasis on the TV - though it is front and center, so maybe I'm just fooling myself :)

    Great post as always!

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    1. Hi House 185 - Beautiful treatment! EVERYONE should take a look. Your use of black-framed artwork throughout the room really makes the TV part of the decorative scheme. And, LOVE the fact that you used a white leather couch rather than dark brown or black.

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    2. Just found the answer to "How big should the TV be?" Smallest: take the viewing distance and divide by 3. Largest: take the viewing distance and divide by 2. Example: 12 feet from face to front of screen - 48" to 60 ". The article I found said that anything smaller than 48" at that distance would be too hard for most viewers to read lettering on the screen. Anything larger than 60" will be outside the field of vision for most people so you would need to move your eyes back and forth slightly to see everything.

      Not a "Rule" carved in stone, but a reasonable guide. Try it out on your TV and see what YOU think.

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    3. WOW - yes-yes-yes--GREAT way to deal with the tv house185--I think what you did is fabulous!
      the black-framed artwork throughout the room really makes the TV part of the design. thanks for sharing!

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    4. Ive seen pictures of your room before and love, love, love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      I would love to show it here!

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    5. Oh what a treat to come back here and find these wonderful comments! Thank you so much! Joni, Holly Mathis (who I originally found through your blog) featured parts of my home on her blog several months ago which is likely where you saw it. I would LOVE it if you showed my family room here. Thank you so much for the kind words!

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  17. Joni, Thank you for this really practical post - have been through the TV in the armoire stage and have our flat screens sitting on a credenza but mounting on the wall is tempting. Love your blog, NB

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  18. When our house was repainted, I replaced the 42" flatscreen that was on the wall with a 37" to hide it inside a nearby built-in cabinet. (My husband has a 60" in his man cave). Here's my favorite image of minimizing the look of a tv that is out, by Markham Roberts. You can barely find it! http://www.housebeautiful.com/decorating/ideas/designer-decorating-secrets-ideas-0511#slide-8

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  19. Great post.. I am keeping my gorgeous armoire and when my TV dies, I will buy a flat screen to fit inside of it... I am not a fan of a giant flat screen hanging on a wall or above a mantle where a beautiful piece of art work could be... Great ideas here though!

    xoxoxo,
    Ivy..

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  20. When we redecorated the den and reoriented the room, I had everything rewired to go into an existing built in cabinet under bookshelves across the room from the tv. It was worth every penny to have speakers, surround sound, dvr, dvd player, cd player (even a spot to use the iPod) AND speakers outside around our pool installed. It works from one remote and you can watch one thing inside and play something different outside. Under a mega screen tv that is nowhere near the mantel or bookcases, we placed a gorgeous iron console with marble top.

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  21. Joni, I couldn't agree more--I hate the TV screen over the mantel. It's the standard now for developers, which is reason enough to abandon the practice. We are still in the design phase, but I have a period Regence buffet to place under the flatscreen. I can't bear to alter an 18th century piece for the sake of electronics--still searching for an answer to that problem.
    Please, more of the Dear Miss Cote De Texas---it's fabulous!!!

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  22. I have some ideas and questions...

    I live in an NYC apt. and I actually put an old style TV under a table. I then applied a gilt frame to the TV face to minimize its impact. No one noticed the TV and it worked fine for me on the floor. Later, I got a bigger flat screen that still fit under the table (barely) and I then, instead of investing in creating another gilt frame, used a pair of old gilt bronze andirons flanking the TV and made it all look like a fireplace, table as mantle, TV as firebox. Mirror and sconces above table and candlesticks and ornaments on it, with a pair of tall blue and white Chinese vases flanking the TV behind the andirons to hide the TV sides. I even got a DVD of a fire to use when company comes, just for laughs.

    My questions are:

    Isn't there a way to cover a TV screen with fabric painted to look like a painting, like scrims at the opera, so when the TV is off, you see the fabric image and when on, you see the TV image?

    Could this same concept apply to the use of two-way mirrors, so that when the TV is on, the image comes through but when off, it's a handsome mirror over the fireplace?

    Anyone ever heard of these ideas working, or did I dream them in a Buck Rogers fantasy...?

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    Replies
    1. I have a friend that found a company that lets you choose from tons of artwork that is then applied to a frame and mounted on the wall in front of the tv. I think the tv is recessed in the wall a bit. Then you use the handheld remote and the "art" rolls up and disapears into the top of the frame. She said it was expensive but she loves it.

      As for the two-way mirror these are for real. But I have heard the picture is not the best looking thru a mirror. Most of these are done in bathrooms. Several years ago at Star furniture (I think) my husband and I saw an armoire with a two way mirror for a tv. Again the picture was not the clearest viewing thru a mirror.

      Delete
    2. Quatorze,
      You sound creative, artistic, and fun...and original.
      There should be more of this in the decor world.
      I want to be your friend! Ha!
      Sheila

      Delete
    3. http://www.tvcoverups.com/

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkYfns8FoCI

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdRbt4NpewM&feature=related

      Delete
    4. Quartorze, I agree with ANOn (Sheila) above. When I first started scrolling down the images, for a minute I thought I was seeing a flat screen+trumeau mirror with the flat screen being the mirror! A trumeau TV frame! Sounds like some more gilt-y fun!

      Delete
    5. Wow, do you have any pictures you could post. This sounds very creative.

      Delete
  23. So many great solutions... love that you showed Debbie's design! I think other elements in her room take your eye away from just the television.

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  24. Joni Thanks for the mention and such a good article! This reminds me of the fan issue! I agree with you wholeheartedly I can't stand looking at the TV above the fireplace! I have been hammering the men to make something to cover ours above! I purchased a pair of old shutters that apparently won't work. My daughter in law found a champagne riddling rack deal that pottery barn has here http://www.potterybarn.com/products/riddling-rack-wall-mount-media-solution/?pkey=e%7Criddling%2Brack%7C2%7Cbest%7C0%7C1%7C24%7C%7C1&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH||NoFacet-_-NoFacet-_-NoMerchRules-_- I may go out and buy it today! Love your new series...especially this one!

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    Replies
    1. I wonder why your old shutters didn't work. We found a large pair with an arch and my husband built a wall out almost to the fireplace depth with the correct size for the old shutters we found. We then installed the set of doors.

      I hope you find a solution. No matter how thin they get they are still a big black rectangle in the room and we are STILL trying to hide them! Guess that will never change.

      Delete
    2. Pb has other ideas too - here's a mirror that covers the TV http://www.potterybarn.com/products/mirror-cabinet-wall-mount-media-solution/?cm_src=AutoRel

      Delete
  25. BTW, tell me how to post or send you pictures so you can see the result.

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  26. This is a great post, as usual! I agree with your suggestions for the reader in question. Her fireplace is too nice to change or hide.

    Most people purchase too much TV for their space primarily because of the man arguing that bigger is better and the TV always becomes an ugly eyesore in the room, grrr!

    I placed my flat screen on top of a beautiful old sofa table/console. I don't have the multiple DVR box and cable Box with surround system equipment like most people have, because I went with wireless and stream all of my movies and cable shows after the season is over. I have a tiny digital box that sits on the side of the TV, with the rabbit ears (to get the local channels free lol) that sits totally hidden behind the TV. All excess wires are in a hidden box that sits behind the TV as well, and it has one wire that goes to the outlet. I love the look of an antique console or long sofa table for a flat screen, especially for the "wireless." Wireless TVs are the future, soon all those boxes and equipment will become obsolete. With the console table(or even a great sideboard) being longer than the TV you can sit beautiful décor objects on the ends.

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  27. Joni,
    This is such a great series and one that I look forward to each time. Great advice and wonderful images. Thank you.
    Karen

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  28. I love Miss Cote de Texas posts! Fun to see what different people do with the ubiquitous big screen TVs. I'm a huge Vermeer fan as well. Thanks for the interesting, informative post. xoxo

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  29. A TV is foremost on most of the minds of clients,(at least in one room of the home) The arm is fantastic for moving up, down, sideways then hanging the new flat screens can be accomplished without neck strain. Mirrors over the image distort! Don't let anyone sell you on that one. Grand post Joni

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  30. Another wonderful solution packed and friendly post!

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  31. Great post Joni - lots of good comments too. I found these solutions on-line:

    http://www.tvcoverups.com/

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkYfns8FoCI

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdRbt4NpewM&feature=related

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  32. FAB..I have almost the exact placement of our TV... white shelving with lower cabinets on either side of fireplace. We mirrored the entire fireplace surround and space above to ceiling! Our TV is on top of the cabinets on one side. I was awed with the black paint on the back of the shelving in one of the photos. All the trim is white and all walls are Sherwin Williams Silver Strand. Fabrics are different textures of white. We have lots of black and gold for contrast and small pops of blue in pillows. We are now thinking....PAINT THE BACK WALL OF OUR WHITE SHELVES ...BLACK.
    Great post.

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  33. Never has one piece of advice helped so many FOR SURE! Observations: Large black screens seem to blend in better when there are other strong black/dark accents in the room and become part of the design rather than a "foreign" object. Beautiful elegant rooms should not be allowed to have TVs visible ANYWHERE!!! Have learnt so much from the post and comments, thanks to everyone:-)

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  34. Great post Joni and I love the Bunny Williams room and I love the fact that she did what her client wanted and hung the sucker over the fire place. I know this is a big faux pas but the room is gorgeous and the tv actually implies LIFE being lived in it, which the staged photos often lack. So, I like it even more. I also like the fact that Michael Smith always has TVs in his bedroom shots and they don't try to hide them. I understand if you've got a lovely armoire and want to enclose it in there but I'm not a fan of hiding the debris of our daily lives more than is necessary. Too HGTV decorator style for me.

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  35. Is there a DIY way to put a swivel on a club chair or do you need to get a reupholstered to do it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DIY - Yes! See
      http://honeyandfitz.blogspot.com/2011/06/converting-upholstered-chair-into.html#axzz21ZVvgnrf

      There is also a UTube video on how to do this. Most important point - you want to use a chiar with a skirt. The swivel mechanism is not very attractive and will NOT add to your decor.

      Delete
    2. You are full of information, Charlotte. Thanks so much for the link. Now if I can just talk my husband into doing it:)

      Delete
    3. Hi Avad, If hubby won't do it, do it yourself! Have a friend help you flip it over. I bet it wouldn't take more than a few hours. And, if it is not his usual chair, HE will probably never even notice!

      Delete
  36. Katherine brings up an excellent solution above. Th 'eye' or othe infrared solutions are great. Everything can be hidden behind a solid cabinet door and you just point at the TV to operate all the components. It's great for design and baby/toddler-proofing!

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  37. Oh my what a wonderful post and wonderful comments. I am the mom and wife of three sporty guys who would rather have a TV in a room over a couch or chair! TV's have plagued me my whole 27 year of marriage! First we had the oversized stand alone THING that I absolutely would not allow anywhere in our downstairs. Then we had armoires everywhere. And now the story of what we have NOW.

    I was out shopping one day and returned home to find my husband and three men in my family room. They had totally torn everything up..armoire was emptied out and everything was all over the place. There was drilling and banging. My husband said he was putting the TV on the wall! I nearly had a heart attack except for the huge, childlike smile he had on his face. He told me not to worry that the work men were going to make sure all the cords were in the walls. As if that was the only thing I was worried about. At any rate, I looked my husband straight in the eyes, picked up my purse and told him I was going to find a great piece of furniture to place under the TV and it was going to cost him!

    Three day later my large piece of furniture was delivered, new lamps were purchased and our TV was smack dab in the middle of our wall. We were both happy. I never thought I would want a TV in plain sight, but with my family of sports loving guys it makes all the sense in the world.

    As for the other design elements in the reader's room, I am in the same place....what to do with my bookshelves, rug, fireplace etc. Joni, your suggestions were wonderful and I may incorporate some of them into my room. Thank you again for another wonderful post!

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    Replies
    1. great story - i would have killed ben, but i hope he knows better! hahahah!

      sounds like it all worked out though

      Delete
  38. Well you did it again! Another fabulous post on a subject I am constantly arguing with my husband about!!! Now please tell me how to stylishly incorporate my pets bowls...any seagrass mats or ironstone bowls??? Don't get me started on the ongoing family discussion about the ceiling fan debate!#?% And what about the never ending amount of remote controls...I'll stop there! Thanks for the great post as always!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a great list of topics! My pet bowls are in the utility room (only non-wood flooring) - the dogs are messy - I don't have enough room to do the laundry 'cause their stuff takes up so much room! We took down the ceiling fan in the living room (see above) but I do miss it on days like today when the temps are over 100.

      Delete
  39. One thing you didn't mention, is there are mirror TV's. I have not seen them in the stores, only on the web. the picture appears when the tv is on, otherwise, it looks like a mirror. Not and antique mirror, but a mirror none the less. I cannot wait to read in this blog about the bumfuzzled TV watcher, who is mad because the decorator replaced his or her tv with a mirror, only to find that the tv was there all along. some day it will happen, but we will have to find nice antique looking frames for them.

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    Replies
    1. peggy braswell says this : " Mirrors over the image distort! Don't let anyone sell you on that one..."

      Delete
  40. and I enjoyed this post, with all the details about cabinetry. thank you

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  41. What to do if you have in-wall ventilation high up on the wall where you should be running the shelves? I want to run mine to the ceiling, but we have vents... grrr....

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    Replies
    1. Vents can be moved. In some cases they can just be moved over a foot or two or perhaps moved out into the ceiling area. The difficulty will depend on what type of ceiling you have and/or what is in the crawl space above.

      If it were me, I would drop the vents (or vents) a few inches and build my bookcases around them. Naturally, you would want to be sure that the air from the vent was not blocked or blowing past anything that might "cook" in the winter or that could be blown off the shelf.

      I think Joni has had a sponsor from time to time that makes custom grill covers. Do not know how much this costs. However, if the back of the bookcase and the vent grill are painted the same dark color the vent will not be very noticeable.

      Delete
  42. Designer Carey Maloney surrounded a flat panel TV with artwork above a chest of drawers in his own bedroom (http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/node/261545), a look that is quite attractive for a medium-sized TV. When I renovate my third bedroom into an "upstairs sitting room", I plan on doing something similar. This probably wouldn't work with a huge TV, though, unless both the room and some of the artwork were large as well.

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    Replies
    1. Yes! The black in the frames, the black chairs, and the dark (almost black) chest make the TV part of the composition. Again, the room is a pretty contemporary space so probably not something that would work in a traditional setting.

      Delete
  43. Nice post! Thank you for this!
    Saving Thousands of People Hundreds of Dollars a month. Join the club today. Just click -> http://www.saversclub.us

    ReplyDelete
  44. Joni, this is a great post as usual. I love that you do this for your readers! Tomorrow morning I'm going to see a custom motorized cabinet that I designed for a client and had built by a cabinet maker almost a year ago. Finally finished, with the motorized lift working properly! But definitely not for the faint of heart or for people with any budget restraints whatsoever... Which reminds me, have you ever used VisionArt in one of your projects? I picked up some literature at a trade show once; giclee artwork on a motorized canvas that rolls away into the frame when you want to watch a show. The problem is that it's pricey and you really need to go through an A/V company. I like the idea of having a framed family portrait or painting over the mantel or on another wall that only becomes a TV when you want to watch it, but the downside is that you can't angle it and when you start looking at custom artwork it gets really pricey. Then there's the trick of hiding the TV behind special mirrors, which we've done in bathrooms before, but it's a compromise because the mirror looks darker/different when the TV is off and the picture quality is less than perfect watching TV through a mirror. But it works for watching the news when you're in the shower.

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    Replies
    1. Good grief. This all sounds so tacky. What is so wrong with just putting the tv somewhere? It's so pretentious to disguise it.

      Delete
  45. Nice post! Thank you for this!
    Saving Thousands of People Hundreds of Dollars a month. Join the club today. Just click -> http://www.saversclub.us

    ReplyDelete
  46. Love the custom doors by Julia Blailock. I found an image flat screen surrounded by a gold vintage frame & did a post on it today.
    Mary

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  47. Add me to the many fans of Miss Cote de Texas! Her creativity and aesthetic choices always get my juices going. Another option you can consider for those who do want to park their large flatscreens above the fireplace is a motorized mount that carries the TV forward beyond the mantel and down to an viewing angle that doesn't strain one's neck and also offers optimal sight lines. Doing this can transform the television watching experience. Another plus is that this kind of mount can be recessed in the wall or the TV can be hidden behind a mirror or work of art.

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  48. I am surprised how much I like the contemporary room with the black tv just sitting there, it looks fine !
    I think my favourite solution is to use an old armoire or have a cupboard built for hiding the television, I find some of these rooms way too cluttered with all the bits and pieces on the shelves and there is a tv too.
    I will keep this as well as many other of your posts for research, we are moving from an apartment in Buenos Aires to a house in Upstate NY, I will need all the help I can get :)
    besitos, C

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  49. My media room is exactly like this. Black framed antique maps, artwork and a flat screen tv all in the same visual plane.

    Context always has meaning in designing a room. The remainder of the room is neutral except for a coral sofa and pillows done in black, gray and coral scattered throughout the room. The wet bar, cabinetry and built in bookcases on either side of a floating flatscreen on the wall are glazed and neutral. The wet bar has a chocolate brown granite with satin nickel sink and faucet. Leaded glass cabinet door flank the sides of the wet bar. The flatscreen adds to the decor and does not need to be hidden from view.

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  50. I try, I really do try, to understand. But I just can't warm up to televisions over fireplaces.
    Makes me kinda nuts.
    A great painting, a fabulous mirror... but no Kardashians or football games there!
    Of course, I'm a bit eccentric I suppose.
    xo,
    p

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  51. A) my "server" "Foxfire"-- I could not see the selected painting. B) should the "family room" be the Dining Room and the dining Room be the Media room? Or can one call the cable company and have another tv outlet installed on a more appropriate wall also, why is the public at the mercy of "providers" direct televionservice at odds with a major channel provider - this is unacceptable -- so glad I was not served a dish I would send back to the chef.

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  52. Gorgeous post, Joni, and one that is helpful to me. It really is a task decided where to put these monstocities.
    Happy Thursday.
    Teresa
    xoxo

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  53. This company offers a solution that is both decorative and practical; the tv swivels to allow viewing and then disappears behind shelving:
    http://reversica.com/Gyre.html

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  54. Hi Joni,
    A friend has a flat screen TV with a mirror finish. Always thought a small version of this might be an option for atop a bureau in my bedroom. My friend said they were quite expensive. Have you heard of these? Are they quite expensive? What do you think of them?
    b

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  55. Thanks, Joni! You are always so thorough in your answers. I would suggest that the mantel be taken off the fireplace altogether (it seems too small or something) and I agree with you that the stone is great! I don't think you could have brought up a more universal decorating issue. I think it depends on how the room is used. If watching TV is a daily activity in the room, it doesn't make sense to have to do something extra to get to the TV (lift, open, move, etc.)-- especially when I think the flat screens, if proportionate in size, can be integrated so well, as you have shown in your examples. If the room is only rarely used for TV watching, then it is probably a more practical thing to hide it altogether unless in use. Miss CDT is so much fun to read!!!
    By the way, am I missing something-- I thought you used to have access to your Top 10 Elements on the left of the blog and I can't seem to find them. When I do searches through your blog, too many things come up. If it isn't here, could you offer those Top Ten posts as a link or something? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did not want to sound snarky about the mantel but I, too, noticed that it is not correctly proportioned to the size of the big stone fireplace and surrounding cabinets. Most likely there are brackets and adhesive holding up the current mantel. Removing the mantel completely would probably require repair to the underlying stonework. The Reader may prefer to replace the mantel with a larger one to avoid the stone repairs.

      This is one of those change-begets-change scenarios that Joni has talked about. But, it WILL all come out better at the end. :)

      Delete
    2. Agree that the mantel looks undersized for the fireplace and actually looks like an add on. The fireplace probably originally had no mantel and actually does not really require one. I bet it is screwed into the grout of the stone work and can easily be removed if the owner chooses. A stone mantel would have been more appropriate and seamless looking. Building an addition to the existing cabinets and taking them to the ceiling will make a huge difference in this room.

      Delete
    3. Thanks, friends. I think it is undersized, too (and the art about it needs to have a large frame). What would you suggest? I don't think we can match the stone, exactly. How large should I go? Paint it to match the trim/cabinets? The color is so similar to the stone color....

      Libby

      Delete
  56. I think they are hideous. The best solution is to have a dedicated TV room, but sadly most people want it on all the time. I like the arrangement of some of the rooms but in others, the TV is put in an inconvenient place (like Sally Wheat's) where the chairs aren't even arranged to see it. I am happy our house has an old format, with the family room in a separate area so we treat it as a TV room and it is not present on the main floor of the house. My mother has a similar arrangement and has added a small TV to her kitchen. These big ones sure take up a lot of real estate. I do agree that the ones over the mantle are awful - I have a bad neck and could not stand looking up like that for an hour. I would have a blinding headache. Glad yours is at eye level for Ben's head...!

    :)

    Great compilation. Terri xo

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  57. Great question and great post. So many of us face this dilemma! Love the homeowners' fireplace stone. And love the idea of removing the upper cabinets and put in shelving, even if the tv doesn't go there. Could another option be to mount the tv on the side wall (behind where the tv is now) with a narrow console under it? Or would that not be feasible as far as room size and placement current furniture?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol, the side wall doesn't really exist - it is a pair of french doors leading to our sun room. And the opposite wall contains the hallway to the front of the house. Sigh. The wall in the photo is truly the most open wall of all.

      Libby

      Delete
  58. Thank you for this post. This was perfect timing. For convenience reasons (I have a toddler) I'm having to put a tv in my beautiful living room which is closer to my kitchen than my family room. I just spent the whole morning going to different furniture stores for ideas on how I'm going to introduce this beast to my space. I also had same the idea of a console and the tv above it, and now that I've seen it in your pictures, that's the way I'm going to go. Thanks again!

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  59. FABulous post showing a wide array of solutions. (Have always resisted the over-the-fireplace thing too.) What is the name/tel of the Houston man that installs/sells TVs? Thank you!

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  60. Hi!

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    If you are interested or have any questions, let me know.


    - Maxim Denisov
    RussianArtSales.com

    ReplyDelete
  61. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  62. I haven't had a TV in my home since May 2001 -- ugly problem solved.

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  63. hmmmm..great.! well decorated home.. in the pic,third from the bottom, is this rug or paint on the floor or something else..? its really looks stunning..

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  64. Any good sources for bobbin chairs?

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  65. Joni, I hate to jinx it, but....it has been so nice for the past few posts not to have Snarky Anon in the comments. People have had debates, conversations, and disagreements without offending each other with senseless personal attacks. Good work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Getgrounded, I totally agree! I steeled myself for snarky comments - but there just weren't any. Not only has Joni handled Snarky Anon, but she also switched up the post, so that by the time my photo is presented, it is almost hidden - and not the focus. That Joni, she's great, isn't she?

      Libby

      Delete
  66. do not jinz it please!

    i do think he realy knows how serious i am.

    he is welcome to discuss, without the rude bs. otherwise i will take an ad out in his town's newspaper AFTER i contact his boss. and im serious about that. i will. it's been so nice since he has been playing nice here. i think he still posts, which is FINE, just not those 1,0000 of rude comments one after another.

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  67. I love your "ugly big screen" solutions Please let me know where I can find similar white slipcovered wing chairs. After reading your post I am planning a ride to Miami to visit Nadeu.

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  68. Great images and examples. I know this is a hot debate, but I'm one of those rare decorators who prefer the tv over the mantle. I prefer one focal point in a room and a tv to the side feels like it competes, though you have some nice examples where it isn't too bad.

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  69. There are small(3"?) wireless "relay" gadgets when connected to the television will allow you to place electronics away, tucked in a nearby closet or cabinet, even.

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  70. It was interesting. You seem very knowledgeable in your field.

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  71. Excellent article and photos about a tricky problem! Thank you so much!

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  72. I totally agree with you. Decorating with the TV can be a challenge, but in the end its very rewarding. What I did to my bedroom was that I mounted my flatscreen on the wall, where I had my DVD player, a few speakers, then my books and DVDs to save space. Though I had to spray paint it first to match the color of the wall. So far, I am satisfied with it and it is doing its purpose quite well.

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  73. Transforming a TV into a stylishly custom framed mirror creates endless possibilities to mount TV’s on walls that are not normally considered suitable for TV’s such as above fireplaces or other pieces of furniture as the TV will also be a beautiful custom framed mirror.

    hardwood tv frames

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  74. such a nice room.. really great..you can add here tv over fireplace

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  75. I really adored what you have made on your page.Really eye catching and inspiring.Thanks for providing such a lovely post here.Keep it up ! ^_^

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  76. All are good and awesome! This is amazing house, you can't ever feel bored here. Stunning house, also the TV on wall looks great also.

    How To Hide Your TV

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  77. It is welcome to discuss,it was interesting that the Flat Screen TV I've ever seen.I love it Thanks!

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  78. Thanx Joni for a very insightful read , yes tv s are never easy to blend with
    beautiful interiors one has to be very clever thanx for all your ideas.

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  79. HI! I love the lantern that you have in one of your pictures and I was wondering where you got it.
    It's the picture that is above this comments:Instead, I have the flatscreen hang over the hole that once held our old, regular large TV.....
    thank you!

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  80. I like best what Carol Glasser did – hide the flatscreen behind a pair of installed antique armoire doors.
    It is making me reconsider my family room now...

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  81. Superb post. Best wishes a great deal of for the purpose of giving many of these a pleasant tips about Hide TV.

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  82. hi..Im college student, thanks for sharing :)

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  83. Hi Joni, That is an excellent post. I have been struggling with the same problem in my living room. I live in a house built in 1915. It has the center entry with living room on one side and dining on the other. There are double doors leading into both. My living room is large with the fireplace on the wall across from the entry. There are windows flanking the fireplace. To the right of the double doors is a large picture window with a window seat and view of the city. Opposite that wall is another set of double doors leading into what used to probably be the music room but I have turned it into a study. As far as I can see the only place to put the flatscreen is over the mantel. I agree with you about that being the last resort as I love my fireplace and don't like the idea of looking up to view the TV. Ive had the TV on a small console angled in the corner to the right of the fireplace but when we actually have people over and use all of the seating the chairs end up getting flipped around and people end up having their backs to each other. So frustrating! I love the room you show with the pale blue green walls, the sea grass rug and the sofa with the sofa table and 2 lamps directly across from the fireplace. I have a sofa, sofa table, and four chairs. If I center the sofa directly across from the fireplace you say it blocks the room. Is that always bad? If I put it in front of the window it blocks the window seat. If I have it flank the fireplace on one side then the four chairs seem unbalanced. Any suggestions?

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  84. I'd like your wonderful posting.It is a great way of adding elegance to a room.

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  85. Thank you for posting these. Many options and great ideas to put a style in our television.

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  86. I'm going to have to show my wife these ideas. She's been wanting to redecorate the living room for a while and I think she'd love to see these. Where would you suggest to find a vintage looking TV cabinet? She wants to get one that looks like it's from the early 1900s but can hold a TV.
    -Seamus | http://www.citywideantennas.com.au

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