While a few households have the luxury of a media room designed just for television viewing, the vast majority of us use the multipurpose living area in our living room or family room for our TV time. Because we do so many different things in these rooms, we want to find a balance of having the TV accessible and to be comfortable watching, while it not being the center of attention all of the time. Here are some tips for placement and design to integrate the TV into your living space.
Height – There are many schools of thought on TV height. Most say that eye level is the way to go, that your eyes should be center screen when you are seated. This is a great solution for family viewing and long term comfort. However, some find that aesthetically too low in the design of their room and prefer the look of the flatscreen mounted higher like artwork.
Low – For eye-level TVs, media centers come in all sizes from low profile wide stands designed for 60” and up, and taller more narrow stands designed for more compact TV models. Media stands tend to offer storage space for components and other items like gaming accessories and DVDs. Keep in mind that a TV sitting on a media center stand (especially if it is a dark stand) will have a heavy visual impact on the room and likely end up being a focal point. To get around that, choose a stand that has a lighter or brighter contrasting color to break up the visual impact and then occupy the space above and around the TV. Some ideas are shelves with accessories or hang groupings framed pictures on the surrounding wall. These techniques help the TV blend with other objects in the space. Built in shelving and cabinetry on either side and even above the TV can also help reduce the visual impact it makes in the room.
Middle – How do you design around a TV if you prefer the aesthetic of the flatscreen at art level height, at or slightly below eye level when standing. For a TV at this height, you will likely want to mount it on a wall, unless you are enclosing it into built—in or full wall shelving. If it was art, you would likely hang it above the sofa, but for a TV, you’ll want it on a separate wall that can be seen easily from the sofa and chairs. Hanging it floating on the wall with nothing below can look awkward. Sofa tables and console tables are a perfect way to fill in that space and create balance. These tables tend to be lighter visually than media centers. They usually contain little or no storage for media components, but are a wonderful option to enhance the area and give a spot to display accessories.
High – If you are looking to mount your flatscreen the over the fireplace it will often be pretty high for viewing – likely above eye level when standing. In this situation, consider these two remedies: first use a wall mount that angles the TV down so that it is viewed at a straight on. Second, bring in reclining chairs and reclining sofas that will allow you to comfortably sit with your head at an upward angle and avoid neck and back pains when settling in for a movie or binge watching marathon.
Here are some other tricks to try if you want to lower the visual impact of the TV in your room –
- Frame it – some designers create custom wood or metal frames to finish the edges of the television to give it a softer, more artful look.
- Cover it – there are wall mounting cabinets designed to close away the television when not in use and easily open to reveal the television when it is screen time.
- Surround it – either symmetrical or asymmetrical groupings of framed art above and beside the screen, gallery wall style, can help take the focus off of the screen itself.
- Contain it - Book shelves or book cases beside and above the screen accessorized with books, knickknacks, and mementos visually contain the television as part of a larger whole, helping shift emphasis from the screen itself.