How to disguise, integrate or hide the TV in your living room design scheme is one heck of a big challenge. Over the course of filming three series of The Great Interior Design Challenge I’ve seen loads of TV design dilemmas. Not all designers come up with the best solutions but I credit tackling the TV as one of the hardest tasks to integrate within an interior design scheme. And getting bigger by the year as the typical household has a mahoosive 48 inches of glossy black blankness looming in the corner of their living room. Typically he wants it bigger, she wants it hidden away as it’s obscuring her £80-a-roll Cole and Son wallpaper. So how is this household conflict resolved?
Quickest solution, which is alarming simple, as it is effective, is to paint or paper the wall behind the TV a dark colour (there she goes again!). The effect is it’s more or less camouflaged into the wall- genius! Black is the obvious choice but any hue in its darkest form will do the trick. This could be a feature wall, a painted alcove or painted panel set within a larger wall. I’ve set the TV against a dark painted wall and then arranged art work, lighting and furniture around it so it looks like its meant to be there. This overcomes the common living room design problem of TV’s sticking out like a sore thumb.
Flat screen wall hung TV’s are now the way to go for many interior designs, but again I feel they can look rather incongruous! Better to hang a collection of pictures on either side or all around the TV so it becomes part of a gallery wall. If you can work monochrome or black frames into the artwork even better as the black TV will integrate even better then.
Next up is to integrate the TV within the layout of furniture and other items you wish display within a shelving unit. You can buy fitted designs, either a bespoke design made by a carpenter or an off-the-shelf unit from retailers like Ikea. Either way make sure you style up your open shelves beautifully and that way the TV won’t be able to hog the limelight! Interior Designer Daniel Hopwood has cleverly introduced pops of yellow into this bespoke design which makes sure the eye isn’t always focused towards the screen which receeds against the grey timber backdrop.
You could consider housing your TV in a cabinet. Custom made units often work very well for this, especially if you situate the TV in the alcove. You can buy swing arm brackets so the screen can be pulled away from the wall, while you watch it, then pushed back into the cupboard when not in use. Where space allows cabinets with sliding doors are preferable as they don’t intrude into the living room design when open. The living room design I’ve featured above by Henri Fitzwilliam-Lay is genius. The doors are covered in linen wallpaper which blends into the walls while the doors glide apart to reveal the TV. However I personally think this is a great solution for a TV you occasionally use. But if its your main family TV room, chances are that the door won’t get closed and the TV area will look even more of an eye sore. However there are some nifty pieces of custom made furniture, which are especially designed to house all your AV equipment. But a TV rising out of the foot of the bed should remain in the domain of wannbe James Bonds in my opinion!
In my view the bedroom is no place for a TV. It totally spoils the mood of a bedroom, which should be somewhere to retire to, rest and recuperate. Watching a gritty drama or god forbid the news before bed is just a total crazy idea! Save the bedroom for reading, sleeping and well, er, you know what else. Watching TV in bed is the ultimate passion killer.
Don’t go doing anything silly or fancy with the TV like putting a frame around it, making it look like a painting or covering it in decorative fabrics. I think, as an interior designer we need to acknowledge the TV is a necessary part of every living room design scheme and attempts to physically disguise it in order to make it look like something else will always fail.
Tempting though it may be mounting the TV above the fireplace isn’t a great idea. Rising heat from a working fire can damage the TV over time. The other issue is the TV will be so much higher than eye level you need to crane your neck to watch it.
Keep your TV proportional to the size of your living room. Extra large TVs in cosy rooms do look over empowering. From an aesthetic rule of thumb it should be no wider than the fireplace alcove. However I picked this tip up from an article in the Telegraph that suggests you should times the number of feet from your TV to your sofa by 7.5 and that will indicate the maximum size of screen suitable. For example if you are 10-11 feet away from your TV then it’s all go with the 39-46” screen.
So in a nutshell we have to learn to love our Tv’s as an object, not just whats on them. And with a few styling tips, it doesn’t have to look so bad. Please share your TV solutions in the comments below, or ask me any questions. I’m all ears!