Hidden in Plain Sight: Decorating Around Your TV

Remember when we treated our TVs like dirty little secrets, hiding them away in armoires where they couldn’t be seen, an embarrassing fact of life that was best concealed? Who could blame us? Those hulking, unsightly boxes were a decorating buzz-kill, marring the landscape of a room with their behemoth presence, trailing a constellation of cable boxes and VCRs, twists of spaghetti-like wires going everywhere.

Today’s sleek, svelte and stylish flat-screen TVs can actually add to your home décor. The secret to decorating effectively with flat-screen TVs is to incorporate them into existing displays so they become just another element in a lovely roomscape.

Surround Your TV with Beauty

Back in the day, there was an official “TV room” in a home, and the entire floor plan of the room was arranged so you could view the TV. That’s still true in media rooms. But now that you’ll find TVs in nearly every room of the home — tucked up under a kitchen cabinet, on a vanity in the bathroom, out on the patio – they are no longer the stars of the show. Instead of being the undisputed focal point, TVs are now simply part of the fabric of the room.

I think TVs look best when they simply melt into the room, nestled in so they are indistinguishable from all the other elements in the space. In fact, they are most effective when they seem like an afterthought, just quietly included in a grouping of art or accents, part of a display but not the main attraction. One of the best ways to achieve this is to surround them with beauty.

In the photo above, the TV is accessible, but not the dominant feature in the room. The homeowner did a wonderful job of balancing the dark, hard surfaces of the TV by introducing the same color and texture through other elements in the room. Thanks to the addition of the black wooden screen behind the sofa and the black wooden coffee table in the room’s center, the TV doesn’t stand out but is just one of several similar accents. Notice how the TV is placed to one side of the chest of drawers, flanked by artwork and fronted by a tray holding interesting accents? That was done on purpose, so when the TV is off, your eye is drawn to the artwork in the background and accents in the foreground, not to the black void of the TV screen.

TV as Art

Since flat screens are so thin and small, you can decorate with them just as you might with a piece of framed art. Some people like to hang their TV over the mantel. Others like to hang theirs on a empty wall, centered over a console table or an accent shelf. But my favorite treatment is to include the TV in a lovely montage of artwork. When the TV is off, the grouping looks beautiful and complete, and the black rectangle is hardly noticeable for the beauty of the overall display. When the TV is on, the artwork seems to recede into the background.

The TV in the photo above is mounted on a small wall in a kitchen where it can be easily viewed from the kitchen island. But thanks to the groupings of artwork below it and on adjoining walls, the room doesn’t feel like a media center. The traditional artwork helps counter balance the high tech feel of the screen so the kitchen retains its quaint charm.

I treated the TV in my bedroom in a similar manner. Even though my bedroom TV isn’t mounted on the wall, I’ve worked it into a grouping of artwork. I placed the TV atop a lovely serving trolley pushed against the wall then camouflaged the screen by surrounding it with a montage of artwork. Now it melts into the mosaic instead of being a focal point in the room.

Take a Stand

Another great benefit of today’s super skinny TVs is that they can be placed on top of just about any table you like, so we are no longer tethered to those oversized TV armoires or chunky TV stands.  At Nell Hill’s we encourage our customers to turn just about any open surface into a home for their TV, like a console table, desk, étagère, buffet or dresser. The TV in my study is on top of an antique drop leaf table.

I really like the look of a small flat-screen TV on the shelf of a bookcase or hutch. If that’s an attractive option to you, set up your TV on one of the mid-range shelves then decorate the remaining shelves just as you normally would, filling in with books, artwork and accents. The TV will be inconspicuous, just another feature in the display.

Next Week … Have you ever considered adding a floor screen to your décor? I did a few years ago and now I couldn’t live without these amazing tools that are both dramatic and practical.