Televisions are a bit of a necessary evil. On one hand, it's hard to dispute the role they play in home entertainment. On the other, they pose a bit of a design conundrum for amateur and professional interior designers alike. How to incorporate a TV into a living space so that it seamlessly blends into the room's overall aesthetic has been a challenge for as long as the gadget has been around. Where to install it, at what height, and how to configure the furniture around it are just a few of the questions that arise.
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The primary function of your space will determine how you orient the room and the TV placement. Is it a dedicated TV-watching area, or does it pull double duty and function as a living room, too? This distinction is important because if the primary goal is to relax and watch TV, then it should be placed front and center, and the furniture arrangement should maximize viewing. If, however, the space also serves as a gathering spot to socialize with friends, the TV can take more of a back seat, and furniture placement need not be dictated by it.
When determining where to place your TV, whether it's going to be mounted to the wall or sitting on a credenza, most people agree that it should be at eye level when seated to avoid neck strain. Generally speaking, 4 feet off the ground is a good rule. In terms of how far back seating should be, the larger the TV, the further away the furniture should be placed. To determine the appropriate distance, multiply the diagonal width of the TV by three.
Be sure to take your furniture's profile into account as well. For example, if you have low-slung, modern furniture, the TV will need to be lower than if you have a standard-height sofa and chairs. If there are windows adjacent to the placement, be sure to factor in glare and add window treatments to improve visibility. Overhead lighting can also be a nuisance and impact TV viewing.
Make sure there's a power source nearby. A TV that rests inside a built-in piece of furniture or inset on a wall will need to be wired upon installation so that the cords are hidden. Consider additional accessories, such as speakers, gaming consoles, and disc players, to ensure adequate outlets.
So, should you embrace your TV or try to hide it? Well, the good news is that either approach will work. The evolution of TV tech, from big, square boxes to slim, elongated screens, is a real blessing to the world of design and has made including them in stylish interiors an achievable goal. Keep scrolling for 15 genius design ideas on how to incorporate a TV into your well-appointed space.
1. Inset your TV.
If anyone can pull off a stylish and comfortable living room with a TV, it's interior designer Shea McGee of Studio McGee. She has seemingly mastered the elusive art of creating polished yet approachable interiors. For example, this setup features a substantial custom concrete fireplace surround with a recessed television and cushy furniture that is oriented to maximize TV visibility.
2. Arrange some of your furniture away from the TV.
You read that correctly. There's no denying that this is a TV room, but by arranging a set of lounge chairs away from the television and toward a sofa that is out of view, interior designer Heidi Caillier signals that this room is also about socializing. The moody blue paint color on the woodwork creates a cozy vibe that's perfect for rainy days in the Pacific Northwest, where this home is located.
3. Camouflage your screen.
We see you, not-so-little TV hiding behind potted plants. If you want the option of a television without it taking center stage, consider hiding it in plain sight with an assortment of houseplants to help it blend into the background. In this kitchen-adjacent living room, Jessica Helgerson mounted the TV off to the side, leaving the striking fireplace as the room's centerpiece.
4. Opt for a formal vibe.
At first glance, this living room might seem more befitting for canapés than catching up on Sneaky Pete, but life is short. Why not elevate your television room to a more formal space, like Chango & Co. did here? This elegant living room features a traditional tufted sofa and lounge chairs in a floor plan that prioritizes conversation over binge-watching.
5. Texturize your wall space.
Ceramic tile surrounding a television makes the design choice feel considered and purposeful. This bohemian living room by Amber Lewis features a roomy sectional sofa to maximize seating (and offer a formidable vantage point to the TV), a mix of layered vintage rugs, leather poufs, and a measured dose of pattern and color to achieve the laid-back yet pulled-together look for which she is known.
6. Make it disappear.
Coordinating the color of your media cabinet with the TV can make it virtually disappear. In this open-concept living room design by Raili Clasen, an oversize television blends into an expansive built-in cabinet that's stained in a dark shade of brown. Functional and lounge-worthy furniture invites guests to relax, while graphic wall art and playful accessories say, "this is where good times happen."
7. Extend your ceiling down to your TV surround.
While most experts advise against installing a TV above a fireplace mantel due to its unfavorable height, sometimes there isn't another viable option. In that case, make like Cortney Bishop and clad the surround with rough-hewn wood planks and a reclaimed wood ceiling for plenty of warmth and character. Bespoke furniture, tongue-and-groove walls, and a neutral color palette combined with one-of-a-kind accessories create a timeless space that's fit for a variety of entertaining needs.
8. Bookend it with French doors.
If you're lucky enough to have a double set of French doors gracing your living room, then by all means take advantage of the view by facing your seating area toward them. The team over at Studio Matsalla anchored a large, wall-mounted TV with a low-profile credenza (perfect for hiding the unsightly but necessary equipment that accompanies televisions). We particularly dig the deep club chairs thoughtfully paired with leather footstools for the ultimate viewing experience.
9. Go high-tech with a TV that literally doubles as art.
File this under "why didn't I think of that?" Samsung has developed a modern TV that cleverly doubles as artwork. If you simply can't bear the sight of a black box on your wall or you're looking for an alternative to budget-busting art, consider a high-tech TV like The Frame, which offers a mind-boggling amount of customizable options with sensors that turn on the display when you walk into the room. Add to cart!
10. Opt for an unconventional layout.
If you want a living room with loads of personality and interest, eschew a typical couch-centric seating layout in favor of a daybed/sofa/deep chair combo. Lauren Liess effortlessly combines pattern, furniture silhouettes, and wood finishes to compose a thoughtful space. A TV is included, but it isn't the focal point.
11. Get creative with wall hangings.
Render a wall-mounted TV set practically invisible by masking it with a woven wall hanging that can be raised and lowered according to your programming schedule, à la Sarah Sherman Samuel. The beauty of the muted, textured tapestry showcased in her modern living room belies the functional piece hidden beneath it, and the sculpted furniture and accessories elevate the everyday space.
12. Don't forget to accessorize.
Make the most of the negative space around a television with curated living room decor as seen in this minimalist space. A restrained color scheme keeps all eyes on the limewashed green accent wall and marble slab coffee table while the TV blends into the console table thanks to the shared hue and cleverly placed accessories.
13. Introduce contrast.
While not often considered a design element, TVs add contrast and help ground an airy room, as seen in this soothing setup. The muted palette is punctuated by a television set on the console table. Furniture that's oriented for conversation renders the TV a supporting detail rather than the main event.
14. Put a frame around it.
Transform an everyday television into a piece of art with a custom frame. Cass Smith of Cass Makes Home turned her Samsung Frame TV into an elegant showpiece by surrounding it with a gilded picture frame. Perched on top of a traditional console table that's adjacent to a stone fireplace, the highbrow entertainment center looks oh-so-sophisticated and elegant when the TV is off.
15. Integrate your TV into a gallery wall.
Don't overlook the idea of using a flat-screen as an anchor in a gallery wall. Surrounding it with a mix of paintings, photography, and sculpture will help it take a back seat to the beauty surrounding it. Despite its small footprint, this eclectic living room from Brandon Stanley uses a combination of color, pattern, and texture to create a space that's big on character and soul.