Friday, March 20, 2009

Designing with Televisions

Having spent a good portion of my childhood in Nome, Alaska, where there was not a TV to be found, I didn't become a fan of television until my late 20's. In the years since I have been making up for lost time! I adore HGTV, Fine Living, the occasional design series on Bravo, MSNBC for news, and CBS for our Sunday viewing of the Amazing Race. So the television has become an integral part of my daily life, like so many. This reality can often present significant design challenges when decorating a room that will house a television.

Some designers believe that televisions are best when out of sight. My take is that an 'exposed' television is just fine, it's an honest approach. I do, however, appreciate it when there is an effort to place the TV in a well thought out manner that allows it to work with its surroundings. Too often it is instead a huge piece of equipment, stacked atop piles of other equipment...taking over a space as if a truck has been parked in the room! You've seen this, right?

Several good options for TV placement are to mount it on a wall, tuck it into a built-in bookcase, place it on a media cabinet or within an armoire. I particularly like the armoire option if a television is to be placed in a bedroom. When not in use it is significantly more restful to have the TV hidden in bedrooms.

The TV in our family room redesign is the result of a debate between my husband and I. He wanted larger, I wanted smaller. This is the compromise, mounted above the fireplace. Once the furniture and accessories are in place the TV will cease to be such a large focal point. A benefit of the larger TV is that it is also easily viewed from the kitchen and nook. A possible incentive for me to spend more time cooking, while watching a favorite show?

The layout in this family room is ideal. Here one sofa faces the TV, which is set on a media cabinet. Another sofa faces the focal point of the room, the stunning fireplace. The TV is not the main feature of this room, yet it still functions wonderfully as a space to watch a movie or catch a show.

Placing the TV into a bookcase is also an excellent option, if the room has built-ins that can accommodate one. Here (in a "before" photo of a client's family room that is currently being transformed) the TV can be swiveled out from the bookcase for perfect viewing while lounging on seating in the opposite corner.

Until next time, happy TV viewing!


  1. I'm usually not a fan of TVs mounted above the fireplace, but it's because people often select the wrong scale for their room. It's either too big or too small for the space (I even notice this often on some of the HGTV shows.) Yours looks perfect, though...the size is perfect, the TV design is very stylish. It becomes a beautiful accessory to your room.

  2. Just love your decorating! I was hoping you would share where your square family room rug came from or if you had any hints on where to find online. I am in NW Ohio and the shopping here isn't so great (to say the least). Again, love your style! And looking forward to hearing back from you! Thanks!

  3. ps - I have the same Aviary fabric still rolled up just waiting to be a part of my kitchen/family room! Your pics have me motivated to get started on my projects!

  4. Hi nikster72, the rug in the family room is from Pottery Barn, the Felted Shag Rug in Ivory. This one is 8x10, and it can be purchased at, or I have often see them listed on ebay for less, under Pottery Barn Shag Rug. Good luck! Janell

  5. Thanks,Janell for the quick reply! I am going to look right now... (i just changed my post name to "nikki" - i left that next comment too about the aviary fab.)
    We also have the same TV issue. Had to compromise with my hubby, but I think it turned out just fine. :-)
    Thanks for sharing all of your fabulous pics and ideas! What inspiration!

  6. Hi Janell,
    I too am hooked on your blog. I was wondering what size TV you ended up using above the fireplace?

  7. Hi Jillian96, the TV is 47". I am now a fan, but initially thought it was too large! The TV is still smaller than the firebox and tile surround below, so it feels balanced visually. Thanks for asking! Janell

  8. Your table lamps seem so versatile.Would u share where u purchased or suggest something similiarly versatile(on a budget of course:)
    I am painting my walls quiver tan & also have nuetral taupe chenille pieces with choc. brown silk pillows.. I find balancing a room have such a gift for it..any tips? Thanks for sharing!

  9. The lamps in the family room were purchased at Pottery Barn some time ago on clearance, so no longer available. If you visit, search for table lamps and narrow your search by finish (black), you'll see some good options at affordable prices.
    Look at the 'Repetitive Table Lamp' and consider changing the shade with a drum shade for a more updated look.
    Regarding bringing balance to a room...look hard at the scale of your furniture to the room size and other items in the room. The right formula or solution is very specific to each individual room. However, if I could offer any general advice try to look at your room with a critical eye, as if you are seeing it for the first time (virtually impossible I realize!) and observe its composition. Is any area heavy compared to other areas, is one corner or side crowded, is part of the room heavy with a color or with accessories while the rest of the room is not? Also think about the furniture layout and flow throughout the space, is the furniture laid out so you can move comfortably through the space?
    Good luck! Janell

  10. love the pillows, you're so crafty! your kitchen looks fabulous, can't wait to see it in person! you really have a great eye for transforming ordinary things into beautiful other things....

  11. Where did you get your creme or white shag area rug?
    Your home is so beautiful.


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