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The Oddly Controversial Debate Of Where To Put Your TV Resolved
America loves to debate all kinds of issues surrounding television: Was the ending of “Lost” stupid? (No, haters.) Should Ross and Rachel have gotten back together? (Again, no.) Was the fourth season of “Arrested Development” a terrible idea? (Oh, yes.)
But even bigger than these squabbles is the argument about where we should place and use our precious televisions. Integrating a unit into a home without sacrificing the decor is a dilemma that challenges even the best designers—especially if homeowners insist on placing the television on top of the fireplace or in the master bedroom.
Here, designers weigh in on the four most common television debates.
Debate No. 1: Television over the fireplace
Whether you should put a television over your fireplace is one of the more contentious debates in the design world. So is it a smart design move or an aesthetic atrocity? Average homeowners might be surprised to find that most pros fall into the “No way!” camp—especially given the fact that it’s not uncommon for new homes to include a ready-to-go spot for your big screen right over the fireplace.
That argument may not be terribly convincing if you care more about watching the big game than a roaring fire. And not all designers think it’s such a sin: Brian Patrick Flynn, aLos Angeles– and Atlanta-based designer and member of the National Kitchen & Bath Association‘s trend-forecasting panel, says he’s a “huge fan” of televisions over the fireplace.
“I have the TV on all day, even as background,” he says. “But most design pros will probably disagree with me.”
Still, it’s difficult to dismiss the ergonomic argument against high-mounted televisions. It’s like sitting in the front row of the movie theater, and craning your head awkwardly upward to keep an eye on the action. The ideal placement will put the television at eye level, lessening neck strain and decreasing your likelihood of injury and pain after long-term use.
Verdict: Keep that TV at eye level.
Debate No. 2: Television vs. conversation
The tradition of a “formal” living room, where you can converse with visiting friends and family, may seem antiquated, but in the age of ubiquitous screens, reintroducing the custom might make sense.
Homeowners blessed with multiple living areas should consider keeping one of those areas television-free. Even if you’re hosting guests for a Monday night “Bachelor In Paradise” marathon, a screenless space allows visitors to chat before the show, or catch up, without distractions.
“Although I love a TV in almost every room in the house, I prefer to keep one space without one strictly, so it encourages conversation,” Flynn says. He recommends splurging on a wet bar for the space, so guests can mix and mingle over cocktails instead.
But today’s über-hot open-concept living rooms may not leave homeowners with a choice: With everything connected, there’s no room for a screen-free escape. If you can’t sacrifice the TV, consider creating a small, private seating area for conversationalists instead.
Or don’t—and don’t feel guilty about your 47-incher.
“If having a television in the living room is part of your lifestyle, that is precisely what you should be designing for,” says Paloma Contreras, a Houston interior designer and another member of NKBA’s trend-forecasting panel. “Don’t design for anyone else’s rules, but for the way you enjoy living your life.”
Verdict: If possible, segment off a screen-free space.
Debate No. 3: TV in the bedroom
Drifting off to sleep to the sweet sounds of Alicia Florrick dominating the courtroom might be your jam, and if it is, there’s probably nothing we can say to convince you otherwise. Some people can’t fall asleep without the white noise and blue light of a television playing a rerun of their favorite show—and even professional designers won’t stop you.
“I like TVs in adult bedrooms, strictly so those adults can watch their favorite programs in peace and quiet,” Flynn says.
It’s a fair point: Noisy, crowded family rooms are ideal for ingesting the latest “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic,” but if you’re trying to follow the slow, quiet pace of an intricate British family drama—well, good luck. You might be better off watching in bed.
“I completely understand why some think it is a bad idea, but my husband and I both like to relax with a little TV before bed. It lulls us to sleep,” Contreras says.
Designers may give the thumbs-up to a television in your bedroom, but in your kid’s room? Not so much. Neither Flynn nor Sitomer recommends letting children have their own TV—and this recommendation is backed up by a study from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine that indicates a correlation between obesity and screen time.
Verdict: Let your TV be your lullaby.
Debate No. 4: Hiding the TV
Face the facts, video fans: No matter where you put your television, it’s a bit of an eyesore.
Flynn recommends hiding your television behind a two-way mirror, although he acknowledges that such a dramatic approach “can get pricey. Therefore, I am all about just minimizing its presence.”
There are a number of low-cost ways to disguise your TV, including painting the surrounding wall black, framing it, or the classic approach of hiding it in a cabinet. If you’re willing to spend a bit more—but not quite as grand a sum as a two-way mirror would require—Sitomer recommends concealing your television with custom millwork to give your home a cohesive look.
Verdict: Your TV is better tucked away.
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