Disguising the television: should you hide or display with pride?

10/07/2016 07:30:00 am HELEN STILES 5 Comments

What's your view on televisions? They seem to be universally sneered at in the world of interiors. I mean clearly they're not the most attractive of items (particularly when showing Sponge Bob Square Pants at maximum volume) but they are a fact of modern life. I don't really get the obsession with trying to elaborately 'design them out'. I mean, who doesn't like to flop down in front of a box set on a Saturday night? Or let the kids veg out in front of a DVD on a Sunday morning (particularly if aforementioned Saturday night was of the more exciting and alcoholic variety)?

At the same time I don't want the TV to be the centre-point of my living room either. I feel a bit torn writing a post on hiding the TV, when what I'm really into is interiors that are laid-back, liveable and real. Trying to hide the telly seems just a teensy bit dishonest. What I'm after is some healthy middle-ground here – a way to make the TV blend in, without trying to pretend that I don't own one.

So, in my humble opinion, here are some of the best options:

1. The vignette. 
Here the outline of the television has been cleverly blurred with lots of books, candles, vases and accessories (arranged beautifully asymmetrically). The fantastic cabinet steals the show, so that the TV is almost the last thing you look at, rather than the first.

2. The gallery wall. 
When well-executed (as above), hanging lots of art around the TV is an effective ploy (but it's tricky to pull off). There are 3 key tricks to making this technique work: 
a) Consider scale. Ensure that at least one piece of art is significantly larger than the TV. If you have a wall full of teeny tiny pieces, it will just look messy.
b) Layer it. Make sure that some of the artwork is layered behind your TV. You could consider propping something smaller in front too.
c) Add some dark tones – either in the artwork itself, or in the frames and mounts. If you put a big black rectangle (your TV) in the middle of lots of smaller, white rectangles  (your art) then it'll stick out like a sore thumb.

3. The dark background. 
Painting (or wallpapering) the wall behind your TV in a dark colour automatically makes your TV stand out less. It is the option I've gone with in my own den/open-plan kitchen area. The idea of physically hiding this TV was just a no-go, as we use the room all the time. The log store was already there, so I opted for this great Andrew Martin lumberjack wallpaper to blend the TV and logs into the alcove next to our woodburner. (The rest of the room is painted off-white as hubby absolutely wouldn't let me paint it navy blue, which was my original plan!) 

4. Create a built in media/shelving unit.
This is another strategy that needs to be really well-executed to look at all stylish. Avoid the common mistakes:
a) do NOT build a huge, doored cabinet to house your TV. It will just look like you have a wardrobe in your living room.
b) do not position the TV too high (e.g. more than half way up the wall, or even above the fireplace! Televisions, a bit like art, are frequently positioned too high. They should be level with your line of sight from the sofa, otherwise you're guaranteed neck ache.

 In this example above from a recent client project, the TV has been fixed to a wall bracket within made-to-measure industrial style alcove shelves. It blends in thanks to the surrounding accessories, but can be easily pulled-out for optimal viewing.

Style up your telly by all means, but there's no need to pretend it's not there! Do you disguise your television or display it with pride? I'd love to hear.

Happy Friday everyone!


  1. I'm totally the same as you when it comes to the hide it/deal with it approach to TVs! Agreed, I don't like them to be the focal point of the room either, but I do really like option 1 and the final option, building it in to the shelving. Happy Friday to you too!


  2. Glad I'm not alone! Happy weekend (well, nearly!)

  3. I like the idea of a vignette, gallery, or bespoke shelving but the simple fact is, we are a household whose tellybox is a big part of our lives. Moving vegetation out of the way or craning necks to watch it would drive Beloved nuts! I'm afraid this is a battle not worth fighting! lol

  4. Totally agree, I have to confess that that palm usually lives next to the TV, not in front of it – artistic license for the photoshoot was at play!

  5. I like what you've done the best! 👍🏻😍