Decorating Around A Flat Screen TV

I stumbled on to a really fun group on Pinterest and their work got me thinking about our fireplace.

Muskoka Living | Dining Room

Kevin and I talk about where we’re going to (eventually) put our TV a lot when we’re sitting in our (still far from finished) living room. He would like for the screen to be out in the open…

Muskoka Living | Room | Board and Batten Walls

…while I, on the other hand, would like for it to be mounted behind closed doors.

Muskoka Living | Living Room | Fireplace  Muskoka Living | Room | Fireplace

(Muskoka Living)

Not necessarily behind doors above our fireplace- I’m thinking ours would hang behind bookcase doors on one side of it. So as I lay here recuperating, I’m curious to hear which you prefer. I look forward to watching the results come in on the poll below and thanks in advance for any advice you might have for us in the comment section! XO

[poll id=”4″]

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  1. says

    Unless your house is super formal, I think its O.K. for the TV to be “seen.” I used to be on the hide-the-tv bandwagon, but now, I am fine with the TV being out in the open. I know it will look beautiful whatever you do! I love watching your home evolve. Praying for healing for you Layla!

  2. Carolyn says

    While I would prefer for our TV to be concealed behind doors, in reality (in our home) the doors would be open 99.9% of the time so concealing it would be an exercise in futility. :)

    • ReeseMaria says

      I agree. I would love to have our TV behind closed doors but those doors would be open a lot of the time anyway and I would be the only one closing them.

  3. Tiff says

    I’m definitely in the out-of-sight camp. But I don’t like big doors flapping in the breeze either! Retractable doors are a little harder to accommodate now with flat screens tho… Had my master craftsman husband make a cabinet with a TV lift in it for our living room…TV disappears at the touch of a button – LOVE,LOVE!

  4. Amy says

    I think it depends on how much you will watch it. I think it will work behind doors while “sweet pea” is little – out of sight he will find creative ways to entertain himself. You wont believe how much less tv time you and Kevin will have once he comes! One more thought, we just moved our tv from above the mantle to the bookcase. I was getting neck strain and I also longed to see a beautiful painting there – we love it!

    • Kris says

      I am a fan of concealed tv’s, but we don’t have a separate family room/game room. If we did, I would go for the visible tv look. I think Amy brings up a very good point–if the tv is out of sight, kids tend to find other ways to entertain themselves. I find it’s more helpful to think about how you want your family to spend their time when I make these kinds of decisions. We are more of a tv-as-an-adjunct-activity family so the hidden tv works for us. If we were big into, say, playing the Wii all the time, then I might think differently about it. If you DO conceal your tv, do yourself a favor and either find a way to do retractable doors or make sure the door swing arc and open position is managed in a way that won’t make you crazy.

      I think I want the lanterns in the first picture! :)

  5. Dawn says

    I love it when the TV is concealed in a bookcase. I don’t like the TV above the fire place look. We have one TV in a bookcase upstairs and one out in the open downstairs but neither one is above the fireplace.

  6. Hillary L. says

    It depends on what you plan on using the space for. If it is a designated game room/rec area, I would say let the tv stay out. Otherwise, for me, in the main living space I prefer the tv concealed. We love to entertain and have dinner parties with close friends, and tv would just be a distraction. We are there to chat and eat and laugh, and no need for a tv in the background. If it’s gameday, however, totally different story :) One alternate to doors – I saw a designer paint the area behind the tv really dark and the tv blended in really well (it was a fireplace). In certain spaces it could really work. Maybe paint the back of the book shelf a moody blue?

  7. Tammy says

    I think it should just come down to being true to yourself. If you are big t.v. watchers then it is pointless to put it behind anything. If you rarely watch t.v.and only occasionally turn it on, then hiding it behind art or bookcases would work very nicely. The older I get the more I am about just living comfortably with very low maintenance.

  8. Jcornisellbooks says

    My pet peeve? A tv over a fireplace, in plain view, not behind doors. When the tv is off, it looks like a black hole and conflicts with the fireplace as a focal point.

    It is a bit better ( but still not appealing, in my opinion) when the fireplace is contemporary – but stick that modern flat screen tv over an old fashioned fireplace mantel and they don’t complement each other. They are like a pair of mismatched shoes.

    I can’t concentrate on a lovely fire with a black hole over it. And if the tv is on, the fireplace becomes the black hole, unless there is both a fire and tv going at the same time. Which becomes two things competing for attention,

    I say give each their own space. Or at least let the television hide behind doors when not in use.

  9. dawn says

    I voted concealed, however, our TVs are all out in the open. Before we got our Hemnes from Ikea, the old TV was in a cabinet. Now it’s a black blob in the middle of the room (and the cabinet is full of quilts! Love!).

  10. Shelley Rose says

    Hi Layla,
    I’ve followed your blog for years. I too just found Muskoka Living on Pinterest last week and couldn’t get enough and thought the style was much like yours. Can’t wait to see what you come up with for the TV. I know you are loved and copied and people can’t wait to see what you are doing next!

    xxo Shelley Rose

  11. says

    While I do prefer the TV concealed, which is what I currently have, I am hoping to change to a DIY media console (from a dresser that’s already been purchased off of Craigs List). My entertainment center is huge and I’m hoping something smaller will open up the room. I’m planning to make a gallery wall around the TV. That will help to bring some color and interest to that wall. The TV will sit on the dresser because that’s a better height for me. Fortunately, I don’t have a fireplace to work around. If I did, I would not put the TV above it because that’s just too high to view comfortably. And then you can never decorate the mantel. Depending on the layout of your room and if you have another wall to put the TV, do a google search for “wall cabinets to hide TV.” Basically a cabinet with bi-fold hinged doors. Pretty sweet!

  12. Sharon Abel says

    Exposed or covered – either is fine with me but PLEASE DO NOT HAVE IT AS HIGH AS ABOVE A FIREPLACE – you will be in traction from neck pain. I know flatscreens look great up there but it is unbearable to sit on the couch and have to look at a screen that high. The top of the screen should be level with the top of the middle open shelf (second pic). Put the screen beside the fireplace and either attached to the wall on an articulating hinge or on a swivel base so that you can angle it for the entire room to view it.

  13. Ter'e says

    If you don’t get better soon, I am going to make some chicken soup and bring it to you!!!!!

    P.S. I would also like to see a poll re: formal dining room or not. Aren’t we really heading to a less formal lifestyle?????

    • Marianne in Mo. says

      Why have a dining room? I’ve never wanted one, even passed on houses that have them. When we entertain, we always have more people than the average dining room could hold, plus, why have a room that rarely gets used? Had we ended up with one when house shopping, it would have become a den or office, more useful to us.

      • says

        I’m not sure how much wisdom I have to add on the TV-enclosing thing – I’d love to have a beautiful way to deal with a TV, but we have a 42″ flatscreen (that I got on an awesome sale) and I figured I just have to accept it – it’s too big to try to make it cute. (Though I am loving the quilt idea and I may try that when my attention swings back to the living room.) I also note that all the concerns about too-high TVs don’t make sense to me. Our TV is HIGHER than it would be if it were above the fireplace (it’s on a vintage entertainment cabinet next to the fireplace – but the cabinet was made to have a [wee] TV in it and ours, not being wee, sits on top) and that works great for us. Of course my favorite TV-watching posture is lying down on the sectional with a lineup of DIY shows to watch, but I also watch it sitting up and I never find it problematic. I sit pretty far away from it, of course, but I assume other people do that, too.

        On the dining room question, however, I have far more energy. I have a formal dining room, which I have outfitted with an antique china cabinet (that is actually full of crystal and china) and an antique dining room table that seats 12 (if I put two seats at each end, which of course I do). I use my crystal all the time, I have lost count how many meals for 12 we have hosted, and while we regularly have parties for 50 or more who obviously cannot fit at the table, I am not foolhardy enough to make dinner for that many people, so it serves as a perfect (very large) buffet table for snacks. (I am blessed with wonderful friends who bring tasty treats – or beverages – wherever they are invited.) When we are not hosting, we often eat meals at the table EVEN THOUGH WE DON’T HAVE AN OPEN FLOOR PLAN AND HAVE TO WALK INTO A SEPARATE ROOM TO DO SO (and yes, there is also a table in the kitchen), and my DH works from home a lot and spreads his stuff all over the enormous table (he loves that aspect of it; I don’t). FORMAL DINING ROOMS ARE AWESOME!

        P.S. My house is under 1600SF, and I am only 32 :).

  14. Rebecca says

    Option 1. If you have a wall that is positioned across from the TV seating area, you can make use of the studs. TV is flat. Cut out and frame a box in between studs big enough for TV. Place double doors over it. or..2. Place open book shelf on one side and place shelf on the other and cover with a full length cabinet style door. That way, it can house all TV components that are deeper than the TV. Finish the door with a lovely floral design, hand painted or stenciled. or 3. Get Kevin to make a TV box in the attic. Check Ebay for mechanisms to go in box that support TV as well as gears for moving it up and down through hidden slot in ceiling. When watching, it comes down thru the ceiling and disappears when not watching. I’m sure there is a youtube video that does a “show how to”. or 4. I do know there are youtube videos that show how to make a TV cabinet out of an old chest with a slot in the back so that the TV can go up and down inside cabinet. This would be perfect if you needed and could use a sofa table. When ready to watch, face the sofa and with remote, up comes the TV. or….5. Get the ugly TV out of the room.

    • says

      I love where this is going, but unless the TV is less than 14.5″ wide or you want to rearrange the studs, this won’t work. (Though rearranging the studs is starting to sound tempting.)

      Sorry, I’m overdoing it on the comments – too much caffeine today :).

      • Rebecca says

        Hi, misfit. You don’t rearrange the studs. You cut through the studs in order to get the opening you need. Then, so you don’t compromise the support you lost by cutting through the studs, you frame in or box in that area you had cut out. It’s like what a contractor does to put in a window that wasn’t there before. He makes a whole by cutting through the stubs and then frames it in the dimensions of the window….in this case, a flat screen TV. Hope that clears it up.

  15. LibraDesignEye says

    This is about context for me – if you have an “away” space, where you typically use the television and the room can be closed to noise (the Susan Susanka theory) then out in the open is fine. If this is your primary / only main living space, I like closed because it makes you think about the television as a choice. You can choose tv, or even put on one of the music channels and close the doors during a party. The television being out of sight helps it be out of mind. That said, in my space adjacent to the kitchen I’ve got a flat screen on a swing arm that settlesback into the plane of the bookcase. That was enough for me there . . .but this is not the only main living space in my home. ..

  16. Lee Ann says

    While I love concealed TVs, my own has her place of honor in a beautiful wall of shelves that two friends made from scratch for me. The TV blends with all the books, art, and photos, so I think it’s just fine!

  17. Jan says

    I think either are o.k. When we remodeled our tiny house, we went from 5 rooms, (entry, living room, dining room, kitchen and den), to one big open space. I love it! Our décor/colors are different than yours. We have espresso kitchen cabinets and dry bar cabinets. We have two espresso leather sofas and two red leather recliners. (Imagine Pottery Barn. I love them). our walls are aged parchment from Behr. I have an old card catalog from a local elementary school and two theater seats out of an old Mobile theater for two unique pieces. We have a large wool floor rug that came from Pottery Barn that has all the colors we liked for this room. (cranberry, orangy rust, teal blue, olive and tan) Our living furniture faces a wall that has a large flat screen on the left with a sofa table under it accessorized with cool stuff and to the right is a gas fireplace with a rectangle stone surround and a shelf ledge above it. Our room definitely can handle the exposed tv because of our décor colors. I can see how you would want it hidden with your beautiful white/light airy room. It’s gorgeous.

  18. Marianne in Mo. says

    While I voted for concealed, ours is always on, so that would be pointless here. I also DESPISE having it over the fireplace, mostly because I get a sore neck when watching. But, it also takes away the decorating possibilities for the fireplace.
    Hope you feel better soon!

  19. Elizabeth says

    We have a built in with tv in wall next to fireplace (with huge strong drawers underneath tv for storing toys – highly recommend!). The doors retract and hide any sign of TV and components. One comment in terms of usage, we rarely close the doors to the tv! Mostly if I am straightening up or entertaining. Somehow the 5 seconds that it takes, we just don’t do it! I do like the doors though. I don’t like seeing screens around the house. The laptop is also within a secretary desk.

  20. says

    I used to think that the tv needed to be hidden but now i’m ok with ours out in the open. When it was in an armoire we kept the doors open all the time. Plus one of the main functions of our living room is for watching tv. It’s no secret to anyone we have over.
    I do like the inspiration pictures you have of t.v.s covered with doors. It’s really whatever floats your boat.

  21. Teresa says

    With today’s flat screens and wireless accessories, there isn’t really a reason to conceal it. Especially since the reality is that the doors will probably end up open more than closed. The open doors would bother me a lot more than the black space on the wall or a top a console. But, with all of that being said, our tv is in a den space, not our main family room area.

  22. Sandy says

    While I have had both, I like the open concept. And NEVER above the fireplace for a couple of reasons … #1. As someone else mentioned, it really creates neck strain (and no one wants that) and #2. When it’s off, it’s like a black hole or mirror that reflects nothing. Best of luck. Can’t wait to see what you choose.

  23. Sylvia says

    I, also, voted for concealed but realize that concealing the TV can be awkward. Please, as others have said, do not mount the TV sky high above the fireplace. I really don’t like that.

  24. Deb-IL says

    I love the *idea* of a concealed TV and have had that option with several over the years. However they are rarely hidden and that’s just the reality of my life so I am embracing it and holding my head high! I’m not ashamed of my tv viewing and feel perfectly capable of turning it off (or not turning it on!) and focusing on conversation with company or my husband or reading a book instead.

  25. Sarah W says

    I know those of us “cottage style” folks tend to go for the old-fashioned look, but I also think we have to be practical. Back in the day when we had a big/heavy/deep CRT TV, I saved up my money and purchased a $1700 beautiful pine armoire to house the TV plus related components (VCR anyone?). Fortunately, the doors when open were able to slide back into the unit and were out of the way. And the doors were always open – we never closed them. So why have doors at all. Let’s face it – people watch TV a lot.

    If you do choose the concealed look, I would want to be sure the doors did not look bad when open. The pictures above of the concealed TVs look great with the doors closed – but what about when open? – like they may be most of the time (when not being snapped for Houzz, a blog, or Pinterest)?

    Finally, on the concealed TV look, those doors aren’t fooling anyone. We all know there is a TV behind them. A real old fashioned cottage would not have doors above a fireplace – there would be a painting, or mirror . . .

    Whatever you do Layla – it will be awesome :-)


    P.S. I gave the pine TV armoire away for nothing – it was too deep to use for any other purpose.

    P.P.S. Although I resisted for years, our flat screen TV is mounted in full view above our fireplace. I have embraced the look and I love it.

    • Deedra White says

      Years ago I felt just like you do with regards to having the t.v. out in the open. We kept our t.v. in an antique pine armoire to the right of our fireplace. It seemed the doors to the cabinet were open 80% of the time and didn’t like that look. So we put our t.v. over the mantle and it doesn’t bother me in the least. It just makes sense for our family. I think there are so many neat ways to decorate around a t.v. to make it work. And you would come up with something unique and beautiful at the same time. So my vote is to consider keeping it out in the open and decorate around it.

  26. Wendy says

    I pretty much hate that our TV is on 24/7. It is a MAN thing in my house. I also cringe at the fact that the TV is the focal point above our fireplace and mantel. I agree with the others though, if I had a beautiful way to hide it, it would probably not get used very often and be left open. HOWEVER, I still would love to have that option especially at Christmas time when I want to decorate.

  27. Erin says

    I voted for “out” but I’m a little picky about it- I like the convenience of having the t.v. out. I watch a lot of t.v. and I don’t like to be bothered with opening and closing doors all the time, so when it’s concealed I end up leaving the doors open all the time, which I think actually makes it look messier than just having it out in the open in the first place.

    I do really like the look of blending the tv into an art wall, though, so it’s technically out in the open but not the main focal point.

  28. Kim A says

    I don’t mind the tv in the open. When we built our house 20 years ago, flat screens were just coming out and VERY expensive. The “box” tv’s were still the norm. We put in a built in corner cabinet with flanking shelves and two drawers at the bottom of the middle (angled across corner) section with the tv sitting right above drawers. Now with all the flat screens, only the smaller tv’s will fit where the tv goes and those are really too small for the size room. While I would like to replace my old box tv, I don’t quite know where to put it. But definetly not over the fireplace (next to the left side of shelf) because of the neck strain) if you can think of something I can do, it would be greatly appreciated.

  29. says

    Oh my gosh I just posted about Muskoka Living Interiors the other day! Their style is amazing. I look forward to seeing what you decide and then create!

  30. says

    I’m with you Layla, not in the open, not above fireplace. I’ve heard lots of folks complain that a tv above the fireplace tires the neck. Bookcase with doors !!

  31. LoisAnn says

    We all have televisions so why the need to hide? A dedicated media/family room has a tv so why not flaunt that big old flat screen! I love a big television – the bigger the better.

  32. LoisAnn says

    Also, a television above the fireplace ruins the ambience and makes me feel like I’m in a sports bar

  33. Kathy says

    I just voted “out in the open” because I want to see how you’ll do it! :) Haha. I’m stuck with that option and want some tips.

  34. says

    Out in the open…BUT I like it to be intentionally decorated “around” . Art above..I have a long rectangle chalkboard with awesome chalk art my daughter created (Says “It is Well With my Soul” ) that black box balances the TV black box, then pottery barn wall vases symmetrically on both sides (which also conceals the wall mount hardware when entering the room. )
    I feel we paid big $$ for a thin TV…I don’t want it in a wall unit again.
    Those barn doors are cute though, LOL

  35. denise says

    I would love to put my tv behind doors, but with my husband and his sports or the kids the TV is always on, so what would be the point.

    • Steve says

      Definitely hidden if it’s in the living room, and definitely NOT over the fireplace. I think over the fireplace is for a nice piece of art that can be enjoyed at all times, not a black screen. I grew up in a small house and there was no choice about having the piano and the TV in the same room, a situation I hated, because my brother and I were invariably competing with each other in the noise department and frequently both were going at the same time. So all my adult life I’ve kept the TV out of the living room so the piano could have that room to itself. For me it’s psychological – if the TV has to be in the living room, then it needs to be concealed.

  36. Andrea in Iowa says

    I just realized, I have very strong opinions about televisions….because I don’t think I’ve ever commented on your site before…LOL

    I personally do not like television above the fireplace. It’s not a comfortable viewing height for me. I like the idea of being able to shut a door and the television out of sight, so I purchased an cabinet, but soon discovered the door were open more time than there were closed, so it really jacked my furniture arrangement. If I had it to do over, I would look for a cabinet where the door open and then pivot and push back inside the cabinet, instead of just standing open like an open cabinet door.

    Does that make sense?

  37. says

    Our TV is hidden inside a pretty armoire in the corner of our living room. It took me forever to find the “right one” that would fit our TV, but I finally found one I loved at a consignment shop. I personally don’t like the TV to be a focal point in our family space. A friend once told me about a conversation they had with a Christian from another country where idol worship is the norm. The foreigner commented that they see just as much idol worship in America, but it’s more disturbing to them because we don’t recognize it. The example they gave was how we group all of our furniture around our TVs, everything points toward them. We gather around them as a family and give them all of our attention. When painted that way it was kind of disturbing, and I guess it stuck with me. My kids have a small TV for cartoons in their playroom, but the big TV is off with the doors closed unless we are watching a movie. No big blank screen staring at everyone, and then the focus is more on the decor of the room. ;)

    • says

      This is really interesting, Heather. I’ve never thought of the furniture arrangement from that perspective. Makes me think it might not be a bad idea to confine the TV to someplace other than the main living area. Hmm…

  38. Cheri says

    Concealed, one of the strongest reasons I have is the impression it gives – the unsaid statement. When guests, family & friends come into a home where the TV isn’t “out there” ready to be turned on, I believe it initiates a powerful message that people come first, one of peace and the value of knowing how to enjoy relationships without the “escapism” that TV too often provides.
    We have had guests come and stay in our home right after we moved to the country. We hadn’t decorated and the TV was visible. You would not believe the people who came in the door and went and turned the TV on, without asking and I mean adults here. What a surprise they had when they found out it wasn’t hooked up, one couple that was staying with us for a weekend begged us to call and have satellite installed……. In the end all the TV junkies that said they needed the TV on admitted that our home was the most peaceful they’d ever been in and thanked us for kind of forcing them to “zone out” and enjoy relationships and each other..

  39. says

    While the idea of concealed doors always gets me and did for a while in our living room for hiding our computer. The actuality of it is, that depending on your household, those doors maybe open a lot. Which drove me more nuts than no doors at all!

  40. Rebecca says

    I prefer the TV behind closed doors. However, if you cant make that happen I would like to see a custom frame built around it so it’s not just a big black box sitting on the wall. Love your blog!

  41. says

    I’m a little late to the party, but I have been thinking about this a lot lately too, so thought I would weigh in. :) I am OK with the TV being out in the open. We spend a lot of time watching TV together, so whatever was concealing it would always be in the open position. I do NOT like TV’s above fireplaces, though. I usually don’t like the aesthetic, but mostly, I hate having to look UP at the TV. My ideal living room would have a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace on one wall, and a flat screen on the adjacent wall. I love a good built-in for the TV, but I also like the dresser-turned-TV-console. I also like a chunky decorative wood frame around the TV. I think it can blend in without being concealed. Can’t wait to see what you come up with! :)

  42. Annie says

    In my opinion, if you don’t watch TV very often then behind doors is fine. If you love to watch TV then I think out in the open is perfectly acceptable, Like several others that commented, I am not a fan of the TV above the fireplace because of the viewing angle.

  43. Faith says

    Wow! You found muskoka! Muskoka Living is a high end cottage furniture store in Muskoka, ontario canada. It’s a Feast for the eyes! I love going there every summer. They are extremely expensive though. They carry many lines that are sold in the states but the markup at Muskoka living is way higher than what you pay in the states. If you don’t know, Muskoka is gorgeous cottage country and it has become a place for the rich and often famous.

  44. mary beth says

    Never over fireplace, would just be too uncomfortable you or guests stretching your necks. Hutch with doors would be fantastic! (don’t like the couches on the sides of fireplace with TV overhead either, Even worse for twist ‘n turn neck strain – but it does look nice) :)

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