It used to be easy to figure out where to place your TV because in the old days, back in my youth, they were built into furniture and were proudly displayed in the center of the living room. Then in the 80's, TVs became cabinet-free and were placed on top of stands that could accommodate their large depth or behind armoire doors that could open and close. Today's thinner TVs provide many placement options but also challenges as the screens have become quite large. So let's explore some design choices that will allow you to enjoy wide screen entertainment yet not take away from your beautifully designed room.
First of all, lets get the technical details out of the way. The optimal viewing angle is at eye level meaning that your head is even with the middle of the screen. This will never be possible for all viewers and for all viewing positions (both lying down and sitting up) and that's okay. Just use this as a guideline and make sure viewers don't have to have to actually tilt their head to see the screen. Second, the TV size should be relative to the size of the room so the screen can be viewed comfortably. Avoid getting one that is so big that it causes eye strain or one that is too small and becomes dwarfed by a large space. To help out with that here's a loose guideline on appropriate screen sizes and viewing distances.
- 26" screen = 3 to 5.5 feet
- 32" screen = 4 to 6.5 feet
- 37" screen = 4.5 to 7.5 feet
- 40" screen = 5 to 8.5 feet
- 46" screen = 6 to 9.5 feet
- 52" screen = 6.5 to 11 feet
- 58" screen = 7 to 12 feet
- 65" screen = 8 to 13.5 feet
- 70" screen = 9 to 15 feet
Third, you will need to decide whether or not your TV will sit on top of a piece of furniture or mounted on the wall. This may depend on how you want the room to look.
Often in Fairfield and Westchester County we see the TV mounted on the wall above the fireplace. This is primarily due to the fact that the fireplace takes center stage and is also the location where it can be seen by the most people. Aesthetically this is a good choice in that the fireplace is most often the best architectural feature of the room. Other advantages of mounting the TV over the fireplace is that it keeps it out of reach of children and most importantly it creates more floor space for additional seating, furniture and artwork. You must also consider the code for the TV over the fireplace, in Fairfield County it is 12" above the firebox. If you have a mantel that is very high, placing the TV above it could cause neck strain. One way you can work around this is to lower the mantle, usually not as costly or time consuming a project as you would expect. To avoid this you may opt to place the TV next to the fireplace, on another wall or mount the TV with hardware that allows you to point the screen downward so it is comfortable to view.
WhileTVs have become easier to install they have also become greater decorating challenges. Don't let your TV diminish the beauty of your tastefully furnished room. Hide all the wires and make sure the TV is optimally placed for looks as well as function. With today's technology you can choose to do it all wirelessly or use infrared equipment that can "see" through doors, so all cable boxes and wires can remain hidden. The best looking rooms have a proper balance between the TV and the decor.
If your room does not have a fireplace, the TV will naturally become the focal point, so here are some ways that you can avoid having it over power your room.
- Build bookcases and shelving around the TV so it becomes part of the wall. When doing this it is important to not have the TV deeper than the walls of the built-ins, as this will create a tunnel effect.
- Create an art wall around the TV.
- Have another wall as an accent wall with wall paper to create a focal point so that the TV is not the main focus.
- Place the TV directly on top of a media cabinet. Then artfully arrange objects on top and/or on floating shelves.
- Create a dark accent wall and place the TV on it so it blends into the background.
- Deliberately arrange some seating so it is not facing the TV so it is no longer the sole focal point.