Hide the Boob Tube!

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Must NOT See TV!
Ways to Hide The Television When Not In Use

We love our TVs: more than 98% of U.S. households have at least one. With thousands of programming choices, larger and larger screens (a 103" screen debuted at last month's Consumer Electronic Show), enhanced picture quality, the ability to pause and rewind effortlessly, and falling set prices, we can declare that the television experience is just about the best it's ever been.

The problem is, in the world of decor, televisions are a bit unsightly. The television doesn't exactly "go" with any particular style or era, and it's impossible to make it look like something it's not. Even paint, our foolproof answer for everything, can't solve the problem! We may love our entertainment boxes, but let's face it— from an aesthetic perspective, they are a huge burden.

However, there are ways to make that television set less visually cumbersome, whether you have a flat screen, plasma, LCD or the standard cathode ray tube model. For many people, the ideal solution is a TV that's not seen at all, except when it's being actively viewed.

The Focus Of The Room
Take a look at many family/living rooms and you'll find all of the furniture aimed directly at the television. While we do watch a lot of television, it shouldn't be the focus of the whole room, unless it's designated as the TV room, of course! But even a viewing room needn't be overtaken by one object.

Yes, television screens are reaching behemoth proportions and it can be difficult to direct attention anywhere else. But where possible, try to highlight another, bigger feature of the room. For instance, if your living room has a fantastic fireplace, play it up! Add a mantel to extend its size, and while you're at it, why not accent the entire piece with a bright, bold color? Another great option? Artwork. A large canvas painting can distract from the television and makes for a great conversation piece.

Other tips for camouflaging the television:

  • Put it in its Place
    Since most of us are not watching TV at all hours of the day, it makes sense to store it when it's not in use. Television cabinets are available in just about every style and color at furniture stores. (Just make sure to get the right size! Measure your television's height, width and depth before you go shopping.) Not only are cabinets great for hiding the television, many of them provide storage for other electronic equipment, books, etc. What you go for all depends on how much room you have and how much you are willing to spend. A well-built decked-out entertainment center can run into the thousands, while a simple cabinet can be picked up at furniture stores for considerably less. Scour flea markets and rummage sales for a piece you can refinish, or better yet, build your own from scratch.
  • Picture This
    Many homeowners are opting to mount their plasma screens on the wall, freeing up surface area and bringing the movie experience home. However, a white wall dominated by a single screen can look pretty stark. Instead, try hanging framed photographs, or simple silhouette prints of varying sizes around and adjacent to the screen. Dark frames look especially complementary, as they match your television when it's turned off. This picture/television arrangement will make the television look like a giant frame that is right at home with other pictures of your family. (Be careful not to block the venting of the unit as they run hotter than standard CRT models and can overheat if covered over.)
  • Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
    Think two-way mirrors are solely for interrogation rooms? Think again! Nowadays, many companies make glass screen covers to fit over the face of your television, so that when it's not in use, the screen acts as a mirror. Different kinds work for different models, but you'll achieve the most authentic look from a plasma or LCD television. And yes, the remote works through the mirror!

    If you are willing to shell out for it, you can even buy a television that comes with a reflective screen and is framed like a mirror. These models start in the thousands of dollars, but are a great space saver and have enormous aesthetic appeal.

  • Drop On In
    Drop down, fold-down, or retractable TVs are a great option for people looking to hide their televisions and save space. Small models are great for the kitchen and are reasonably priced and usually come with a DVD player; most can be installed by you! When not in use, the screen recoils and sits flat against the ceiling or whatever surface you decide to mount it upon.

    For those looking for the ultimate hiding place for a bigger set, you'll need to invest in a system that can completely hide your screen within the ceiling or below the floor. Such a project is not for the faint of heart and should probably be tackled by a professional, unless of course you are looking for a major challenge. You can also look for furnishings that raise the TV screen automatically. These pieces are a lot more affordable and plentiful now that LCDs and Plasma screens have started to dominate the marketplace, but you'll still likely be spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

  • With all of these options, there is no reason to let your television dominate an entire room. So, if you are looking for more family interaction and less television time, disguising the TV is a great place to start. Because when the television isn't as visible, you are less likely to just "see what's on."

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