9 Ways to Design Around a TV

By Kate Riley September 13, 2012

It’s that question we all face at some point when decorating our homes, how do we incorporate the big black box into our everyday decor?  In my home, we’ve done it two different ways (see #4 and #6 below), but everyone’s situation is different.

Some people have both a living room and a family room, which allows one to be more formal and the other for casual TV watching, however many need to squeeze that television into just one main living space. Everyone has to deal with their television, where to put it, and how to design around it, so I rounded up nine different options for television placement in a main living room.

1.  Curate Around It.  Position the flat screen above a console and gather a group of artwork to surround the television with prints, photographs, or other favorite framed works of art.  Adding multiple rectangles (in either symmetrical or asymmetrical format) takes the spotlight away from the big black screen and also allows you to showcase meaningful images.

tv console sarah richardson

Sarah Richardson

tv surrounded by art bhg

Better Homes & Gardens


2.  Flank It.  Bookcases both skinny and wide enclose a television and visually frame it with their vertical placement.  Flanking a television with free standing or built in bookcases and surrounding it with decorative objects balances the weight of the big screen and reduces the television’s dominance in a living space.

bookshelves around tv pottery barn

Pottery Barn

builtins and tv lonny


tv in bookcases camber construction

Camber Construction via Houzz



3.  Frame It.  This is a very creative solution because it’s your television saying “Yes, I’m here, and I’m fancy!”  Go rustic chic like Cassity with her DIY version or bold with color!  Either way, you’ve announced your television is a focal point, but given it some pizazz in the process.

framed tv remodelaholic


colorful frame around tv

Nine MSN


4.  Mount It and Surround It.  Some people prefer not to make the TV the center of attention over the mantel, however a look that is becoming increasingly popular as we all switch to flat screens is the deliberate placement of the television over the mantel coupled with the orientation of the furniture around both the fireplace and the TV.   It makes sense since mounting the television over the fireplace establishes one focal point instead of two.

The addition of built in bookcases provides the added benefit of display for decorative objects.  We’ve used a variation of this in our own family room, using one bookcase to the side for the television.

tv above mantel yellowcapecod

Yellow Cape Cod

tv above mantel with bookcases

Julie Williams Design via Houzz


5.  Niche It.   This option requires either a) reframing your room to create a niche in the existing wall, or b) planning ahead with a new build or remodel to create a place for the television.  Just those few inches really do make a difference and it’s a subtle way to use architecture to create a frame for the television.

tv above mantel

  niche for tv lynnmorgandesign

Lynn Morgan Design

6.  Shelve it.   Open display is another opportunity for incorporating a screen into your life.  You can suspend it between the shelves or have it sit on a stand, surrounding it with everyday objects so that the television is a planned part of the decor.

flat screen on shelving bhg

Better Homes & Gardens

tv on shelf cg


7.   Hide It.  There is no reason for a television to be out in the open if infrequently watched or if it bothers you.  Clever disguises are a unique way to hide your television, so consider sliding doors or even large scale art to place in front when the television is not in use.

hidden tv barn doors crisp architects

Crisp Architects

sliding panel for hiding tv housetohome

House to Home



8.  Balance with Layers.   When you incorporate a lot of textures, patterns, and colors into your living space, the eye doesn’t always turn to the big screen, instead it travels around the room.  Balance your television with interesting vignettes to prevent the focus from remaining solely on the television.

flat screen blue and white room bhg

Better Homes & Gardens

flat screen above mantel

Better Homes & Gardens


9.  Own It.   Televisions are a part of our daily lives – they’re everywhere from our dentist’s office to the waiting area at the airport.   Since they’re so integrated into our society, there’s no need to be shy about mounting one in your home in prominent view.   We’ve all got them, so embrace them, hang them high without apology, and perhaps with a few stylish window panels too.  :)

flat screen above cabinet bhg

Better Homes & Gardens

tv on display palmer weiss

Palmer Weiss

How big should your TV be?  I think the answer varies when you ask women and men (and especially those sports fans!).  Most dudes like them bigger, right?  The general rule of thumb is that the distance from the television screen and your viewing spot should be between two to three times its width.  Ex: with a 32” screen, sit between 5 ½ and 8 feet (96”) away for the best entertainment experience.

Have you struggled with this same dilemma in your home? How have you designed your living space around your main TV?

* Speaking of smart design ideas, here’s an announcement!  I’m writing a five part series for HGTV on sprucing up secondhand finds, you can catch the first article on bedroom upgrades over at Design Happens.


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  1. I did number 7 – hide the tv, mainly because my condo is so small that even a small tv screen is overwhelming. I took a foamboard, covered it with paintable wallpaper, painted couple of birds, framed the painting with styrofoam crown molding so the whole painting is very light, and glued locked hinges on the place which hooks over the tv. Easy to take off the tv when I want to watch Supernatural and put back on when tv is off.

  2. These are all great ideas! I’ve always struggle with this problem, and you’ve proposed really good ideas!

  3. I have a giant TV and it has to be on an angle for everyone to see it. I love all these beautiful ideas. One day I will find one that is perfect for my home.

  4. Ha! My husband and I have this discussion all the time because I think the TV distracts from our decor, and my husband believes that the television IS the decor!

  5. YES! We’re going through this right now! Our fireplace is too high to mount above it, so the ONLY place in the room we can put it is to the side of the fireplace. My husband wants as big as possible…I cringe. (But it’s a battle I’ll lose!).

  6. Beautiful ideas but not every one has perfect spot for tv. Would love to know how to design around TV which sits in a corner.

    • Ooh corners are so tricky Sara, absent a corner cabinet of some kind, my thought is a swivel mounted solution on the wall. But I’ve also seen TV’s propped up on easels. Not sure how the cords/cables work in that situation, but it is clever!

  7. Great options! We recently moved our TV from hanging on a wall to sitting on a console on the opposite wall. The layout of the room makes it difficult to arrange but we’re pleased with it finally!

  8. Wow! This really got me thinking about all the ways that I have designed around a TV. I have struggled with it and even still do. I think I would just like to hide it in a VERY pretty way {like some of the ways you have demonstrated here}…. but that would take some major design at this point and not so practical for us. But, you made me think and inspired a post about the ways that I have designed around a TV: http://doublewideinthesky.blogspot.com/2012/09/designing-around-tv.html

    THANKS for the GREAT inspirations… as ALWAYS! :)

    • Wonderful solutions Joanne, thank you for sharing, I love those film reels on your wall!

  9. I love these ideas! We are in the process of figuring out the layout for the living room in our new house, and these are some great ideas to consider.

    My only other concern is what do you do with all of the other “stuff” that goes with the TV (satellite receiver, surround sound receiver, DVD player, etc.)? None of these ideas had any of those things, and my husband is going to insist on having all of those with his TV! Because of the design of our living room (doors, arches, etc.), we’re pretty much forced to put our TV above the fireplace. Anyone have any ideas on dealing with all of the extra items that must go along with the TV?

  10. Ooooh…this couldn’t come at a better time. I have been looking for a tv console or an old piece of furniture to use as a console. If you have any great sources for consoles….please share. I have scoured craigslist and thrift stores to no avail. I would do new…if I could find something that didn’t look like plastic wood. Thanks for the great post.

    • Hi Lori, yes Craigslist and even thrift stores always have those old consoles – I love the idea of paintin them in classic black paint to give visual weight to the console like in the first two images…

  11. Perfect timing! We’re living with this problem right now! Above the fireplace is the only place in the room, I do like the buildt in surrounds This is probably what we’ll do, but My favorite is the camber construction bookcase. My husband thinks bigger is better, I don’t want the TV to be the focal…yuk!

  12. Kate these are all great ideas. In our Living Room we have an entertainment center that houses our large TV. It works for me for now. I would love to buy an Ikea entertainment center of sorts and have a little bit of a smaller piece of furniture in that room, but that won’t happen for awhile because the one we have is still in good condition. We will see though. ;) http://www.thedecorscene.blogspot.com/2012/03/styling-entertainment-center-shelves.html

    Then our Family Room has an even bigger TV, but we only have a console under it with some large art next to it, but we love it that way for that room. http://thedecorscene.blogspot.com/2011/04/our-family-room-tour-big-reveal.html

  13. I guess mine is a combination of 8 and 9. I have it hanging over an old refinished buffet, but have balanced it with a large piece of art beside it and a gallery wall on the opposite wall.

    Jacqueline – There are lots of things you can do now to hide all the cords, boxes, etc. We have all that stuff in the buffet under the tv, and i just leave the cupboard door open when we’re actually using the dvd player. Or you can get wireless dongles that are really small that allow you to control all of your devices while keeping them hidden away. We don’t have cable, so we even have a paper thin antenae that can hide behind the tv. My husband has really taken it to heart to find clever ways of getting all the stuff he wants but keeping me happy by keeping it hidden:). I’m still winning the no stereo system battle though, we’ll see if I cave eventually…

  14. We have upgraded to a flat screen TV but it still sits in our huge armoire. Given the chance someday I would like to replace the armoire with a lower table that the TV could sit on. I believe it would really open up our den. The good part about still having an armoire is that it confined us when purchasing a new TV. We couldn’t go larger than 40 inches. Great for the budget and the decor!

  15. Great timing, I am sitting in the living room right now staring at it and thinking I hate how it’s the focal point of the room. I painted the wall behind it a lovely teal colour, but have not figured out pictures or wall decor around it. Sadly, my husband too thinks it should be the center of the room, sigh!

  16. Great pics!!! I love seeing how other people solve problems and the visuals really help!

    I actually do not have a TV in my general living area – we have one in the basement and one in my room.It is amazing how much LESS of a distration TV is when it is removed from the immediate area. We now tend to use it for watching family movies or whenever someone is not feeling well.


  17. My husband and I are slowly starting to look for our next house and the only thing is he concerned about is where the TV will go. The pictures you provided are gorgeous but only a few seem actually practical. If there is a TV its probably up becuase people intend to watch it. If a couch or something comfortable is not positioned in front of it then why have the TV at all?

  18. Hi there,

    I’m not often posting, even if I’m often reading you… But this time I had to!!! You gave us centsational ideas as always. What a useful article, thank you so much! You rock…

    Have a great day.

  19. Great post! This is my current decorating dilemma and so I’m very happy to see some creative ideas – thanks!

  20. I would have to say that number 9 describes me best! I was just doing some fall decorating on my fireplace mantel, which is where my TV sits. I think I need a larger TV because the decorations I used dwarf it a bit. Is that a valid excuse for a TV purchase? ha! Probably not. And if it was bigger, I woudl have to go with a combination of number 8 and 9. Anyway, thanks for the thoughts! It helps!

  21. Great timing on this post for us. With our recent renovation, the new tv found its home above the fireplace and I’ve been tossing around a lot of ideas for how to help it blend. We considered having custom doors mounted so it could be covered but now I’m leaning towards doing some framework around it. We have it on a swivel arm so it can be pulled out, turned, etc, so if everyone is hanging in the kitchen area they can still see the game. Thanks for some much-needed inspiration!

  22. I like watching TV, but I don’t like most of the decor options that exist for TVs (don’t like the above the fireplace location, don’t like mixing my TV in with my bookshelves). I think I fall into #9. I tend to go with functional, custom (DIY) built stands/shelves to hold the TV and everything else I want close at hand and just accept that it’s a focal point in my living room (beside, not above my fireplace). Making a great space for TV, video games and movies is a main goal of our current basement reno, so I’m unashamedly showcasing our (or my husband’s) massive TV in that space. What is it with guys and bigger is always better?

    • HI Sara, in our house it’s a VCR/DVD combo for the kids and it’s on the shelf below. In the family room it’s a DVD player that connects to the internet for Netflix/Hulu (we don’t have satellite or cable anymore) but that device is on the shelf above with our wireless router. You definitely plan for a space for those extras.

  23. I recently mounted my TV over the mantle. We cut the mantle down a couple of inches so the TV wouldn’t be too high. Love it…and now there’s one focal point in the room.

  24. I finally gave up fighting it, and we’re mounting the beast over the fireplace. It was a struggle to find the right furniture layout to accommodate both, and I hate to admit it, but i like it!

  25. Great ideas and funny timing! We had a built-in made for our TV a few months ago, then the TV broke last week. I went to get a new one, brought it home and even though it was the same size screen, it was too tall…back to Costco. I almost gave in and let my husband get a bigger one to mount over the fireplace, but after spending the money on the built-in, I just couldn’t do it!

  26. Hi there Kate! Im actually in the middle of this great debate right now. Ive won the first battle of taking off the wall and placing it down on the tv media center. Im now fighting the battle of getting rid of the entertainment center and using a vintage dresser or sideboard for it to live on. I really have an issue with the whole “tv stand/entertainement center” thing. Anyway since we live in fairly new construction there was a tv niche already created as a dedicated space for the tv to go. Once I win the furniture battle (fingers crossed) I definitely plant on designing around it via option #1-curating it! Thanks for the great ideas.

  27. our solution was more radical. get rid of tv. problem solved. we didn’t watch it much anyway and it was just gathering dust. I think the next option, had we kept it, would have been some version of ‘hide it’.

  28. Sara, my dvd player, cable box, and routers are all hidden in the hallway linen closet. I paid pros to thread the cable wires from the tv to behind the wall, around the corner and into the closet. An IR emitter allows me to control the tv and the dvd players with a remote. No tv accessories in the living room means no need for media console table which free up the floor and makes my small living room look bigger. Added bonus is hiding the tv (which is mounted above the fireplace )behind a painting when not in use.

  29. We have our TV on a wall that is not too large. Since our TV is very large, it takes up most of the wall space. I do have a shelf hanging above it that I decorate seasonally. I would love to have some narrow Billy shelves (IKEA) on each side to make it look more cohesive but for now I have two old green shutters with a nice patina that I just have leaning the against the wall of both sides of the TV. They are about four feet tall and I like the way they look flanking each side.

  30. Great ideas and tips Kate! This article comes at a great time for me as I have been struggling with how to place a TV in my basement where the cable outlet does not match where the sofa should be….I like the second image that shows that you can center the TV console unit to hide the cords but offcenter the TV and balance it all with pictures!

  31. Not a fan of a big black hole, but TV’s have come so far that they don’t bother me as much as they used to. We have one that’s flanked with bookcases and the other is mounted on a deep painted wall that I plan on hanging artwork on as well. Good round-up. Enjoy your weekend Kate!

  32. Great ideas. Too bad in my house the TV IS the focal point as I feel no one looks at the decor when it’s on all the time!

  33. Oh my goodness! I love this post… all of the amazing photos…and great ideas! We have a triptych painting that I did hanging over our TV….I love having the “TV wall” decorated with art like the rest of our home! Great post!

  34. my problem is that i have a small living area and the ideal spot to have the tv is across from the windows and what bothers me is the glare which means we always have to close the curtains to watch tv. we now have it in the corner but if i could somehow display it on that wall without having the glare, i could do so much more with the space!

  35. In our living room, our TV is hung loud and proud above the fireplace. It’s flanked with round mirrors to balance the space, deflect some attention, and to play off the rectangles of the TV and fireplace.


    In our master bedroom, I created a wall installation of ceiling medallions on the wall, with the TV sitting on a dresser in front of the medallions. It’s quirky and the medallions are a great way to fill up a big wall. Check it out below!


  36. All I can say is…. God BLESS you!!!!
    Just what I wanted…actually more than one design shown has been in my head,
    and now I can SHOW my vision to my husband and he will make it happen for me!!
    Thannnnnnnk you!!!! xoxo

  37. Thanks for the great ideas! Love the ones above the fireplace. One question though- is there any sort of height guidelines for how high the tv can be hung? I have a floor to ceiling (24′ tall) fireplace and would love to hang the tv there but worry that it will be too high for watching or too low to look balanced. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Tina, it depends on the space, I’d keep the tv as low as possible for the best viewing experience but not so close to the mantel it looks funny or off balance – a good 5-8 inches is a good rule of thumb from the bottom of the screen to the top of the mantel but again, it depends on the space!

  38. This article helped me do a small gallery wall around the t.v. this weekend akin to the second picture from BH&G. I absolutely love it. Thanx for these helpful hints!

  39. Just stumbed upon this post now….for all you who have mounted over the fireplace, is it safe for the TV??? That is my biggest concern.
    Please advise:)

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