How to Dress up your Flat Screen

An overview from Cherry Tree Design

Flat screen TVs may well be the best thing to ever happen to television – excellent picture size and quality while being light, sleek, easy to move, display or hang on the wall. But when it comes to interior design, it’s tough to shoehorn those big, shiny rectangles into a meticulously planned, gorgeously executed space.


Why designers hate flat screens

Unless you’re going with a sports bar or Star Trek theme, the shiny rectangle of a flat screen TV is a challenging object in the flow of a professional design.

  • They hog wall space that could be dedicated to fine art, interesting wall textures, furnishings or objects that have more personal meaning to the client.
  • They tend to become the focal point of a space, negating or competing with a planned primary focus, or at least creating disharmony among design elements.
  • In many cases, they are disproportionate in size when considering the space as a whole.
  • Placing a flat screen above a fireplace is literally a hotly contested topic. Issues range from the practicality of placing electronics in an area that’s meant to generate heat, to the not-fooling-anyone ruse of using the TV to take the traditional place of fine art.

Why homeowners love/hate flat screens

Some homeowners want a screen in nearly every room, while others are content to limit them to a few more conventional locations in the home. Either way, they present challenges.

  • Placement at ideal viewing level often can’t be achieved, for instance the above-the-fireplace configuration or the above/below kitchen cabinets placement often isn’t in sync with practical viewing habits.
  • Hanging or setting up a flat screen in the ideal viewing space can dictate the layout of the whole room.
  • There’s a perennial question of whether having a TV in the bedroom is bad for the relationship. Watching a good movie in bed together is a lovely idea, yet the reality is more likely a habit of dozing off to whatever’s on. And somehow, even when turned off, a looming flat screen in the bedroom still seems a distraction.
  • While many luxury homes have a dedicated home theater space, it’s common to also have flat screens in other livable areas of the home where often homeowners don’t want or need to see them – like family dinners or entertaining.


The “accept what you cannot change”

Depending on the space, and the homeowners’ or business owners’ preferences, sometimes it’s about figuring out what’s set in stone, and working around that. It might mean choosing the best possible location and ideal viewing height, then arranging other elements with TV as the starting point. Or going with the only large enough space, and compromising to some degree the best comfort and viewing angles to fit in with the overall design.

The do-without

Sometimes it’s the best option to forego the flat screen for certain rooms or spaces, in favor of making a better viewing situation elsewhere.

The cover up

Kind of along the lines of the old, bulky entertainment center, if the solution makes people think, “Oh, there’s a TV hiding behind there,” it’s just as problematic as, “Oh, there’s a TV.”  Some obvious work-arounds don’t improve much on just the appearance of the bare TV, like boxes and cabinets that don’t match the rest of the space, or incongruous drapes and shields making a surprise appearance.

The artful blend

Artful Flat Screen Surrounds
Currently, there are a number of good choices for hiding a flat screen within the beauty of an interior design, while in fact, contributing to the overall impression.

Yes, technically, they’re “covering up” a flat screen TV. But they’re doing so in a way that is integral to overall design, high-quality in terms of construction and function, and in such a way that it’s pleasing with or without the flat-screen-TV-concealing aspect.

In other words, the best flat screen solutions artfully blend the television into an overall design, while including practical things like ease of use, quality of construction and durability.

In summary, here’s what to look for in the artful blend for flat screen TVs:

  • An understanding of design goals
  • High quality construction, for both in-stock and custom projects
  • Ability to communicate about precise design and practical considerations
  • Hand crafting, with ability to consult with interior designers or construction pros
  • Ability to incorporate individual choices of artwork, photography, textures or traditional looks to suit a particular décor or taste
  • Durable hardware and construction to withstand daily opening and closing
  • Responsive customer service and sensitivity to timelines for both manufacture and delivery

Cherry Tree Design makes handcrafted doors, screens, interior elements and their own flat screen TV cabinet, the Flat Screen Surround in Bozeman, Montana. Their work is currently incorporated into many high-end residences and major corporations nationwide.


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