One of the first places we begin with when creating an interior design scheme is determining the activities that will be going on in the space. If television viewing is going to be an important part of the needed functionality, then we have many factors to consider. Knowing how to place a TV in a room requires a complete understanding of the available space, the size of the TV, how the homeowners view the TV and how the TV will fit into the rest of the design scheme.
Recent interior design trends can make placing a television even more complicated. Preferences toward great rooms rather than separate living and family rooms means the TV shares another focal point in the space, usually a fireplace. Competing focal points make creating a balanced design scheme a challenge. Also, the move to more open concept home design means there are fewer walls to place a TV against. TVs do not float! They need either a wall or a piece of furniture for placement, plus a way to hide the ugly cords. With wall space coming at a premium it can be difficult to find an appropriate spot for TV viewing.
Another design aspect to consider is that as TVs get larger, they take up more visual space. And, when they are not on, they can turn into black holes! We mitigate this issue by either hiding the TV behind cabinetry, or by hanging a collection around it to offer visual interest when the screen is dormant. There are applications that allow you to show your photo stream or place a decorative image on the screen; however your TV must be on for those to have impact.
Finally, it is important to consider how the TV will be watched and by whom. Is the TV for family time, entertaining or quiet, nightly relaxing? Do you sit up, lie down, or even hang out on the floor when you watch TV? How many people do you need to seat? If you and your family have regular movie nights, you will need more seating suitable for viewing. If you live alone, perhaps one comfortable spot is enough. Depending upon what is needed, you may end up with asymmetrical furniture placement or an unusual spot for your TV to accommodate your viewing needs.
Shared Focal Points: Hanging a TV Above a Fireplace
A popular solution to the conflicting focal points issue is to hang the TV above the fireplace. Unfortunately, this design can make television viewing uncomfortable with the TV being set too high. We have found that this placement works in large rooms where the furniture can be arranged far enough way to keep viewers from having to strain their necks. Also, placing a TV too close to the heat source can cause damage. We determine the appropriate hanging height by considering the size of the firebox, the placement of the mantel if there is one, and then some breathing room for heat dispersion. When we are remodeling or building a new home, this design concept can be implemented much more easily than when we are trying to fit it into an existing space.
For the home pictured above, we were able to place the TV above the fireplace in a great room adjacent to the kitchen. The space is large enough to provide comfortable viewing, as well as allow the TV to be seen from the eating area. Since the TV shares space with the main architectural focal point of the room, we were able to create a seating arrangement that allowed the homeowners to enjoy all of the activities they planned for that space – enjoying the fireplace, watching the TV and chatting with family members and visitors.
In another design project, we hung the TV on a large stone fireplace wall with no mantel. The size of the space allowed us to place the TV far enough away from the heat source while providing comfortable viewing. The homeowners were able to sit in chairs or lay down on long sofas when watching TV, and the placement also allowed for easy use while entertaining a crowd.
Using a TV as a Secondary Focal Point
In the home pictured above, our client did not want the TV to be the main focal point in her great room. Instead, she had a favorite piece of art that she wanted to highlight above the fireplace. Since she was building a new home, we were able to integrate custom cabinetry on either side of the fireplace, one of which would house the TV. We chose to keep the nook open; however the TV was placed on a bracket that could be pulled out and angled for comfortable viewing, then pushed back in when not in use. The other open shelving and large space above the TV provided a place for large accessories that would distract from the black screen. Finally, though our client lives on her own, the seating arrangement was created to accommodate visits from her family.
TVs as the Central Focal Point:
In the project shown above, we were asked to design a basement for family TV time. Since the TV was the focal point of the room, the functionality of the rest of the space was created around it. The placement of the TV was chosen to allow flow from the entrance to the game room, as well as comfortable viewing from a counter-height bar space. Seating was chosen to accommodate the whole family, and we even provided side tables that wrapped under the couch to bring the useable surface closer to the seating. To balance the wall space, we added a piece of furniture and accessories, which grounded the TV.
Television viewing has become a central design consideration in today’s homes. Understanding how the TV will work with the available space, how it will be watched and who will be watching it all need to be factored into where it is placed. Creating a cohesive, balanced and comfortable interior design scheme is always the goal. If you are struggling with placing a TV in your home, send us an email, or give us a call at 317.253.8986. We’d be happy to help.
There are many layers within an interior design scheme. Once the architectural details, cabinetry, flooring, furniture and vertical spaces (walls, draperies) are set, it is time for what can be the truly fun part – playing with accessories! Our design philosophy behind accessorizing a space is edit, edit edit. We find that many homeowners want to cram as much stuff into their rooms as possible, arbitrarily placing items because they like them, not because they work with overall design scheme. Every piece has a job to do. Each accessory vignette needs to be crafted within its own space, as well as how it fits into the room as a whole. Above we picture one of two niches that flank a fireplace with a stunning art piece hung above it. To keep the balance and flow throughout the room, we needed to fill the large-scaled niches with oversized, simple pieces that would compliment the artwork while standing on their own. The Asian ceramics added interesting shapes to a room that had a lot of rectangles in it, and the rich blues and whites complimented the artwork and furniture. The mirror brought reflection to the flat wall, and the framed intaglios introduced another shape and a tone-on-tone three-dimensional quality. Pops of green through the apples and the plant soften the look, while pulling in an unexpected color into the overall look.
We created a complementary design in the other niche with similar accessories, balancing the two spaces around the fireplace. Bringing in varying heights and shapes within the ceramics and the other accessories added visual interest without overwhelming the other elements in the room. Not all of the space within the niche is used, allowing negative space to become part of the show as well. Remember, less is more when it comes to accessorizing a room. If you have any questions on designing with accessories, send us an email, or give us a call at 317.253.8966.
There is a bit of confusion surrounding the difference between a family room, a living room and a great room. At Hoskins Interior Design, we define a family room (also called a hearth room) as the place used for family relaxation, TV viewing and together time. A living room (also referred to as a parlor or sitting room) is a more formal space, mainly used for entertaining guests. A great room is a mixture of both a family room and living room, and is usually found in homes that have just one large room dedicated to both functions – family time and guest entertainment.
Our focus for this article is on designing around the need to entertain guests, both in the living room and the great room. As each space has different functionalities, it makes sense to start with how you plan to use the space. Both are gathering areas, but understanding the other activities that will take place in your space will help you create a better design.
Designing A Living Room:
At the center of guest entertainment, you will want to begin your living room design by creating multiple intimate gathering spaces. When you are hosting parties, people tend to move off into small groups for conversation. Forcing everyone to interact in a big circle is more of a meeting than a party! At the minimum, you will want a vignette that includes a sofa and two chairs, centered around a coffee table. If your room has enough space, you can create one or two more conversation areas; perhaps two chairs with a lamp table between them, and an occasional chair with an ottoman or footstool and a small lamp table. While there may be a fireplace in the space that acts as a focal point, there is rarely a TV in a living room.
Living rooms offer a wonderful opportunity to share the more formal part of your personal style with your guests. Furniture should be chosen for scale first, as you are trying to fit many vignettes in one room. Consider the atmosphere you would like to create for your guests, and choose your fabrics, window treatments, accessories and finishes with that goal in mind. Lighting will be important since you will not want your guests sitting in dim space during the evening hours! Bring in pieces from a collection, or special artwork that reflect you and your family, as accessories. Finally, make sure you give your guests a spot to place a drink or plate – no one likes balancing either on their laps!
We also suggest including a comfortable chair and ottoman along with some good lighting for yourself in your living room, creating a place to escape the business of the rest of the house. By crafting a space for reading and reflecting, you are allowing your living room to double as a sitting room which you will use with or without guests.
Designing a Great Room
Designing a great room can get tricky due to the many functions it is meant to serve as well as its larger size. Space for entertaining guests is mixed with room for family time, TV viewing, game night and homework. As the main TV viewing area, the media center tends be the focal point. Depending upon the size of your family, you will need a comfortable seating area for the TV for at least 4-5 people. Conversation areas are still important in a great room, so make sure to include a small table and chairs vignette which can double as a homework, snack or paperwork area depending on who is using it. Many times you will find a fireplace in a great room, which will serve as another focal point for gathering spaces. Balancing these elements with the functionality you need is where an experienced interior designer comes in handy!
With the larger size of a great room, many homeowners are inclined to push all of their furniture against the walls all the way around the space. This design does not lend itself to comfortable conversation or to a balanced look. Create intimate spaces in a large area by arranging seating vignettes just like in a large living room. It will be important to purchase furniture that fits the multi-functional nature of the space and is comfortable for you and your family. Remember to create a peaceful space to land outside of your kitchen, breakfast room or study. Bringing this versatility to your great room means you will use it more, and your family will be more likely to gather together in one spot rather than spreading out to other spaces of the house.
As in all interior design schemes, understanding how you are going to live in a space will allow you to take full advantage of all opportunities the room offers. If you are building a new home or remodeling, bring your interior designer in during the blueprint stage, so they can ensure you are creating a space that truly suits your needs. After the build or renovation is finished, consider having your designer find custom furniture crafted around YOUR body and YOUR needs, not those of the average person. You are guaranteed to be more comfortable in your space with the personalized touch.
We are always happy to help homeowners create the perfect space for themselves and their family. Reach out to us via email, or give us a call at 317.253.8986 to schedule a consultation.