Screen Time: 5 Designer-Approved Media Installations
Thankfully, the tech part of home design and electronics has come a long way from the box TV and floor speakers of yesteryear. Flat screens and panel TVs have become standard choices, but today's savvy hardware makers are taking a lot more into account than just the thinness of a TV and the fact that it can be mounted on a wall. The consumer electronics industry has already come to accept the idea that designers play a role in whether or not electronics are "allowed" into the home. Here are some top tips for getting your media solution designer approved.
THE MIRROR TV
As TV technology has advanced, so has the size of TVs themselves. Fortunately, electronics manufacturers have stepped up to offer some great ways to conceal your TV. Our current favorite—and a big hit with “techier” clients—is the mirror TV. These are essentially two-way mirrors that attach to the front of your TV screen, and use electricity to change the surface from clear to opaque. This is an especially great option when mounting your TV above the fireplace. A few things to be aware of: You’ll need a stronger-than-usual wall mount to accommodate the weight of the mirror, and you’ll want to use a TV with a black frame as opposed to a silver frame, which will show through. Finally, make sure the TV you use has side- or down-mounted speakers.
Running a very close second for concealed screens is the pop-up cabinet. Designers tend to love this option, as it preserves the mantle for more creative display ideas and allows you to choose a piece of furniture that complements the styles and tones you’re working with—ensuring the TV adds to the design of the space rather than detracts from it. You can purchase whole pop-up cabinets, work with your contractor to build a custom piece, or design a built-in wall unit that matches the rest of your built-ins. These work by using a small lift kit built into the cabinet—which is constructed with custom drawer, door, and shelf configurations—allowing the TV to rise from the unit at the touch of a button.
The lines between technology and furniture are slowly starting to blur. Our homes have begun to support and integrate into our daily needs and evolving lifestyles. Today’s residential spaces are technologically driven and “smart” with tech playing a supporting, background role. High customization and invisible technology that "lives" with us instead of distracts from us and our human interactions are becoming more and more popular. One of my favorite examples of this is Samsung’s The Frame—a television that blends seamlessly into the home and looks like a piece of framed art when turned off, having sensors that switch off the display when you leave the room.
No matter how far technology has come—it still comes with too many cords. If you have the advantage of addressing cable management during construction, run the cords behind the walls whenever possible. But because we all add components as technology advances, we find the baseboard system is a great solution, as it allows you to run cable in the wall where you can and bring it out of anyone’s eyeline near the floor, since it runs to outlets or to your A/V closet.
BUILT-IN A/V CLOSET
To keep the sleek, seamless look you’ve worked so hard to achieve, we really recommend a built-in media closet to store all those black boxes that used to clutter up the room. This is where you’ll store home theater processors, amplifiers, and source equipment like DVD players, Internet devices, and audio and video distribution equipment. These can be built into the wall in the location most convenient to the equipment—and the reach of your remotes. A flush, cabinet-style door for easy access with sufficient ventilation will address both your inner A/V and design geeks.
Note: If at all possible, bring your contractor and a media installation specialist together as early in the process as possible. If you’re considering these options during initial construction or a major remodel, even better, as it’ll ensure access to the spaces and places you’ll need to maximize your options.
by Kerrie L. Kelly
Kerrie L. Kelly, FASID, is an award-winning interior designer, author, product developer, and multimedia consultant helping brands reach the interior design community. To contact her, visit kerriekelly.com or call 916-919-3023.