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Where and How Should Your Television(s) Be Placed?

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Donna McGevna of Yorktown Heights flips up her kitchen cabinet panel to reveal a concealed television.
Bill Primavera photo

By Bill Primavera

At the expense of giving away my age, I remember when a television set was a novelty.

I clearly remember the times when, as a child, my family would gather around our console radio set listening to Fanny Brice’s “Baby Snooks Show” or I would listen on Saturday mornings to the children’s show Let’s Pretend” or join my mother in listening to the daytime radio series “Stella Dallas.” I was perfectly happy to let my imagination take over where the sound waves left off.

But one night when my older sister and I were listening to an orchestral concert that was simulcast on early television, my sister turned to me and said, “Just think, if we had a television set now, we’d be able to see them performing.” All of a sudden, I felt cheated and I obsessed about the day when my parents could afford a television, which I remember as relatively expensive for the average family.

I can also recall when the first television set was purchased by a homeowner on our block in West Philadelphia. The whole neighborhood was invited over to watch the scary, early live show “Lights Out.”

One by one, each family on the block purchased its own television, proudly announcing the event when it happened. I think we were one of the last to get one. It was placed strategically as the focal point in the living room with all chairs angled to provide the best view. Replete with a rabbit-ears antenna on top, the living room television set did little to enhance the aesthetics of the space.

Integrating a television set into the interior décor in a pleasing way has always been a challenge, but that problem was eased somewhat when home designs began featuring family rooms and dens specifically intended for the family’s relaxation and entertainment. In most homes today, there are multiple TVs. When I lived in a five-bedroom house, there was as many as five. Even in my current two-bedroom condo, I have four sets – in the living room, my office and both bedrooms.

For many people the television is still a focal point in the living room, but finding a place for it without compromising the furniture arrangement and décor can be a challenge.

First, let’s consider that it should be eye level so when you’re seated you don’t have to strain your neck or eyes by looking up or down at the screen. Usually that is about four feet off the ground. The best viewing distance is considered to be three times the diagonal width of the screen.

If the television is your prime focus, it is best placed in the center of the seating area. If there is another principal focus in the room, such as a picture window or a mantel, the TV might best be placed on the adjacent wall so that both points can be viewed comfortably.

For those who don’t like the television to be the living room’s focal point, it can be disguised in one of those inventive coverings of a painting or concealed by placing it in a cabinet or armoire. If it’s in a cabinet not intended for TV use, you would have to make holes in the back for cables and wiring.

To integrate the television in my living room, I place it on the bookcase cabinetry which is four feet high, placed on the same level as a collection of oil paintings hung on the wall above the bookcases.

Decorators would say this placement is too high for comfortable viewing and I was placing a big black hole as the room’s main focal point. However, it is very frequently the placement of choice in most homes. After a while, I moved it to the end of the bookcase, in a corner, and it is still too high to view comfortably, but I endure.

In bedrooms, all bets are off regarding placement. There is no optimal way to watch television when you’re prone in bed, unless you copy what hospitals do and suspend it on an arm from the ceiling.

Just recently I visited the home of my accountant, Ken McGevna, to see that his kitchen television has been mounted so that it could be concealed by flip-up cabinetry. Such camouflage can also be utilized in dens or home offices.

Surrounded by televisions in my home, I nevertheless wish I could be less addicted to my two favorite stations: MSNBC and TCM that help me escape to flights of fancy.

Bill Primavera, while a publicist and journalist, is also a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. ( To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.


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