How to hide your widescreen TV
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
When interior designer Octavia Dickinson was decorating her London home a few years ago, the TV became a sticking point. “The only place you could put it was above the fireplace,” she recalls. Instead of having “a big black rectangle” looming over the room, she created a TV cabinet, its eight front panels each holding an interchangeable artwork. “It’s not too smart, too slick, not totally hiding that you’ve got a TV, but doing it in a more decorative way,” she says of the solution. She has since used it for several clients: one Chelsea home features a “really cool high-gloss, blue-lacquer cabinet” fronted with a series of gilded, butterfly-themed collages by the artist Beatrice von Preussen.
Design duo Hutley & Humm’s bespoke TV designs proved so popular that they launched a made-to-order option to house a 40in TV. The Now You See Me, Now You Don’t unit (from £3,500), is crafted in Suffolk and available in a range of colours and frame finishes. “We have three series of prints that we know work beautifully – one of palms, one of coral and one of birds – but equally, clients could use their own prints, or paint something themselves,” says Melissa Hutley.
In Sussex, decorative artist Tess Newall has brought her handpainted style to the issue. A wall-mounted, bi-folding-door cabinet (from £2,250), constructed by her furniture-maker husband Alfred, features antiqued mirror panels and hand-patterned frames. The result? “Netflix, but make it Bloomsbury!” Not that a cabinet-clad telly can’t still be high-tech, says Dickinson, who often adds a hydraulic system “to bring the TV closer to your eye level”.
Rise and fall
“I have a lot of clients who like TVs in their bedrooms, but who often say that they don’t want to see them,” adds Dickinson. “So that’s when you do an upholstered ottoman at the end of the bed.” The hidden TV rises up and out. “It involves more hydraulics. We did one quite recently in a kind of scallop-y shape.” It’s a trick New Zealand-born, London-based interior designer Veere Grenney also employs in his projects. “It doesn’t alter the chicness of the room, but still gives very good viewing when it is raised,” he says.
“Transform your television into a space to showcase artwork,” says Sophie Ashby, who often builds a TV into a shelving system, then hangs an artwork in front. Mounting a painting or photograph on runners means that it slides to one side. Kate Guinness also uses artwork as a cover-up in projects, while in Dallas, Texas, interior stylist Kaitlyn Coffee says: “I’ve been buying antique tapestries to cover up mounted TVs in clients’ homes.”
Art of the screensaver
“The Samsung TVs that are like picture frames [from £1,099] are amazing,” says Guinness. Coffee has the Samsung Frame at home, surrounded by vintage paintings and drawings and displaying a c17th-/18th-century Korean painting from the brand’s Art Store app. “I one hundred per cent recommend it,” she says. “Our 50in TV blends into the room unnoticed. People ask where it is when they come over.”