Long, long ago -- back in the '90s -- style dictated hiding our bulky TV sets behind doors. But today TVs are sleek and slim, and we want to show them off.
Incorporating TVs and home theater systems into our homes in a visible but attractive way has led to a whole new set of decorating challenges -- or opportunities, depending on your point of view. Electronics maker LG has even coined a term for this blending of technology and decorating: "techorating."
The company has hired Janna Robinson, a technology consultant and host of the DIY Network series "Hollywood Hi-Tech," as its techorating spokeswoman.
Robinson is a pragmatist. While some scorn the central role of TV in our lives, she recognizes that it's often the centerpiece of a family gathering space. "You don't want your technology to dominate the space," she said, but you want to work it into the room in a way that optimizes its use.
Start by putting the TV where it's comfortable to view, she said. The usual recommendation is to position the TV so the middle of the screen is at eye level, about 42 to 52 inches above the floor. But there are other schools of thought, and sometimes the limitations of the room require different placement.
Robinson is a big proponent of mounting the TV on a wall, and many mounts let you tilt the TV, pull it out from the wall and turn it to improve the viewing angle. She especially likes OmniMount's Play 40, a mount that allows viewers to move a TV into a variety of positions to make it comfortable for game-playing, exercising and all sorts of uses.
If you choose to set the TV on a piece of furniture instead of mounting it, your options have improved, Robinson said. Even affordable TV furniture is designed to hide components and wires. And even more good news: "It's not as ugly as it was years ago."
She suggests treating the TV wall as an accent wall and painting it a dark color to make the picture pop out. That will create a sense of depth and "make your room look spectacular," she said.
Sound is also an issue, Robinson noted. Sound reverberates in a room with bare walls and floors, so it helps to add an area rug and perhaps drapes to dampen the sound.
Luckily, there's no longer a need to run speaker wires all over the place to get surround sound, she noted. Some systems have wireless rear speakers, and the quality of wireless sound has improved greatly.
Be sure to test a system before you buy. Sound is subjective, Robinson said, so trust your own ears instead of relying completely on product reviews or friends' recommendations.
Then have fun with your selections. TV is entertainment, after all.