Television: Learn to think outside the box

You've created your perfect sitting room, but your giant new television is ruining the decor. Where should it go? Kate Watson-Smyth offers top tips you need to display or disguise your flatscreen
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The Independent Online

So, after months and months of saving every penny and consulting numerous paint charts and colour swatches, the living room has finally been decorated to your exacting standards. It's tasteful with just a hint of trendiness to signal to the Joneses that you are well up with them. You've remembered to fit the dimmer switches and hide the cables. You've bought a beautiful rug that isn't too similar to the curtains. And you've even remembered to buy storage space for the satellite box, the DVD player and speakers, although you have insisted that the video player and old tapes finally be relegated to the loft.

You wave off the builders or dust down your overalls, and sink into your new sofa with a large glass of red. And then he comes home from the sales. With a very large, very flat box. It's a television the size of the local multiplex and he is proposing hanging it on the wall right in front of the sofa, where it will dominate the entire room and ruin everything.

On the basis that you're not prepared to move out – after all, you've just won the battle of the scatter cushion – and he won't return it, there will have to be a compromise. So what's to be done? Well, don't panic. There are a number of options for hiding the television so that it blends seamlessly with the surroundings until you want to watch it.

One of the easiest, and perhaps most classic ideas is a mirror. On the basis that the sofa is often in front of the fire place which means the space above it is naturally the best place for the screen, then a mirror won't look out of place. When the television is off it's simply a monster of a mirror, that becomes the television screen when you turn it on. It's not cheap, but then the box was in the sale so he can spend what he saved on the telly on something to cover it up.

There are two options here – if you already have the television then you will need to buy a special mirror to go with it. Matthew Tilman of Gibson Music ( gibson-music.com; 0207 384 2270) ) says you need to choose between a crystal mirror where the light comes from behind, but which can give a reflection when the telly is on, or black crystal which is less prone to reflection but isn't a good enough mirror to do your make-up in. Both these options are pricey though and Tilman says the best thing is to buy a television that converts into a mirror, which, naturally, he sells.

Trevor Walker of Mirror Media, ( mirrormedia.com; 0870 3886 333) also sells them. "It's not cheap, but it's great for clients who want their television to blend in with the room. We manufacture high-quality products in Britain and have more than 100 frames to choose from," he says. Prices range from around £2,032 for a 26in mirror television.

If you don't fancy that, or don't want to break the bank, then you can ask a your local handyman to create a sliding panel in front of the television (or try it yourself if you are feeling brave). This is a similar idea to putting in the alcove beside the fireplace – another natural spot – and having a folding or sliding door to pull across. This means you can also put shelves above and below for the rest of your media stuff and hide the lot in one go. If you want to do this, it's best to hang the television on an extendable swivelling bracket so you can tuck it away in the day and pull it out into the room for viewing. Try Vogels.com for wall mounts and brackets.

Gibson Music has a nifty mechanism that allows the television to slide out from behind a panel that has been constructed to hide it that, in turn, is covered with a picture of your choosing – only as it has to divide in half for the doors to open, make sure it's a poster not your best artist's print.

Once you've exhausted the built-in options, you're back to finding a piece of furniture that doesn't clash too horribly with your other accoutrements. This is obviously a matter of taste, but you can be sure that a reproduction mahogany cabinet isn't what you are looking for. The telly is modern so there's not point trying to put it in a faux antique. If you have a house full of real antiques then you've probably got a separate television room.

For the rest of us, space might be limited, so if you're going to splash out on a piece of furniture it's probably got to be multi-tasking. Look for something that will take a few books and perhaps a couple of decorative ornaments, too. Tina Mahony, of the Go Modern furniture company ( gomodern.co.uk), says: "In the old days televisions were so ugly that people wanted to hide them away. Flat screens don't look so bad really, and the trend now is just to make them blend in with the room, so they are mixed up with books and objects so they don't dominate the room but become part of the overall look."

She recommends the Pombol bookcase and TV unit with sliding doors (£2,900) as the perfect solution. Modenza also stocks stylish, if pricey, television units and stands – check out the Irena for £2,999.

Adrian Van Aalst says: "Flat screen storage has progressed greatly over the years and all the major manufacturers have stylish solutions. Glossy finishes are popular and the current trend is for sliding panels to hide the television when it's not in use."

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