Not so long ago, a media center was an inevitable eyesore with its mass of electronic boxes and tangled wires — not exactly a fitting focal point for a cabin meant to exude a relaxing, woodsy vibe. Fortunately, with today’s flat-screen televisions and recent innovations in television decor, cabin owners don’t have to trade their back-to-nature feel for up-to-date conveniences. You can stay true to your rustic style and cozy up with the family to watch a fun flick, get your news fix or stay caught up on your favorite show. Choose one of our experts’ clever solutions for hiding a troublesome television. Then sit back, relax and enjoy the view.
1. Pop-Up Video. Lift cabinets, also known as pop-up cabinets, are masters of television disguise. When not in use, the space-savvy stands look like a chest of drawers or a steamer trunk, and they typically take up much less room than an entertainment armoire. When you’re ready for a show, a motorized lift elevates the television at the push of a button.
Because the pieces keep the screen and speakers at optimal viewing and listening height — ear and eye level — when in use, interior designer Cindy Trimble Kelly says they are an ideal solution for hiding a TV. “They’re great when placed at the foot of the bed or to the side of a fireplace,” she says.
Lift cabinets come in a variety of designs, from traditional to modern, but to complement a rustic style, Ann O’Leary, author of Adirondack Style, suggests opting for a piece made of birch bark or barn wood. (She’s even seen some with twig and antler accents.)
2. Inside the Box. If you have the space, a tried-and-true solution for keeping your television out of sight is a cabinet with hinged doors. Choose an elaborate, custom-made built-in with motorized doors or stay budget-friendly with a freestanding piece, such as an armoire.
Whichever you select, keep in mind that the size of the television needs to be commensurate with the depth of the cabinet if you want pocket or flipper doors. If your television spans 72 inches and the depth of the cabinet is only 24 inches, you’ll have 24 inches tucked in the pockets and an additional 12 inches or so on each door left sticking out into the room, explains O’Leary, which may eclipse TV watching from an angle. Consider bi-fold doors to cover the expansive screen, and keep cabinet depth to a minimum.
3. Fine Frame. Because wall space is often at a premium in a great room, a flat screen above a log cabin fireplace has become the go-to television solution for many cabin owners. It’s a move that makes sense from a space perspective but falls short in the design department, says Kelly. “In a mountain cabin, a fireplace should be a focal point and the views should be a focal point — not the television,” she says.
Now cabin owners can keep their over-the-fireplace television and exude style. Frames and motorized canvases transform televisions into works of art and back into televisions at the click of a button. (The canvas retracts to reveal the screen and closes again via a remote control.) Buyers can select a pre-printed image or customize the canvas with their favorite photo.
Although the artwork option earns an A+ in the aesthetics department, the height of the television is often too high for comfortable viewing, says Kelly. Solution: A tilt-mount system will allow you to angle the screen downward to avoid a sore neck and reduce lighting interference from those gorgeous great room windows.
4. Mirror Magic. If artwork isn’t your preferred decorative route, consider adding a framed two-way mirror atop your television. Hit “on,” and the picture will show through. When the show’s over, click “off,” and only a mirror will be visible. If placed over a fireplace, keep in mind that the same rules about height and wiring apply as with an art-concealed television.
5. Private Show. If your motto is “Go big or go home,” you might want to consider taking your media center to the next level with a home theater or media room. An ideal location is a windowless log cabin basement room where outside lighting won’t interfere with the picture, but any space at least 12-by-12-foot will do, says Allen Halcomb, president of MossCreek Designs.
Stay basic with a big-screen television, comfortable seating and a surround-sound system, or go for broke with a projection screen, tiered floor and a wet bar.