Karen writes:

Dear Anna Beth,

My question involves flat screen tvs and living rooms. What do you do to decorate around/above them? I've been looking in magazines & online for ideas, but no luck. Surely I am not the only one with this problem? I've attached a picture of my living room so you can see what I'm talking about. 
In our specific case, this home is a rental as we're a military family that moves every three years. I'm looking for relatively low cost ways  ($1000 curtains are out) to make that wall look better.  Any general suggestions would be great! I can hunt for specifics. 

Karen's living room

Dear Karen,

I remember meeting you all those years ago in Arlington with your delightful sister. Anyway, regarding your television problem: I have some ideas. First off, you've done well by not hanging your TV over a fireplace, which I consider a cardinal sin as far as decorating goes. I am anticipating the comments now about how incorrect I am on this count, but I am absolutely certain that hanging one's TV over a fireplace is super tacky, and super wrong.

The problem is that lots of people try to hide their TVs. That is their first mistake: almost all of us have at least one TV in our houses, except for those of us who pretend they're too good for them and secretly download The Bachelor on their computers. Why do we keep pretending they don't exist? Don't hide your television light under a bushel, is what I am saying. Instead, surround it with things you love. This family has cleverly ensconced their TV in a bunch of bookshelves. That's cool.

Another really great idea is to create a gallery wall around your TV. Using similar frames, as in the photo below, distracts the eye from the big black box and creates a gently organic background for your television to recede into. I never thought I would ever write a sentence such as that, and I apologize. "Gently Organic" is the name of my all-natural ukelele band.

via West Elm

This genius person used many different frames, but if you'll notice, they are all similar in scale. The TV furniture is long and low, which takes attention away from the electronics and focuses your eye on the beautiful artwork.

And finally, if all else fails, get yourself a wall that matches your television. Accessorize it like there is not even a TV there. Then settle in for a long night of "So You Think You Can Dance."

What I would advise for you, Karen, is to really finish your room. I know it's just a rental, and I know you will only be there for three years, but... it's three years. That is a long time to be unhappy with your surroundings. Here is what I want you to do:

1. Have shades made for each window in this room. It will cost around $100-$125 for each one, but you can choose the fabric, the edge color, the lining, everything. And you can probably take them with you to the next house.

2. Make a gallery wall to hang behind your TV. If you are unsure about how to do it, find a picture you like and copy it exactly. It will add so much character to your room.

3. Purchase a rug to layer over your carpet. It can be a cowhide, as pictured here, or jute, or something colorful. Just make sure it's big enough to take up much of the space in the room.

I used black and white here, because that was the easiest thing to do, and black is always a great contrast color. But you can use whatever color you want. I have made a terrible mockup in Photoshop of what I want you to do, seen below:

I hope this helps. Report back soon!



AuthorAB Chao