Armoires are one option for keeping a television out of sight, especially big, boxy sets. But where to put the new generation of flat-screen TVs?
Should the screens be hidden, despite their good looks? Many homeowners display that new television as the centerpiece of a home theater. The sleekest monitors get mounted on a wall.
Other homeowners take the "out of sight, out of mind" approach. For them, manufacturers have come up with high-tech tricks to keep TVs out of view–when no one's watching, that is.
Rising interest. Hooker Furniture's plasma-TV hideaway houses a built-in lift mechanism that raises the screen to viewing level and lowers it when the show's over. The console holds most 42-inch plasma televisions with side speakers and 50-inch plasmas with no speakers. Available in both a traditional and more modern style, in cherry and maple finishes, the console sells for around $3,000 at area Big Screen Stores (eight area locations; see thebigscreenstore.com). For more information, see hookerfurniture.com.
Mirror, mirror. Philips' new MiraVision TV applies a polarized film over its LCD panel so when the power is off, you see yourself–in a mirror. For $3,800, the 23-inch unit comes with a wood frame that can be customized to suit any style. Watch for it in high-end electronic stores this summer. See ces2004.philips.com for more.
TV dinner. Don't sacrifice kitchen counter space to the television. Mount one of Audiovox's drop-down televisions under a cabinet. The ultra-slim remote-controlled units flip down for watching and back up when not in use. The most space-conscious model might be the VE1040, which features a 10.4-inch screen, as well as a DVD player, alarm clock, radio, and hands-free phone. Cable-ready, it sells for around $699 at Circuit City and other major retailers–also plays CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, and MP3s. See audiovox.com.
Gallery opening. VisionArt's design solution for wall-mounted and recessed plasma and LCD monitors brings the work of the great masters to your living room. Choose from more than 30 frame styles and 114 works of art, digitally reproduced on a retractable canvas that rolls up when the television is on and back down when it's off. Personal artwork and photographs can be custom-ordered. Prices range from $3,500 to $8,500. See it for yourself at the Myer-Emco stores in Bethesda or Tysons Corner (myeremco.com). Or call for an appointment at Integrated Media Systems, 44873 Falcon Pl., Suite 174, Sterling; 703-464-0736; imsva.com. To view it online, see visionartgalleries.com.
Motor skills. Auton's motorized systems are great at concealing televisions. One popular model is the In-Vis-o-Trak. A touch of the hand-held transmitter slides your favorite painting–up, down, or to the side–to reveal the recessed television. A ceiling flip-down model sells well among condo owners and other space-mongers–it only needs 11.5 inches for the plasma unit to lie in wait. Available only through builders, audiovisual subcontractors, and others in the trade, the system is priced starting around $4,000 and tops out around $7,000, uninstalled. See auton.com.
Movie night. Talk about watching in style: Bausman & Co., a California-based furniture maker, has built a pop-up swivel for a plasma television right into the footboard of its English-style bed. Available in queen or king, the handcrafted piece comes in alder wood or walnut and is made to the specifications of your television and mattress. Pugrant Associates (300 D St., NW; 202-863-0050) sells the bed–which retails in queen for a cool $14,000 in alder, $20,000 in walnut–through interior designers, architects, and builders.
One-stop shop. Cabinet-tronix specializes in delivering the works–high-end media furniture, integrated lift technology, and plasma screen–in a plug-and-play package. Choose from 35 cabinet styles, traditional to modern, or have one designed. More choices like swivel control and infrared repeaters await on this online retailer's options page, and you get to pick the monitor. (Sony is a favorite.) A complete package averages $12,000. Standard cabinets without the plasma television cost $4,000 to $9,000. Check it out at cabinet-tronix.com or 866-876-6199.