STEPHEN THOMPSON: Size matters: 10 rules for area rug placement


My parents had only two televisions in their home. The one we all watched lived in the den and was a ridiculously old, dinosaur model. It was so deep that part of the wall behind the built-in bookcase had to be removed so it would fit.

The only reason they had a second TV was because Mom won one selling Avon products. It was a petite, pink plastic model and it lived on top of the chest of drawers in their bedroom. Dad’s eyes were color-blind so the pink TV looked gray to him. In hindsight, that explains why he never complained about Mom painting the walls a matching pink.

By comparison, Patti and I have seven TVs. I won our second one for bringing in the most new members to my Civitan club; and then the TVs just kept multiplying when we weren’t looking.

By contrast, my daughters’ homes have only one TV each. Instead of watching cable, they rent Redbox movies, play games or have Roku or watch Hulu Plus and they also watch shows on their laptops and phones. Maybe they’ll have the Thompson luck and win a second TV, too.

In an ideal world our homes should be both beautiful and practical all the time. But life is never ideal. When we have to choose we mostly tend to focus on the practical part, then we decorate. As sensible adults we want to get everything right without being frivolous, so it doesn’t matter whether we’ve bought one TV or 10 – there’s always the question of where exactly to put them.

In an effort to conceal TVs with their rat’s nests of wires and cords, oversized entertainment centers and TV armoires use to dominate our dens and family rooms. When sleek flatscreen models first hit the marketplace, they seemed a godsend. Clean-lined televisions no longer needed to be tucked away in some oversized cabinetry and they came out of their mysterious armoire closets to live proudly in the house.

The new wrinkle in all this is all the places where we are watching. Many people watch television in their kitchen or breakfast room to keep up with the news before starting their day. But increasingly, just like my daughters do, more of us are watching our entertainment on our computers, notebooks and cellphones.

With the overwhelming amount of movies and TV series available to stream over the Internet, it’s becoming much more important to have a strong Wi-Fi system in our homes than it is to have televisions mounted all over the place.

Though it’s relatively easy to place a flat-screen TV practically anywhere, you can become overwhelmed by all your options. What’s the right size to buy – a 19-inch model or a 70-inch one? How high over the fireplace, over the media cabinet, or off the floor should it be mounted? How can we best hide the power cord? And if Internet connected, will the modem be hidden or not?

For those rooms where you’re getting a new TV, my best suggestion is to be intentional about it. Focus on aesthetics first, ergonomics second  and then proportion. Aesthetics – where will it look best? Ergonomics – what height and viewing angle won’t fatigue your body or your eyes? And proportion – what’s the best size? Not too big, not too small, but just right! Get those questions right and I guarantee you’ll be happy with your purchase.

Live in beauty!

Stephen Thompson has been creating tasteful interiors since 1975. For questions, comments, or consultations contact Designer Connection, P.O. Box 361, Tupelo, MS 38802 or

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