2. Hang It or Hide It?
One nice thing about flat-screen TVs is that, unlike old picture-tube TVs, which can be space-hogging monstrosities, these look good even when they're turned off and don't necessarily need to be hidden behind expensive custom cabinets. But if you think your family will gravitate like drones to the television if it's in plain sight, then I recommend housing it in an entertainment center, as in the illustration on the previous page. Audio and video components can be concealed behind doors, where they're easily accessible but don't create visual clutter.

If you do decide to mount the TV on the wall, you'll need to keep any other components in a cabinet below (see illustration, right) and run the wires behind the wall. For a more customized look, at least one manufacturer has started to offer picture frames, in a variety of styles and finishes, specially made to fit its flat screens.

3. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
If your family is in the minority that watches television infrequently (or is trying to cut down), I'd suggest keeping the set out of the family room altogether and instead moving it into a separate space that can also double as a den or study area. In this scenario, the television shares a room filled with books and is given a warm, cozy feel perfect for occasional I Love Lucy marathons. I would close off the space with a solid wood door to keep it acoustically and psychologically separated from the rest of the home.

Warren Freyer is the principal of Freyer Collaborative Architects, a 10-person firm in New York City specializing in residential design and technology.
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