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People have tried to work TVs into their decor for decades

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The television is an integral part of most people’s lives. According to Nielsen, there were 118.4 million homes in the U.S. with TVs in them as of 2017. It’s no secret that most of us spend our weekends bingeing our favorite classic programs. TV programming has gone from occasional water-cooler talk to a topic of pop-culture conversation that’s nearly inescapable.

You watch TV, I watch TV, well all watch TV. However, when it comes to decorating, why is the big black screen like a big pink elephant in the room? There are TVs on the market that are meant to look like framed art when they’re not in use, and ones that roll up or down like a projector, so as not to be an eyesore when you’re not bingeing your favorite show.

Many modern decor websites like Apartment Therapy and Architectural Digest boast idea after idea when it comes to hiding that screen that clashes with your finely tuned living aesthetic. It might suggest that you mount sliding panels to your wall or even putting your TV behind a two-way mirror! While a first glance into vintage queen Dita Von Teese’s living room may have you thinking that there’s no way she partakes in a modern luxury such as TV watching, she actually had a custom frame made so she could hide hers behind one of her favorite pin-up paintings. Because of course she did.

Wanting to hide your television isn’t a new thing. Which is funny, because as the years went on, screens got bigger and harder to hide. When the TV was invented in 1927, it wasn’t considered a classy piece of household decor — despite it being something that only rich families had in their homes. Dr. Lynn Spigel, who teaches the cultural history of film, TV and digital media at Northwestern University told Apartment Therapy, "Many wealthy modernists thought it déclassé to have a TV or watch it. By the end of the '40s [when two percent of American families owned one] they were already all about hiding it."

It wasn’t until the TV became more accessible for American families that designs started being adjusted to make the TV more of a piece of furniture itself than something you place on top of furniture.

In the 1950s and 1960s, many big block TVs were housed in wooden frames, like a radio, that people could put picture frames and other knick knacks atop, like a table or cabinet. Some midcentury designs allowed families to keep their TVs in cabinets as well. By the '60s, 90-percent of Americans had TVs — and many had more than one. They were more affordable, allowing some families to even have more than one, so the kids could watch their own shows while the parents watched theirs. They became less of a status symbol than they were at first.

As the '80s and '90s rolled around, though, TVs were starting to look like black plastic boxes. While the picture was certainly better, the device itself was far less aesthetically appealing. This is where big, bulky entertainment centers came in. As people started adding VCRs and TiVos into the mix, there was a lot more to the TV than just the box and antenna, and all of those devices and their cords needed to be contained.

In the late '90s, TVs started getting thinner and easier to hide. To this day, many people mount their TVs on the walls. They might keep their cable boxes and BluRay players on shelves alongside the TV, but many people are even nixing these devices in favor of smart TVs that have everything built right in. 

What about you? Do you hide your TV or do you keep it out for the world to see?

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