When we were planning our kitchen and family room in Southampton, we just avoided the issue of where to put the TV. We knew we wanted one — for after dinner movies and for watching the news or Ina Garten (or now the Wiggles DVDs) while making breakfast or dinner, but we never really focused on the issue of exactly where the thing would go. Over the fireplace was the logical functional choice –it afforded the best visibility from all parts of the room and freed up floor space. But it wasn’t the best aesthetic choice. When turned off (which I hoped would be much of the time), I imagined that the big black void hovering over the firebox would feel dull and cold, and it seemed unwise to drill mounting brackets into the clean sheet of custom tile that covered the fireplace for the sake of quickly changing technology. Frankly, I also fretted that giving the boob tube center stage didn’t exactly square with my ideas about how we should live in our new home.
At some point, we decided that we should have some sort of moveable stand for the TV, which, for lack of a better word, we started calling the easel. When we approached our contractor about having such a thing built (and bracing ourselves for the bill), he sensibly suggested that we just go out and buy a sturdy painter’s easel and he would modify it to hold our television. About a week later, our problem was solved.
After a few trips to art supply stores, we settled on the easel pictured at right, the Best Abiquiu studio easel, which you can purchase at discount suppliers such as Blick or Utrecht for about $1000. Unfortunately, it can’t be used straight out of the box. Though much thinner than their vacuum tube predecessors, flat screen TVs are still a lot thicker than an artist’s canvas, so the easel has to be modified to accommodate this and, of course, to manage the cables and cords in the back. This isn’t exactly DIY stuff, but it’s relatively quick and easy for anyone with basic carpentry skills and tools.
First, the paint tray at the bottom of the easel needs to be detached, flipped over and reattached so that the deep shelf is on top to receive the bottom edge of the TV. Similarly, the middle shelf (which ordinarily would hold the bottom of the canvas) needs to be inverted and deepened with an additional piece of wood to securely hold the TV’s top edge. (This is the only bit of real carpentry involved.) Although both the tray and shelf are designed to be adjustable, we opted to lock them into their desired positions with heavy wood screws for safety. Finally, a hole must be bored in the central mast to receive the cables and cords that sprout from the back of the screen.
For a smaller TV (ours is 42”), a lighter easel would probably suffice. For a larger one, you would probably want to trade up to a double-masted easel, such as the magnificent Abiquiu Deluxe pictured here. And, when television technology evolves again and leaves this as obsolete as an 80s TV armoire, you can always take up painting.