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How to Make Your Binge-Watching Swamp Less Oppressive

Now that your living room is The Bar, The Restaurant, and The Discotheque, it's time to stop the TV from dominating the vibe.
MF
New York, US
March 2, 2021, 12:00pm
a projector, vintage TV, and smart frame
Composite by VICE Staff

HELLO and welcome: We are indeed at the stage of 2021 in which COVID-19 swabs have gone up the butt, and we’re picking full-on fights with our home’s inanimate objects. On the chopping block today? Televisions. Big, distracting televisions. TVs that induce Michael Scott-level embarrassment. TVs that take up precious space in our apartments without ever asking: Is there a better way to do this? A sexier way to do this? 

Our issues with televisions as home decor are first and foremost based in the frustrating reality that we cannot just project movies into our eyelids from a microchip or something (TBH, probably can). Are we overthinking this conundrum? (Do we need to learn how to optimize our power naps?) Well, yes. But 2020 saw the living room become The Bar, The Restaurant, and The Discotheque, so we’ve got the time and emotional bandwidth to make it as visually appealing as possible. 

A lot of TV placement and improvement is an exercise in disguise, as well as a question of budget, personal style preference, and whether or not you have a power drill. (No? Same.) It’s also a question of deciding what kind of relationship you want to have with your TV; for example, if you’re into concealing it, a hutch or art TV might be for you. There’s no wrong choice, really, if it makes your eyeballs sing. Although we draw the line at “TV Cover Barn Doors.” 

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Now then. Let’s find the right shade of invisible for this pig’s lipstick.


Bring the gallery to you

Samsung Art Frame TV

Photo: Samsung

At a different time in our lives, the concept of an art TV felt very unnecessary—extra, in a high-strung way. But considering just how much time we spend gathering ‘round le boob tube, it no longer seems that ridiculous to drop a little more money (note: you can also pay for this dude in increments) on a TV that can turn into 1,200 works of art “when it’s off.” That's the whole thing with The Frame—it just looks like a masterpiece on your wall until you hit the remote, which is why it's become a super-popular choice for those who may binge-watch King of the Hill but still want their living room to look highbrow. 

The Frame QLED HDR Smart TV, $599.99 (or $12.50 for 48 months) at Samsung

Just get a projector 

YABER Y30 Native 1080P Projector

Photo: Amazon

Your Criterion subscription will look even better on a projector, the ghostly cousin of the television that comes and goes as you please. You can find projectors on a huge range of prices, from the wee breast pocket-sized projectors to Sleek Daddy projectors like the VAVA. The sweet, chewy middle is this HD projector, which doesn’t require external speakers and is equipped with all the jazz to connect to your “laptop, tablet, playstation, Xbox, DVD player, card reader, USB stick, media players, iPad, iPhone, android smartphone” and more.

YABER Y30 Native 1080P Projector $269.99 at Amazon

Flank it with books 

Virgil Abloh Nike Taschen

Photo: TASCHEN

“If you go home with somebody, and they don't have books [flanking their TV], don't fuck 'em!” said John Waters, kind of. Whether or not you hold yourself to the camp king’s stringent DTF standards is one thing, but they do remind us of how wonderful books are in a space (because: brain juice), as both objects of knowledge, and objects of beauty that make everything touch all the better. In that spirit, load up on some of Taschen’s big, beautiful art books to start off a nice TV-side stack on a bigger scale, like this book that “[brings together] all the greats—from Air Jordan 1 to Air Presto—Nike and Virgil Abloh” in a discussion on sneaker culture. The design brings a baseline color pop for your initial book stacking and shelving, as well as a legit conversation piece. 

Virgil Abloh. Nike. ICONS, $70 at TASCHEN

Narnia your life a little bit

19th century rustic pine cupboard 1stDibs

Photo: 1stDibs

Ah, le classic hutch-conceal. Aesthetically, this trick will always work, but it will work even better if you find a one-of-a-kind piece at an estate sale that you can keep for life, and modify however you see fit. There are TV lift cabinets on the market that swallow your telly up and down like a massive toaster, but they’re kind of like covering an eyesore with a slightly less cringe eyesore. Which is silly, when we could be staring at a 19th-century Swedish cupboard instead. Mycket bättre!

19th Century Rustic Swedish Pine Painted Kitchen Cupboard, $2,414.89 at 1stDibs

Swing low

2Modern UMAGE Audacious Media Cabinet

Photo: 2Modern

You generally can’t go wrong investing in a good mid-century credenza. If 1950s nuclear families taught us anything, it was to go for low-slung pieces of furniture that make a television feel less imposing, like this minty (and self-proclaimed “audacious”??) entertainment center. (That, and to never, ever lick the asbestos.) 

UMAGE Audacious Media Cabinet, $1,199 at 2Modern

Make it part of an art cluster

Ceramic Bowl Still Life Minted

Photo: Minted

It’s also time to stop treating TVs like objects that need to be isolated and put on a pedestal, when they can look waaay better as part of a collective cluster of visual treats, like these fraternal twins from Minted. It’s also very much worth it to peruse eBay, Society6, and all the other spots where the web’s best wall art is hiding to find a cluster of art into which your television can be nestled. But these wannabe Georges Braques are really doing it for us.

Ceramic Bowl Still Life, $98 at Minted 

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Ceramic Vase Still Life, $98 at Minted

If you can’t cut the cord...

Chord

Photo: Etsy

Cover it. After all, the gall of that dangler, chemtrailing from our TVs with such blatant disregard for our aesthetic sanity. If you can’t feed your television cord through a drilled hole, a cloth cord cover makes for a nice substitute (and no holes in any subletted walls). The final product is a rather composed, chic fabric intestine trialing from your telly. 

Ivory Lamp Cord Cover, $14 at Etsy

Just...get a cool TV?

Vintage Portable TV Yugoslavia

Photo: Etsy

We’re usually watching Netflix on our phones or computers anyways. It’s honestly nice to have a vintage TV—comforting, in a way today’s TVs just don’t manage. They’re art objects in and of themselves, like this red-orange set from 1970s Yugoslavia. Whadda flex. 

Vintage Portable TV Set From Yugoslavia, $126.90 at Etsy

Lean into the kitsch 

Antique Style French Baroque Frame

Photo: Amazon

Fuck it! Liberace that 30-inch widescreen. Lean into the glory of reality TV, The Real World nostalgia, and the glory of the fact that we live in an age where our eyeballs can go from Swamp Loggers to Painting With John in a blink by giving your TV the Rococo treatment. 

Antique Style French Baroque Style Picture Frame, $29.11 at Amazon

If you’ve always wanted to be a globe person

Map

Photo: Etsy

We’ve always wanted to have a classy globe, but it’s just not that easy to have a giant orb taking up a whole corner in our apartments. These pull-down maps are the next-best thing, and hide our TVs in the process.

Vintage Ocean Floor Map TV Cover, $374.50 at Etsy

We hope this breakdown helped you feel a little more inspired, particularly in the goal of centering more good art and design in your life. Or at least shaking up your quar with another object to fight with.


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