Furniture makers adapt pieces to thin televisions
Kim Shaver’s not ready to eulogize the armoire.
“The demise of the armoire is greatly overstated,” says the spokeswoman for Hooker Furniture, which specializes in entertainment units.
“It’s one of — if not the most — classic pieces of furniture. I don’t think it’s going to go away.”
She will concede, however, the armoire has more competition for housing televisions than ever before, thanks to the growing popularity of flat-panel TVs. Hooker and other companies have responded by introducing different options for stowing flat-panel TVs and slowing production of armoires designed for TVs.
“No one is talking about putting their TV in an armoire anymore,” confirms Megan Pollack, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Electronics Association.
A drop in the price of plasma and liquid crystal display televisions has created record sales of the sets and affected the furniture market. Sales of flat-screen TVs in the U.S. are expected to top 25.9 million this year, according to the association, based in Arlington, Va. That’s 81 per cent of the expected television purchases in 2008.
The new televisions are so popular that interior designers say they rarely work with any other style of TV.
Furniture makers have started producing hutches, consoles and shelving units designed to work with the new televisions. The sets’ slim design gives homeowners many more options.
“It allows the room to feel much larger,” said Richard Ott of DesignSourceCT in Hartford, Conn. “You don’t have this deep, full cabinet filling the room.”
Some customers opt to set the television on console cabinets, long buffet-like pieces with shelves or drawers. Others like putting them in a hutch, where the TV can be surrounded with shelves for displaying photos or knick-knacks. To accommodate the flat screen’s shape, most of the new pieces are rectangular.
Ott has placed televisions in credenzas and bookcases for clients. He recently tucked one into a secretary desk behind fabric-lined, glass windows.
Advancements in technology also make it possible to store components for watching movies or recording programs in a cabinet across the room from the television, Ott said.
“It offers a lot of flexibility if you’re designing around the TV,” he added. Hooker recently launched a new piece of furniture designed to hold the companion equipment —but not the TV.
The company’s “Fireside Piers” have adjustable shelves, ventilation and electrical outlets.
In its advertisements, the Martinsville, Va., company displays the units next to a fireplace, the television hung over the mantle.
The space above the fireplace is a prime location for the television, designers said. Many customers want to display the new televisions on the wall rather than hide them away in a piece of furniture, said Ott’s partner, Nancy Zwiener.
“They’re sleek. They’re almost an art object in themselves,” the designer said. “They’re almost a status symbol.”
The look of the new televisions does prompt people to leave them exposed, agreed Susan Schuyler Smith of Spectrum Interior Design in Vero Beach, Fla.
“It’s not like you’re trying to hide the big ugly box anymore,” she said. “People’s attitude toward TV has changed. They’re much more inclusive of televisions.”