Modern Television Placement Guide

As makers of entertainment furniture, our design and sales staff are often asked for professional advice about television placement.

Pictured: Flat screen television placed in an Emma Entertainment Center.

Of course there is no single best answer for everybody, but here are some best practices and tips:

Don’t sit too far away from the television.

For the most common TV sizes (39 to 55 inch screens), placing seating about eight or nine feet away from your wall unit, entertainment center or TV stand works well.

Oftentimes, televisions much larger or smaller than average will find themselves in rather large or small rooms and the distance from the entertainment unit to the couch will work itself out in many of these cases.

If you’re not certain about all the measurements, it is usually better to be a little closer for most TV’s. So even if that distance is larger than your space allows, it won’t be a problem so long as you don’t place the TV too high.

More detailed information about other size televisions is available at this entertainment center buying guide.

Keep the TV at eye level when sitting.

Resist the temptation to place the TV at a height where it is at eye level when standing in the room. Viewers should be able to look nearly straight ahead at the middle of the television while seated, ideally without needing to tilt their head up or down more than 15 degrees.

This optimal line of sight allows for the most comfortable viewing, minimizing pain or stiffness in and around the neck while also keeping viewers in the place were most televisions deliver the best picture quality: right in front of the TV.

One easy way to test out the line of sight is to cut a piece of cardboard the size of the TV. This is easy to move around and try at different heights to match TV stands and other entertainment furniture on your wish list.

A Lower TV is Usually Better

ArmorMount and Sanus, two different sellers of TV wall mounts, state the following in their own respective publications:

“Note that most people mount their TV too high, such that they are looking upward at their TV. This is to be avoided as it will cause neck strain.”

“More times than not, people end up mounting their TV too high which can ultimately lead to a poor TV viewing experience.”

Keeping this in mind, it is usually considered best to avoid hanging the television high on the wall in an effort to line up neatly with paintings or other wall art in a room. Positioning the television above built in fireplaces is also not an ergonomic best practice because of the height of the television in this arrangement.

Beware the Glare

Even with modern flat screens and “anti-glare” screen covers, the best way to truly “glare proof” your television is to remove or reduce as much light as possible.

Bright interior lights are the obvious first thing to eliminate, but be mindful that watching TV in complete darkness has been shown to cause eye strain after prolonged viewing. Bias lighting (ambient lighting placed behind the television) or dimmable lighting are more comfortable for most people.

The other thing to consider is windows. If you find yourself in front of the entertainment center more often in the evening, then west facing windows are going to be a source of glare more frequently.

Room darkening window treatments are probably the easiest solution for sun glare from outside.

A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

Remember that every room is different, and these suggestions are meant as helpful guidelines, not hard and fast rules that must be followed every time.

If the size, shape or layout of your space limit some of these possibilities, keeping the others in mind as you are planning your living room or family room can be helpful!