The unique design challenges presented by guestroom TVs

(Design Directions)

As TVs in guestrooms have evolved, their role in the overall design of the room has also changed. Designers must be more aware of viewing angles, ideal viewing distance from a screen and access to peripherals.

Tim Hepworth, senior associate and colaboratory studio leader at EDG Interior Architecture and Design, said that the positioning of a TV in a guestroom depends on the location of the hotel, the size of the room and the brand. “Before we look at any technology, we carefully review those elements,” he said. The technology design takes shape after the company determines what, exactly, the hotel needs.

The TV, said Buddy McDowell, president of Georgia-based Design Directions International, is one of the first things his team considers when creating a guestroom. “There are two ways to do a TV in a standard room,” he said. “You either set it on a dresser or a chest, or you mount it on the wall.” Mounting directly on a wall, he added, is not advisable because the sound can carry to the adjacent room. “So what we normally do is build in a millwork piece, which may be done by the millwork or the casegoods manufacturer.” The TV can then be attached to the millwork piece, providing both a buffer for sound and a space where unsightly wires can be hidden.

“Some large-format smart TVs can really make a space look like a futuristic tech hub,” Hepworth said. “Some are designed to blend into the surroundings—hidden behind artwork or built-in. At the end of the day, it depends on the strategic plan for the hotel. We look for inventive solutions that blend it into the vision. We’ve used concealed TVs in a popup or behind a panel.”

Designs for Viewing

Hotels want to “ensure there is a clear view from [both] the bed and desk,” said Emily Morley, senior interior designer at ForrestPerkins. “One concern with increasing the size of the TVs is that we need to increase the viewing distance, if possible. For instance, for a 50-inch screen, the recommended distance from the viewer to the TV is 6 feet to 10 feet, whereas a 65-inch screen needs more [space].” Morley recommends as much as 13 feet for these larger screens.

On the other hand, guests shouldn’t be so far from the screen that they can’t see detail, either. “Normally, we don’t want anyone to be positioned more than 17 feet from the TV,” McDowell said. Fortunately, many hotel rooms are less than 15 feet wide—but suites or unusual configurations can present a challenge. “We’ve done suites where you have a living room and a bedroom, and in between, we put a millwork piece that housed the TV and the TV could rotate,” McDowell said. While this is a clever solution, he acknowledged that it presents its own challenges. “We obviously need to be concerned with what the backside of the TV looks like. You need to be able to camouflage wiring and components of the back of the TV so it’s presentable when the TV is facing the other direction.”