No, we didn't make the word up. "Techorating" was a catchy term coined back in 2008 by interior designer, Doug Wilson, as a concept for the emergence of integrating home technology and home decor in balance with one another. The TLC's Trading Spaces host created the system as sort of feng shui for home tech, primarily outlining the importance of planning and placement of tech elements brought into the home with visual harmony in mind, something your average Geek Squad member is likely forgetting when helping you put together the perfect home entertainment room.
The techorating philosophy was a departure from the previous era of "bigger is better", when homeowners would sometimes try to fit gargantuan projection screen televisions and furniture-sized home audio systems into living rooms without much consideration about the rest of their home decor. With so many designer-styled components readily available, there's no reason to decorate in yesterday's style with today's technologies. Here are some examples of how to techorate your own space.
Tips for Techorating the Home:
1. Measure for Viewing Pleasure! The center of any home entertainment and media setup will likely be your HDTV, the 21st century digital "hearth of the home". Hopefully you've upgraded to a flat screen HDTV model by now. But if not, or if you plan to upgrade, make sure you purchase the right size for the right space. Like those late informercials promote, size does matter. Too big of a set in a smaller space can tire the eyes and actually degrade the quality of the image (if seated too close, you can see individual pixels), while too small of a screen in a large space can detract from the immersive effects we all seek while watching movies, sports and television. Use the chart above to determine how far back your seating area should be in accordance to the size of your television set.
2. Maintain Eye Level: Wilson proposes finding the right space for the HDTV can include positioning it over your mantel, but we'd disagree with this assessment, not due to a difference of aesthetic assessment, but because of the ergonomic factors of long term viewing at a non-optimal angle. Consider how much easier on the neck and shoulders it is to use a computer monitor either at eye level or even slightly lower than one positioned above your eyes. The same effect applies to the larger television screens.
And anyway, the mantel and fireplace area often has competing design elements, like large mirrors, decorative elements and framed items that will create too much of a cluttered effect unless expertly handled. Consider finding an empty wall, free from too many distracting elements or using a swing arm wall mount to isolate your set. You want to focus on the screen, not decorations, while watching Mad Men.
3. Complement and Collage: This doesn't mean you have to leave the HDTV as the only thing on the wall. You can add a few complementary elements in the surrounding space using symmetrical design and equal proportions which help accentuate and complement your set. The idea is to create a collage which incorporate the flat panel as a decor element, not an intrusive piece.
4. Design Considerations: Consider the color, finish, size and shape of your home technology components in relation to the decor of the rest of your home (can you believe those three little black dots in the photo above are speakers?). There are plenty of options for hiding away these elements with some careful organizational tools and component options. Because sometimes the best place for tech is hidden away, but accessible at the touch of a button. Giving everything a designated space will make techorating a lot easier.
5. Use the Space Below Your Screen: adding a credenza or other wide, low piece of furniture underneath the set will aid in anchoring the presence of your television into the decor while giving you place to hide away all your media and components (our favorites are vintage stereo cabinets, because of their design presence and storage). One of our favorite examples is from a past tech tour, shown above, which illustrates the idea of vertical furniture in parallel with the image being watched.
6. Keep Lighting Indirect, Dimmable: Overhead lighting, like recessed or track lighting can affect picture quality. Using dimmable lamps and indirect lighting sources near/around the television can help reduce glare. LED backlighting is popular right now, but we prefer a neutral background and dimmable lighting away from the set, as shown with this minimal modern setup.
7. Dark and Lovely: Painting or wallpapering the wall behind the HDTV a darker shade than normal will help make the surrounding area disappear while viewing. Choosing the right color for your home entertainment setup's surrounding walls will help increase contrast and control reflected light.
8. Flatter is Better: Super flat televisions, wall mountable speakers, even flat A/V cables…thin is in when it comes to techorating. And if all else fails, give the impression of slimming presence by using Wiremold or enclosing audio/video elements directly into the wall.
We're in the process of techorating our apartment right now, and will followup with additional examples illustrating the ideas above as we progress (guess what we'll be doing during holiday vacation?). For more about techorating tips from the Techorator himself, head on over to Doug Wilson's LG site, dedicated to the art of techorating. We're hoping to come back from the January CES show with more techorating tools that work in harmony with the tips above. But for now, feel free to chime in with your own techorating tips below.