Home & Leisure



Ask the Builder: Make a new flat-screen TV look old

Tim Carter, Tribune Content Agency on

Q: Tim, I’ve got a challenge for you. I live in a 100-year-old Craftsman house with gorgeous wood trim around the windows and doors. The trim is wide, and there’s a stunning head piece across the top of all windows and doors.

My problem is that I have a flat-screen TV in my den and it looks out of place. It’s so modern and I hate how it looks. What can I do to make the new TV look old, and how can I brighten the room? --Piper W., Montrose, Calif.

A: I know Piper isn’t the only person who doesn’t like how modern flat-screen TVs clash with stunning woodwork found in many older homes. I’m not a fan of how stark the TVs are. My son loves the modern look, and his flat screen compliments the industrial look in his loft apartment.

My good friends Russ and Ann faced with the same conundrum. They live in a classic Craftsman home that I’ve visited countless times. Russ grew up in the house and it’s become part of his soul.

Ann happens to be the handy person in the duo. She’s a serious DIYer and can do any task, be it plumbing, plastering, painting or carpentry. She solved a problem similar to Piper's by imagining their flat-screen TV as an actual window.

Ann cobbled together wood trim to surround the TV and mounted it to the wall. Once the TV was installed, the room, which only had one window, was brightened in a hurry. The look was so fantastic Russ went out and bought two more TVs for the other walls!


I imagine the woodwork in Piper’s home is similar to that in Russ and Ann’s home. I’m sure her windows have true wooden windowsills that are 4 or 5 inches deep and they project out beyond the vertical wood casing that is on either side of the window. A larger head casing spans over the window much like a flat beam.

In almost all cases there’s a distinctive piece of half-round bead molding on the bottom of the head casing and a cap molding on top of the head casing that looks just like crown molding. I had this same look at my last Queen Anne Victorian home.

Ann simply surrounded the three flat-screen TVs in their den with the same exact woodwork that trims out the one window in their room. It’s easy to do with minimal tools. All one really needs is a decent sliding 10-inch miter saw and a finish nail gun. You’ll never regret using the nail gun, trust me.

The first step is to use 1x4s to create an upside-down U that surrounds the two sides and top of the flat-screen TV. The window sill part of the treatment will form the bottom of this box that surrounds the flat screen. I’d leave a gap of about 1/2 inch between the TV and the wood. Ann decided to have the three U-shaped components project out about a 1/2 inch from the front of the flat-screen TV.


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