The Low-Tech Living Room

The Low-Tech Living Room

Years ago, the fireplace used to be the focal point of the formal living room - that is, until eyeballs shifted to the mammoth flatscreen TV mounted above it. Now, designers and homeowners alike are extolling the merits of an unplugged relaxation space where human beings can congregate and converse old school, without digital distractions, ugly and obtrusive wires, and space-robbing consumer electronics. Welcome to the refreshingly retro era of the low- or no-tech living room.

"This trend is a return to having a space that is calm, encourages human interactions and is great for reading and relaxing. More people are making their homes a refuge from the stress of work, and part of that is escaping as much high-tech clutter as possible," says Pablo Solomon, designer with Beverly Solomon Design in Austin, Texas.

At very least, ridding the living room of your television and computer, which can easily be migrated to another area, encourages more quality time with family and more creative activities, says Greg Aragon, senior designer with Los Angeles-headquartered Allen Construction.

"This movement arose within the last 3 to 4 years as a reaction against smartphones, screen time and technology in general. The goal is feeling a technology weight lifted off our shoulders - as often occurs when we go on vacation and leave most of our gadgets behind," Aragon says, adding that an electronics-free living room can also cut your electricity bill.

Want to transform your living room into a tech-free/stress-free oasis? Try these tips:

1. Move your screens, stereo equipment and media storage to a different room. "Then, hang a picture that you love over the fireplace where the TV used to be, and replace your media cabinet with a tall shelf filled with books, games and objects that strike your fancy," says Leslie Banker, principal at Pamela Banker Associates, a New York City-based interior design firm.

2. If you can't move your tech elsewhere, hide it inside an armoire or custom cabinetry. "At the very least, wall mount your TV with the conduit inside the wall behind it, hiding all cables and wires from view. You can hide all the components like the cable box, DVD player and receiver in a cabinet or even a nearby closet; this equipment should be linked with a universal radio frequency remote," says Aragon. "And make a dedicated out-of-the-way spot for chargers, speakers, iPads and phones, too."

3. Set the mood with calm lighting, relaxing color choices and quiet music playing - preferably from a wireless Bluetooth speaker concealed somewhere in the room.

4. "Strategically place furniture to encourage conversation." Seated people should be easily able to talk to one another, and from every seat you should be able to put a glass or book down without having to stand up," says Banker. "Also, there should be at least one chair with a good reading light next to it."

5. Take advantage of Mother Nature. "Let in lots of natural light by adding skylights or getting window treatments that allow more light in," says CoCo Peterson, director of merchandise for Deqor, an online home furnishings retailer in Salt Lake City.


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