7 ideas to house a flatscreen TV in your retro interior

vintage stereo retrofitted to hold plasma tvThe recent invitation to readers to upload photos of their televisions and how they incorporate them into their homes yielded a bundle of ideas. Today, I want to spotlight some of my favorites — in particular, several that start with vintage furniture as a base for our big ole high def plasmas. I tend to believe that a large TV is best viewed when it’s at eye level (when you are sitting down.) That means that vintage stereo cabinets, buffets and credenzas are perfectly proportioned to hold your plasma TV. And, there’s plenty of room for all the electronic paraphrenalia, hiding your speakers — even some decor (read on…) For example, Will shows how to convert a vintage stereo cabinets to house his multimedia systems (above), explaining:

I’m Will, and I fix old tvs and radios as a hobby…. With a little rewiring, this Philco console is my favorite. I use this as my entertainment center in my living room. With some new connections, the stereo is used as surround sound for my tv, a CD player, a MP3 player, and of course its original purpose as a record player AM/FM stereo… all with the original components. Friends are always amazed by the sound quality and room.



Erica and Brian hacked a craigslist find for to hold their tv set:

We got a giant hand-me-down TV, so it’s been hard to find something to put it on. We found this 1960s stereo cabinet on Craigslist, and gutted it. – Erica & Brian in Richland Hills, TX

vintage buffet to hold tv

This conversion by no-name is so pretty, and the addition of lights is inspired:
TV is mounted on wall over stereo cabinet retrofited with cabinets to hold CDs & DVDs – speakers were taken out and lights added to showcase art on either side.

Yowza, Kate G is a super-achiever. Look at this conversion– the plasma tv folds down to be hidden away. She writes:
DIY Console TV, bonus: you can stash a component and/or remotes in the record bin inside. TV is wall mounted and over a “stereo” cabinet that originally housed turntable/radio.When we bought the console someone had already removed the phonograph so we attached a metal plate and wall bracket in that area. It worked out that the TV was just the right size that the lid actually helps prop up the back of the TV.  We could have gone with a slightly bigger TV but I wanted to have access to the stereo knobs and buttons when the TV was laid flat in the console. side note: There’s is actually a LOT of space in the cabinet underneath (I’m suspecting most consoles are the same in that regard) and we toyed with the idea of putting in “rails” and a motorized mechanism to raise and lower the TV. In the end cheap and lazy won out.

flat screen tv on vintage buffet

Buffets also seem to be perfectly sized for a retrofit, or for use just as-is with no required rework. Another no-name writes:

Basement cave…old buffet piece with tons of storage!

I also like Chase’s TV set up — very ingenious, especially if you are living in a small or multi-tasking space. Yay – Plasmas are so much more lightweight than the old tube televisions:
Admittedly, this isn’t super mid-century but I’ve put my 40″ TV on a set of Elfa Shelves that also hold my books and some of my shell collection. All of this sits above my 1961 Standard Furniture Co. Desk. The TV also works as my computer monitor since I am in a relatively small studio apartment.
sewn cover for plasma tv
And this no-name leaves us with an adorable idea — and a smile:
Don’t worry about it! Hang it on the wall where you want it and make a retro cover!


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    • Dott says

      that tv cover is adorable!!! how did you do it? i’d love to have something fun to cover our flat screen.

    • ilovepink says


      I’m admiring your TV cover. I’ve been searching high and low for an aqua print with retro items. The print in the middle of your cover seems to be exactly what I’m looking for. Can you please tell me where I can find some similar??? Please???


  1. says

    will, that is amazing! i have an old console that came in our house – it’s just amazing, but doesn’t work. i would love to get it fixed up, but i haven’t the foggiest where to look for someone to do that sort of thing. anyone have any suggestions? or know people in arkansas? =)

    • Will says

      Thanks, Lady Brett! I’m in Virginia, so sadly I can’t help you in person with your console. I do have a few suggestions though on how you can find someone in your area to help!

      1) Before I did anything else, I’d try to find the sams photofact on your particular console. Sam’s has specialized for decades in repair manuals for household radios/stereos/tvs and has wiring diagrams for units back to at least the 1940s. You can find there site here: https://www.samswebsite.com/photofacts.html Place the model number in the search box (usually on the back of your console) and find the sams id number. If you choose you can order it from Sams or go on ebay and search you might get it cheaper. Unless your repair is very minor (a burned out vacuum tube, a broken dial string, etc.) anyone who you get to work on your console is going to need this information to fix it.

      2) See if you have an old fashoned TV repair in your area. They may do it or know someone who would be able to locally. If that isn’t available in your area, try putting an add on craigslist, or you can look around on technical sites like audiokarma.com and see if someone around would be willing to repair it for you.

      3) Another option is learning the trade yourself. That’s why I started. It’s a great hobby and not that hard when you get some practice in. Start with some old radios and do some reading up. If your lucky, perhaps you’ll find someone locally willing to apprentice you like I did. It’s not that hard once you get the hang of it. 🙂

      I hope this helps! -Will

      • Will says

        Oh, a couple more things.

        1) Does your console open on the top? No worries, wall mount the tv and do the same thing. Most consoles have some space over the speakers or on the floor underneith where you can place your dvd player/cable box.

        2) If you are looking for a project. I recommed getting a unit with vacuum tubes instead of a “solid state” transistor unit. The vacuum tubes are MUCH easier to work on for the home hobiest and sound better, imho. However, your local tv repair is more likely to be able to work on transistors (since they are still in use today). I personaly recommend the brands Zenith, Philco, and Magnavox from the 50’s/early 60’s. Magnavox had the best sound quality at the time (though Philco and Zenith were among the top). Zenith had the best construction quality and kept hand wired chasis the longest (i.e. human hands put it together, so human hands can take it apart and fix it easier). Again the others were among the top. Philco, to my knowledge, was the only american manufacturer at the time to offer a front opening cabinet. It’s nice because you can get to the controls, but still place things on top, like a 42in. LCD tv!

        *Oh and for your random knowledge, controls were placed on the top of most consoles for easier reach for adults and to keep children from messing with mom and dad’s expensive stereo as easily.*

    • A.W.Richards says

      If you’ve got a music store (i.e. guitars, amplifiers, p.a. equipment etc.) in your area, chances are they know someone that works on guitar amplifiers. And since the best guitar amplifiers are tube types (still made, btw), it’s not that much of a stretch that they can work on radios and possibly even televisions (though tv’s are considerably more complicated).

    • says

      thanks for all the suggestions!

      i’m keen on the idea of doing it myself, but i’m not sure a new hobby is practical (or something my other half will put up with!) – but either way that gives me a few starting points.

  2. Will says

    Pam, If you’d like I’d be willing to write a how to for converting your typical _working_ stereo console into an auxillary speaker/surround sound unit. It actually isn’t that hard and with few exceptions (usually units made outside the U.S.A.), it can be done with only about $30-$50 worth of parts from radio shack, no cutting wires or saudering involved! 🙂 Just let me know!

    • Ann-Marie Meyers says

      WIll, count me in as one of the yeas for that. I had planned on finding a non-working console shell and retrofitting it with modern components, but I keep finding pieces that work except for one or two things, and it would break my heart to destroy them.
      KInd of like tearing out a mid century kitchen and doing the granite and stainless steel thing.
      I would like to add an iPod dock to the set-up so I can listen to Pandora, but that is a no brainer.

    • Noah says

      Thanks for the tips will, I’m just getting into the hobby of fixing old record players and radios for home use. I’d love a written tutorial, if you are still offering, on how to do the conversion.

      I just bought an old Zenith record player console and am beginning the process of turning it into a housing for my TV.

    • Kelly says

      I’d be VERY interested in learning how to rig my console stereo up with surround sound!!! I have a Packard-Bell RPC-39 that my husband got for $20 at the garage sale down the street. Speakers/ Am/FM all work great, and it’s in beautiful condition. By far, my favorite piece of furniture!

      Also, have NO idea how to connect a MP3/IPod dock to it..I know it can be done and I’ve tried but gave up. Anyone out there who give me some advice? I have no absolutely no experience working with electronics so I hope it’s simple!!! 🙂

      Love this thread! 🙂

    • says

      Hi Will,
      I know this is an old thread but I would love to know how to convert my console stereo, also where to start learning the trade, recommended books etc.
      Thanks for your kind offer,

    • Laura says

      Love your piece, June! Can you describe how you went about converting it? Might like to try something like that if we can find a similar piece. Thanks!

  3. Birdo says

    For Kate G., or anyone else who might know:
    I like your drapes! Any idea what kind of search terms I should use to find some like that?

  4. says

    I’m trying to come up w/ a solution myself — thinking perhaps of hiding one behind a multi-door cabinet that can be disguised as “art”… Stay tuned… 😉

  5. Austin says

    i bought a 1958 rca victor tv that no longer worked but the cabinet was in great shape, gutted the inside, and mounted a crt tv from the early 2000’s behind the glass and bakelite molding surround. it looks just like a tv from the 1950’s!

  6. John says

    I have mine sitting on top of a philco hifi console, love the idea of putting the tv inside, will measure when i return home.

  7. Chrystal Allen says

    Clearly I need to follow RR much more closely..I never saw the stereo/TV uploader and am feeling super bummed about missing it. Mostly because when the uploader is turned on, I don’t have and can’t play along (I’m glaring at you, Kitchmas). Oh, but this time, I could have! Our flat screen lives on top of our Sonora stereo cabinet. I tore out the record player and speakers, now using the cabinet to house my cable box and gaming equipment. I also gutted a late 40s Phillips console TV and am in the process of turning that into a bar/standing desk – Mr.Hemingway would be proud 🙂

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