Five questions with interior designer Lisa Schmitz

Kansas City designer Lisa Schmitz learned the business from the ground up. Over thirty years ago she started at a small firm and was exposed to every piece of the process. In the meantime she’s gotten married, had two children and started her own firm with a philosophy that melds art, a modern aesthetic and a love for natural wood that includes both finishings and hiking the national parks. She knows a thing or two about home and the elements that create it—even televisions.

Do you prefer clients have a dedicated media room if they can?
We have not designed media rooms for the sole purpose of watching TV. We prefer to create rooms that provide an atmosphere for reading, playing games and family gatherings that may not include turning on the TV. In most cases, they are part of an open floor plan or connected to adjacent areas without being shut off from the rest of the house.

Do you prefer televisions visible or hidden?
In some rooms it’s fine to allow the TV to be visible, but I don’t like the TV to become the focal point of the room, especially when this spot is really visible from other parts of the home. We often design rooms where the TV may not be hidden, but is disguised a bit.
If the background of the TV wall is dark, then the solid black screen does not stand out as a large black void. We’ve surrounded televisions with black steel or dark stained cabinetry so the TV is not so prominent and becomes part of a larger mass. Recessing the TV and an articulating bracket lets the TV sit flush and hides the tangle of wires behind.
In our own kitchen I relied on the black of the recessed shelf, the picture frame, the lighting and the appliances to create a kind of gallery wall where the television becomes one element.

How important is sound and what’s the best way to handle wiring and speakers?
When designing a space where a “surround sound” system is desired, the pre-construction ability to run wiring is best. There are a lot of speaker options out there, and placements are often best with speakers actually in the wall or behind the TV. We have used a type of sound bar speaker, which typically is black, and can be mounted under the TV. When this sound bar is the same length as the TV, it is hardly noticeable.

Do you have a dedicated media/TV room at home?
We do not have a dedicated TV room. With our recent remodel, we were able to tailor the family room to better fit our needs. The TV is now on the same wall as the fireplace, allowing us to enjoy both at the same time. The TV is mounted at seated eye level to the side of the fireplace, giving the fireplace, mantle and artwork above center stage.

Do you and your family sit down to watch movies, shows or sports together? Or do you find that everyone is in his own place with his own screen?
Sure, we are often in different areas watching our smaller screens, but the kids do not have TVs or large screens in their rooms. We enjoy gathering on the sectional to watch the Royals or movies and make it an event together.

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