The Artwork in This London Living Room Is Actually a Big TV Cover-up

It’s built right into the open shelving.
living room with blue sofa

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When a French family relocated from the U.S. to the U.K., they hit the property jackpot with a tired-looking but traditional Victorian townhouse in London’s polished Kensington neighborhood. They enlisted the multidisciplinary firm OWN London to revamp the property and opened up the narrow entryway to the front lounge. But in doing so, it meant that as soon as you walked in, the first thing you saw was the TV screen on the central wall. 

“They didn’t want it to be too obvious,” explains OWN’s head of interior design, Alícia Meireles, who had plenty of stylish solutions up her sleeve. In her previous role at Soho House, she regularly disguised TV sets in the members’ club’s bedrooms. “Hiding it makes everything a little bit more atmospheric,” she explains. 

Building TV cabinet
Courtesy of OWN London
building TV cabinet
Courtesy of OWN London

Her initial idea was to tap into the client’s appreciation for texture and color by sourcing a vintage tapestry and splitting it in two. But the width of the TV screen (65 inches) made everything she found too small. “The old-school looms that tapestries were woven on were more like 30 inches,” she explains.

artful tv cabinet

Commissioning a piece from scratch was the answer. Meireles tapped into makers in her native Portugal, landing on a talented embroiderer who uses traditional techniques to create contemporary designs. Her brief was that it shouldn’t be too busy or overwhelming: “I wanted it to feel fresh and easy to look at, while not being the focus of the room, even though it’s in the center.” The client approved a sample, and the artist, Cristina Santos, set to work, composing a pair of abstract works on painted linen that boasts 17 types of stitching in colorful wool. “I had no idea there were so many types of embroidery!” says Meireles. It took nearly five weeks to craft.

Back in London, a local upholsterer wrapped the embroidered fabric around two padded panels, taking care to line them up just so. The finished pieces were framed like a typical piece of art in a wood surround, and the sides were cut generously enough so that they’re the only thing you have to touch when opening up the screens. 

fiber art cabinet closed
close up of fiber art

From the start, the idea was that the panels would be situated within a custom unit that also has open shelves. “There are family pictures and objects they’ve collected; it feels more purposeful that way,” says Meireles. A millworker then created an invisible mechanism whereby a wheel slides along the top of the shelf as the panels separate in tandem; a stopper ensures they open to just the right spot, and there is a neat soft-close function. The result is sturdy, highly functional, and the envy of visitors. “It creates that wow effect when they have guests over and they want to show something on TV. Not many people are used to seeing something like that,” says Meireles.

Olivia Lidbury is a freelance writer based in the U.K. She has been regularly contributing to Domino since 2021, pitching charming British houses, whimsical apartments and must-see vacation stays. Olivia also regularly writes for a number of national U.K. titles such as The Times and The Sunday Times Style magazine. She lives just outside of London in Kent.