Creating a Radio/TV Display Room
For most of the last twenty years, I displayed my collection of radios and TVs all
over the house, cramming the sets into any room where I could find space. This
created lots of clutter and it was less than ideal for presentation purposes.
In 2014, we decided to build a new detached garage. The doors on our attached garage weren't
tall enough for our SUV and we desperately needed more space. I had used one corner of the garage
as a radio/TV workshop for years, but this was a cramped area and the rest of the space was so full of
jumbled items—bicycles, lawnmower, motorcycle, emergency generator, and "stuff"—that we hadn't parked a car indoors in over
After the new garage was built, we converted the former two-bay attached garage into a two-room
radio/TV space. One room (not pictured here) became my new workshop and the other
became my new display zone:
The fourth photo was taken using my iPhone's pano effect,
to give you an idea what the entire room looks like. The panorama introduces
some distortion, but you can see the complete layout at a glance.
Here's a list of most of the items in this room, from left to right.
How Much is Enough?
I originally pictured this as a combined radio/TV display area, with floor space for
all of my TVs and shelves for a number of radios. When I began to add up
some dimensions, it became clear that I'd have to be more selective.
If you visit a well-designed museum, you'll see that each item is given enough
elbow room that you can appreciate it fully. When items are crammed too
close together, you can't focus on individual pieces and the overall effect is a chaotic
I had planned to install shelves along the upper parts of the side
walls, but after I moved in the TVs and a couple of standing shelves, I decided
that wall shelves would make the room too claustrophobic.
Every remodeling project involves compromise. The room is more crowded than
I'd like from an aesthetic viewpoint, with TVs standing cheek-by-jowl along two walls. Yet, the space
still couldn't hold all of the "good stuff." Many
prized pieces, such as my RCA CT-100 TV or
Sparton Bluebird radio, still live elsewhere in the house.
Why Not Turn Them All On?
The TVs in this room have been restored, but I didn't include a photo of them all
playing at once, because such photos are difficult to stage. When the room is light enough to show
the dark cabinets clearly, the screens become washed out, and when you dim
the lights to get good screen images, the cabinets are lost in darkness.
If you want to see these TVs in action, consult the individual articles listed above; in those
cases I controlled the lighting carefully—often, with considerable backlighting—to
make a reasonable facsimile of what the TV looks like when playing.
Supplying the signal for a group photo is another issue. Currently, my in-house TV transmitter
is located in the adjacent workshop, only one room away, so it's possible to tune every TV to the channel
broadcast from that transmitter. But playing 15 TVs at once means putting up 15 rabbit-ear antennas,
creating an unsightly forest.
Another option would be to run a coaxial cable into this room, perhaps with a distribution
amplifier, to supply a direct signal for each TV. That eliminates the antenna forest, but it
means running more than a dozen cables around the room, creating another sort of tangle.
For the time being, I simply connect an antenna to whatever TV I want to watch at the moment.