Creating a Radio/TV Display Room

For most of the last twenty-plus 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.

2014 Remodel

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 a decade!

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.

Left Wall:
Back Wall:
Right Wall:

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 jumble.

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.

©1995-2019 Philip I. Nelson, all rights reserved