Integrating speakers into contemporary decor - can WAF ever be overcome?

This is a topic I'd like to see discussed more.  Not a speaker issue per se, but it's speakers that usually cause the problems. My partner is a hard core interior design/aesthetics type. We will shortly be combining households with all the benefits and challenges that this presents. We're both fans of a "Music In Every Room" (MIER) lifestyle, so that's a good start. But we quickly diverge. And to be clear, we're not talking about giant screens on the wall or home theater. This is audio only.

Anyway, her idea of MIER is built-in speakers or, at most, tiny Sonos units on a bookshelf or behind furniture. I had some of that in my house albeit BlueOS stuff. That's OK to a point. But my LR had KEF LS50's on stands. Obviously difference in sound is dramatic, and she admitted it. But she doesn't care. For her the improvement in sound quality is negated by aesthetic horror of visible speakers.

It's worth mentioning that the decor/design aesthetic in question is basically high end transitional with mix of contemporary stuff, Asian antiques, some colonial antiques, large format abstract oils, etc. It's >not< traditional or frou-frou, really a look where the right speakers could easily be interpreted as industrial design pieces that mesh well with the rest. The LS50s fit that description I think.

So, getting to the question here... Has anybody had any luck convincing spouse that speakers can be a part of the decor?  To think of them as some kind of sculptural elements, not "just ugly speakers?"  That they're industrial design elements that somehow add to space? Have links to pix of living spaces that integrated speakers into the look? Any help or ideas would be great. Thanks for reading, a kind of odd topic, I know. Cheers,


How about some in-wall speakers covered with fabric that matches the wall paint color.

I think at least half of the quality (mid/hi-fi) speakers are ugly. That’s one problem. The other is placement: if someone doesn’t see that in order to have sound, you need to have speakers somewhere, they will not like even the most beautiful speakers. Maybe let her help with finding the ideal location?
Still, some speakers are so freaking beautiful, that it's hard not to want them in your living room.

repaint again with pink , or orange or young red will be satisfying your wife

First of all remember you are both living in this space, so you should be allowed input. On the other hand you can adapt by getting some speakers that are not an affront to the aesthetic. So, do some looking… there are absolutely drop dead gorgeously stand mounted speakers that will look and sound better than those KEFs. Cough up the money. 

Also, pick your spot… find one of the locations to be your spot for really enjoying music. Stake your claim. 

Also, when you have a plan or Whang to buy something… go all out, wine her, dine her, shower her with gifts.. then bring up what you want to do… how could she refuse such a wonderful guy.

When I was building my audio system my partner (of 37 years now) was into aesthetics of the house and home theater. So I would buy her a really great piece of high end home theater gear… and then buy myself an amp… or speakers… or whatever. Once you treat her first, she will have a hard time denying you. 


My speakers are large (51"H), and my wife has never been a fan.  It's an ongoing point of contention, even after 41 years.  She's happiest when they're shoved into the corners, where they happen to sound pretty dead.  Most of the time we compromise with them out in the room just a bit so I can tolerate the sound.  On occasion, I'll pull them out and let them sing.  It's not ideal, but it's better than some invisible ceiling speakers, or something hiding behind the books.

To satisfy all parties in this endeavor, including interior designers, I’ve had great luck with products like the James Small Aperture series:


They also have subwoofers that can be hidden in some creative places:

Origin Acoustics also now has something similar:

However, James really sets the bar for that type of solution  They can even design, fabricate and custom finish any speaker design you can dream up.  They aren’t cheap, though.




I have to apologize for my prior post.  I just couldn’t resist and I’m a sad person.  In all seriousness now, and realizing that not only do I not know your taste but very likely have nowhere near either of your senses and/or gifts for style, I’ve always considered these Italian-designed Diapason speakers to be among the most strikingly beautiful I’ve ever seen and almost as much wood sculpture as they are speakers.  And to me the beauty is magnified because they’re also form-follows-function designs so the beauty is not just skin deep.

For a more industrial look, if that’s what you’re more into, the Gallo Strada 2 might fit the bill.

My highest recommendation would be for you to claim a dedicated audio room of your own and pick what you like for both sound and aesthetics.  Everything else will likely be a huge compromise in sound quality, and life is too short to be a slave to looks alone IMHO.  Best of luck.

When we built our house, we made sure we had a guest room that, when we didn't have guests, I could do whatever might float my boat.  When guests show up, my stereo is shunted into a corner and a bed is brought out. Luckily, this has only happened once or twice.

It sounds like some compromise is necessary.

What about putting speakers in cabinets with doors you would open for listening?

Among a number of manufacturers, Salamander makes furniture and racks for audio applications.  With various decor styles, here is one relatively simple design:

This cabinet happens to be 41" high with flexible shelf heights, so "bookshelf"  speakers might have tweeters at a decent 35-39" height.  Support rigidity would be good, although cabinet walls would be subject to "some" vibration.

You could even slide the speakers a few inches out of the cabinet when listening to manage diffraction effects.

What about putting speakers in cabinets with doors you would open for listening?

Just shoot me in the head and get it over with.

It may be my own taste ; but you can’t go wrong , aestheticly speaking with     
the new    Tannoy Stirling III LZ Special Edition.

there are archetecturally friendly solutions


abasse rialtos  Streaming loudspeakers

artcoustic on wall hidden art speakers

then you van use an nad or naim streaming amplifier and vola you can have a grest sounding waf acceptable real music system.

Dave and Troy

audio intellect nj.

artcoustic,cabasse,Naim nad dealers.


most of these link above were aesthetically ... well.... strange, to me. Of course tastes are subjective - to some degree

@soix 3+. Nailed it.  Thank you.

Wow, @fastfreight nailed it too.  

My wife has no delusions of interior design goddess and when she wants, she plugs into her very own respectable system which would embarrass 99% of what's out there.  I brought back Kimber Kable speaker cables from CES years ago for her system, she made fun of me, plugged them in and forgave me for not bringing flowers.

The currency that becomes overriding is interesting and sometimes near obtuse.

Don’t go through with the merger. She’ll become insufferable to live with as time goes by.


What about putting speakers in cabinets with doors you would open for listening?

"Just shoot me in the head and get it over with."

Lol.  Be glad I don't have a gun.

I believe it’s a function of your wife’s understanding and flexibility, and how much whipped you....:)

For myself, my audio chain is a major bucket list item so my wife allows me the freedom to meet my dream. I’d do likewise to try my utmost to fulfill her dreams...unless it includes replacing her spouse...:(

Answering your main question: No, WAF can never be overcome.

I am happily married 21 years now and since the moment I wanted to install a medium level audio system, I found the "problem" of the speakers. I bought not my preferred choice and I got my wife permanently complaining about those “things" for several years. Finally my wife designed together with a furniture designer something to "integrate" the equipment and the loudspeakers (white of course) with the decoration. This "original" furniture design was more expensive than the music equipment.

Now, after moving to a new home I am going thru my first serious system upgrade and my approach has been to look for speakers within my budget (white of course) and show them to my wife: it is important for her to feel that her views are taken into consideration.

At the end I have been lucky because I've found a dealer that visited our home and really is interested in design. He offered a nice and expensive Artesania Audio rack (white of course) and also MBL speakers because he thought that the speakers could match our home ¡bingo!

I would never have imagined that MBL speakers would be acceptable to my wife. I have showed her dozens of speakers thinking that my wife could like some of them: fatal error.

What I have learned from this long process is first, that she has to have very clear that music is an important part of your life and you want to listen to in the best possible conditions.

Second, that you understand that your home is a place where she has to feel comfortable, just like you, and you will not force her to see every day something horrible for her in the room.

Third, that she participates in the speakers selection so, look for them TOGETHER THRU YOUR PREVIOUS AND VERY WIDE SELECTION and do not close your mind to any design. But do not let her to search for herself and if you can get the help of a WAF experimented dealer, better indeed.

+1 noromance! If that isn’t an option go with some high end stand mounts to match your high end decor. The Borresen M1 should do nicely! Good luck your gonna need it 

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In answer to the question, can WAF ever be overcome?  The answer is yes, but you may end up paying alimony or serving a lengthy prison sentence.  My personal solution is the basement man cave.

I am going through the same thing as I attempt to take over the second floor parlor in our home. Moved a spare system in, and it was “what’s this?” Just experimenting dear. 

@bondmanp   Ultimate solution is mancave, and that will be project numero uno.  Ultimately that will double as HT room and serious listening room.  There's plenty of space but basement will require finishing - actually advantageous cause I can fiddle with size to try to optimize acoustics.  But that's another matter.  Immediate issue is unncessarily living with Sonos when I have much better just sitting in boxes.

As for unserious new partner comments, whipped etc, understand thjis:  Partner wanted simple small 2 BR condo.  Instead we're getting 3300 sq ft 4 BR with workshop, fancy kitchen, unfinished basement for mancave/HT, etc etc, all for me.    But the bargain was that she gets to decorate.  So I'm figuring out how to kind of back-pedal on the deal.

If you can't hide or disguise them then feature them. Present your choice of speaker and challenge her decorative chops to integrate them into the decor.

WAF???  WTF!

I think you should try diplomatically to point out that when you decided to move in together quality audio was important to you. At least you have the advantage of her feeling 1) music is important and 2) that she can hear the difference. I would try insisting on having some speakers of quality in your prime listening area, but let her know that you are willing to have her pick the look. If she anbsolutely says no, then you have a problem, but since this is important to you, you should at least act as if you are putting your foot down and see what happens. And then once she lets you know what she can live with, pick the best versions that you can afford, even though they may not be what you would have chosen on your own.  
When my wife and I moved in together she knew I came with my KEF 104s. About four years ago I started redoing my system, and 18 months ago got to the point of getting new speakers.  Because they were supposed to go in a space that was otherwise known as her living room, I was prioritizing speakers that were not picky about speaker placement. This caused me to look at a number of different Focal speakers and also had several people suggest Tannoys. When I showed her photos of the ones inwas considering and the different finishes they came in, Inwas surprised to find that she mixed the Focal’s but approved the Tannoy Cheviots. The Cheviots were actually significantly bigger, but it turned out she always hated the tósete speaker look of the KEFs that the Focals resembled. 

Ultimate solution is mancave, and that will be project numero uno.  Ultimately that will double as HT room and serious listening room.  There's plenty of space but basement will require finishing - actually advantageous cause I can fiddle with size to try to optimize acoustics.  But that's another matter.

I highly recommend you read this before doing any room planning/construction.  It’s a very approachable and interesting read on how to construct an excellent-sounding room.  Any half-competent contractor should fairly easily be able create the room of your dreams following Earl’s excellent concepts.  Best of luck, and congrats on finally acquiring the oft-elusive man cave!

OK we have the same problem, integrating modern speakers into a circa 1915 room decor. Let me first say that this is a compromise solution where perfect speaker placement is sacrificed to the room aesthetic. With that said the solution works very well. B&W 805s literally on a bookshelf, however the bookshelf flares outward into the room on either side of the fireplace keeping them about six inches out from the backing wall. Two REL T5x’s in the corners. (Bought the T9x’s and never had the chance to even hook them up as the wife freaked over the size.). More vertical soundstage than depth, but towed in excellent sound reproduction. Would post a pic but can’t figure out how it’s done. (I can’t drag and drop it in its not happening.That is the limit of my computer prowess.) Good luck.

I guess I have a good wife, she can hear and appreciate the differences in my system as it has changed over the years. Never ever once has she cared what it looked like or integrated into our homes decor…

This worked for me:

"Honey, I know they are ugly, but they are time aligned, and when you play them they disappear."


Ok, I just saw your first post… good one. Those are perhaps the worst looking speakers I have ever seen… and your description perfect. No apology necessary. Yuck… yuck…😂🤣

What about putting speakers in cabinets with doors you would open for listening?

"Just shoot me in the head and get it over with."

Lol.  Be glad I don't have a gun.


@jwei  Ha!  Hey man, I totally get your suggestion an it’s very helpful given the crappy situation.  I once did a home install for a guy who bought about $50k of Linn audio equipment in a 5.1 setup that could only accommodate a 42” TV because that was the biggest he could fit in his antique cabinet.  I wanted to vomit it was so sad, and hence my reaction and ongoing hatred of cabinets or, worse, wall units.  AAAAAARGH!!!

@kletter1mann I think you answered your own question. You have a big home and a basement all to yourself. Either suffer until your mancave is completed, or pick one of those 4 bedrooms for your system. You could always also get some good in wall speakers for the living room.

+1 @jond If Wisdom Audio in-walls are in the budget that might be the best of all worlds until the man cave becomes reality.  If not, maybe the Gallo Audio A’Diva SE “balls” might make the easiest/cheapest compromise for all involved, and lots of colors/finishes available to meet a designer’s tastes.  Best of luck finding a happy place.


@lubachl While my GF turned fiance has always been a good sport, it's always fun to start spewing audiophile jargon until the significant other either laughs or their eyes glaze over.

Enormous red flag here. If this is such a problem for them, just imagine how they'll behave when something important comes between you. Stop right now and think about it. 

“Don’t go through with the merger. She’ll become insufferable to live with as time goes by.”. 

Ouch. LOL!

I’ve a interior decoration situation similar to kletteri1mann’s. My wife was gracious enough to allow me one room in the house we were designing and building to house my stereo system and a largish flat screen TV. Let your wife have every other room to do with what she wants, and work in some of the same style furniture as the rest of your home in your listening room.

Of course as our entertainment room is a common area where we would watch TV together, there had to be some limits set, like not having speakers placed far out from the wall, which was more or less acceptable. Other parameters like being able to hide the amp, turntable, and other such equipment behind closed doors when not in use and cooled off is a big help.

A lot of speakers, especially higher end ones are designed without regard to aesthetics outside of their own, and with no regard to how they’d look in a setting other than something ultra-modern. This obviously does not get it with most wives and other normal people, other than speaker enclosure designers. Flat planar speakers, like some Maggies that can fit against a wall, can be designed around without being overly intrusive. Another route is to find plain box-like .speakers that do not draw attention to themselves. That’s the approach I took with my plain black Magico A3’s. They blend in somewhat with the black flat screen and black computer equipment on an adjoining desk and don’t overwhelm or draw attention to themselves too much, or away from the Colonial (Federal) style antique furniture, many books on shelves, or artwork.

I’m guessing most high end speaker designers are single and/or don’t recognize speakers are anything but a be all and end all onto themselves. Interesting thread kletter1mann. You and yours stand a good chance of a happy mutual co-existence as you’re considering her needs as well as your own, and I wish you the best of luck with moving in together.