Happy Friday, friends- it’s time for another Design Discussion! Many of you requested a long chat about this topic and I thought it was a wonderful idea… installing a TV above a fireplace. Should you do it? Is it a design mistake? Is it more functional? What do you do when that’s your only option? What is the best case scenario? I’m breaking it all down in this post! Click through to read all about it…
First of all- I’ll share my opinion or philosophy on the matter…
I’m not opposed to installing a TV over a fireplace, but it totally depends on the height of the fireplace, other alternatives in the room, and the size of the television.
I know that didn’t really narrow it down and give you a straight answer, so let’s start breaking it down. Why is a TV above a fireplace a bad option to begin with it? Well- most people are concerned about craning your neck to look up at it… it’s not exactly proper viewing height. The exception to this is if you have a modern fireplace or a very low mantle (scale, specifically height, definitely comes into play). Another concern is the television competing with other focal points in the room- the fireplace itself, a window, built-ins, etc. Many people also hate the idea of seeing an ugly TV installed over a beautiful architectural element in a room (the fireplace).
Something to remember? We live in an age where technology, and televisions, are apart of pretty much every household. They’re simply integrated into life at this point in time; they bring us entertainment, joy, and something to bond over with our families. They’re probably a bigger part of life than you might expect. Incorporating them into your home in a designerly manner will help them feel less like an eyesore or an afterthought.
So what is the ideal scenario? If I’m being honest, probably no TV above a fireplace… as unpopular as that might sound. Or at the very least, a TV that is disguised above a fireplace (see the example behind doors, pictured above). So if it doesn’t get installed above the fireplace, where should the TV live?
In our current home, we decided to have a designated room for TV watching. That happens to be in the basement, or media room (pictured above), as we like to call it. I realize this is a luxury and perks of living in a larger home- a designated place to binge watch our favorite shows. Our formal living room (pictured below) will not house a TV since our basement is the place to hangout and do that.
Our previous homes, which were short on space, never would’ve been able to accommodate something like a “media room”. So now what to do with the TV? The way I see it… you have a few different options:
- Disguise the TV above the fireplace.
- Embrace asymmetry…. install it to the side of the fireplace, or on another wall.
- Throw the “rules” out the window and install it above the fireplace, anyway.
Do you know what I did in our first home? Number two. Guess what I did in our second home? Number three. All of this to say- there is no right or wrong answer… it’s about making your specific scenario work for your family. Let’s chat about our previous home…
Sometimes there aren’t other options. Take our previous (small) living room for example. The TV could only live on one wall and that happened to be above the fireplace. Why? We had a giant picture window on the left side of the room, the entry wall that opened to the kitchen adjacent to the window wall, and given the size of the space- the sofa could only fit in one orientation. That meant the TV had to live on the fireplace wall. We decided to remodel the fireplace and add built-ins…. so why did I opt to install the TV above the fireplace, rather than to the left or right, in one of the built-in cabinets? Honestly- the asymmetry would’ve bothered me and our TV was too large to fit (Emmett was not willing to downsize).
I weighed the pros & cons and tried to make a less than ideal situation better. I wanted the TV above the fireplace so the room felt balanced, but that meant it would be installed higher than proper viewing height. Therefore, I tried to solve the problem while sofa shopping. The back height is really what you want to look at in this situation. The issue with installing a television above a fireplace is typically the strain it causes on your neck to look upward at it. I made sure to choose a sofa that had a back you could snuggle into and rest your neck on the cushions comfortably (aka- a taller back height with comfy cushions). Watching TV while craning your neck is not relaxing or ideal. At that point, I just embraced our big clunky TV up there above the fireplace. I didn’t even try to disguise it. I had a happy husband with a big TV and we could watch movies without neck pain on our comfortable couch. It was a decent setup!
If I could repeat that same scenario in our old living room, the only thing I would do differently is upgrade the television. Yep- you knew I was going to mention the Samsung Frame. It’s sleek and looks like art when it’s not being used (pictured above). Aside from that, everything felt good from an aesthetic and functional point-of-view.
Speaking of the Frame TV– this is definitely on our wishlist this year! I’ll take any opportunity to make a TV look like art… that seems like a no brainer. If you don’t have the budget for it, don’t panic! There are other ways to “disguise” a TV… hide it behind a panel, a hinged piece of art, install a gallery wall around it, etc. Get creative to make it blend and feel less like ugly tech.
The last option is to embrace asymmetry. My type-A personality and OCD self just couldn’t get behind it, but lots of people do- and it does work! Install the television to the left or right of the fireplace at proper viewing height and try to add balance with other items or architectural features (built-ins, art, etc). I personally prefer the asymmetry of the image below, as opposed to above… only because it feels more intentional and separated. Maybe try using built-ins on one side of the fireplace and a bench or something totally different on the other.
To sum things up… do what feels best for you and your space! Each scenario is unique and should be treated that way. Consider how your family watches TV, other factors within the room itself, and most importantly- scale. Hopefully this post was helpful in sharing all sides of the big TV over the fireplace debate. Let me know where you stand in the poll below. Everyone have a great weekend! I’m hoping to wrap up the laundry room makeover.