Design Discussion : TV Over the Fireplace

Design Discussion : TV Over the Fireplace - roomfortuesday.comHappy 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…

Design Discussion : TV Over the Fireplace - roomfortuesday.comFirst 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).

Design Discussion : TV Over the Fireplace - roomfortuesday.comSomething 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.

Design Discussion : TV Over the Fireplace -
source : muskoka

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?

Design Discussion : TV Over the Fireplace - roomfortuesday.comIn 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.

Design Discussion : TV Over the Fireplace - roomfortuesday.comOur 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:

  1. Disguise the TV above the fireplace.
  2. Embrace asymmetry…. install it to the side of the fireplace, or on another wall.
  3. 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…

Design Discussion : TV Over the Fireplace - roomfortuesday.comSometimes 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).

Design Discussion : TV Over the Fireplace - roomfortuesday.comI 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!

Design Discussion : TV Over the Fireplace -
source : studio mcgee

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.

Design Discussion : TV Over the Fireplace -
source : alice lane interiors

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.

Design Discussion : TV Over the Fireplace -
source : house of jade

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.

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  1. Thank you so much for addressing this! My house is so open with so few actual walls, plus with window and door placement, it would be such a struggle to put the TV anywhere but above the fireplace. Saving my pennies for The Frame!

    1. Of course, Stacy! I love that idea… I’m also saving my pennies for The Frame. Ha! Sometimes there are no better options and you just have to embrace it :)

  2. Let me start by saying that our only television is an 8″ black and white purchased in 1983. I live with a Luddite. Don’t worry though, I have an opinion. 😀 My first choice would always be a dedicated media room, although I realize that’s a luxury. My second choice would definitely be to disguise it. I like a well-done door contraption like the Muskoka image above. Or even the old days of an armoire. Can’t. do. asymmetry. (Said in a strained, teeth-clenched Captain Kirk voice.) I think you’ve managed a simple practical solution in both your current and previous set ups-put the tv against a dark background! I feel like in both spaces the tv recedes. I probably spend too much time thinking about hiding all the ugly things (Cords!😤); as you say, it’s part of how we live now. Happy, happy Friday, friend!
    (Take care of that wrist!)

    1. Ha! I love it!! I stayed at a hotel with the TV in the armoire and it was a beautiful, space saving solution. I’m with you on the asymmetry- I struggle. Great point / wording on “making the TV recede”… that’s absolutely the goal. Happy Friday!! Heading to the post office with your goodies this weekend :) xo

  3. Hey Sarah, hope your wrist is feeling better! I think this topic boils down to personal preference and I personally would not put the TV over a fireplace. And I have lived in many different size homes over the years ( the smallest a 640 sq ft condo) and currently I reside in a 1650 4 level side split with space challenges. I have had media room in the basement of a townhome, a media room located on the Upper bedroom level ( this was my favorite option) but that was a much larger home and currently our tv is in the living room. I like the asymmetrical option and tried to convince my husband to go this route in our current home as we were renovating and had the option of customizing but he wasn’t on board. We ended up putting the fireplace in the dining room and the tv in living room above a media console. The Samsung picture frame TV was on our wishlist but we overspent on the renovation 🙄 so we have to wait on that but love, love that TV.
    Have a super fab weekend!

    1. Definitely Colleen! It’s all about personal preference and the space you have to work with :) I’m over here saving my dollars for the Frame TV too. Ha! I feel your pain on overspending on renovations (currently doing that in our living room, arg). Have an amazing weekend!! xo

  4. In our living room, the fireplace is a) brick and b) too tall for a TV. The fireplace is flanked on both sides by large windows so it doesn’t allow for the TV to be placed beside the fireplace like in the scenarios above. We’ve chosen another adjacent wall to put the TV. The problem I run into is furniture placement because we’ve ended up with two focal points. Between that and preserving the walkways, it certainly causes frustration. Any suggestions or examples of the fireplace and TV on different walls where you think it was well-done? If that is even possible.

      1. Yes!! Note to self: deep dive your archive. I’ve been around since the beginning of your last house but clearly I need to take the time to go allll the way back :) I adore your aesthetic and content. Thanks so much for everything! You make my morning cup of coffee even better.

        1. Aw thank you so much Jessie! I love hearing that and you made my day with this kind comment :) xox

  5. My parent’s have their TV installed above the fireplace in their house, and I hate it. It’s way too high, so you have to strain your neck to watch it. There are only a couple of places to sit in the room that aren’t uncomfortable to watch. That said, I don’t necessarily object to TVs over the fireplace in general. I think it looks perfectly fine. I just don’t think most rooms are large enough for it to work out okay. If I lived in a home where the only place to put a TV was above the fireplace, and the room was too small for watching to be comfortable, then I would just get rid of my TV. Or put it in the bedroom.

  6. First off, this whole post is everything right now. Loved your take on this topic. I am personally a no tv over mantle because I feel like it takes away from the beauty of a fireplace. I do understand it may be the only option. You did a wonderful job of designing a tv over a mantle.
    Oh, If you only knew what we have going on at our house. Up until 5-6 years ago we had the old box tvs. Now we have flat screens. So my husband wanted a large tv for his birthday in our bedroom, so I purchased a 55″! Then took it back because it is humungous! Now I am in a paralyzed state of where to put this 50″ tv! Our armoire is too small to hold the larger tv so we decided to put on the wall. But which wall because the placement of our bed (queen) makes us have to lay one side or the other to watch and the only other option is on a table in front of our windows. I am honestly hating this whole tv in the bedroom idea now. I would rather save up for a frame tv as well!
    Have a wonderful weekend. Hope your wrist is better!

    1. Thanks Danna! So glad you liked it! I’m with you… the best option is no TV over the mantel- but sometimes you just have to roll with it. Haha! Here’s to saving up for a Frame TVs someday :) I’m in the same boat.

  7. This post is so timely for me as well! Ever since we moved into a new home last June, I’ve been trying to figure out whether the mantel in our family room is too high to have the TV over it. Right now it sits on a TV stand in the corner to the left of the fireplace as we also have wall issues. There are windows on either side of the fireplace, doorways/openings into the kitchen and living room on 2 walls and a big bay window on the 4th wall. While we do have a room to watch TV in the basement as well, I like to watch the news (seriously, I’m 39 going on 70) while I make dinner, etc so I like having it in the family room as it is open to the kitchen. But I really kind of hate the look of the corner angled TV. But I also don’t know if the family room is deep enough to support the TV above the fireplace at the current height. Plus, my hubby isn’t a huge fan. I was trying to decide if having it mounted in the angle might be better than on the TV stand… but still kind of awkward. It’s interesting to hear other takes or thoughts. Do you have any thoughts about height of the mantel in relation to the room size, etc that would help me figure out if my mantel is too hight and I can maybe replace it? Also, what do people do with the cords, etc when they’re above the fireplace, if there isn’t already a built in there for them? Thanks for posting!

    1. Hi Anne! It’s less about mantel height and more about your space and preferences… if you’re not sitting down to watching TV (standing up working in the kitchen), the viewing height might not be a huge issue. The only thing you’d have to consider is aesthetic balance and focal points. Another idea? What if you nix the TV and get a countertop viewing device? We have an Amazon Show on our countertop and LOVE it. We play music, watch TV, play trivia, get the weather, etc while using our kitchen. It’s really neat, small, and easy to style around :) Just an alternative idea! xo

  8. We have ours above the fireplace but it’s on a bracket that comes out from the wall then downwards at an angle so that it is at the perfect viewing height. When we aren’t using the tv, we simply push it back up against the wall.

    1. So smart, Kaycee! I should’ve chatted about the use of wall mounted brackets as well. That’s another great idea! xo

  9. Do you recall how high off the ground your mantle was in your old house? We are trying to decide whether to mount our tv over the fireplace (we just moved), and I’m sooooooo torn about it.

    1. I don’t, I’m sorry Abby! I can tell you- the ceilings were standard height, so you can kind of guesstimate based on the size of the TV, ceiling height, etc. It’s a tough decision, but ultimately you have to do what is best and most functional for your family and the way you use the space and watch TV :) xox

  10. We have a situation like your second house, so over the mantle it is! It’s a little high, but angled down and I did same as you and design/picked all the furniture to work well with “the neck.” I would love a frame tv, but really couldn’t stomach the price, especially when standard tech is SO affordable right now. 8 years ago we spent nearly a grand for a 40″ TV and now they are pennies! I honestly don’t mind it it above in our house and love that we get to enjoy the fireplace and TV in our cozy living room. I wouldn’t change a thing!

    1. Over the mantel is the best options sometime, Michelle! You just have to work with what you have :) We got our giant Samsung TV in (as seen in our basement) at Costco for cheap, and if we ever put another TV in our house… I definitely want to save for a frame. So expensive, but I’m thinking worth it? Haha! Who knows! xox

  11. ha – I actually love the asymmetry! It keeps the TV from being a focal point. I’m pinning the example you shared here :)

    1. It’s totally a personal preference Betsy! I loved that example :) xo

  12. Thanks for doing this topic! I have a beach house where we struggled with this…we ended up putting the tv on a console on an adjacent wall. The couch faces the fireplace, but if you’re laying on the couch you are facing the tv. Then I also have two comfy chairs that face the TV, so it works. I know that if I sell this house though whoever buys it is going to strip it of all its 1930s character and probably mount the tv over the fireplace:(