I have a terrible habit. Whenever I’m on the road I look at houses. No, no, no, it’s worse than that – I look through the windows! I’m not a pervert – I’m just curious to see what it looks like inside. Especially if there’s something of interest that draws my attention. I cannot help it, I’m sorry. So now you know – if you see me slowing down and looking like I’ve lost something, just take it as a compliment. And if you have advice for how I can stop, please let me know. I’m serious.
A young family recently moved into a house close by. Through the large, still bare windows of the living room one can pretty much see most of the layout. The first thing that jumps at you is the TV. It hovers high and ominously above the fireplace, an inch or so from the ceiling. OK, ceilings in Seattle are particularly low, but I cannot help to wonder how painful it must to be watching TV in the sky, looking up at an awkward angle all the time. I’m convinced it hits you hard when, somewhere down the line, you cannot understand why your chiropractor bills are so high.
I see so many TVs mounted oddly high above the fireplace, looking totally out of place. For as long as I can remember this has been an issue.
But you can’t move your fireplace, so what do you do?
And why is it such a problem in anyway?
Because they’re both attention grabbers – though in completely different leagues – AND you mostly want to face both of them when you’re sitting in the room. And that can be tricky.
Let’s face it – a TV is not a pretty thing. And it demands attention – have you seen how people cannot keep their eyes off it when it’s switched on? It’s basically impossible. Which is exactly why I avoid any restaurant with a TV on the wall.
And when it’s switched off, well you have this black emptiness staring at you like a bad omen, ready to jump at you.
That is why I prefer a TV behind closed doors – where you can open it up and show it to the world when you’re watching something, and close it again when you’re not.
If you can, hide it. The less complicated, the better – it should be easy to open and close, like shelves with a sliding panel or doors.
Picture via JessicaLa Grange Interiors
Of course, the first thought is to have it above the fireplace. Now while I can understand why that seems like the obvious place, unless it was specifically so designed, there are few things more out of place than a big black TV above a traditional fireplace. There’s almost always a much smarter option (see what we did for this client). It baffles me that so many professionals do not explore better alternatives for their clients.
Why not above the fireplace?
- Because you’ll be slowly ruining your tender neck. Your TV should be at eye height WHEN YOU SIT – that means your chin parallel to the floor. So unless you have an exceptionally low fireplace, or exceptionally high chairs, things might get out of hand down the line.
- And besides, my friend, that black box is NOT an objet de beauté. It makes a terrible focal point – unless some serious thought was put into it. Most fireplaces were designed to be the main feature of the room. Having the TV hovering over a splendid architectural centerpiece is terribly rude.
So what do you do?
If the room allows for the TV to be on another wall than the fireplace wall, you’re in luck. If not, much better to place the TV next to the fireplace.
Picture via Usonia
Make sure the TV does not stick out like a sore thumb – which is not hard, because it is black and big and shiny. But you can add shelves, low cupboards and other pieces of interest around the TV to balance things out.
Picture via Christopher Developments
But what if you have no other alternative than to go above the fireplace? Then you do it this way…
Add distance between the TV and where you sit so you don’t have to look awkwardly up at it. For this your screen should be large so you can at least see what’s going on.
Picture via Domiteau Baggett Architects
Whatever you do, make sure that black box blends in with the background so that it doesn’t jump at you in all its black glory. It’s terribly rude for the TV to sit above the fireplace, highjacking the show and then have nothing to show for it.
Work on the wall around the TV – a dark tile, strong color paint, or feature wallpaper on the wall behind the TV will do the trick.
Picture via Stuart Silk Architects
Sometimes it just needs bits of this and that to keep it in balance.
Gorgeous if the fireplace is low enough – you are so lucky!
Picture via DugallyOberfeld
The fireplace above was obviously designed with a TV in mind.
But just look at this one, how clever!
In conclusion, your TV and fireplace can work together in harmony – you just need to be smart about it.
To wrap it up
- Whether your TV is on another wall, beside the fireplace, or above it, make sure it does not stick out like a sore thumb
- You can hide it behind sliding or swing doors
- Install it at seated eye level, or if above the fireplace, add distance to compensate for the height
- Add shelves, low cabinet and other pieces of interest to keep the space visually balanced
I just absolutely had to add this one
Now go and look at your TV with fresh eyes.
And tell me…
– Is your TV blending in with the surrounding, or sticking out like a sore thumb?
– What’s your take on having a TV and fireplace in one room?
– How did you solve your TV and fireplace issue? We’d love to hear what you did.
Do leave a comment below, or tell me about it right here. If you enjoyed this article, or take away even the smallest bit of good, share it with a friend. 🙂
Love your space – do go something that makes you happy.
If you want to make the right choices form the start AND love your space, contact me for an online or in-person consultation
If something is bothering you about your space, but you’re not sure what exactly. Let’s chat.
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