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In Defense Of TVs Over Fireplaces – A Friendly Rebuttal To Orlando’s Hatred Of That Very Thing

I was laying in bed on a recent rainy night, watching Love is Blind (so good), the fireplace on low as I clicked in to enjoy Orlando’s new highly personal and enjoyable sub-stack, The Lost Arrow (have you subscribed to it yet?). It was a rather hilarious rant about his #1 design pet peeve. I laughed a lot (because he is a funny and relatable writer) even while he was pointedly talking shit about my very own family room and bedroom. No, he wasn’t saying “Emily Henderson’s fireplace is the worst,” of course not, but he HATES TVs over fireplaces and makes a damning case against them. And you know what I hate? When I’m told I should NEVER do something when it comes to design. OOH that gets me riled up because how we use our home is 100% up to us, for our own pleasure and enjoyment (and usually comes with certain limitations). That’s why I am here to make a case against his extreme rule against a very thing that I enjoy. I thought it would be fun to cross-examine and make a case, not necessarily for TVs over fireplaces, but just in defense of them and talk about when/why and how to do it right (he’ll disagree with the notion that it’s ever right, but I have some pretty solid ideas). Let’s dance:)

Listen, I agree with him that in a perfect world, you don’t have a TV over a fireplace because you have a separate TV room, but even in that TV room you might also want or already have a fireplace. The court should note that both scenarios are obviously privileged. We decided to forego a TV in our current living room because I preferred art over TV, but mostly because we didn’t need it in here because we have a separate room right next to it, dedicated to TV. But what if we didn’t? Would putting a TV over the fireplace be so bad? NO! Would putting the TV on the wall next to the fireplace be better? In my opinion, no, it would look like a rectangle next to a chunky rectangle and maybe look even dumber.

My analysis of his hatred for TVs over fireplaces is that A. He isn’t a huge TV person (maybe?), B. He doesn’t have a fireplace in his living room or he has always had an easy layout for this situation, C. He doesn’t currently have kids, therefore has specific views about the design of a home that might not be as livable to many of us who have foregone some design pleasantries in the name of practicality and livability, and D. He lives (mostly) in Southern California where fireplaces aren’t as much of a mood and heat necessity as they are in areas where its cold and dark in the winter. What I found fascinating about his piece (again, you have to read it here) was that he likened a TV over the fireplace to stainless steel appliances and granite countertops – a sort of wealth signifier selling point that was built into many new builds or McManions during a certain period. These things are essentially examples that these houses are high-end enough to have a flat-screen TV (which for a while were so expensive, but now not at all). I think he’s right about that, which made me like my TV over my fireplace less, but I’m not here to agree with my friend/opposing counsel, I’m here to defend the TV over the fireplace.

So when and why is a TV over a fireplace ok? Can you do it where it doesn’t look dumb?

Reason #1: When You Don’t Have Any Other Choice And You Really Want To Watch TV In This Room

design by caitlin higgins | styled by emily bowser | photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the reveal we’ve all been waiting for! caitlin’s mostly thrifted, postmodern regency deco living room

I’m a big proponent of enjoying how you live in your home first, and the design of the home should support that enjoyment. Do I want you to buy huge reclining sofas? Hmm, honestly, I don’t really care because that’s your choice. I’m not going to make that choice because there are great options that are almost as comfortable that might not look so overwhelming, but I also admit that sitting on a La-Z-Boy sofa can be wonderful so you do you! I lean so far into comfort and practicality that a lot of my former design pet peeves have been thrown out years ago (Covid also confirmed my need for comfort and practicality). I think design directives like this are good to have, but USING your home for your own enjoyment should be your #1 priority. I say this while knowing that I have some furniture that is better to look at than to sit on, so I’m not a shining example of this either (although in defense of myself, I wouldn’t buy those pieces now, they are a hold over from years ago when I didn’t prioritize comfort/practicality over style). Does every piece of furniture need to be the most comfortable? Nope. In some rooms, you don’t need that level of comfort and some beautiful pieces are worth having because they shift the whole context of the room in a good way. So I’m not saying that we should all live in La-Z-Boys in every room, but if the room doesn’t meet the purpose of you being in it because you’ve opted against something practical, then that’s a problem to me. In fact, I’ve been known to actually say to friends who don’t use their living room EVER, “are you sure you don’t want a TV in here?” because not using a room for fear of it not looking good with a TV in it is the bigger crime (again, especially because of nice looking art TVs like The Frame). Do I think that Orlando is being a little snobby? Of course, and so am I about a lot of things. Maybe calling us “picky” is what we’d prefer:) It’s the job of design influencers to help guide us to great choices so that we love our home more, and his vehemence against the TV over the fireplace is a noble one. I just fear that it’s not always an option unless you sacrifice your comfort, practicality, and livability. It’s YOUR HOME, you do whatever you want in it in order to love it and have it serve YOUR purposes.

The prosecutor/plaintiff, Orlando admits that it can be challenging to find a non-TV over fireplace layout that makes sense and he offers for readers to send him photos of their room and he’ll re-lay it out for them, ensuring that he can find a way to not have the TV above the fireplace. I’d personally love to see how he does that because in my experience, splitting the focal points can make a room feel chaotic and inevitably someone, multiple people actually, end up having a bad viewing seat. Obviously, some rooms are totally set up to do this naturally, but many are just not. I think that having it above the TV (listen, if I’m being honest I’m talking about Frame TVs) looks totally fine if you can put on a nice piece of art when not in use. Would I rather have actual art? Of course, but again, it’s about enjoying your own home and having it meet your needs.

Reason #2: When It Can Be Low Enough Not To Hurt Your Neck

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: mountain house reveal: how we designed our super kid-friendly family room

Admittedly they can be too high in some houses, we all know this. At the mountain house, in our family room, ours was higher than I wanted. This is usually due to firebox sizes and clearances. I wish there were more that were low and wide that weren’t so contemporary looking (I don’t mind some linear ones, but I don’t love that they are usually just rocks instead of faux logs). So in order for the fireplace box to be scaled right for the room they are usually kinda big, and then when you had the usual 12″ clearance above it and add a mantel, your TV can be pretty darn high. But I have found that if your sofa is deep enough to lounge in, it’s totally fine. A shallow sofa can be a problem if you are forced to sit upright, but if you can lean back then your neck can be salvaged.

Reason #3: A High TV Over A Fireplace In A Bedroom Is Actually A Good Thing

photo by kaitlin green | from: where do you really need canned or recessed lighting? what lights we used, didn’t use, or wish we had this winter

We knew that we would want two TV options in our home – one for kids and one for us, especially when having people over. During lockdown at the mountain house, we only had one TV and often had to set the kids up in their room with the laptop if we wanted to watch something less appropriate – which was fine because they were 4 and 6, but we wanted to make sure that for this house we had two options for those Saturday nights when Brian and I actually want to watch an R rated movie (we generally are so tired and go to bed right after them so unless we carve out adult TV time, we watch ZERO grown up shows/movies). So we put a TV over the fireplace in our bedroom and they can watch their garbage in the family room while we watch Severance. It should be noted that we’ve watched TV maybe 10 times in our bedroom since we moved in 6 months ago – so not a lot, but I’m still glad we have the option. We are both big readers (not being pretentious, I literally read romance novels) and rarely watch TV anyway post-lockdown so maybe we didn’t need it in here after all.

photo by veronica crawford | from: our bedroom update (also how i feel about having a tv in the bedroom)

TVs in bedrooms are a whole other controversial debate which I’m not usually a huge fan of, but again because it’s a Frame, I don’t mind it. We thought long and hard about putting one in here and again only did it because we wanted to have two TV viewing options (we have since put one in our guest room because we accidentally bought one too big for our bedroom wall while we lived in the rental house – before the fireplace wall was even designed). So if we have a lot of kids over and want to shove them away they all climb on the guest bed.

Now, back to my case when you are lying down on a bed you need to make sure that you can see over your feet. So in a bedroom, you actually want your TV higher so you can watch while lying down. And, FURTHERMORE ORLANDO, there is nice simplicity of having both focal points on the same wall, allowing for symmetry next to it (something I LOVE in a bedroom).

Reason #4: I Don’t Like Split Focal Points, I Prefer Symmetry

design by orlando soria | photo by zeke ruelas | from: combining furniture styles in the casa soria family room

If your room has the perfect layout then you can relax, and have your TV on a different wall than your fireplace, but most rooms do not. I personally don’t love when you have two competing focal points – and both square boxes. So in my mind, it actually looks better to have a Frame TV over your fireplace than to have it awkwardly floating on a different wall. Orlando uses the above example of how he’s done it, and this room is lucky because there is a blank wall right next to the fireplace so honestly it’s an easy choice, but what if there was a window there instead? Would a Frame TV above the fireplace look that different than the rectangular painting? No! It would look fine!

Reason #5: If You’ve Opted For Windows Instead Of Wall Space

This is the challenge we have faced every single time – where we have designed the house with the window and door plan, opting for more windows and negating the perfect wall place to have a TV and fireplace be separate. We have done this in our family room at the mountain house, our bedroom at the farm, and also in Ken/Katie’s future living room. We consciously made this choice of prioritizing windows and natural light OVER the ability to separate the TV and fireplace. Now, I will say that if you are building new or doing a complete remodel my favorite combination (should it be appropriate) is what we did in our current family/tv room – to put a stove-style fireplace NEXT to the TV, thus sharing the same focal wall, not being two big boxes next to each other and yet you can enjoy looking at both the same time. The reason we didn’t do this in Ken/Katie’s future living room is because the height/scale of the room is far too high/big for a small stove fireplace. We also wanted to be able to see the TV from the kitchen while cooking/hanging so it needs to be big and higher than Orlando would likely want it to be. When your sofa is back far enough, a higher TV is FINE.

So If We Want Both A TV And A Fireplace In The Same Room (And View Them At The Same Time) What Should We Do??

design by dee murphy | styled by velinda hellen | photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: dee murphy’s home tour is giving us all wallpaper envy

I’ve thought about this A LOT and I have some solid solutions. By the way, I know that many of you will make the case AGAINST having a fireplace at all, and it’s one that I want to agree with in theory, but long dark, wet, winters are hard enough to get through. A fireplace that creates ambiance, and heat, and helps your mood which is a wonderful thing. If you don’t want a fireplace, don’t have one. I literally don’t have a car because I don’t like driving (but unfortunately it is becoming extremely apparent that I do in fact need one which I’m bummed about) – we all have our things that we enjoy and enhance our lives while here on earth. There are many of us who appreciate fireplaces immensely for ambiance, heat, and a necessary winter mood boost. Do I think you need one in LA? Nope. But up here, it gets used a ton and enjoyed when it’s cold, wet, and dark. And of course, you are not allowed to put in wood ones in many states, so we opted for a direct-vent gas stove in our family room. I’m also very very excited to see how the electric fireplace technology advances (it’s getting better every year). But today we are not talking about the pros and cons of fireplaces. Instead, we are addressing IF you opt for a fireplace and TV how do you design it to look the best?

  1. Put your TV over the fireplace, make it as low as possible, and go dark with the whole fireplace (should that make sense). The reason we did a brick fireplace in our bedroom was to paint it all one dark color and have the firebox and TV disappear more. It’s my personal preference that new gas fireplaces (which for the most part is your only option if you’re building new) look better on dark fireplaces because they are black metal and glass.
  2. Design your TV/fireplace wall to have a shared focal point, but do a stove-style fireplace instead. Again, this is what we did here in our current TV room and it’s a GREAT combination IMHO. It is a shared focal wall but they are different shapes. The TV can be lower, making Orlando’s neck more comfortable should he come over to watch Love is Blind with you.
  3. Put your TV over your fireplace, but design the fireplace to be less formal, i.e more appropriate for a TV. Even though we could have designed the mountain house family room to have fewer windows (we probably didn’t need any or both) and we could have done the stove-style fireplace + TV combination I spoke of above, I think that the plaster treatment lent itself easily to a casual family room. I think what bugs Orlando (and myself) is a super formal-looking fireplace surround and mantel with a big bulky TV on top. But again, if it’s a Frame TV I don’t think it’s a huge deal.

Ultimately I think my friend Orlando and I agree that there are certainly some less good ways to combine a TV and a fireplace, but just to say unequivocably that TVs over fireplaces are always terrible is what I found hilariously incorrect and deserving of this rebuttal.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: my best friend’s 1970s basement gets a comfortable, cozy makeover – wood paneling and wall-to-wall carpet included

I think what we’d both agree on is that in a perfect world, you’d have a separate TV room, where the TV is at eye level, sharing the focal wall with a fireplace that you use – like my friend’s basement that we designed last year. But if that is not your life/house, I’m here to tell you that it’s OK and there are ways to do it where you can continue to enjoy your own home, without feeling like you’ve committed a design crime. 🙂

**We’ll be trying out a new comment policy today, due to the fact that posts like this can be really controversial, with statements that someone might feel offended by, or one might want to attack those of us for even having a fireplace – something that we know to inherently not be great for the environment. So we’ll monitor comments and publish anything contributing to this conversation, and not publish anything that creates negativity, environmental evangelism, or frankly saying anything negative about my friend, Orlando. 🙂 If you don’t like him or me, simply don’t read 🙂

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Mountain House Reveal: How We Designed Our Super Kid-Friendly Family Room

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Emily R
11 months ago

I’m anti tv over fireplace. It’s just too high. I am also of the belief that there’s always another way. What did you do before flat screens? You had to pick an alternate location and make it work. Do that. But, it’s not a hill to die on. You put your tv wherever your heart desires and I’ll do the same with mine.

V
11 months ago

I really like the new comments policy. I don’t have a fire place in my tiny parisian apartment. My tv is in my bookshelf. But I liked reading the article 🙂

AM
11 months ago
Reply to  V

Mine is too! I have a smaller living room and did a wall of bookshelves and I just configured one to hold a small-ish tv. I originally did a faux-Frame situation with artwork displayed as a screensaver, but felt silly keeping the TV on/power running. I think the black square is kinda pleasing, aesthetically.

🥰 Rusty
11 months ago
Reply to  AM

I use a vintage silk throw/weaving over my PC screen (aka: ugly black triangle) and it looks great.
You can do a similar thing with a TV.

11 months ago

Aaah, this is such a debate for us right now! We’re in the process of buying a Victorian town house in London that currently has a not-to-my-taste rustic wood mantel and Moroccan-style black and white tiling in the firebox, but I’d like to replace it with a period-appropriate Carrara marble fireplace. And then, the mantel will be that much higher up, and the TV will basically have to go above it, because these small in-city Victorian places have small spaces flanking the central fireplaces and the aren’t wide enough to put a TV on either side. Besides, I too think it looks kind of weird to do that. And we like a big TV – we are gamers and media buffs and entertainment writers and frankly watch a lot of both grownup and kiddie things, and we want the screen size to accommodate that. (I’m actually seriously considering artificially widening the chimney width in the living room so we can fit a bigger Frame TV above the fireplace there, haha. (Also slightly tweaking the normal traditional Victorian fireplace dimensions to let it be a bit wider and lower to help with the height thing – please, EH and fellow readers,… Read more »

Allison
11 months ago

As a Londoner, please don’t do this. Aside from anything else, it makes the small room feel even smaller and like the TV is looming. And you will be sitting so close it will feel really high. I don’t mean this snarkily, but you have three other walls to work with, there has to be a solution.

11 months ago
Reply to  Allison

Hah, I get it! We sort of don’t (they took out the hallway partition, the front wall where you might expect a bay is flat but all windows, and the opening to the second reception is just that, an extra-widened opening. The previous owners made so many un-Victorian changes!) I hear you about it feeling looming – we’re definitely going to live there for a while before we make any firm commitments. But I have to ask – do you think the idea of slightly widening the chimney column is completely out of the question, as another Londoner? 😉

wendy
11 months ago

Sounds like a lot of the features (if you can call walls features!) have been removed already, so messing with the dimensions of the chimney breast wouldn’t be the end of the world. However, it will mess with the scale of the chimney breast to the room size, and it could just make it all feel a bit ‘off’ – but maybe the wall to hallway being removed has already skewed it anyway and you’ve lost the sense of Victorian proportions.
Am not sure I agree with your assessment of TVs being weird on either side of the fireplace, as I find that the alcove between fireplace and window to be the perfect spot for a TV – preferably a frame, on a wall-mount that can be pulled in and out for optimum viewing – and preferably at a height lower than the top of the fireplace so it doesn’t dominate. That’s exactly what we have – one friend did comment that it was interesting to hang a piece of art so low down – almost didn’t want to tell her it was a TV!

11 months ago
Reply to  wendy

I think I mean wrong in scale for the size TV we already have/want to keep having. I think we just need to go way smaller to fit it. I agree with you on the scale thing; that’s my main concern about the fireplace mod because it’s already a slightly smaller Victorian and even without the hallway it would be noticeably weird if I overdid it, and is probably overkill to only gain an inch or two, haha. But again, gonna live for a while there before we consider. Given that we have to do that – live there for a while before major adjustments – I’m hoping that in that time, we all get used to the TV being in the back reception anyway and we no longer have to feel so committed to finding a way to put a big screen in the front one! Then we can look into maybe doing a telly on the side of the fireplace in an elegant, frame-y, well-mounted way. The ones I’ve seen that I call “weird” are usually an ugly bad black plastic box in the middle of nice posh period-styled built-ins, and also at a weird height and angle.… Read more »

Shar
11 months ago

Since your family wants such a large tv anyway, why not save time, money, and stress of changing the home architecturally and just get a high quality projector (one possibly made for gaming?) and screen? In my eyes this solves all your problems!

11 months ago
Reply to  Shar

We actually had this in Seattle! In some ways it’s great – can have a huge screen, as you said – but in other ways it’s really bad. The blacks are almost never visible except in pitch darkness, so you basically can’t watch shows like Game of Thrones (or LOST back in the day) during the summer months, heh. (It gets pitch black at like 11 PM in August here, heh.) And if you don’t have a huge wall you plan to keep blank to use as a screen, which looks weird, you have to have a ceiling-mounted retractable one which can be an eyesore and hard to hide. It just introduces other challenges. I think we are still figuring out what the path forward will be, and my husband (who is the bigger screen guy than me) is coming around to the Victorian viewpoint too. But like, there’s no “Man Cave” (or any other sexist/media-centric concept) to roll with, space wise, heh. We have to find a way to make it work! I think we’ll live in the space for a while and something will click into place, at least that’s my hope. I do think the Frame helps… Read more »

Suzanne
11 months ago

Put in room darkening curtains, and have a screen and projector. I’m guessing the projectors are getting better all the time. While we don’t game, our projectors do a good job

Sophie
11 months ago

fwiw, I am a big TV watcher who is also renovating a London terrace and we’re doing the opposite! The front room with the bay window and the original high marble fireplace surround is going to have lots of bookshelves and storage and will act as a playroom while our kids are little, and we’re turning the middle room (which will be opened to the hall and an internal courtyard) into the TV space. We are also extending at the rear though so we’ll have more storage and a secondary play area in the kitchen extension.

I will say at the normal depth of a Victorian front room I really don’t think a TV above a fireplace really gives you a comfortable viewing height; I would probably skip a surround so you can go lower or do a very simple square marble surround in more TV-friendly proportions rather than tweak a period design.

11 months ago
Reply to  Sophie

Thanks for this London-specific input! Ah, your Reno sounds dreamy; we’ve ended up buying a property that probably won’t allow for as much ground floor modification, but we’ve toured places with a setup like what you describe and I love it. I do think we’ll end up making the back room the TV room, whether my husband realises it now or not, haha. We actually held off on bidding on one otherwise incredibly lovely Victorian because it had a slightly shallower-than-normal depth in the front reception and that missing one foot made ALL the difference in terms of every watching TV in that room! XD We apparently take this very seriously. (In hindsight I’m glad we didn’t offer on it for other reasons like location, but still – at the time that was the deciding factor!) One interesting thing they’d done in that home is cut into the upper chimney box above the period fireplace, to create a disguised recessed TV cupboard, with hinged doors that had nice panelling over them and art put on them. So you could close it up and have it look rather nice (though with a seam and hinges) or open it up to watch… Read more »

Alexandra
11 months ago
Reply to  Sophie

I don’t know if this would be feasible given the size of the TV you want + gaming bits and bobs you may need to attach, but have you considered a TV on an easel? Jenny Cipoletti has done this in her NYC brownstone (I imagine it presents similar architectural challenges), and it’s a pretty elegant solution!

Joyce Garrity
11 months ago

I don’t like a tv in the living roomWhen may kids were young, I wanted to encourage reading and conversation..II have a tv on a rolling frame. It is firmly attached and can be moved anywhere you like.
ps I don’t like controversy being edited out,(abuse yes, differing opinions, no)

🥰 Rusty
11 months ago
Reply to  Joyce Garrity

I agree. Respectful, robust debate is healthy.

Emma
11 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

I agree it’s fine to disagree

Misty
11 months ago
Reply to  Joyce Garrity

I don’t think they are editing a difference of opinion. They are editing the comments that speak those opinions – in a rude way. I have seen so many commenters on this blog over the years who make me wonder how they can say what they say, in the way that they say it, without any concern for the people reading it. Common decency and respectfulness is often lost online.

Annie
11 months ago

Oh my goodness. I am such a snob. I am such a snob that I think it is ‘naff’ to not have a TV because it’s a bit too design obsessed. I am such a snob that I would never EVER hang a TV on a wall. Yuk! And TVs high up! Argh, so awful. So a high up TV on a wall over a mantel just makes me shudder. Sorry, Emily that includes yours. Your TV room television is better because it’s low down but, oh dear, it’s wall hung which is ugly. ( I love nearly all your other stuff though and I think you yourself are divine and adorable so I am hoping you don’t despise me for my shouty dissent). So what’s the acceptable way? Think of a beautifully evolved-over-time English drawing room. There is an eclectic mix of furniture, some modern but many mostly rickety but beautiful old antiques, the walls are dotted with the same – old oils and vintage movie posters from the 60s. It’s gorgeous; it has its feet in the past and the present, and sitting to the side of the fireplace on a low-slung console, a gorgeous mid century piece… Read more »

Emily C
11 months ago
Reply to  Annie

Agree!

Annie
11 months ago
Reply to  Emily

You are just perfection; I love you and your beautiful home, your beautiful face and your beautiful heart.
I no longer care where you put your TV

11 months ago
Reply to  Annie

Forget TVs, the real question is how to befriend the fabulous Annie??

Monica
11 months ago

Love Orlando’s newsletter and his strong opinions!

🥰 Rusty
11 months ago
Reply to  Monica

Me too!👍

LouAnn
11 months ago

These are all valid reasons but on this issue, I’m with Orlando. Setting aside the neck issue of looking up at the TV (which I found was a problem for me when I’ve stayed in AirBnB’s with fireplace TVs), I just don’t like how a TV over the fireplace looks. But sometimes there is no other option.
P.S. I like this new comment policy. The only thing tiresome about Emily’s great web site is the preachy finger-wagging in the comments.

Kim
11 months ago

I love both Emily and Orlando and think this hilarious rebuttal is such a friendly reminder that our homes are to be lived in and our designers are here to inspire and guide and also… entertain. May we all live well, wherever we live and wherever we put our TV!

mockginger
11 months ago

Love Orlando, love you guys, and love a friendly debate. Each space has its own challenges and there is a time and a place for everything (mostly). I love that Orlando has strong convictions and love seeing how he makes spaces work without going against them. Just commenting to share the love of everything you all do. We don’t have to agree or like everything everyone does, but I like seeing content that maybe isn’t my taste but still makes me think about things and maybe my tastes evolve over time as a result.

Allison
11 months ago

I would like to support Emily here. I understand Orlando, and the debate, but I love the idea that the Frame TV, and for us a Sony with Android art screensavers, allows you to change up the art easily depending on your mood. I also like the visual of a rectangle above a rectangle. Always have, as in, correctly-sized painting over fireplace. So, if that “painting” also happens to show me The Mandalorian when my kids finally decide to sleep? So be it! Thanks for this, Em. I feel less guilty having the TV as a design choice. Also, how great is Caitlin’s living room and TV placement?!

Deborah
11 months ago
Reply to  Allison

Such a great point Allison about the rectangle above a rectangle, I love framed artwork above a fireplace!
A framed flatscreen TV that shows wonderful art works for me (depending on height) and if there is a another location for the TV, then beautiful framed art above the mantle.

susan
11 months ago

We just had snow again this week. We dont have a fire place so we play Netflix’s burning logs video and light a candle. Lame for some but cozy to us. If we did have a fireplace, we would use it. I wasnt aware of the burning debate over how bad fireplaces are for the environment, but that’s because in our climate and latitude they serve a real purpose. Everyone has to do what works for them in the place where they live. Blanket design statements just don’t work. Interesting read.

M
11 months ago

Love this! I found Orlando’s original post full of many great points, as is this rebuttal! Still eager to see Orlando redesign people’s living rooms with TVs over fireplaces.

Also, interested in hearing about the no car thing, Emily!

Tarynkay
11 months ago

We looked at a couple of houses built in the 90s that had HUGE cutouts above the fireplace with outlets at the back especially built for those old big screen tvs. So that was funny and we enjoyed talking about what you could put in there instead. I mean probably you would just fix the sheet rock but the kids had fun imagining hiding in there and jumping out to startle unsuspecting guests.
We have a wood burning fireplace (came with the house) but no tv. I’d be afraid to put one over a wood burning fireplace but I’m not sure if that is a valid concern. We put a giant framed South-Up map of the world over it instead. We also didn’t want to put any more precious art over it due to concerns about it getting messed up from heat and soot. Again, no idea if these are valid fears!

Stassy
11 months ago

Loved the rebuttal, ha! Growing up – our tv was next to the fireplace, which IMO is more practical but looks worse.

Sally
11 months ago
Reply to  Stassy

Ours is opposite! It that we use the fireplace much, major drag chopping wood, and not a very effective heat source. But the fireplace is not the central focus – we don’t need hate need to look at it.

Brittany
11 months ago

Have you seen the fireplace frame tv on rennovation husbands tv? It looks SO GOOD with that frame.

Rebekah
11 months ago
Reply to  Brittany

It looks so nice, but when they show photos/video of them watching their tv at that height, their poor necks are cranked at such an uncomfortable angle. I’m firmly in the tv needs to be eye level camp.

Heather A
11 months ago

Everyone’s house is SO different and everyone’s life is SO different, I think that, in itself, is my rebuttal to issuing any absolutes. Children (of all ages), weather, seasonal darkness, back problems, other health problems, a spouse/partner with a different work schedule, tiny spaces, the list goes on! Your house needs to be livable. I don’t ‘like’ tv’s over fireplaces but like Em, I think that was born of seeing so many bulky big-screens in the early aughts. Now, thanks to frame TV’s, I can’t tell half the time. And the ‘no fireplace’ thing is a hard nut to crack here in New England where everyone has a fireplace to navigate even if it isn’t functional. My only absolute is that I, just me, have to have a TV in my bedroom. TV = wind down time for me and I’m not going to sit out in my family room and then get up and go to bed when I could already BE in bed and just flick off the tv and the light and be on my way to sleepy town.

Remington
11 months ago

I don’t have strong feelings about whether or not a TV should go over a fireplace. I agree it’s whatever does best in the layout of the room. My hill I will die on is no TV in the bedroom. I know tons of people love to watch TV in bed, but it’s a hard no in our house.

Kristin
11 months ago

Point of Information: Are screens and projectors still a thing? Like could you have a retractable screen that you only use when you’re watching or gaming, then it disappears when you’re not using it? Seems like something to consider in this argument…

LL
11 months ago
Reply to  Kristin

Emily had it in her last home. But I assume this takes to much effort for a quick unwinding tv session.

Tarynkay
11 months ago
Reply to  Emily

Our friends installed a projector screen that hides inside this beautiful wooden valance they custom made for the window. You would never know it’s in there just looking at the window frame. The screen acts as a blackout shade when they deploy it. And they just sit the projector on the coffee table when they are using it. It’s a great setup. I think you have to get a really nice projector to make it work well and also have blackout shades if you ever want to watch tv not at night.

We have a very cheap projector for our kids to play video games on in our rec room. And we just project it on the blank wall for now. They are happy with it though. You can do it very nicely and beautifully though.

11 months ago
Reply to  Kristin

We used to have one; the room does have to be super dark for shows with blacks/darks so it makes it hard to watch, like, Game of Thrones in the summer until after 10 PM when the sun goes down, by which point I personally am nodding off even when there are dragons. 😉 Projectors also use a ton of energy and the bulbs are really expensive, and finding the right way to mount them and their screens can produce its own eyesore issues, doing it nicely is hard as a renter too. It’s not a non-solution, but it just has a lot of caveats. That said I haven’t investigated projector technology in years. When things first started going HD we loved spotting funny text in prop menus and stuff because on our 11-foot projector screen it was blown up enough for us to see the detail!

J
11 months ago
Reply to  Kristin

Yes! I use a projector as my only TV. My living room is oriented toward a wall of windows that I never want to block! So the pull-down screen is mounted above them and really doesn’t catch the eye. For me, I actually like that using the projector involves some friction. It helps me keep my TV watching occasional and intentional. If I’m ever sick on the couch during daylight I can still close the blinds and see the TV well enough, or I can watch my laptop.

11 months ago

I love this post! I think Orlando and Emily both make great points. I love their friendship and this playful banter. Both are inspiring designers! I want more friendly face-offs between Orlando and Emily! Make it a series!

Brianna
11 months ago

This playful “rebuttal” was so fun to read—thank you! That said, I’m still team Orlando—it always feels too high up for me. (And yes to the new comments policy!)

E B
11 months ago

I am 100% with Orlando on this. I chose to put my tv in the corner. However, for those who don’t have an alternative placement, there’s a product to solve the ergonomic issue of the tv being too high:
https://www.mantelmount.com/

🥰 Rusty
11 months ago
Reply to  E B

Interesting product, but no way could you use the fireplace AND have the TV down there!

11 months ago

I love you both so much. I agree with you Emily that I do not like when people have really hard design rules that don’t really take into consideration that most people don’t like you guys, but I also love Orlandos spice and outrageousness.

11 months ago

I read Orlando’s take and even though I have a TV over a fireplace, I thought “oh, well”. When we moved in two years ago, we replaced a white formal fireplace with a linear and hung a TV over it, in what was a “Formal Living room”. Our “family room” has a brick fireplace and we don’t have any TVs in there. It actually works really well for us.

Dana
11 months ago

I’m anti-tv over *my* fireplace simply because I’m fortunate to have a spot for the tv adjacent, in the bookcase. Loved reading your counterpoints to Orlando’s stance—it’s good to have friendly debates.

Megan Lec
11 months ago

Love this debate, what a fun “dance.” LOL I have to side with Orlando here but mostly because in every photo you show a Frame TV, which let’s be honest, is perhaps the only TV where you can pull this off. I would love to have a Frame TV but, NOT in the budget. I also don’t know how the logistics of the Frame work with an AppleTV, internet box etc. Cords can so much more easily be hidden with the TV on a credenza or some other piece of furniture.

pam
11 months ago
Reply to  Megan Lec

I chose not to buy the Frame cause I think you can find a much better picture for the same cost, and the sound’s pretty poor so you still might want a soundbar/speakers. Also the Frame requires their big oneconnect box. I think Emily hides it behind the TV in the wall but I prefer no cable box.

Misty
11 months ago
Reply to  pam

Same. Husband vetoed the frame for picture quality vs the one he wanted. I personally hate the giant tv, but also had our contractor lower the original mantle slightly to accommodate it. We have a “formal” with no tv, but the living room, attached to the kitchen where HE COOKS, gets the tv he wants, because HE COOKS and he deserves it. Lol

Anne Kusilek
11 months ago

Thank you for this::
“….how we use our home is 100% up to us, for our own pleasure and enjoyment (and usually comes with certain limitations).”
This is why my microwave is over my range. It’s not my first choice from an aesthetic point of view but it is truly the best place for it in my small kitchen. I also made the choice not to have a dishwasher so that I can have hidden trash bins. It works for us as empty-nesters and the cabinet they are in occupies the same space as a dishwasher so that someone else can install one if they wish. Design is about how to make a space work best for the user and then figuring out how to make it beautiful at the same time.

11 months ago

HOW DARE YOU! YOU WILL BE HEARING FROM MY LAWYER (ME)! I WILL SEE YOU IN COURT (MY SUBSTACK)! …I mean, you’re right but so am I LOL! I think in general we’re both advocating for people to do what they want in their houses. But I’m fighting against years (decades?) of an accepted convention (putting the TV over the fireplace) that has group-thinked people into believing there is NO PLACE EXCEPT OVER THE FIREPLACE to put their TVs. My goal is to help people understand that with some creativity you can find a place for the TV that is not directly above the fireplace. Example, in your mountain house you could have put the TV over the console to the right of the fireplace and reoriented the seating to face that way – problem solved! I am planning a follow up post featuring some of the layout challenges I received in the coming week. But now I have even more to respond to! THIS BATTLE WILL NEVER END THIS IS THE HILL I CHOSE TO DIE ON. And, not to mansplain the joke too much, but I think Em and I love this convo bc it’s so stupid and… Read more »

Megan
11 months ago
Reply to  Orlando

Orlando – In your original post, I thought your biggest point was that when you are designing a room from the studs up, there’s almost always a better place for the TV than above the fireplace that is more comfortable for TV watching and better from a design perspective. I think you agree that sometimes its the best option, especially in an older home with layout limitations, and everyone can have their own taste, but it will never be your design preference. I 100% agree with you on both of those points, and nothing Emily has said here changes my mind. I don’t judge people who choose to put a TV over a fireplace, but its not my personal aesthetic.

🥰 Rusty
11 months ago
Reply to  Orlando

I’ll be your wingperson on that hill! 🤣

Emie
11 months ago
Reply to  Orlando

Orlando, the way you describe reorienting Emily’s mountain house is exactly how my house is arranged and it’s PERFECT!

Lark
11 months ago

Another case of “and/both”. Sometimes is works, sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes we have no choice but to ignore design ideals and live.

E E Deere
11 months ago

I am pleased to hear about this new comment policy, I hope you keep it going.
I have neither a fireplace nor a tv (but walls of books and a laptop), so I don’t have a personal stake in this debate. But I am on Team Orlando, if it can be done.

Katherine
11 months ago

For years I fought against it but I am now firmly on team tv, and it’s amazing how many homes are designed without a space for a giant tv and couch set up despite the fact that most people (not all) spend most of their time this way in the evenings. We have been looking to move and it’s amazing how hard it is to find a space that will work for what we want. I actually get a kick out of scrolling through the tvtoohigh subreddit.

🥰 Rusty
11 months ago

LOL @ Emily!!!🤣 I’m actually with your “friend/opposing counsel” on this one.😏 Reasons being: 1. You assume that there will be rwo square boxes next to each other if tge TV is not ab9ve the fireplace. Well, no. Not necessarily. 2. In fact, I’m curious as to why the majority of people get a gargantuan soda and face it at the fireplace/TV! I much, much prefer two big ol’ chairs near the fireplace, for chatting and being with another person/people. Literally = fireside chats! 3. The TV can be in another area, not next to the fireplace. My living room has two big art deco armchairs near the fireplace and a sofa daving the fireplace, so conversation with several people works great. For TV watching though, I’ll admit that it’s usually two-ish people and the chairs bave prime viewing position. So, if everyone wants to watch TV, I swing the sofa put on an angle to get eyeballs in the right direction. Works fine. 4. It’s really bad for ypur neck and eyes, to have the top of tge TV above thd height of your eyebrows. You end up not blinking enough and may end up with dry eyes, etc.… Read more »

🥰 Rusty
11 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Gah! Sorry re: typos, it’s cold here in Oz and my hands are extra numb.🥴

Roberta Davis
11 months ago

I love you both- and I say put the tv wherever you think is best! I always thought the recommendation to not put it over a fireplace was because it would create an awkward viewing angle and not be good for one’s neck, but you’ve addressed that concern quite well here!

Casey
11 months ago

Can we please have a blog post on how you manage to not have a car in the US and don’t live in the center of a city?

Vivienne
11 months ago
Reply to  Casey

Agree! Just very curious!

11 months ago

So fun! Also, thank you re: the new comments policy. JUST yesterday I was debating whether I needed to stop reading the blog (after being a daily reader for years). NOT because of you all (whom I support and adore), but because of the negativity and attacks in the comments, which had taken on a life and momentum of their own, and because I kept failing at my resolution to just not read the comments. Thank you, thank you!! I’d miss reading you all!

P.S., Orlando! I left this on one of your Substack posts this past week: Couldn’t not share it with you! https://chateauorlando.com/

Stacia
11 months ago

Totally agree on the comments change. Hoping it is permanent. Just an unbelievable amount of self righteousness in the comment section

Elise
11 months ago

Haha, what a fun article. I love both Orlando and Emily. I agree with Orlando about not having a tv over the fireplace, but with the Frame tv it does make a difference. For me personally, it’s too high up and hurts my neck, so it’s not a comfortable tv watching experience. But I agree with Emily too – everyone should do what fits their home/lifestyle. When my kids were little, we did not have a tv in the living room but the tv was in the family room.

Molly
11 months ago

I usually notice very little in terms of details but I laughed when I saw that the same art was chosen for the Frame TV in two separate rooms in this post! You clearly like that piece. 🙂 We have TV’s over both fireplaces – the LR and our bedroom – of our 1872 farmhouse. The LR is on the smaller side, especially once you add 2023 furniture that fits my tall family, so that was really the only location. It’s not my first choice, but I agree sometimes it’s necessary.

M
11 months ago
Reply to  Molly

I seriously did not realize that was a TV in the LA bedroom until this post lol

Kj
11 months ago

For safety, TVs (even new lighter flatscreens) should always be anchored to the wall if any children are in the home (even if only for occasional visits). It isn’t safe to leave your TV low and unanchored. https://www.consumerreports.org/child-safety/tv-tip-over-danger-to-children-a2119931225/

Lexie
11 months ago

I really wish I had known about the Frame TV before we bought a traditional one. It is really is a black box in our living room. I guess we will just live with it until it dies on us! :'(

Pam
11 months ago

I have a small living room with young children, and we currently have our television mounted on a wall away from our fireplace. I wish I could accommodate enough seating to be able to look at the fireplace, but we only have room for a small couch that faces the television. We are in there process of designing our remodel and I really appreciate Emily’s suggestions, and am in favor of a well thought out plan that will let me have the television over the fireplace, which we will use a lot in the Minnesota winter. Thanks Emily!

Amy
11 months ago

The 4 sides of our smallish living room are:
1) a picture window and two doors
2) an open archway into the dining room
3) a huge bookcase that cannot be removed or relocated
4) a fireplace flanked by windows
For me, blocking a window was out of the question, so a TV above the fireplace was the only reasonable choice. I don’t think that buying a Frame TV is necessary to achieve the look though. I have seen multiple people DIY a picture frame to go around a regular flat screen TV, and it looks great!

I also want to note that often the TV is the focal point of the room, and that’s fine! In many households the TV gets daily use and a fireplace is never used at all. Heck, maybe for some folks the best option is to put the TV smack in front of the fireplace and block it off completely. I hope we can encourage people to use their space in a way that is authentic and enjoyable to them – even if it means putting a TV someplace “ugly”. 🖤

J
11 months ago
Reply to  Amy

Your comment about putting the TV smack in front of the fireplace reminded me… My grandma had hers INSIDE the fireplace! It was a smallish 1940s living room whose only good orientation was toward the fireplace. And during most of her lifetime there was no such thing as a flat-screen TV that could hang over the mantel. Honestly I also think she saw TVs as modern and delightful and luxurious, but fireplaces as grimy and dated necessities of the past. What about the ambiance of firelight? At Thanksgiving sometimes we played those Fireplace For Your Home videos on the TV 🙂

Meghan
11 months ago

Truly enjoy this debate! Our 1920s formal living room layout complete with a fireplace and four doorways demanded the TV go above the fireplace. However, we could have opted to put the TV in another room or basement. And we considered it. But, to your point of how do you want to live in and use your house, we wanted the formal living room to be the preferred hang out spot. It gets the best light, is big enough to accommodate friends and family to watch a movie in the evenings. I go from reading to watching TV, to staring out the window. And I wanted to enjoy the fireplace and TV or book simultaneously. The Frame TV really makes it easy and was worth the investment for us.

Sarah
11 months ago

We have our tv above the fireplace but used a special mantle mount so it pulls down to a respectable viewing level. It’s up and has art on it when we entertain or I want it to be pretty and calm and it’s down when we are binging Netflix or shouting at the Phillies. It’s a good compromise. Otherwise, it would need to be in front of a window and would make furniture placement a nightmare.

C
11 months ago
Reply to  Sarah

We have one of these — it’s awesome. Doesn’t look as nice as a frame tv, but way more functional for our tiny row house living room! And you can recline and watch tv!

Ellen
11 months ago

I think i am team anti-fireplace. I dont like looking at them, and they take up so much dumb space, from the hearth to the mantel (that is just an unusable shallow shelf). Just board up the fireplace and call it done. My sister-in-law is Chinese, and we were watching Fixer Upper one day, and she asks “why do Americans choose to put in a fireplace in almost every room, and then put in central heat? Isnt the fireplace creating heat? Why both?” I had to laugh, because, well, she’s right. hahahahaha.

Kaiulani
11 months ago

Team Orlando here (raised hand)! There is a reason that TV stands/counsels are 24-inches off the ground. You are not meant to stain your neck. I also like to watch TV laying down on my sectional and this height is perfect. The previous owners of our house had the TV above the fireplace and we changed the layout to make it work for us.

Chania allen
11 months ago

I have the most awkward room. I think i have to put the tv over my fireplace. It is the lesser of desin evils

Lori S H
11 months ago

Team Orlando here! We tried it once and had terrible neck issues. Could not even make it through movies. It turned something traditionally so fun into an activity with neck aches for days…Additionally, for those of us with wood burning or gas fireplaces its not up to code. So there’s that- Unless you are among the fortunate to have a beautiful frame tv, with a zillion different art screen savers, its just not very pretty. So I’ll pass.

kiki
11 months ago

OMG, i’m so so so glad to see the note about moderating comments. It was turning into a dumpster fire and was starting to get really toxic. THANK YOU. (And while I’m mostly team Orlando on this one, you bring up some REALLY GOOD exceptions to the “rule”) Love it!!

Leslie
11 months ago

I think a TV over the fireplace is middle brow and even tacky. It’s like one’s whole focus is on TV (which, sometimes it is). You might as well add a couple of Laz-e-Boys and call it a day.

Liz
11 months ago

OK, so you and Orlando ARE design enthusiasts, so I could understand not liking the look of a TV above a fireplace. But I’m firmly team Emily here. it absolutely depends on the situation! We have a kitchen that opens up to our living room, and chose our house for this reason. I want to be able to watch TV and cook, not have to pause the TV when we go to the kitchen for a drink or whatever. And that big ole TV goes right over our gas fireplace. In winter in New England, we have the fireplace on every night and the TV on right above it where we can enjoy both. When we moved in we had the mantle moved down so the TV could fit at a reasonable height. Is it a big black box (with a deep blue color behind it)? Yup. But we watch TV every night pretty much, so if we tried to hide it, or put it somewhere more discreet, we’d be selling ourselves as people we’re not. And not hanging out in the best space in our house. The people before us had a smaller TV balanced on the bookshelves to… Read more »

Misty
11 months ago
Reply to  Liz

Liz, I could not agree more with this! Loved reading Orlando’s spicy opinion, but I guess we just aren’t that cool any more! The tv doesn’t come on until we both finish our work, but we love streaming our shows to wind down and generally, I am on the deep deep sofa attached to the kitchen where my husband is cooking for us. After raising kids, and surviving breast cancer this year, the big ugly tv over the fireplace debate seems pretty silly to me now. I have always been team Orlando on this and fought it with the same passion, but these days, I can see what is really important – having someone who loves that stupid giant tv over the fireplace while he makes me pasta! He’s earned it… 😊

Shannon L.
11 months ago

Is the Samsung Frame TV the only one like it on the market? Just curious.