I am deep in “fireplace wall” research mode on both the river house and the farm. Both houses have the same problem which made me realize that this a bigger problem. Where do you put the fireplace and TV so that you can enjoy looking at both? I have found this is a challenge because both TV and fireplaces are important focal points in a room, likely will dictate the orientation of your sofa, and if you are renovating you have the opportunity to do it right so that you can enjoy looking at both at the same time without craning your neck. Now if you aren’t renovating we have options and tips for you to, but if you are I have NEWS FOR YOU. I finally figured out the formulas and I so wish I had known earlier or I probably wouldn’t have put the TV above the fireplace in our family room. Allow me to demonstrate:
Option #1: TV Over Fireplace – But Make Sure It Is Low And Wide
Pros: It’s a shared singular focal point and it makes designing and laying out your room really easy. You can have symmetry with either windows or say bookshelves on either side. You know exactly where to look to get the benefits of both, so it really simplifies your design.
Cons: Unless you have a really low more linear fireplace your TV might be too high to watch comfortably. A lot of fireplaces need at least 12″ above them to be safe, and some require more. And if you want to add a mantel you are going even higher – be careful. We have a deep sofa so its OK, but if I’m honest with myself I do wish our TV was lower. We could have avoided this by choosing a lower/linear fireplace (even this one can be great but I wish it had a faux wood option) or doing option 3 (what I wish we would have done). I actually really like how we designed this, with the TV set back versus flush with the fireplace front but I now realize its a bit high.
Here are more tips for this one:
1. Don’t choose a huge fireplace to avoid it being too high (but you don’t want it looking dinky either). Take into account the clearance of the fireplace before you choose this option to see how close you can hang it to the floor and the TV.
2. So yes, opt for a linear fireplace if it works stylistically in your home. I like these because then it breaks up the box shapes and scales a bit and of course, allows you to hang it lower (but better in a more contemporary home, IMHO)
3. Skip the large mantel and just do it on sheetrock, plaster, brick, or tile. I prefer this look even in more traditional houses I’ve decided. You can add a subtle mantle or surround (like a slab), but just be careful not to keep adding and adding making your TV higher and higher.
4. Add a built-in bench on both sides so its not just box over box – a bench flanking it adds even another shape (I love ours) and you can put pillows on it which softens all the squares.
5. My biggest advice is to use the Frame TV if you can. It looks like art and because it isn’t a big black box that screams “watch me” it is less distracting to kids.
Option #2: Fireplace In Corner, TV On Wall In Front On Sofa
So this is a GREAT option in theory, but corner fireplaces have historically been, well not aesthetically our favorite (I’m not alone in this, Orlando is actually taking his out). Now I actually love mine in our living room and it allows us to see the fire from both the kitchen and living room. I don’t think I would design this fireplace now though if I were putting in one that doesn’t already exist. Instead, I would have a hanging corner fireplace. I’m obsessed with the idea of these:
Pros: They look VERY COOl and because they are round they feel appropriate hanging in the corner, off to the side. You can still see and enjoy them and they anchor the corner, while being able to place a TV directly in front of you. ALSO, you can put them in front of windows so you also have the “fireplace, TV, view” problem (which is definitely a good problem to have). A hanging fireplace actually looks very cool in front of windows.
Cons: I haven’t found a ton on the market that aren’t bioethanol, or sold in America.
Option #3: Stove Style Fireplace Off To The Side, TV In The Center
Having the TV and fireplace oriented side by side is also an option and can look really cool and modern too. This is the one I sorta wish we would have done for our family room. Ideally, you want to have the TV centered with the sofa and at eye level and vary the size and height of the TV and fireplace so they don’t mirror each other.
Pros: You can avoid having a fireplace in the corner which is less aesthetically pleasing and you can have the TV eye level instead of having it above a too tall fireplace. To add even more architectural interest an exposed chimney will help draw the eye up and it also looks SO COOL.
Cons: You need enough wall space for it to make sense to have the two be side by side. If the room is too small having them next to one another can make the room feel stuffy and crowded.
Option #4: If You Are Not Renovating And The Fireplace Is Too High, Place Your TV On A Credenza
If you are a renter or not renovating and your fireplace is taking center stage, you can put your TV to the side over a credenza. In Arlyn’s rental, she had a fireplace in her living room and the fireplace was too high and too close to the sofa for a TV to be installed over the mantel. She opted to place a credenza to the side and mount her TV over the credenza. The solution for the whole TV-off-center situation is an articulating, pivoting wall mount which allows her to pull it outwards and angle the TV towards the sofa to avoid craning necks.
Pros: You can avoid renovating and still have your fireplace be the focal point. Especially in older homes, fireplaces can provide architectural interest and charm and this formula preserves the fireplace as the focal point.
Cons: Depending on the size and layout of the room it can be tricky to fit a credenza and a fireplace on the same wall.
So there you have it. Which formula would you opt for if you were renovating? Do you also struggle with the fireplace/TV conundrum? Tell me your thoughts below!
I also want to point out that fireplaces – natural gas and wood, do have environmental problems both with interior air and external air quality. Currently there isn’t much of a solid alternative solution except A. don’t have a fireplace or B. Get an Electric fireplace. Bioethanol can be an option but its typically not a replacement for the gas or wood. My philosophy is only have a fireplace if you need one and only use it when you need it. And make sure you don’t do what I did at the mountain house in the living room and just get a set of logs with a gas line, instead opt for a direct vent with glass that provides way more heat (like we have in the family room), which doesn’t suck your warm air OUT of the home through the chimney and doesn’t pollute your interior air. I’ll write more about the alternatives (and I did shop for electric in person and ITS HARD). I wrote this post before I knew so much about fireplaces so I wanted to make sure my current opinion about usage and choices was reflected to give you guys the most information and of course try to stave our natural gas consumption to help the environment.
Opener Image Credit: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: How To Design A Quiet, Neural Yet Exciting Living Room