TV vs. Fireplace…

Two focal points, one point of view

One of the things we hear all the time when clients come into the gallery, is “we’re thinking of putting the TV above the fireplace” to which we also respond… “why?”
Now, we understand that:

  1. It’s in every design and shelter magazine, so it must be right, right?
  2. It’s just “what’s done” now.
  3. It’s the easiest place to do it.
  4. There’s no other place in the room to put the tv.

While we agree somewhat to each of these, we feel that the fireplace should still be the main focal point of the room. It’s in our DNA around here. We feel that for centuries the fire had been the center of the home, and the lives that revolve around it. We encourage our guests to honor that tradition. Its not that we are AGAINST TVs above the fireplace – we do those installations all the time, and we can work with you to make sure its done correctly, its just that we often challenge our guests to think about all of the options.

Just a few things to think about…

Many magazine shots are staged. That’s right – there’s reality, then there’s fantasy. To put a TV above a fireplace, you will have to adhere to certain clearances for proper and safe operation. Fireplaces create a tremebous amount of heat, and a TV above a fireplace must be high enough so that the heat doesn’t damage the electronics. That shot of the TV right above the fireplace make look great, but may not be practical.

Once you get the TV the proper height above the fireplace, it may be too high for comfortable viewing. We always recommend before someone moves forward with this, find out the minimum distance you can have the TV away from the fireplace – tape up paper the size of the TV and sit down on the sofa to imagine watching the game. If it’s uncomfortable staring at paper, it will sure be that way trying to watch a movie.

The fireplace is often designed to be the focal point of the room. Think back to a time around a campfire. Everyone sits around, talking, sharing, singing and thinking while looking at the fire. Few are staring across the campfire to a movie! Its the same in your home. The fireplace should be a place of relaxation and connection. To put a distraction above it often changes the whole reason it was put there.

We like to have our clients really look at their spaces. See if there is adjacent wall where the TV can go. Even to the side of the fireplace is often a good solution. Even though it may come as a surprise, you don’t have to stare straight at the TV to enjoy it. Your head has this cool pivot feature called a neck. If you turn slightly to one side or the other, you will see what is there! All kidding aside, placing the TV to one side often allows you to keep it a more comfortable height.

A more modern application where the fireplace and tv are arranged in an interesting composition using a ledge shelf to unify them.

In some cases, the TV may be bigger than the fireplace, in other cases the reverse. Its important to maintain a balance matter what the proportions.

In any application, we recommend working with a qualified electrician to run all of the necessary wiring inside the wall. There’s nothing more distracting that a beautiful fireplace with cords draping down from the TV and all of the related equipment. Some people feel they have to have the TV above the fireplace because there is an outlet or power there and they need to cover it up. Just because a builder thought ahead to give you the option, doesn’t mean you have to do it. Use the power box to easily instal a picture light to highlight a beautiful piece of art.

In this application, the TV could go on the wall to the left where the other painting is.

Whatever you decide, its important to work with professionals, like Bromwells to make sure the fireplace you select will work with the TV you are using. Mantles, heat deflectors and hoods act as heat breaks to allow you to move the TV closer to the fireplace. The pros have all of the information, and resources to make it come together.

Just don’t be afraid to “break the habit”.

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