Design Guide: The Best Placement of Your Fireplace with TV
There are lots of forums on the Internet with people discussing if they should place their TV over the fireplace. The consensus is... no one can agree!
The biggest argument against placing a TV above a fireplace is that it's a huge design "no, no." You're basically placing a big black hole as the focal point and when anyone enters the room that's where their eyes will immediately go. However, if you often like to watch the television then of course you want it to be the center of your space. So it can be a hard decision.
In this article we'll discuss all the different things you need to consider when placing your fireplace with your TV. By knowing all this information you'll be able to come up with a design that's right for you and your family and one that you'll be happy with for years to come.
Amount of Use
One of the most important things to consider when placing your television is how often you are going to use it versus how often you will use your fireplace.
A fireplace makes the ideal focal point for a room. The combination of a flickering flame, burning embers and well designed mantel are not only nice to look at but they also create a calming atmosphere. It's so enjoyable sitting around one with your family on those cold nights.
Let's be practical though, some people very rarely use their fireplace. If you and your family enjoying watching shows together every night then the TV needs to be the focal point. Why make yourselves uncomfortable straining to see it when it's used so often.
So after considering how often you will watch your TV and use the fireplace you have 3 options for the layout of your room:
Option 1: Make the fireplace your focal point and put the TV on a secondary wall.
Option 2: Make the TV your focal point and put the fireplace on a secondary wall.
Option 3: Make both the focal point placing the TV over the fireplace.
There are pros and cons to each different set-up. With the first two either your fireplace or your television becomes secondary. When considering furniture placement this becomes a problem because not all the seating placements will have a great view of one or the other.
Also, depending on your room layout you may not have two walls available. Two walls could be open to other rooms and one wall could have French doors or windows that open to a backyard patio.
Combining Two Focal Points
In some instances the only option is to place the fireplace and TV on the same wall. If you go with this option there are two important things that you'll need to take into consideration: the height of your television and what type of fireplace you have.
Height of Your Screen
There is some debate over what the proper TV height is for viewing. Some think it should be like in a theatre, where you look up to the screen. Most people believe that you should be viewing it at eye level. The New York Times wrote an article TV Height There's More Than One Answer that discusses the issue further.
Placing a television above a fireplace puts the viewing angle very high. This can make it uncomfortable to watch and even put a strain on your neck. Here are some solutions:
- Tilt your TV - There are mechanisms available that can allow you to tilt your television downward, typically 15 degrees. Some even come with remote controls so you can adjust the tilt angle to your exact preference, then returning it to the normal position when not in use.
- Furniture placement - Depending on how large your room is you could move your furniture further away from the screen so you don't have to look up so high. The distance you are away from the TV can also depend on what screen size you have. Toshiba provides a helpful formula and Quick Guide for Seat-to-Screen Viewing Distance.
- Type of furniture - A comfortable viewing angle can also depend on what kind of furniture you have. If you have a couch that reclines a higher TV height would actually probably be preferable to one that is at eye level.
- Size of fireplace - You also have the option of getting a smaller fireplace. Consider getting one without a hearth or a mantle that will allow you to place the TV lower. Also, there are models available that are more rectangular with less vertical height.
A great way to get an idea of how high you can comfortably place your TV is by hanging a temporary screen. Cut out a piece of cardboard or poster paper to your TV's screen size and then hang it on the wall and "watch" it. If you experience any neck discomfort at all then keep lowering the screen or moving your furniture back till you find a position that's comfortable.
Type of Fireplace
Where you place your television can also depend on what type of fireplace you have. There are 3 different types: wood, gas and electric.
Wood & Gas
These types burn the hottest so you'll need to be careful that your TV is protected. Putting a heavy mantle in place can help shield from the heat. Some codes require a specific distance the mantle must be placed from the fireplace if it is made of combustible materials. You can also check to see if there are codes for your specific area that tell the mounting distance requirements for a TV over a fireplace.
You'll want to make sure that when mounting the TV you don't damage the fireplace. Because these types of fireplaces require venting there could be components installed in the drywall above the mantel. So it's not a good idea to start drilling holes in the wall for the TV without checking first with the builder.
With an electric fireplace you don't have to worry about any of the hassles as you do with wood and gas. Installing them is very easy, most models just plug into a standard electrical outlet. There are many different types available so you can find one that best matches your design tastes and heating needs.
- Mantel - There are models available that come with a mantel. With several different designs and finishes available you'll have no trouble finding one that matches your style. Choose a dark wood finish or go with a stone option. There's one that will match your existing d??cor perfectly.
- Insert - If you'd prefer a custom built mantel but still want to enjoy the benefits of electric then go with a fireplace insert. These are very easy to install. Also, they are great options for older homes that have old wood burning fires that have been closed off. Don't let the beautiful mantle go to waste just install a fireplace insert.
- Media consoles - To make things even easier there are models available that are already designed to work as an entertainment center. This type allows for the perfect placement of your TV. Also, most models include cabinets and space for your media equipment and DVDs.
Even More Options
Whether you decide to make your fireplace, television or both the focal point there are more design options you can consider.
- Built in bookcases on either side of the fireplace or an adjacent wall that has cabinet doors to hide the television when not in use
- Recess the TV in the wall so you can have something easily cover it like cabinet doors, a retractable painting or mirror.
- Considering putting either the fireplace or TV in the corner of the room. That way they're still both easy to view from your furniture placement.
Now you should have all the information you need about fireplace and television placement. If you're still not sure about what kind of setup you want to do it's always helpful to do a simple internet search. Look for photos of other homeowners that have installed a fireplace with TV. You'll be able to get some more ideas for your own home. Then you'll be even closer to enjoying your favorite shows, relaxing by a warm fire or both!