The concept of a TV above the fireplace is controversial in many ways: aesthetically, technologically, ergonomically, just to name a few.
If you are buying a house, remodeling one, or simply rearranging your living room, it’s a question that can cause marital strife, which I discovered myself recently when we faced this surprisingly important decision after buying our home in June 2021. We love the open floorpan and the massive, statement-making fireplace, which acts as the only barrier between the living and dining rooms.
When the previous owners remodeled, they redid the fireplace in floor to ceiling cement and fixed both the television arm and the mantel right into it. There is no moving either one without a professional (or at least 100 YouTube-watching hours).
So the fireplace isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, nor is the TV arm. We could camouflage it with creatively-placed art, but then that leaves the question of where to put the TV. There was only one other choice, on a console against the adjacent wall. We tried it, but it meant the sofa had to be awkwardly placed with its back to the entrance of the room. Plus, a wall of windows opposite the TV created major reflections and glare if we watched during the day.
For the record, I was adamantly opposed to the TV above the fireplace because I did not like the look. I felt, and still feel, that it makes the television too much of a focal point in the room. The husband and I argued about it.
But then I discovered that interior design maven Emilly Henderson did it, so it must be OK? But it turns out that even she has regrets. She wishes she would have placed the fireplace to the side with the television in the middle. But moving the fireplace is not an option for us so I’m resigned to the dang TV above the fireplace.
If you are faced with this dilemma, here are some of the biggest considerations to suss out before making your decision.
As I mentioned, I don’t like the television being the focus point of the living room. I like to imagine my family and friends gathering around the hearth to play games or share stories, not to zone out and watch TV.
The truth is, both scenarios are taking place in my living room, and the latter is probably happening more often. So if above the fireplace is the only place available for the TV, or the spot that makes the most sense, your savior lies in Samsung’s amazing Frame television. It’s designed to look like art, and it truly is difficult to tell that it’s actually a TV when it’s in art mode. I’m counting the days until we can save up and buy one!
Another alternative is a clever camouflage, like the map or cabinetry as shown below.
Surprisingly, CNET called the look “stylish,” naming style as one of the only pros of the above-fireplace placement—clearly it’s an objective matter. The article lists many cons, however. Heat and soot can be very bad for TVs, shortening their lives significantly. You’re in luck if your fireplace is faux or it doesn’t get very hot.
There is also the wiring to consider, which can get complicated, and you definitely don’t want to look at wires falling down below the TV. Ours is somehow magically contained within the walls and out of sight, thank goodness.
Most mantels are so high that a television placed above it will require viewers to crane their necks. And it’s not just about discomfort while watching, but it can cause longterm strain and pain. If possible you’ll want to make sure your mantel is low enough to facilitate a TV within your natural line of sight. You can also find moveable arms that can allow the TV position to be adjusted for more comfortable viewing.