To TV Over the Fireplace or Not to TV Over the Fireplace

Yes, that is the question. As an architectural purist, I fell into one specific camp on this for a long time.  After some mulling and chewing, I’ve come to see both sides. I’m now what you’d consider neither a left-leaning liberal on the topic, nor a right wing conservative. I’m a TV over the fireplace Independent.  You see, the Architectural Purists cannot stand TV’s over fireplaces for aesthetic reasons; the Adapters reason that we live in the information age, where electronics – particularly flat screen TV’s – are part of the popular culture. As a designer and design advocate for my clients, I always opt to see which camp a client falls into before inserting my opinion – which now comes down to a case-by-case basis.

For example, here’s a project where we hid the fireplace TV behind cabinetry. Thankfully, the client was a purist so I didn’t have to lobby much for hiding the TV. This stunning home has a marvelously open floor plan in which you can see this family room view from the front center hall. I’d have really hated to see a large black hole – the TV – from the front door.


Meanwhile, here’s a project where the TV is on proud display above the fireplace and amidst the gorgeous white cabinetry. The look in total is sleek, current and crisp, working perfectly for the young family for whom this was designed. And how about the size of that TV? Maxed to the cabinetry & viewing distance to make the hubby-half of my client team ever so tickled pink.  (J., if you’re reading this…did I take care of you, or what?)

interior design

Thus – there is no right or wrong. Important functional notes:  DO please watch your TV viewing height – drop those mantels to a general  54-55” so the TV can mount at 56-57” or so, depending on viewing depth. Also the ideal viewing ratio to TV size is 3x the TV size. That means  a 50” TV will have an optimal maximum viewing distance of 150”.

So pass the remote, throw another log on the fire (or not) and Live and Let Live.