• Kara Vanskike

What To Do with Your Television


The Worst Place to Hang Your TV


If your home has a fireplace, the odds are high that your television is mounted above it. It’s a popular location as furniture is often arranged around this gathering spot, so it seems like a great place for the television, too. However, that assumption couldn’t be more wrong.


Last year, over Spring Break, my family and I rented a house in the mountains in east Tenessee. I loved everything about the house (there was a private tram on the property we rode down the mountain to get to the lake!) except the TV in the living room. It was mounted on the massive stone fireplace and the only comfortable location in which to watch it was standing in the kitchen. Mounting the television on an adjustable mount and being able to lower it for a better viewing angle would have been great, but then, if the fireplace was on, the view of the fire would have been blocked, plus we would have run the risk of roasting the back of the TV.


Mounting your television above your fireplace likely means it’s mounted too high. Unless you have a very low fireplace, it’s an awkward viewing angle. In most cases, watching it while seated in your favorite chair will be uncomfortable and the picture will doubtlessly be distorted. Would it surprise you to know TVs should be close to eye level when you’re sitting? Most people hang their pictures too high, too, but that’s another post.


We all know heat rises so anything above your fireplace is going to be affected by it including your television. So, beyond the uncomfortable viewing angle, there is also the possibility of damaging the TV. Heat damage will likely not be covered by the warranty and, while most TVs have certainly decreased in price, especially on Black Friday, do you really want to run the risk of overheating it and having to replace it before its time?


Finally, mounting your TV over the fireplace detracts from the architecture of your room. A TV above the fireplace becomes the focal point. You don’t want to take away from the beautiful stonework or your custom mantel, but it doesn't even have to be the fireplace itself. It can draw attention away from other architecturally interesting elements or artwork or even your furniture! But then again, maybe you don't want anyone to look at the rest of your room.


Where Should You Mount Your Television?


While above the fireplace is a popular location, it’s not ideal and there are alternatives to consider. Almost any other practical place in your home where the TV is not above the fireplace is a more appropriate location. If there is room off to the side of your fireplace and your furniture arrangement works, mount it there on the wall or put it on a stand.


Think about other interesting ways to incorporate the TV into your living space. There are smart-looking artist-easel-type stands that work for TVs which allow you to position the television almost anywhere. If you have a window that’s wider than your TV, consider placing the television in front with blackout curtains behind. The curtains will block the light providing a nice backdrop for the TV.


Another option is to hang the television on the wall and add shelves around it and a cabinet beneath to give it a built-in look. The cabinet can hide media players and game consoles and the mass of wires and cables that often accompany media centers.


Above the Fireplace is the ONLY Option


Some of you are likely thinking the only place in your room where a television will fit is above the fireplace. If that’s you, we do have a few suggestions.


First, see how hot the wall above your fireplace gets. To do that, tape a thermometer where you think you want your TV to hang and leave it there for at least an hour (with the fireplace on). If the temperature stays below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, then you should be able to safely mount the television there. A couple of tips that may help lower the temperature is installing a mantel that extends further into the room helping to bock rising heat and/or using a blower that directs heat into the center of the room.


In order to take the focus off your TV, consider putting it behind a special framed two-way mirror that looks like a mirror when the tv is off, but disappears when it is on. Or purchase a TV that looks like framed art when not in use. Or build in the TV so that it can be closed off when not in use.


HOWEVER, all these options still have the height issue unless you use a special mount to lower it to the appropriate viewing height. But then there continues to be the issue of heat and in that case, you may simply choose to not use the fireplace while you watch television.


Remember when televisions came in cabinets? Choosing the location of where to put those monsters seemed simpler. But at least we don’t have to get up to change the channel now.