When did hanging the TV over the fireplace become a thing?
Trust me, I get it. My own husband is not a sports fan so it’s easy enough for me to say, but my brother-in-law, for example, opened restaurants just so he could surround himself with TV sports whenever the mood strikes.
I personally have strong feelings about “decorating with electronics.” I used to have a sophisticated roommate who complained that decorating with gear is the number one sin. Like any design advice, this is purely subjective. For me, this is an opinion I have acquired over many years of tossing the TV topic back and forth with dozens, nay — hundreds! — of people, including other designers, clients, spouses, kids, and contractors, and I always land on the side of don’t.
Where to Put a TV in a Living Room
My advice: Put art over the fireplace. A sculpture. Or, if you have truly beautiful tile or brick, try leaving it bare.
If you already have your TV hanging over the mantle, could I persuade you to consider moving it to a less prominent place? Use the same mounting hardware to hang a beautiful painting, or a mirror, or an African headdress…
Why do I feel so strongly about this?
Where shall I start? Let’s go with ergonomics, first.
How High Is Best to Hang a TV?
For the sake of your cervical spine and proper alignment when gazing at anything for very long, your TV should be — whether freestanding or hung — positioned at eye level when you are sitting down.
Otherwise, you are straining your neck upwards when you watch it. This is actually true whether or not there is a fireplace involved. (The ergonomics issue also applies to your cell phone, we are all going to end up with hump-necks if we keep gazing down at our devices.)
In a living room, the sightline from your seating area is often much lower than the space above your mantle. In a bedroom, the sightline will depend on the height of your bed.
Why You Shouldn’t Be Hanging a TV Above Your Fireplace
Your TV — assuming we are talking about hanging a flat-screen TV that’s big and black and is the current cultural de-rigueur — carries a certain visual and energetic weight. It is big, heavy-looking, and dark. It absorbs light when off, absorbs our attention when on, and emits an electrical current which disrupts sleep patterns when looming over your bed, and is loud commentary about the values that exist in the home.
That said, generally, we all have TVs. So, where to put a TV in a living room with a fireplace?
If there is really no other place, then, okay. Fireplace; above.
(And if you dig through my portfolio archives, yes, you will find a few homes where the TV ended up above the fireplace. In those situations, it was likely chosen by the client or the contractor; not by LMBI.)
The question I ask you to consider is: Do you want being entertained by your television to be paramount? Or is your primary intention to create a warm, welcoming space, filled with fun art, vibrant energy, and a tone of elegance. (I think you know which version I would suggest.)
If you want to increase the energy, joy, and pleasure that you can have in your life through the interior design choices you make, don’t make the TV the focal point of your living room or family room.
Because these rooms, full of ample seating — plus coffee tables and game tables; bookshelves and beautiful objects; are designed for gathering, connecting, relating, and relaxing.
Where you place your TV has a dramatic, powerful impact on the energy field in that room, and in your life. So choose carefully. Your neck, and your heart, will feel the difference.