Flat-Screen TV Over the Fireplace?

Some people hate the idea, but some customers are asking for it. Here, cabinetmakers discuss solutions (and personal taste). August 11, 2009

I've managed to avoid this so far but have a client who really wants to do this. I think it looks very tacky but will not express that as it will be their entertainment center, not mine. Initially I told them potential drawbacks might be too much heat from the (wood-burning) fireplace voiding any manufacturer warranty, and the viewing height may be uncomfortable. Is putting a TV on top of a fireplace a good or bad idea and why?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor P:
Tacky is reason enough. Another reason is that this will solidly date this work at 'about 2009 or so' for the future. This alleged design has already peaked in most areas and will soon be as current as shag carpet. Viewing angle is also a good reason to avoid this, especially if this is their primary screen. You can also mention that as things change in the future, this arrangement may not work with the latest, greatest.

From contributor G:
Thank you both for the reality check. I think the design is, for all of the above, the worst thing I have seen in years - worse by far even than the wide screen pop-up TV in the footboard of the bed.

The fireplace is the symbol of the hospitality of the home, sort of its crowning glory. The widescreen stuck on the top is like sitting a fool's cap on top of that crown. I have never seen an installation in which the screen didn't destroy all the lines and balance of the fireplace. Perhaps it violates the golden mean or something, but the lines are awful.

From contributor C:
Remember that we are cabinetmakers, and custom work involves solving peoplesí needs. Find the challenge in designing something that works in the situation, and go for it. Please don't pay any attention to the pc design police who whine and complain that we don't see things through their rose colored glasses. Work is work, grab the opportunity, and do it to the best of your ability. Remember who the boss is and give the people what they want.

From the original questioner:
I'm torn between giving the client what they want and doing what I intuitively know is correct. I can't agree that just because it's work it's always good. Do we not have a heightened responsibility (especially when doing custom work) to inform our clients as to what is proper, tasteful, and timeless? How do you deal with that?

From contributor S:
This would not be my recommendation. However, we have several friends who have this arrangement, and they all like it. But they all have gas fireplaces, not wood (not as much heat issue). In our home we have a picture above the gas stove. I sat and looked at it a while, and height doesn't seem to be a problem. It's about the same as looking at a screen in the movie theater. So tell me, do you really believe a TV over the fireplace is more tacky than the tube as a center point in your living room?

From contributor E:
I mounted a 40 inch plasma over the top of the fireplace where my wife can see it while she sits at the spinning wheel. Production has almost doubled. If they want it and will pay for it, I will build it. If it looks old, tacky or dated, that's between them and their friends who sit in judgement.

From the original questioner:
Thanks guys for all the thoughtful responses. I think the best approach is to share the practical concerns beyond aesthetics. I will present these and see what happens from there.

From contributor J:
I make every effort to accommodate the clients wishes, and in 26 years there is some element to becoming a "go to guy" and I also charge accordingly.

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From contributor K:
I give my thoughts to my customers, but if they want the pink kitchen with yellow polka dots, I will start doing color samples. It's their money and their home. Unless it's unsafe or you can't do it, make them happy and they will send you more business from their friends.

From the original questioner:
I presented my findings along with a much simpler, more timeless design. They opted for this much more subtle alternative. Sometimes going through all the options is required. I'll bank this fireplace/plasma combo idea for the next sports bar theme.