Faced with a small living room, I decided to mount our family TV over the fireplace a few years ago. It saved lots of space, but I deeply regret it. Here’s why. (Don’t make the same mistake I did!)
You’ll Kill Your Neck
Prior to mounting our 70-inch TV set on the wall, it sat on a large TV stand that took up a good portion of potential sitting space in the room. We wanted to free that up. I had a heavy-duty TV mount I had bought many years before and never used, and there was plenty of free space above the fireplace, so I put two and two together, and the next thing I knew, we had a monster TV mounted above the fireplace.
At first, it seemed really cool to have the TV up there, but my family soon realized that in order to see the TV set comfortably, you have very limited seating options. Someone inevitably ends up lying down on the sofa facing the TV, taking up seating space for other people, and once the other two chairs are occupied, someone always ends up sitting or lying on the floor.
Then there’s the neck problem. If you sit too close to the TV, it’s almost impossible to crane your neck up to comfortably see the TV. If you attempt it, your neck will start hurting in about five minutes. From any other point in the room (other than lying down on the sofa), you still have to tilt your head back to see the TV properly, and your neck will start hurting in about 10-20 minutes.
It turns out that manufacturers recommend mounting the middle of a TV set at about eye level from where you’ll be sitting, and now I can see why. Anything else is a recipe for horrible neck strain.
You’ll Sacrifice Viewing Angle
Every TV set has an ideal viewing angle both horizontally and vertically that depends on what type of display it uses. That means if you’re looking at the screen from outside the viewing angle, the picture on the TV screen might be darker, blurrier, or discolored. Mounting a TV set up high above a fireplace might place your line-of-light out of the ideal viewing angle unless you tilt the TV downward with a special mount.
You’ll Struggle With Wires and Cables
Another issue with mounting a TV over your fireplace is cable management. If you don’t have any way to conceal the cables dangling from your TV set, you’ll end up with a huge eyesore hanging from the wall above your fireplace.
In my case, I’m lucky because our living room has built-in shelves beside the fireplace that run floor-to-ceiling, and it provides a good opportunity to conceal cables, network boxes, and game consoles in the shelves thanks to a few strategically-drilled holes. But routing power cables behind books isn’t ideal, and it may even be a fire hazard (heat, electricity, and paper don’t mix). I’m planning on changing this soon.
You’ll Potentially Damage the TV Set
We love to burn wood in the fireplace in the winter for a rustic, old-fashioned feel. In our case, we have a mantle above the fireplace and just below the TV set that can block some of the rising heat coming from the front opening of the fireplace—and most of the heat goes out the chimney. But when we get a roaring fire going, the fireplace brick gets pretty hot and radiates heat ferociously. That’s probably not great for the longevity of the TV set.
What You Should Do Instead
Now that you’ve seen the negative aspects of mounting a TV above your fireplace, what should you do instead?
If you need to mount the TV on a wall, attach it at a lower height that corresponds with where most people will be standing or sitting when they watch it. The height of the middle of the TV set should be roughly eye-level with most of the viewers. That means don’t put it up high if everyone will be sitting down while they watch, and keep the TV set away from the ceiling.
Or you can keep your TV sitting on a piece of furniture. It’s not ideal, and it takes up a lot more space, but your neck will thank you for it. Good luck!