Whether dealing with new home construction or a remodelling, deciding where to locate the TV in a room with a fireplace can be a source of disagreement and consternation. Each person usually has a differing opinion as to which is more important--the TV or the fireplace--and why. Luckily, designers and home builders have made the decision-making process much easier with a number of creative ideas allowing the two elements to coexist.
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Custom or semi-custom built-ins on either side of the fireplace solve the issue of television viewing without having to mount the unit on the wall. When it is placed on a lower shelf, viewing is easier--no neck strain from looking up at the screen. Shelving also provides additional storage for TV accessories like cable, satellite and DVR equipment.
On the Mantel
Most plasma and LCD televisions come equipped with a stand so the unit can be placed on a piece of furniture. Mantels designed to handle moderate weight and with enough depth will accommodate a flat-panel television on a stand. As with wall mounting, cords must either be hard-wired or concealed for aesthetic reasons.
A hot design trend features flat-panel TVs mounted on the wall directly above the fireplace. Traditional designers balk at the idea, but many people opt for this configuration. The wall-mounted TV indeed competes with the fireplace as the focal point of the room. However, flat-panel televisions reflect success, and many prefer to display them prominently in a room.
In a Niche
If your home already has one, a built-in niche makes TV placement a no-brainer. A number of home builders now offer the option of a viewing niche above the fireplace. For those considering adding a niche to an existing fireplace, work with a contractor to assist with electrical wiring, proper insulation and construction.
TV as Art
For those who still think a TV fireplace constitutes an eyesore, turn the eyesore into a work of art. Place an ornate, custom or store-bought frame around the flat panel TV. Paint the frame a subdued colour, or simply match the wall paint to create a subtle accent. A step beyond the frame in elegance and price is a custom screen that conceals the TV with a mural. These screens are actually thin-profile wood cases fitted with artwork-covered panels to disguise the TV when it's not in use.
Inside the Firebox
This concept takes the idea of a fireplace TV literally. Many homes have inoperable fireplaces. Some people just don't care for the trouble and mess of a fireplace. Convert the firebox opening into a home for the family television. Construct the inside of the fireplace as you would a custom cabinet and pop the TV in place. Minor woodworking and rewiring will give your family room a one-of-a-kind media centre.
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