How do I fit a TV on the Fireplace Wall

16 min read (AKA: how to fit your flat screen TV in a mid-century living room)
Where ARE you supposed to fit your flat screen TV in a mid-century living room? Especially if you are one of the lucky folks who ALSO has a lovely brick or stone fireplace as a focal point. Let’s discuss the TV fireplace wall conundrum!

Once answer to the TV Fireplace Wall conundrum: a hide away TV in a built in! Black and white sketch of a mid-century living room showing a hidden TV.

“What to do with a TV on a fireplace wall,” is a quintessential modern conundrum for mid century homeowners.

There’s an undeniable charm to an actual mid-century TV unit – a piece of wooden furniture with cute legs and the ability to roll out of a corner for “family viewing.” But where are you supposed to fit your flat screen TV in a mid-century living room? Especially if you are one of the lucky folks who ALSO have a lovely brick or stone fireplace as a focal point.

This came up in a recent Ready to Remodel Office Hours call because the homeowner was really struggling to find a good solution. Keep scrolling to see the video of that call and how we SOLVE the TV on a Fireplace wall conundrum for them!

Note: This was originally posted May, 2022. It has been updated and now includes a podcast episode for those who’d rather listen than read!

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Here’s what the internet generally recommends: that you plop your TV on the wall right over the fireplace opening.

And here’s what I have to say to that … nope.

Instead follow these key principles for a well placed TV in a mid-century living room. Are you ready?

Key Principles for Fitting a TV onto a Fireplace Wall

Anchor the TV (Visually)

Even though you are likely to want a wall mounted TV in your Mid-century living room these days … who wouldn’t … you don’t just want to float it in the middle of a blank wall. Stage it over a piece of furniture or surround it with wall mounted shelves to de-emphasize it in the room when it’s not in use!

TV in a mid-century living room next to entry closet

Choose Asymmetry

Set the TV off to one side or the other of your hearth and give it more or less space depending on how much you want the TV or the fireplace to be the real focal point of the room.

TV in a mid-century living room with fireplace and bookshelves and panelling

They don’t need to be the same height or size if you let go of your need for symmetry – things don’t need to be centered in a mid-century home! You can use a larger or smaller area depending on your TV size. Surround and “anchor” the TV with panelling, shelving and other visual elements to help it balance the fireplace.

TV in a mid-century living room with fireplace and bookshelves

Divide and Conquer

The TV and fireplace don’t need to be on the same wall! Consider a furniture arrangement that lets you appreciate both either by turning yourself, or the chairs. An L-shaped sectional is great for this. And in some cases there’s a third element in the room you want to highlight – the view out.

TV in a mid-century living room with malm style woodstove and large picture windows, sketch in black white and yellow

This Malm-style fireplace creates a sleek mid century feel and allows easier TV placement.

Ask: Does it need to be a “TV”?

In the continuing TV vs fireplace quandary, one recent project had a both a prominent hearth on one wall and a large window in the preferred viewing room. We pitched this homeowner the idea of covering the window to use that area for viewing. When you’re watching TV, you want it to be dark. Covering the entire window wall with floor to ceiling pinch pleat curtains creates a blackout effect. Then we recommended hiding a pull down projector screen in front of them for a classic movie theater experience every day.

Pinch pleat curtains are a classic mid century look that can be used to darken a room. I didn’t think they would actually do red movie theater curtains, rather more of a reference to a classic movie theater where you might see rippling curtains as a backdrop to the screen .

Watch me solve this problem “live” for a mid-century homeowner!

Want a little more detail? Check out this snippet from a recent Ready to Remodel office hours.

A homeowner in the program was struggling with this very question – how to place a TV in a mid-century living room with a great brick fireplace already taking up their main wall.

They asked for help one week so I put together a quick overview of their question … using the Master Plan approach, of course!

Watch the snippet here (and stay tuned for the end of the video when the homeowner is DELIGHTED with our solution to their problem)!

Podcast Resources to place your TV on the Fireplace wall

And you can always…

Read the Full Episode Transcript


If your home has a fireplace, then you probably struggle with today’s question. Where do you put the TV? Can you, should you put the TV on the same wall as your fireplace? Perhaps mounted over top? Short answer? No. How do you work around the constraints of your doors, windows and built in elements though to find a great place for both your TV which you want to sit comfortably and look at and your fire, which you like to sit comfortably and look at?

If you don’t want to put a TV in the same room as your heart? Well, congratulations on being a more highly evolved member of the species then for example, me, but today’s episode may still prove useful because we’re going to use it to practice applying masterplan thinking to any challenge in your home. Hey there. Welcome back to mid mod remodel. This is the show about updating MCM homes helping you match mid century home to your modern life. I’m your host Della Hansmann, architect and mid century ranch enthusiast, you’re listening to season 11 Episode Seven.


Let’s see today’s news is we just kicked off the remodel squad two weeks ago, I’m still just loving it much too much. And in the spirit of the fun of having these group calls, having people come in with their specific questions that are about their homes, and then answering those questions, getting other people’s feedback, and trying to think about how each individual midcentury homeowner’s question is both unique and universal. That’s where this episode came from.

Originally, this was an answer I prepared in advance for a previous ready to remodel student they had a question about how they could fit a TV in with their hearth room. And rather than just telling them what I thought they should put it, I decided to prepare a more general pep talk on the subject. And today I’m sharing it with you. So one of the best ways to think about all of this is to see examples and this talk today comes with slides that I originally showed on the Office Hours call that I originally talked about this on, I will put those slides into the show notes for the episode you’ll find those at midmod-midwest.com/1107.


But also, it’s a great idea to look for other visual examples. And this is where I always use Pinterest. I wanted to remind you if you don’t know already, mid mod Midwest has a Pinterest account. We make private Pinterest boards for each of our masterplan clients, which you can’t see Sorry, they’re direct for the homeowner that look at examples and cool ideas and micro and broad inspiration points for each of the areas of the house we’re working on.

But we also make general Pinterest boards for mid century kitchen update ideas mid century living room update ideas, mid century fences, screen walls, you name it, we probably have a Pinterest board for it. So if you’re doing some Pinterest research, and you want to make sure you’re seeding your own boards with some fun, easy to find ideas, go check out mid Midwest Pinterest account, it’s mid Midwest, all one word. And I’ll put a link to that in the show notes for today as well.


So let’s get into it how to properly incorporate a TV near a fireplace. And our goal, of course, is going to be a balance of beauty, aesthetic satisfaction in your whole house and the functionality of we are human Americans, we watch TV, and we probably want to have a place to lounge with our legs out and watch that TV comfortably. So of course, I’m going to recommend you take a masterplan approach to this. So you start by asking yourself the questions going through the phases of the master plan, process, dream, discover, distill, draft and develop and everyone’s answers will be different.


So for you when you’re thinking about the first the why of your TV in your hearth room, how much are you prioritizing the TV? When do you and your family watch it? Do you actually use that fireplace that it’s near? Does it heat the house? Or is it decorative? Is it gas or wood stove? Does it have candles in it? You know how purposeful is the hearth unit? And what does the whole rest of the room look like? When you’re not using it?

Which of those two activities the fireplace or the TV will be the most important as you sort of pass through the room? So think about the different use cases when you’re watching TV when you’re enjoying a fire? Would you ever do both at the same time? And what is the room like when neither of those items are in use? For example, there are people who have a TV and a fireplace in the same room that also has a nice view out and then you have to balance those three things.


So you want to think about how do you access this room? How do you enter and leave it how is your furniture arranged currently, that could change do consider this.

Maybe the TV doesn’t actually belong in the same room as the fireplace I always highlight the example of my sister and her husband because I can pick on her and I’ve had other clients also want a lovely den or front room that features a fireplace and a view outside and then they put the fireplace somewhere else. They put the TV excuse me someplace else for my sister.

She and her husband when they moved in. The first room they perfected in their house was their front room. It has windows on two sides, door circulation on the third side and they wanted to put a sofa and they wanted a music room or record playing room. View out sitting room and they just wasn’t TV in any of that equation. So for them, they put their TV (it’s large, you know, brother in law sports watching TV) in the basement in a den space, they also are big movie buffs. So they go downstairs in perfect darkness and have their cinephile experience and then come upstairs and admire the sunshine during the day, or their neighbors Christmas lights at night, you know? Yes, it’s February, and there’s still Christmas lights up. This is the Midwest.


So knowing your priorities, the dream stage is going to help you frame all of your key questions, then we deal with the room itself.

This should sound like discover. So where are the entry and exit doors from the room? Where are the lines of circulation? That is where do you walk? Where are views with Windows? Is there enough space, ideally, to pull the furniture away from the walls to sort of floated around a carpet around a rug in the middle of the room and have people walk around behind it rather than having sofas backed up against walls with a big empty space in the middle?

Some rooms and mid century houses are too small to pull the furniture away from the walls. But ideally, you want to create conversational groupings. Where is the fireplace? What materials are surrounding it? Does it have a cool original mid century brick or stone, maybe it has nothing. Maybe it has drywall, it’s probably not floating in the middle of the air. So you can think about whether this is part of your remodeling plans. In some cases, the hearth either was never a nice feature or has been mangled in a previous remodel. But if you do have some original stone, or brick that you want to feature, thinking about that now is important.


A lot of people at various points in time have built their TVs into specific configurations. So if you think about fitting your TV next to your fireplace, particularly if you’re thinking about concealing it or surrounding it with buildings, we often get bit by the changing technology. When we switched from rectangular format TVs to flat screens, a lot of people were out of luck on their built in setups. So I like to future proof as much as possible by creating a space around the TV that’s a little bigger than whatever TV you might have. Now, even if you think you’ve got the biggest sports watching TV in the world, build in that flexibility.


Then again, think about the practical question of does your fireplace operate? Do you want it to and how often do you want to use it? This is the thing you see constantly on if you Google search, fireplace and TV, if you look on Pinterest, and you put in the search terms fireplace and TV, you will see a TV stacked over a fireplace. That’s a terrible idea. From a technology and heat point of view. It’s also not a great idea for viewing.

So you want to think about what’s a good viewing angle from your sitting height which match a lot of mid century furniture is a little lower. You don’t want to be looking up to your TV, constantly craning your neck, you want to think about your TV and your fireplace almost being on a level with each other, or the TV being only a little higher.


These are some of the practical questions. What are you dealing with? What’s your room layout right now? What kind of TV do you have? What’s your room, your layout? Then there’s distill. So we come to the style guide element, which is basically what are you working with in terms of your existing finishes? We talked about do you have your original wood? Or any original wood built-ins? Do you have your original wood floor? Trim, etc.? Have you got your original fireplace, masonry surrounding?


And then you ask yourself as a style preference, does the TV need to be invisible when it’s off? Now technology is helping us with this. If you want to spring for the new Samsung frame TV, you can make it not vanish but look like not a TV when it’s off. If you’re not, this is a place where there’s a couple of examples for this in my midcentury living rooms pinboards.

You can have your TV over your fireplace, if it’s a gas insert that you’re not going to use. But it’s just not a great idea for the TV. And aesthetically it’s not a great idea. I think that if you’re going to locate it over the fireplace, building it such that it can be fully concealed when it’s off is your best bet.

If you look online, for TV optimum viewing head height angles, you’ll find that you want the TV to be much closer to the ground rather than mounted so high. It’s not recommended.


All right. This is this sort of ideal. You want your fireplace and your TV to be almost on a level. And you want them to be offset from each other. Remember the mid century design principle of asymmetry. You’re not trying to put them exactly matching matching, you’re trying to make them balance with each other. Sometimes there’s room in the room to have the fireplace on the TV on two different walls.


There’s actually a house account I follow on Instagram that you may enjoy. It’s I believe it’s called the yellow door, the door house. I’ll put a link in the show notes, and they just have they actually have the same the three part challenge a great view out a hearth, and they wanted a TV in the same room. In this case, their hearth and their view were on opposite walls.

So what they chose was a floating sofa arrangement in the center of the room. A L shaped sofa where one of the wings of the L faces, the hearth, the other faces a new built-in they built to separate their entry create a kind of a mudroom bench on the opposite side. And then a TV, that is the frame TV, which kind of goes away visually. So they got three activity walls, beautiful windows on one side, hearth on the opposite. And in the middle, the TV wall. I’ll put an example to this that you can see in the post, because this is it’s really one of the best examples I’ve se out in the world.


Let me talk about some projects I’ve done recently. In some cases, you are going to be dealing with a horse that is already centered in the room. Now, most mid century houses have some asymmetry going on already. So you could think about placing the TV directly over the hearth and letting that cemetery just stand. But I would always look for an opportunity to balance it.

But even if the hearth is centered, shift the way you mount things on the shelves around them on the wall around it. Or the way you create an asymmetrical orientation of shelves, hearth bench, etc. And the way you orient the furniture in the room.


Much better than stacking the TV over the hearth is to have the TV next to it on one side. And then fully also to use the other visual elements of the room. Ideally, some built in Shelves, some built in storage, to further unbalance the two of them. To give one of them a greater heft than the other. Think about which is more important to you in the room, the TV or the hearth.


A third example might be to allow the TV to really float above but next to the hearth. And to create some linear element that lines along all three of them. So I’m, I think that basically you’re looking for a sense of not things being parallel to each other. But if you’re if you’re looking at any wall, you always want a sense of movement of interest of balance. As you go around to this.


In some other cases, you want to think about: do you want to create a full wooden built in unit with closable doors? This means when the TV is not in use, you’re looking at a piece of wooden panel with shelves around it. Perhaps rather than a television. This is kind of my favorite way to hide a TV, especially even a frame TV, we know, we’re not really fooled. We know that’s a picture frame, the exact size of a TV and the exact spot where the furniture is all pointing at the TV. You can make that go away a little bit more, you can make the woodgrain of a piece of built in your feature wall instead of the television.


Alternately, you can think about should the TV and the hearth really be on the same wall. If there’s any way to shift that up. I really liked to have them be separate. We often pitch an L shaped sofa where you might sit in one orientation to focus more on the TV or another to focus more on the hearth. But you have the opportunity. Also, if you’ve got any freestanding chair furniture it might swivel, or lightweight mid century furniture can be rotated to focus more on the hearth or focus more on the TV.


I think one recent project that I’ve got some examples of in here actually shows it. This was a house where the hearth was not original to the house, it had been built in the 80s. One of the examples we chose was actually to fully remove the big masonry hearth, for more flow between that and the kitchen.

And then to put in a Malm style fireplace, a freestanding chimney style chiminea style wood stove and I think that the owner in this case, didn’t intend to actually use it as a functional wood stove, but I could be wrong. That also allowed us to move that over right in front of a set of windows so that the view for the hearth. Now in this case, the little chimney fireplace, and the windows could be the same view and then the TV could be on an adjacent wall.


A third thing to consider these days is you want a TV in the room. But is it actually a TV?

We had a recent project that had a prominent hearth on one wall and a large window next to it. We pitched this homeowner the idea of covering that main window of the space because when you’re watching TV, you want it to be dark. So, actually covering the entire window wall with floor to ceiling pinch pleat curtains that could create a blackout effect. And then hiding a pull down projector screen in front of them so that you would have a sort of a movie theater.

So have you considered no TV but a projector. This can work with a pulldown or pop up projector screen or you can even project your vision onto a simple blank, ideally white, wall in the room. You get movie size, quality and drama and no visible TV.


Now if you’re curious about this, be sure to research both the classic ceiling mounted projectors. And the new style of short throw projectors which sit right underneath where the screen will be. The throw the light, almost straight up against the surface that they’ll be projecting onto. So you can build that into a built in where they actually like the projector will pull out in a drawer, and then a screen can pull down in front of it, it can be a very invisible wind gun setup.


Once you’ve got all of these considered, you can start to think about the develop part of your master plan your mini Master Plan applied to this, which is what is the scale of change you’re willing to make? Are you also getting new furniture? Will you move walls to create the setup? Are you basically looking for the right place to hang a TV in your existing room? Knowing your level, your scale, how much involvement you’re getting into, will all help you as you weigh the various pros and cons of various layout scenarios. And that is the master plan method applied to TVs and fireplaces.


Here’s the thing. We had so much fun when I answered this question for one of the ready to remodel students. After we’d gone through this process, it instantly became clear to them where their TV should go. It belonged on some dark wood bookshelves that were next to their hearth unit. We could remove a few shelves, placed the TV against the back wall within them. And it wouldn’t be hidden but it would be sort of recessed when it was off, it’d be very de-emphasized. But when it was on, it would be right next to where all the furniture was already pointed to appreciate the fireplace. This was a really aha moment . These homeowners had been completely baffled by this and it became instantly obvious once we’d walked through asking them these questions. They had their own answers.


I already suspected what their answers would be, but I wanted really to go through this process with them. It was really it was one of the best moments of that entire ReMod Squad series of weeks calls. Everybody that was on the call that day felt the AHA energy of it and it was just really fun.


So to recap: sometimes when you’re really feeling stuck about something even something as simple as where on the walls in my room, do I mount a TV. Start by asking yourselves a rapid fire version of the masterplan method questions. What matters to me? What are the factors in the room I need to work with? How do I want this to look?

What’s my vibe? Then weighing a couple of pros and cons can get you to the answer really quickly and really confidently.


We would love to hear about your fireplace and TV dilemmas. If you want to pop over to the Mid Mod Remodel Facebook group and tell us what you have come up with that’s brilliant or what you’re struggling with… We’ll help you brainstorm together as part of the group. We would love to do that.

So as always, you will find the show notes for this episode at midmod-midwest.com/1107. That’s it for today.