Where to Put Your TV

If you ask a decorator where to hang your tv, they will probably say nowhere. A tv is like an indoor ceiling fan -- an ugly necessity. Now I'm sure there are many among you who a) do not watch tv and can therefore ignore this problem and b) do not live in Texas and can therefore laugh at us poor suckers who would surely melt into flesh puddles without our fans. You guys pat yourselves on the collective back and go find something else to do. Maybe paint something? I'm not even going to touch the fan problem, for which there is no elegant solution. But I am going to post a few ideas that may help you tackle the tv conundrum. Buckle up, friends -- this may be the longest post you read all day. Perhaps even all year. But this is an important topic, right? Ok, maybe not peace on earth important.

First of all, the old rules say, "No tv over the fireplace." Speaking as someone who had a tv over the fireplace for a year or two, I think I can tell you why: it's too high. Optimum viewing height is at seated eye level. However, these days you can buy a swivel mount to tilt that puppy down for easier viewing.

Vicente Wolf

And then there is the actual fire issue. We didn't light up the fireplace the entire time the tv was mounted on it for fear of melting all that high dollar plastic into nickels and dimes. However -- in the interest of full disclosure -- we haven't used our fireplace since we moved it, either. Have I mentioned it's hot in Texas?

House Beautiful

See, this tv is way too high, but it does look nicely integrated into the design, what with the restrained palette and gallery wall. It is obviously the focal point of the room, but it shares and plays well with others.

How about that snakeskin surround? I have a feeling this fireplace is never used, so heat is a non issue. Also, every tv looks smarter when playing Fellini.

I think the bottom line regarding tvs over the fireplace is that it can be done, and well. But it's not as easy as just plunking your tv onto the mantel. The fireplace is often the heart of the room, so room design has to accommodate the tv's design, also. And most importantly, don't arrange all of your furniture to face the tv unless you want your living space to look like a stadium.

House to Home

How about just next to the fireplace? I know a number of people have chosen this option and generally the lack of symmetry bugs me -- but then I love symmetry.

steven volpe tv

Steven Volpe

But this is perfection. Boom. This room is so well balanced (asymmetrically). I appreciate that not every single piece of seating is turned to the tv, and the tension pole is such a simple, elegant solution that keeps the tv off the wall, thereby enhancing its 3D object quality. It's so much better than this:

Ralph Lauren's apartment

This looks like a high school AV cart. It's so very wrong.


Built in solutions can be very attractive, from traditional and sophisticated to ultra mod.


Instead of hiding the tv away in an armoire (which I say should be avoided, because you aren't fooling anybody with that giant, hulking piece of furniture), a built in solution makes the tv an integral part of the room. The problem I see with this is that it's an expensive custom solution. Also, what if you decide to get a bigger tv? At least the Lonny image above leaves space for that possibility.


For us regular folk who can't afford built ins and choose to flat mount our tvs to the wall, the gallery wall can be an interesting possibility. I like that the paint color blends in with the black border of the tv, diminishing its visual footprint.

Brick House Tumblr

White walls + white tv + white art = a barely visible tv.

Sidenote: most tvs are black because black borders enhance the perception of contrast. Obviously they can be purchased in other finishes to blend into surroundings as in the above image, but you can expect to pay a premium for a fancy finish.

I suppose the most popular choice for a tv is over a credenza, which hides the cables and cords of modernity. Alex approves.

Laura Day

And of course it helps if you can position your tv over the most glorious credenza known to humankind, and then pause the tv to a color which matches your art perfectly. Again, I think the fact that not every piece of seating is turned toward the tv helps it to recede immensely.

Magnus Marding

But you can take that last piece of advice to the extreme.

For pretty much ever tvs have been the scourge of decorating. They have a restricted shape and palette, and formally speaking they often clash with furnishings. While I agree that it's best to avoid making tv the absolute focal point of a living space, that doesn't mean we have to hide our loves away. Unless you are a Mennonite or like to watch stupid reality tv on your iphone, you probably have a tv and it's got to go somewhere.

Marie Claire

Best learn to live with it gracefully.