The Fireplace Dilemma
A common design problem these days is the fireplace/TV debate. Our first house was a tract house we had built in South Carolina. We did not put a fireplace in that house because I preferred the extra window that came in it’s place and we didn’t want to pay for something we would barely use. The house we just sold was a builder spec house with a gas fireplace. We turned it on a couple times the first winter, but shut the gas off to it once The Kid was tall enough to reach the switch to light it. It was never used after that. The mantle over it was over 5′ off the floor, so watching a tv above it would have been painful with the center of the television being over 6′ up. We ended up mounting the tv to the adjacent wall which left us with only one way to arrange the furniture without blocking the tv or fireplace. We have the same setup in this house we are renting although the tv is on a stand instead of mounted to the wall. The fireplace mantle is a little lower in this house, but still too high to put a tv over it. We also shut the gas off to this one shortly after we moved in because I didn’t like having the pilot light burning all the time and we still don’t trust The Kid to not play with the switch.
Our new house has the option of having 3 fireplaces – the study, master bedroom and family room. We don’t really want to waste the money or space on fireplaces in the study or master bedroom. I’ve went back and forth on one in the family room though. For a long time, I had decided to not have any in the house. I am concerned about building a house of this size without a fireplace since it seems to be something that is almost “required”. We had complaints while selling our first house about the lack of fireplace and it was much smaller than the one we are building. We plan to stay in this house for as long as possible, but resale will someday become an issue. Although we live in a fairly warm climate, almost every house has a fireplace.
The question has been how to fit a fireplace in a room that will be primarily used for watching tv. I’ve seen built-ins where either the tv or fireplace is centered on the wall while the other is off to the side. While that allows the tv to be hung lower, I feel it often looks like one was added later as an afterthought (we’d also want the tv in the middle which I think makes it look even stranger). I had seen this design below by Candice Olson a while back and thought we may be able to come up with something similar.
I really like the more contemporary fireplaces with glass rocks instead of logs. They also tend to be more rectangular and not as tall. Then, I recently came across this picture below and it’s exactly what I was looking for.
I love almost everything about it. Both the fireplace and tv are centered, but they are not really competing with each other. The tv is low enough to watch comfortably and everything goes together well. Yesterday, I went into my program to see if I could come up with something similar. Our wall is several feet longer than the one above, so I have a bit more room to work with. I’d like to have a combination of open shelves and closed cabinets. Below is what I came up with.
It’s not perfect, but it’s much better than I had before. (This room will have a vaulted ceiling which is not drawn). I need to mess with the widths of the cabinets some more. The satellite receiver and other components will be be hidden in the cabinets with a remote eye mounted somewhere so the remotes will work with the doors closed.
I drew the tv as a 70″ ( ;P ) and the bottom is about 40″ off the floor. I compared that to where our tv is sitting now and it’s not too bad. I’d like it to be high enough to see from the kitchen and dining area as well, but not too high for watching from the couches. One difference between my design and the inspiration above is the cabinet color. I’ve been planing on painting them white to match the perimeter kitchen cabinets, but I like how the tv blends in better on the stained cabinets. We could stain them to match the island, but that bring up the issue of what color end tables and such to use around the couches. I prefer the idea of the white because it goes with whatever the rest of the furniture is.