Saturday, July 2, 2011

Living room update: TV above the fireplace adjustment

Who doesn’t love a flat-screen TV above the fireplace?  Well, most decorators.  But we are a TV-watching family, and it’s the best location for viewing the TV from anywhere in the living room or kitchen.

But since we moved in three-and-a-half years ago, something about the fireplace area has been bugging me.

Living room before photos 003

My two issues:

1.  The mantel, which we stained to give it a 1920s bungalow look, might look better in white.  I really think it would make the slate tiles pop and the room much brighter.  I warned The Mr. that he might come home to a painted mantel one day.  And he pretty much warned me that if that happened, I’d be sleeping on the porch.  Well, not exactly, but he was not amused by the idea.

2.  The TV and mantel need more breathing room between them.  The reason they ended up so close is two-fold.  First, The Mr. reminds me that TVs should be as close to eye-level as possible in order to avoid neck strain.  Second, the electricians installed the TV-related receptacles at the worst-possible place on the wall behind the TV, and our mount would only fit below them, which meant that this was as high as the TV would hang.

Since painting the mantel is a no-go for now, I decided it was time to do something about issue #2.  I’ve brought up the TV-too-close-to-the-mantel problem many times in the Procrastinating household, but since it doesn’t bother the person who does all the wiring and electronics installation in the house, the conversation never got very far in the past.  But this time I wouldn’t let it rest.  I even started a “Don’t Hide Your TV” board on Pinterest so I could remind myself that you can have style and a TV out-in-the-open.  Here’s my favorite example of that:

TV over fireplace example via Centsational Girl
Photo found on Pinterest, via Centsational Girl

I convinced The Mr. that we should take the TV down off the wall and sit it on a low table under the window to the right of the fireplace.  He begrudgingly obliged.  Apparently I did not take a photo of it in that location.  Oops.  Anyway, we lived with it like that for a couple weeks, but nobody liked it there, especially The Teenager.  Even my mom made a comment about it, although decor and TVs are not usually a high priority for her.

While we lived with the TV off the wall, I took it upon myself to look for other mounts, rather than letting the issue die with, “Well, the mount can’t fit anywhere else because of the placement of the receptacles.”  Have you heard of  It is the only place you should be shopping for TV mounts, ethernet cables, and just about anything related to computers and electronics, other than the electronics themselves.  Sharp recommended a specific mount for our TV, which retails over $500.  Um, no thanks.  If you have wanted to hang a flat-screen on a wall but have been hesitant because of price, wait no more.  Monoprice carries a bazillion different mounts that can suit any need you have.  And they are super-cheap and of great quality. 

Our old mount looked something like this:


I wondered if there existed any mounts that were open across the center rather than just having a sheet of metal across.  That way the mount could be hung around the receptacles rather than under them.  And what did I find at Monoprice for less than $30?

Monoprice mount

Well, whadda you know?  I scoured the reviews and several people mentioned that they bought this mount to fit around their electronics receptacles and that it worked great.  After a quick look-over from The Mr., it was in my online cart, arrived on my porch a few days later, and was installed without much delay.

I can’t say it’s perfect, as the tilting feature did not hold, so we wedged a fat sock (very ingenious, I know) behind the bottom middle of the TV so it didn’t dent the wall.  But I had read that in the reviews and was prepared for that flaw.  The tilt probably holds fine for a smaller TV, but ours was on the upper-end of the size maximum for the mount.

But … the most important part was that we could move the mount up around the receptacles so we could have breathing room between the TV and the mantel.  And that worked exactly as planned.  (Sorry, no behind-the-scenes photo.  Oops again.  I guess I’m not used to this whole take-a-photo-of-every-step-for-your-blog thing yet.) 

The next decision was how high above the mantel I wanted the TV to hang.  I turned to my handy-dandy board on Pinterest again to see what the spacing was on the photos I liked.  I even found a photo of a bungalow that had windows on either side of the fireplace/TV, similar to ours.

TV over fireplace 2 - 070211
Photo found on Pinterest, via Little Green Notebook

What pleased my eye about the TV placement in this photo is that the top of the TV is level with the upper trim of the windows.  And there was just the right amount of space between the TV and the mantel.  Of course, the spacing wouldn’t necessarily be the same in my own house, but I measured it out and it was going to fit just perfectly.  The only thing I didn’t take into account is that my measurements were for a TV flat against the wall, and we tilted ours forward, but it’s close enough.  Here’s how it looks today:

Living room TV above fireplace after 
You may notice we switched out the glass-front cabinet to the right of the fireplace for a mid-century modern chest.  The chest was recently purchased from Craigslist and was in my queue to be transformed.  It was originally just going to be a stand-in while the other cabinet got painted a funky color, but we are kind of liking it here.  (Even though it got poo-pooed by a couple family members during poker night a couple weeks ago.)  We like the MCM lines and that the 10-inch legs make it feel not as visually heavy as it could.  Of course, right now our satellite receiver/DVR is sitting out in the open and we had to move our stereo and speakers into storage for now.  Decisions, decisions.

Here’s a before-and-after comparison, so you can see both the difference in the TV height adjustment and the glass-front cabinet versus MCM chest.

Living Room TV before & after

I’m very happy with new placement of the TV.  Finally I can check that project off my list.  I threw a few accessories up on the mantel, but haven’t decided what will live there permanently.  And did you notice that there was a (different) cat in each of those two photos?  They get to sit in the gray chairs more than we do.

Now I need your feedback:
  • What do you think of the MCM chest versus the glass-front cabinet that was there before?  Keep in mind that either piece could be painted or left as is.
  • Should I go for it and paint the mantel white, or leave it stained?


    1. I think the new cabinet looks perfect there. It looks cleaner and less busy. I'm a mcm fan, so that will always get my vote. The tv does look better and that height. Have a great weekend.

    2. Thanks for sharing all your beautiful inspirations and pictures. I’m your newest follower and look forward to your next ideas!

      Have a nice weekend!

    3. I like the new cabinet under the window, and it seems to make the mantle work better in the room--then there are two items with that same wood shade, and it doesn't stand out so much! I also love the placement of the TV better. You're right--it just looks better a little bit above your mantle. Kind of breaks up the space for the eye.
      Without the cabinet--I definitely thought you should paint the mantle. In your current arrangement--I think you can live with it for a while and keep the husband happy!
      Thanks for your kind comment on my coffee table!

    4. Hi Hollie, just became your newest follower! Think the cabinet definitely totally works - I'm not actually a massive fan of MCM but I do like it in small doses and it looks great in situ! Love the eclectic mix in this room.

      Stop by my blog sometime if ya can and say hello :) x

    5. Apparently today I'm on a roll for bad marriage advice but HECK YES! Paint it! That's how most of my projects begin, with the hubby not home. Then he grumbles while he has to help me (it always takes longer than I think) and then he loves it! You can always restain it! :p

      I think I like the cabinet under the window, especially if the mantle was painted white.

    6. Thanks for sharing! I love looking at your house. I love all of the ideas you shared. I especially love the lamp! I also love the last picture of the before and after the makeover.

    7. Paint the mantel white. New cabinet is better. Don't put fire on, will warp the tv.


    I hope you'll stop a second to let me know you were here and/or to share your thoughts!

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