...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Due to space constraints, we’ll be mounting our flatscreen TV over the mantel in the Underdog’s future family room.  In a perfect world {that we obviously don’t live in}, I’d prefer not to hang the TV above the mantel.  But after considering all our options, Handy Hubby and I both agreed that a TV above the mantel made the most sense for our downsized home.

{family room mantel before the ceiling was vaulted}

Still, I was  having a hard time, aesthetically speaking, with a black rectangular hole taking center stage above the fireplace.  {The TV is only on at our house maybe 10% of the time.} I thought and thought and thought of some way to tweak it so that it wouldn’t be so in-your-face.  Then one day while measuring the family room for my design school project and for possible furniture arrangements, I discovered that the mantel was deeper than I had realized.  Like 10″ deep.  I was all excited because in our previous home I had been limited in what decor I could display on the shallow builder mantel.  The builder mantel was more like 5″ deep.  Hot dog!  More mantel possibilities!

Then it hit me.  With that deep of a mantel, why couldn’t we {ahem, I mean, Handy Hubby} build out the wall above the center third of the mantel in which to recess the TV?!  And then with the TV flush-mounted in the bump-out {my technical term for it}, couldn’t we hang the original artwork that the Underdog’s previous owner had created over it?  I had always envisioned the canvas hanging above the fireplace – not a TV.

{the large green canvas is the artwork I’m talking about}

First up, I measured the canvas to see if it was even large enough to cover the TV.  It was!  That told me it was meant to be. When I mentioned the idea to HH, he got all hot and bothered too.  In a good way.  Immediately, his techy engineer brain started conjuring up plans for a way to raise the artwork above the TV with the click of a button.  Think steel cables, pulleys, small motors, etc.

Detailed plans are still in the works.  HH has all his engineering co-workers brainstorming along with him!  But we’re committed to the overall idea, so HH has set to work framing out the section of wall above the mantel to house the TV.

We decided to make the bump-out as wide as the fireplace hearth to keep things balanced and symmetrical.  And we chose to extend the bump-out all the way to the vaulted ceiling.  Looks lodge-y, doesn’t it?

The new framing doesn’t come all the way to the edge of the mantel.  We thought it would be nice to have some variation in depth along the mantel.  We still want the mantel to look like a mantel so keeping the bump-out deep enough for the TV but shallow enough that it doesn’t sit flush with the mantel is key.

We also had our electrician wire the bump-out for the TV and speakers.  One of the perks of having no finished wall above the mantel at the moment!

And remember the small secondhand media cabinet I recently acquired?  We plan to use it in the corner of the family room in between the picture window and the mantel to house all the TV-related components.  We had our electrician wire for it as well.

As a reader so smartly mentioned last week, we’ll have to cut through the back of the media cabinet to allow for proper ventilation of the electrical components and to allow for wires to pass through.

I also thought the bump-out would look better if it were subtly different from the drywall that will be hung on either side of it.  I landed on the idea of horizontal clapboard-esque painted wood.  HH also liked the idea and recommended we upcycle the wood boards that used to make up the 8′ ceilings in the family room, kitchen and dining room…which we tore out in order to vault the great room’s ceiling.

HH had saved the wood just in case it came in handy down the road but it looks like we’ve found a use for it after all!  I’m so glad he thought to save it.  The boards are all different sizes but I told HH I was okay with random lengths and widths.  I’m into the whole imperfect perfection…especially if it means we won’t have to purchase any lumber for this project.  The only thing HH may have to do is rip the boards to the same depth.

Are you following all this?  I know there are a lot of unconventional ideas merging together here.  To recap, the TV will be hung above the mantel and recessed into a bump-out clad in painted horizontal boards.

The TV will be recessed above the fireplace much like this one…

…of course, our mantel extends the entire width of the fireplace wall but you get the idea.  To be honest, I think the TV in the image above doesn’t look so ‘Hey!  Look at me!  I’m a TV above the fireplace!’ because of the way that it’s recessed.  Still, we’re going to consider hanging a large canvas in front of the TV that can be easily raised via some sort of motorized pulley system. More than likely, it will be a project we tackle after we move into the house since its basis is fully aesthetic in nature…definitely not required for daily living.

The bump-out that houses the TV will extend all the way to the vaulted ceiling and be finished in painted horizontal wood boards similar to this…

…obviously, our boards won’t go all the way around the room like shown above but will only run along the bump-out.  But, hopefully, the image above gives you a better idea of what we’re going for.  Can you picture it?

As for paint, most likely the clapboard bump-out will get a coat of white along with the brick fireplace surround.  {Yep, we’re painting that brick.}  The idea is to make the new bump-out blend in with original brick surround so that it looks like one big always-been-there focal point.  I haven’t even started to nail down a specific color for the walls but they’ll definitely be light with some contrast to the white so that the fireplace and bump-out pop.

So that’s how we’re addressing the TV elephant in the family room.  The hope is to make it more of a monkey-sized animal in the room. You know, since monkeys just scream ‘family room.’  Okay, that was weird.  Well, with two boys, sometimes it feels like there are two little monkeys screaming in the family room.

Anyhoo, I’m starting to like the idea of having the TV above the mantel after all.  By running the necessary wiring behind the walls and to a nearby modest media cabinet, we can forego a floor-hogging console.  That’s sure to make our not-so-greatly-sized great room feel a little bigger.

Has the lack of space ever forced you to get creative with your TV placement?  Never in a million years would we have come up with this plan if it weren’t for the constraints of our downsizing adventure!

images:  1-8 ) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking  9) CWE Mansion via DecorPad  10) Munger Interiors via DecorPad

50 Comments

20.October.2011

We got rid of ours because of space constraints. Now we just watch everything online. Admittedly, sometimes I would love a real tv to watch stuff on…

I love the recessed tv and the option to cover it up with your big canvas! Good call.

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replied on October 20th, 2011

Katherine – I did mention this option to HH early on. I could easily live without a TV and watch movies/fave shows online. But HH wasn’t going for it. We don’t watch TV/movies often but when we do, HH really appreciates the whole experience…big, crystal clear picture and surround sound. Not to mention he’s a huge NFL fan! So, in the spirit of compromise {which is what marriage is all about!}, this is what we came up with. Hopefully, we’ll both be happy with the results.

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20.October.2011

Maybe you’ve already thought of this, but what about putting the canvas on some sort of a track system (that blends in to the bump out, of course, to slide the canvas to the right or left rather than having to raise or lower it? Just a thought, it might be a little simpler to implement! :) I love where you’re going with this! I wish we could do the same thing in our living room!

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replied on October 20th, 2011

Holly – Since the bump-out will only take up the center third of the wall above the mantel, I’m not sure how we could incorporate a left/right sliding track. The walls on either side of the bump-out will sit back ~6″-7″ from the bump-out. I love the idea of sliding artwork over a TV though!

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20.October.2011

I can’t wait to see how HH figures out how to raise and lower that canvas invisibly. Or maybe you could go with the industrial look and have the lift system exposed? A great idea, anyway!

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replied on October 20th, 2011

Peggy – So far, we’re liking the idea of the lift system being somewhat exposed. I wouldn’t mind the cables and pulleys being visible {maybe not the motor} as we aren’t opposed to industrial touches here and there.

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20.October.2011

So excited to see it all coming together! You & HH have accomplished SOOO much! I love this idea. I have a seriously weird niche that was built for a big screen (back when big screens had the huge back on them). We have no idea what to do with it, but I’d love to take the whole fireplace down & replace it with a flush mount one. Free up some real estate in the living room. http://i148.photobucket.com/albums/s26/scotdog98/Niche.jpg

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20.October.2011

What a great solution for your design dilemma! I personally don’t mind a TV above a mantle if it needs to be there, but yay for you that you can cover yours up to make a more pleasing aesthetic. I am having a major issue with where we are going to place the TV in our living room area. The size of the room, location of the fireplace and location of the windows is REALLY throwing me off. I’m hoping I come up with something half as fabulous as your plan!

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20.October.2011

Great ideas, all of them! We are debating this issue right now for the house we’re building and I’m set on a recessed mantel with sliding half-sized barn doors over top.

I love the idea above of having the lift system exposed!!

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20.October.2011

My tv is above the mantel due to room layout reasons as well really, and I ended up loving it! Trust me, there are more people that will be impressed with it then think it’s a bad trend, not that I care what they think, but most people seem to compliment it to my surprise.

Also – for the boards, would you consider a stagerred placement with different lengths making up each horizonatal row up the bump out as opposed to them all being even all the way up?

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replied on October 20th, 2011

Jason – Glad to hear someone else likes their TV above the mantel! And, yes, I would be open to staggering the boards up the bump-out. As I said, I’m not looking for perfection.

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20.October.2011

First of all…my wife and I absolutely LOVE your blog (you have inspired her to start her own blog, secrethousewife.tumblr.com!)…Second, for the artwork over the TV idea…a friend of mine did that with his TV (recessed above the fireplace) and he covered the hole with a canvas print too. His solution was to put hinges behind the canvas artwork on the frame, so whenever he wants to watch TV, he just opens it like a door…but then, you end up seeing the backside of the canvas when you want to watch television. If you can get past seeing the back side of the artwork while watching TV, then it might be a much cheaper solution for you.

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replied on October 20th, 2011

R.K. – A piece of art that hinges open to reveal the TV…how clever!

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20.October.2011

I love it! can’t wait to see it.

BTW – just noticed the andirons in the original picture – those are fabulous, too!

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20.October.2011

I’ll be honest, “motorized pulley system” got me all hot and bothered. I’m loving this project! We have a similar conundrum in our family room that I still haven’t decided how to handle … it’s coming closer on the list of rooms to remodel, and we know the fireplace/chimney need serious work, so it’ll probably be a clean slate when the time comes. I can’t wait to see how your solution turns out.

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20.October.2011

Very interested in your tv project. My husband and I are currently building a home and I had similar thoughts….hadn’t actually figured out the whole system yet but definitely wanted to cover the tv with art. If you ever saw HGTV has something similar in their Green Home 2011 (http://www.hgtv.com/green-home/hgtv-green-home-2011-living-room-tour/index.html). Love that your going to figure something out…can’t wait to get more ideas from you! LOVE IT.

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replied on October 20th, 2011

Chelsea – Sliding artwork over the TV?! Awesome.

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20.October.2011

I am so glad that your wires will be hidden. My major pet peeve with a tv above the fireplace is all of the wires and cables running along the wall in plain sight. Hurray for hidden wires!

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20.October.2011

It is so much fun to watch all this come together.

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20.October.2011

Awesome idea! I too have never liked the idea of a tv above a mantel…this solution is perfect! I can’t wait to see it finished! You guys are amazing problem solvers and it’s so fun to watch your journey!

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20.October.2011

You guys, this is awesome! Beyond the wonderful perk of getting to cover up that TV screen when it’s not in use, I realllly like that you are going to have a strong vertical balance with that bump-out. I didn’t say anything, but that unbroken, long low type of fireplace mantel really gets me down. Great multipurpose solution :)

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20.October.2011

I know that I have seen TVs that are disguised as artwork somewhere. The TV sits inside a really cool frame (so you don’t see the surround of the TV) and when the television is turned off, the screen displays a piece of art (so screen acts as canvas). I’ve never seen one in real life though to see how realistic it looks. However I’m guessing they cost a pretty penny.

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20.October.2011

What if the canvas were on a slider, similar to the barn door project, and it would slide to the side out of the way instead of lifting up? A flat decal or something could “decorate” the wall, if anything is wanted, when the canvas is hiding the TV.

Great idea for the bump out to minimize TV-focus!

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20.October.2011

Yes. I want to do something similar, when we get a flatscreen someday. For now we just have a big heavy thing that sits in the guest bedroom. My favorite online inspiration so far:
http://pinterest.com/pin/116319602845234729/

Thanks for documenting the whole process! super cool.

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20.October.2011

I love that you have the height to make the pulley idea work. One other idea to consider: you could easily build 8″ deep shelves on either side of the bump out– mantle to ceiling. The horizontal lines of the shelves would pick up the 50s ranch horizontal mantle nicely, and built in shelves up into the vaulted ceiling would look fabulous!

A little like this: http://gallery.apartmenttherapy.com/photo/re-nest-joan-and-jims-lovely-artful-home/item/270078

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replied on October 21st, 2011

Alli – I love the look of built-in shelving. However, our fireplace wall actually extends to the other side of the great room, above a doorway that leads to the future mudroom/dining room and on into the kitchen. There’s not a good border at which to stop any built-in shelving to the right of the fireplace {if you’re looking directly at it}. So shelves are a no-go for us.

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20.October.2011

Is the heat from running the fireplace a concern to the TV above it?

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replied on October 21st, 2011

Rhune – See my comment to Salina regarding heat.

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21.October.2011

Love the idea of the pulleys! Is there enough room above the TV to raise the canvas all the way so it doesnt block the TV?

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21.October.2011

I love this project! I for one, love the TV over the mantel idea and would do it regardless of the size of the room. We did it in our last two houses, and like your plan, we relocated the other peripherals elsewhere as not to be a detraction. My only concern is that I hope you have enough room to angle the TV downward a little underneath your canvas…..a Tv that sits flat against the wall that high up is …well, no bueno. There are plenty of mounts that will let you keep it straight up and down when not in use and then angle it down when you want to watch it but it will be sort of a pain in the arse to constantly reposition it and I suspect the kids wont be able to do it on their own for awhile. Just something to consider.

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21.October.2011

As Tami mentioned, there are multiple options out there you can buy to cover a TV. There are companies that specialize in motorized systems to either flip the picture up on hinges, or slide the picture left/right/up on tracks, or even raise the entire TV up out of a piece of furniture. We looked into these early on, but the prices are WAY too high for what we’re willing to spend on something like this. Luckily I know some pretty smart people (Jared, our electrician, and several co-workers) who eat these challenges up. Hopefully, between all of us, we’ll come up with a great solution!

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21.October.2011

I could live without some of the black boxes, but I would have to figure out some way to accomodate my Tivo box. I would really miss my DVD player too. Maybe build in boxes on either side or below the TV and cover them with white speaker cloth so the remotes would work?

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replied on October 21st, 2011

Mary A – Our DVD player, Wii console, cable box, and auxiliary audio controls will be housed in the small media cabinet mentioned in the post. All wiring to and from the TV will be hidden behind the walls.

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I’m with you, whenever I can avoid it I love to hide the TV in a room. If a seating arrangement is centered around your TV, guests sit down and immediately wait for something to come on, rather than starting a conversation with each other. I love the idea of hiding the TV behind the canvas- can’t wait to see how it all works out.

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I’ve never been a fan of the tv over the mantel trend (especially when it’s high up), but I loooove your solution! I can’t wait until your husband figures out the mechanics of how to do it.

Everyday I look forward to new posts here: your renovation is awe-inspiring!

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21.October.2011

Just make sure you have the right insulation on the fireplace so you won’t cook your TV. I’m loving the progress you are making and all the choices! You have a great eye for design.

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replied on October 21st, 2011

Salina – The original wood burning fireplace has been converted to gas, so the TV won’t be hung right in front of a functioning chimney. The firebox will be far enough away from the TV and separated by the thick masonry mantel shelf so frying the TV shouldn’t be a problem.

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21.October.2011

Where did you guys get your gas fireplace? My husband and I (well really just my husband. I nod that they are all OK when he shows me ones he’s found) have been looking at them for a long time. I like the big pile of logs in yours. Normally they look so puny!

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replied on October 21st, 2011

Apronless – The gas fireplace insert was a great Craigslist find. The original fireplace in the Underdog was wood-burning and we just had it converted to gas. We had to have an insert for the gas inspection this week {which we passed!!! yippee!!}. We drove about an hour away to Indiana to check out the insert and bought it on the spot for $700 back in August. Brand new ones sell for $2,000-$3,000 so it was a good find!

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21.October.2011

When we moved into our house, there was a huge bump out meant for the tv in the family room/kitchen. The problem is, I knew that if I put a tv there my two kids would be asking for it all the time. So we had a carpenter build some really nice bookshelves in the space instead. The shelves look great, but now the tv is in our master bedroom and it looks…not great. Your post is encouraging me to think of a creative solution for it!

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21.October.2011

What a great idea – I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

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21.October.2011

we have a small TV on a swing-arm mount in our bedroom. My husband has a small office area that he uses occasionally, and when he does, he plugs his laptop into the TV and swings it out as a second monitor. I, on the other, hand, use it for watching HGTV in bed on Saturday mornings!

I don’t really love looking up at a TV, and our fireplace mantel is too high up to allow for comfortable viewing, so we put the TV in our sunroom instead. The fireplace seating area is just for reading and snuggling with the kids/dog. We contemplated putting the TV in front of the fireplace, but that’d probably be too low. Enjoy the challenge of making your space work for you, I’m curious what you’ll come up with.

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21.October.2011

Such a great idea! I’d love to hide our TV too but that’s not something I’ll tackle in this house.

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22.October.2011

How about a cable and weight counterbalance system like they use for adjustable lights? Similar to these idea http://www.brandlighting.com/pendant_lighting_adjustable.html It could work really well with your design style. Might have to bring it over to the side with some pulleys for reach ability. Bet handy hubby could work it out. I really enjoy your up dates on the underdog. you are doing a great job. There’s nothing like seeing you vision come to life!

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22.October.2011

Hi Dana, don’t you if you will remember me, but i was the reader that once said (when you told us you were thinking about downsizing, going back to school and maybe even leaving your current job in the future) to “do what you love, and the money will follow”…

Anyways, i just wanted to pop in and say that I am very impressed with all you [and HH] have accomplished in such little time.

I looooove the mantle idea. It is something that i can see Candice Olson coming up with, and she is my idol!, so you know that means i think very highly of you [and your designs].

Keep up the good work, we all cannot wait to see the underdog complete and furnished with your awesome personal touches.

Johanna

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22.October.2011

I see you’ve been given lots of ideas here, but I just saw this image on pinterest and thought of your living room – the TV is hidden behind http://d30opm7hsgivgh.cloudfront.net/upload/368337328_BU8aNb96_c.jpg. I know you like sliding doors :)

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replied on October 24th, 2011

Sara – Those rustic sliding doors hiding the TV are too cool! Thanks for the link!

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22.October.2011

Hi! First time posting! Just wanted to say that I LOVE your blog. I actually spent an entire weekend reading from the beginning. I found your site and was hooked on your black and white IKEA kitchen remodel plans. I am hoping to do something similar soon.

Your TV mounting idea is a great one. I wish I could come up with something to “disguise” ours. Right now, it’s a giant black rectangle in an awkward corner…and the wires, oh how I hate the wires….

Anyway, your blog inspired me clean up the kitchen “pantry” closet. I bought some canvas baskets with grommets, and put all the “stuff” in those. It already looks better :)

Thanks for the inspiration, and I look forward to watching the Underdog’s transformation!

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28.October.2011

Hi! Me again…I’m getting sucked into your blog today…anyways, my husband, Dave, & I are buying his parents’ old farm house. There’s a 1970s addition with a family room and master bedroom that Dave would love to vault the ceilings in. Do you have a post where you detail how you are doing that in your home, how it will be insulated, etc.? Can’t wait to follow along with the changes to the Underdog :)

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replied on October 28th, 2011

Katie – There’s no detailed post specifically about vaulting the ceiling. Basically, we knocked down two walls {one between the former kitchen and dining room and one between the former kitchen and living room} and demo’d the ceilings in that area…after emptying the former attic’s contents. HH did all that himself! He did leave a support post and some of the ceiling joists in tact while we waited for a new supporting ridge beam to be constructed and installed by a professional contractor. We will be using spray foam insulation to insulate right beneath the roof. That is being done by professionals as well. We’re using spray foam because it takes up less space while still providing adequate insulation. The plan is to have the ridge beam drywalled and the rest of the vaulted ceiling will be covered in painted white tongue and groove planks.

Hope that helps! If you have any specific questions please feel free to ask here or email me directly!

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