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Mantle Makeover: Converting Your Fireplace Into a Home Entertainment System

Mantle Makeover: Converting Your Fireplace Into a Home Entertainment System

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A fireplace can be a beautiful spot in any living room, but it is also an expensive and occasionally dangerous way to heat a house. If you have a fireplace, but never use it, it is possible to turn that same space into another way to gather around with the family- make it a home entertainment system. You can take advantage of the beauty and centrality of a fireplace without dramtically altering the look of one of the most aesthetically pleasing parts of your room.


There are a few ways to go about this. If the fireplace is tall enough, it is possible to install a television directly inside, so it is at approximate eye-level when you are sitting around your electric hearth. If the television is in there, you will want to set up shelves on the outside to hold your cable box, DVD-player, video game system, etc.


This leads us to an important step, regardless of where the television is placed. Inside or outside of the fireplace, it is not a good look to not have a mantle. With any attempt at renovating your fireplace, you are most likely going to want to install an attractive mantle along with side-shelves to maximize the beauty and functionality of the unit.

The mantle should extend, on its own about 18 inches on either side of the fireplace. Shelving can go on both sides. If brick from the fireplace extends this far on both sides, you can leave the back of the shelves open to the wall, to create a homier look. If there is no exposed brick, it is important to have backing on the shelving unit to create a uniform look. Depending on your room, it is ideal to stain and paint the wood a darker, cozier color, mimicking the heat of an autumnal fire. Ideally, you want to avoid sharp angles connecting the mantle to the shelving units, as traditional fireplaces also invoke curves. This is not the easiest task, so you may want to contact a qualified carpenter.


As noted above, you can place the television inside the fireplace, but that might decrease viewing areas around the room. Flatscreens are obviously the default choice for televisions, and will be for the foreseeable future. Because of this, you might opt to hang the television above the mantle. Hanging the television is not always easy, and it is possible to get help from the store at which you buy it, or you may look for an electrician.


So, the TV is up, but there is still the question of what to do with all the unsightly wires. You may run them into your shelving units, but you also may want to fill those with books, pictures or other mementos to personalize your room. Luckily, you have a wide-open space directly underneath the television.

If you go this route, you will want to open a hole directly behind the television and a conduit for the wires to go down into the fireplace. There, you can install a case to hold all your boxes. This gets rid of the wire problem, but perhaps you don’t want the fireplace to be full of visible electronic equipment? The solution is as elegant as it is simple. All you will need are tinted-glass doors, which will allow for a remotedc-ontrol to go through, and will look like a fireplace cover, creating a seamless look that is both modern and traditional.


So: you can have modern amenities without sacrificing the hearth area which makes a house a home. This is a project that is worthwhile and relatively inexpensive. Before beginning, you can contact a skilled contractor to assess, and perhaps help you, transform your living room into a beautiful, family-friendly gathering spot.

--Mitch Logan

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