Built-ins around zero-clearance fireplace? Help!

buehlJuly 18, 2007

We have a zero-clearance FP in our FR that currently has a surround and mantle--I like them. However, my DH wants to put built-ins around the FP to hold multi-media equipment (stereo components, DVD player, TiVo box, DVDs, CDs, etc.) We are considering re-facing it, but only if we have to to make this work. My DH also wants to put a flat-screen TV over the FP. While I'm not a big fan of that location for a TV, I'm willing to let him have it since he's given me free reign on the kitchen remodelÂI have the deciding vote/veto. So this one's for him!

Here's our big problem: Since our FP is flush to the outside wall (no wall jutting out into the room), we have no idea how to build built-ins around it without making it look like a dark tunnel with a FP at the end. I've checked out numerous magazines and books but no luck!

As a secondary concern: I've seen some other postings that seem to indicate a TV above a FP is not a good idea because of heat. What seems to be the best thing to do to insulate, etc. to allow a TV there?

FP Dimensions:

...Surround: 15" x 7"D

...Mantle: 69.25" x 11.25"D

...Height from floor: 48.75"

FR Dimensions: 24' x 14' (FP on 14' wall on far end of FR)

I was going to attach a picture but I haven't figured out how! If I figure it out, I'll attach one later.

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I'm putting a flat panel over my TV, too, with a frame and some art that will pull down to keep it out of sight when not wanted. It allows all the seating of the room to be oriented in the same direction, which is also the 'veiw wall' in my house-- I won't have multiple focal points fighting for attention. BUT I have a backup plan: the wiring will also run to my 'second choice' location, in case turns out that the anti-above-the-TV people have a point.

My fp is in a 'chase' [FP salesman told me that's the right word for installing it outside the footprint of the room], just like yours. I think it is very likely that I won't be able to have the FP and TV on at the same time. At least for plasma screens, 95 degrees is supposed to be some kind of magic number: warmer than that, and the tv suffers. How this translates to those who have plasmas but no AC is a mystery to me. Still, I'll go with an LCD, which is supposed to be more mechanically robust, and I'll keep a thermometer up there the first few times I try to run them at the same time.

If your fp will accomodate it, a blower with ductwork that would carry some of the heat to a secondary location might be a good idea.

I think it would be easier if the FP wasn't in a chase: you could have some vents etc. on the side to conduct cooler air to the tv area, warm air away from it.

As to storage, though: I agree it would be tunnel like and ruin the look of a chased fireplace. The wall o' shelving/cabs thing mostly developed as a way to make fireplaces look like they were in chases when they weren't. Remember too that 'zero clearance' refers to the firebox: there are rules about the setback for protrusions at 90degrees to the fireplace face, varies depending on model, should be in your owner's manual.

Perhaps you could have some matching cabs in the corners, as far from the FP as possible, with no connecting elements...

My plan is to put the equipment in a bench like unit beside the FP, sort of like an extension of my raised hearth. It will have a kind of traditional look, as if its main function is to cuddle up as near the FP as possible. The equipment itself isn't attractive, so the less I see of it the better, and this will keep it below eye level.

Haven't quite figured out how to face this bench, though; I want something to obscure the equipment, but still allow the remote control signals to penetrate. I'm thinking mission style slats backed by sheer black fabric might do it, though I hope a better solution will present itself.

The media itself can be further away, in a cabinet outside the fireplace zone. Not ideal, but workable, I think.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 3:47PM
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Thanks for the input! Your idea of the bench sounds like it would be nice...unfortunately since we don't have a raised hearth I don't think it would work for us...but it gives me something else to think about.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 11:24PM
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Does anyone have any ideas? I'm hoping enough new people are out there now and that one of them will have an idea for me!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 9:23PM
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I have the opposite problem. I have an area where firebox goes that is recessed, so my door is flush to the rooms wall. I have space on both sides of fireplace and I want to take advantage of that by building something in them for storage and the tv equipment. I have idea of what I want to do, just don't know where to begin. I do know that the tv needs to be a certain height above firebox and the mantle needs to stick out a certain amount.

I was going to make short bookcases on either side but did not like idea of them sticking out. That really depends of room whether they would look nice or not.

If you want to spend a few dollars and avoid need to have equipment right there, there are systems where you store the equipment in a closet or such nearby. Using some kind of remote, infared???, you can work the equipment from in front of the tv. I may end up doing this if I cannot figure out how to make this wall of mine work.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2007 at 6:03PM
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You're correct Oruboris, but to touch a little more on it: A 'Chase' is an external construction that runs up the full length on one side of the House. A 'Doghouse' would be an external construction that will only house the fireplace itself and run about 8' or so in height (basically having a small Roof on it itself which is typically shingled off). A Chase is more or less used when installing a wood fireplace as they must vent vertically, where a Doghouse is used for Gas units, when planned in initial construction, to give the flush look and not protrude into the floor space. In the case of a Doghouse, units would be vented straight out the rear of the unit.

In either situation, you will have limited space on the sides of the unit, unless you expand the Chase/Doghouse to either side (which will be costly but can be done). However, if they have built an oversized housing, it would be a simple task. The framing around the unit (housing openning) will only be 2x4's and have no insulation. Best way to check, get the FP dimensions from the manual (will be slightly larger than the openning you see) and then go out and measure the length of your Chase/Doghouse (minus about 6" on each side for framing). If your differance is large enough to house the Components your good. But best to make sure you even have the room prior to researching in the refacing of your FP. Don't mean to burst your Husband's Bubble, but in most cases you will not have the room.

If you do decide to go with built-ins on the interior, be sure to keep the FP manual handy. All clearance to combustable requirments will be stated in there. If you really want the Components flush with the FP, you could always pull the unit out some??? Other than the new framing, it would require some extra venting and perhaps a longer flex connector for the Gas line (depending on how much is back there).

Regarding the TV's. Heat has pretty much become a non-issue with their advancements (especially with a Mantel, or heat deflector, below it). It was only the early Plasma Screens that were failing due to excessive heat. Still, each TV is differant and each will state the temps which it is able to withstand in its manual. If not, call the manufacturer and they will tell you.

Hope this helped.
Good Luck.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 5:45PM
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We're thinking about doing a similar thing with our fireplace but have the same "tunnel look" worries. I did find this picture that I'm using for inspiration. We are talking about doing the same 12" cabinet the whole way down instead of having a deeper area at the bottom however

I hope that helps somewhat!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 11:25AM
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Thanks Shannon01, Daingus & Stacylu...I'm going to send this picture to my DH since I think it actually looks pretty good. I think it looks good b/c of the lights and the fact that it doesn't get deeper until part way down the fireplace itself. 12" won't be deep enough for all the components for us, unfortunately; but I think 15" or 18" will work--it looks like the cabs in the picture may be 18" deep.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 11:42AM
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I have a exterior brick chimney with fireplace facade flush to interior wall. I, too, wanted built-ins to flank the fireplace. My plan was to "bump out" the fireplace with an eclosure of 10" or so and put a gas insert in. However, this afternoon, my hopes were dashed when the fireplace sales guy said this can't be done ... you can't bend the inlet and outlet ducts by 2 90 degree turns.

Back to the drawing board.

Good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 6:17PM
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I finally took my pics. My wall is bumped out for the fireplace but I am not sure if I will be able to put in recessed units. I am battling how to complete this- see me in woodworking forum. As you can see from where we started, we want to maintain the 10' long mantle. We think the legs will go on the outside but am having a hard time invisioning how the tile surround is going to look with panels (which will be secret doors to the equipement behind them) next to them and then the outer support legs. Most fireplaces have the legs right next to the tile, like in my inspiration photo. I personally love the cases flanking the fireplace. I do not think it creates a hole at all, but that is just my crazy opinion.

What I started with:

My inspiration:

Where I am (we are going to use the fireplace a few times before closing it in so if we have any problems it will be much easier to fix):

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 5:35PM
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This is what we have to work with. Notice that our wall has no recession at all...just straight across.


Daingus: You were right, the chase is not oversized so we cannot build inside it. I like the picture Stacylu posted and it looks like it might work for us if we replace the doors with smoked glass so the infrared remotes will work. However, our colors are not light, they're darker so that may present a problem. I think I would do built-ins the same color as the mantle and I'm afraid it may be too dark with the contrast against the walls.

I wonder how lighter built-ins (white or cream) would look against the FP--maybe it would look fine...I don't know.

Color of fireplace mantle & surround:

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 9:07PM
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