Not every fireplace calls for a custom wall unit, but when it is the right solution, we want to make sure it’s perfect for the client’s needs. What makes a great custom wall unit varies from project to project, but we’ve put together a list of our top considerations.

Where’s the TV?

When a TV will be part of the custom wall unit, we carefully consider its placement. First of all, we look at the height of the TV, to be sure it will be at the right viewing angle from a seated position. We generally like to have the bottom of the TV at 42” off the floor, or lower. Any higher than that, and viewers will be craning their necks to watch the screen. We actually work down from the bottom of the TV, when determining the height of the fireplace below. Next, we decide if the TV will be recessed or not. Although putting the TV in a niche is a popular choice, some people prefer to have the TV on the wall surface, to allow for a larger TV in future.

Custom Wall Unit with TV and fireplace
Custom Wall Unit with TV niche, audio visual cabinets, and floating shelves. Note the contrasting colour on the back panel behind the shelves.



What size fireplace do we need?

The size of the fireplace in a custom wall unit is determined by the size of the art or TV that will go above the fireplace. The fireplace forms the bottom of our design ‘pyramid’, and should be wider than the object above. Thus, if there is a TV above the fireplace, it shouldn’t be wider than the fireplace. Likewise, if a favourite piece of art will reside above the fireplace, these two items should be balanced. In a more traditional custom wall unit, there may be a mantel ledge above the firebox, and this can help to balance the width of objects above, even if the firebox itself is smaller than those items. In more contemporary custom wall units, there is usually no mantel ledge, so the fireplace itself must be balanced with the items above.

Custom Wall Unit with fireplace
Custom Wall Unit with traditional fireplace and mantel, with open display shelves and closed storage. Note the over-mantel sized to fit the client’s art.



How much storage do we need, and for what?

One of the advantages of adding a custom wall unit to a fireplace wall is the storage space that may be gained. It’s a great place to stash photo albums, games, wine bottles, grand-kids’ toys, or anything else that you don’t always want on display. Once we know what is to be stored in a custom wall unit, we can then decide how deep to make the cupboards, and whether or not to add drawers to the storage area. If you have audio-visual equipment to be attached to the TV, then we can adapt the doors on your storage area to allow for sound and/or remote control signals to travel through the doors.

Custom wall unit with fireplace and TV
Custom Wall Unit with glass display shelves and lighting. Note the right-hand shelves are angled to allow for viewing from all areas.



How much display space do we need?

A custom wall unit is a great place to show off your collections or to create a library. If you have a lot of books to store, then we would normally go with solid shelves. Collectibles might be better displayed on glass shelves, with lighting above. Do you want doors on the display cabinets, to keep dust (and inquisitive children) out? Or do you prefer to have open shelves? What about floating shelves, for a more relaxed look?

As you can see, there are many different ways to approach a custom wall unit. What works for one person, may not work for another. An experienced design professional will help guide you to the best solution for you.


Stylish Fireplaces & Interiors specializes in electric fireplaces and custom designs. Their Toronto-area showroom features over 50 units, along with all the finishing materials and wall coverings. Their expert staff can advise on design and technical issues. 

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