Are you faced with a blank space above your fireplace? Do you flip between wanting a mirror, a piece of statement art or bold wallpaper? While this space can feel a challenge (a little like decorating the wall behind the sofa), there are plenty of above fireplace décor ideas that you can try.
The space above any fireplace ideas is the perfect place to create a wow moment, making a style statement. Fireplaces are traditionally an architectural feature in a room; a roaring fire adds warmth – they are an invitation to step into the room and get closer. While your fire might not burn throughout the day (or you’ve swapped a real flame for a gas one), what you do above your fireplace can still have the same draw.
Lisa Homiball of Honey Interior Design says it’s important to think about how a feature will work with the rest of your room. ‘Yes, it’s about creating a focus as you enter the room – but also how you align the furniture and the overall feel and flow of the space.
'It’s creating a considered and cohesive design, not making the area above your fireplace stand out like a sore thumb. Such a feature should provide an opportunity to give the eye a starting focal point before it moves on and you take in the rest of the room.’
Stylish above fireplace decor ideas
Turning the space above your fireplace into a feature is a great mini makeover that can bring the scheme together. From what you arrange on your mantlepiece, to the colour of the wall paint behind a large mirror, there are plenty of over fireplace decor ideas that will make a statement in your room.
1. Indulge with colour and art
The space above your fireplace is a great place to showcase your design prowess when it comes to pulling a room together. Start by hanging a painting or print above your fireplace that you’ve fallen for, then pulling out the colours as inspiration for your living room colour scheme. Or if you’ve already decorated, find that one picture that contains your chosen palette in an intense, dramatic way – visitors don’t need to know such a piece provided the finishing touch and not the starting point!
What you hang as above fireplace decor should be the talking point of the room, so make sure any artwork is framed beautifully; black frames always add to the sense of drama. ‘Art is a very personal thing,’ says Lisa Mitchell, design director and founder of Interior Style Studio, ‘but it can transform a room in an instant. I always thing the larger the better.’
2. Go large with a wallpaper canvas
Fallen for a designer wallpaper, but can’t justify the cost to cover the chimneybreast wall? This is a great living room wallpaper idea to create impact above your fireplace without breaking the bank. One roll should be plenty to make a wallpaper panel, that’s still big on impact above a modern fireplace idea (and is a great solution if you are renting and can’t decorate too). Paint the edges of a large piece of MDF the same colour as the background to your wallpaper design for a pro finish, wallpaper with your hero design, before fixing the panel to the wall (you can also lean against the wall too).
Think about the pieces you style in front of your panel, choosing highlights – such as gold, silver or copper – to add a touch of luxe. Try to vary the height too, leading the eye up to appreciate the wallpaper expanse.
3. Use a mirror to bring in light
Create the impression of an extra window in your living room with a paned mirror above your fireplace or woodburner idea. It’s a great way of adding character to a boxy new build. Go as large as you can, but make sure there is still a little wall space around your mirror to visually frame it. Always hang such a large mirror rather than lean – it’s safer and the gap below again helps to ‘frame’ the piece. These mirrors come in all shapes and sizes, although a gridded square or rectangular design always looks great.
Mirrors are a great small living room fireplace idea, making the space appear larger without dominating. If you need to make your small living room appear taller, then hang a portrait mirror, while one hung landscape can make the space look wider.
4 Use paint to colour block
The wall above and around your fireplace is perfect for expressing yourself – and if you’re a colour lover, then why not be bold with paint? Choose a simple block design, masking off sections with paint. You can even include the mantlepiece in your design, adding a 3D element. Think of ‘framing’ colours with white, overlapping edges and creating depth with darker colours. This is a great DIY fireplace idea to make use of leftover paint.
Before you start on your fireplace makeover, place your decorative accessories in situ to avoid any visual lines clashing or blurring together. Look at how the picture frame and candlestick cut through the colour blocks, rather than line up.
5. Bring in texture
Use the space above your fireplace to boost the texture in your space. Start with a textured piece of art – you could even paint your own or use plaster on a large canvas or piece of MDF. Then style the mantelpiece idea with vases, pots and candlesticks that have a lovely artisan vibe.
A woodburning stove is the dream for a hygge-inspired space. Surround with a stone fireplace idea or concrete-effect mantlepiece for a modern fireplace idea, providing plenty of space for display.
6. Style the space with the seasons
Think of the area for over fireplace decor as an ever-changing space for you to show off your styling skills. It’s the place where you can curate your collections of seasonal finds, treasures and memories. Play with height, texture and layering to create a beautiful display. Add in fresh or dried foliage – from plants to seedheads, twigs to pinecones, adding to a natural mood.
Height is vital when styling the space; start with your tallest piece, whether that’s a picture or vase, and experiment, placing it to one side or centrally, building up your curated collection around this. Step back often, looking for any gaps or areas that might feel cluttered, and tweak to your styling heart’s content.
7. Personalise the space
Above your fireplace is the ideal space to display the things that mean something to you; from a map that shows a special place to treasured gifts and collectables. In a busy living room, where alcove shelves fight for attention, try to keep your mantel shelf symmetrical and ordered – it will have more of an impact. Use a pair of tall vases or candlesticks to contain your display, placing on each end of your mantle, with the central space used for your collection.
Faux or dried flowers are perfect for fireplaces that pump out lots of heat. Try changing with the seasons to vary the look. Faux eucalyptus (such as these stems from Amazon) or pussy willow is ideal for the cooler months, while faux sprigs of blossom lends a freshness come spring/summer.
8. Don’t forget bedroom fireplaces
Just as our living and dining room fireplaces can become the hero of our downstairs spaces, bedroom fireplaces can be a big styling moment too. Use to showcase curated finds and create quirky styling moments that reflect you (especially in a guest bedroom idea, where guests will want to quiz you about these pieces).
Choose a subtle colour palette (like the blue shades and tones used here) for your accessories, layering and varying the height to create plenty of visual interest.
9. Avoid the big black TV
Above the fireplace seems the obvious choice for the TV but having a ‘big black box’ isn’t always stylish. One solution for how to hide a TV is to conceal with a folding screen of picture frames, which fit to an MDF painted frame, with even space to tuck the remotes. Once closed, you’ll have a lovely picture gallery above your fireplace – everyone will marvel at your ingenuity.
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen also suggests, ‘Recessing the TV into the wall, then adding a very heavy but not necessarily ornate frame all the way around, turning the TV into an architectural feature.’
10. Create a mini gallery wall
Take a tip from boutique hotels and showcase four beautifully framed prints on a theme – botanical sketches always look stunning. Use masking tape to mark the position of your collection first before drilling any holes. Try marking a wide cross centrally to your fireplace then lining the frames up to this.
There are so many gallery wall ideas, many of which can be scaled down to suit the space above your fireplace easily, from symmetrical to random placements.
What’s good to put above the fireplace (and what's not)?
From art to mirrors, curated collections to wallpaper, there are so many ways to decorate the space for above fireplace decor, but what’s important is to create a feature or a focal point, something catches the eye as you walk into the room.
Charlie Marshall, founder of Loaf, says to avoid placing the TV above your fireplace, ‘at all costs, if you can.’ He goes on to explain, ‘I adore watching TV but one of the things that I hate to see in a living room is the TV is mounted on the wall above the fireplace. I understand why it’s done as it’s a central area of the room and the TV is often the central area of the room but subconsciously it feels as though the TV as taken over the space. There’s an opportunity here to fill that wall with something beautiful, such as a large mirror or painting. It’s as if the TV has become an ornament when there are usually much nicer features to showcase.’
How do I choose art for above the fireplace?
‘Art can completely transform the wall above your fireplace – whether that’s a bold statement piece that lights up a room or a gallery wall of curiosities,’ says Will Ramsay, founder of the Affordable Art Fair. ‘Think about what will make the most impact to the room. Are you looking for lots of smaller pieces or one or two larger works? Do you prefer framed or unframed canvases? As to subject – go with what you love!’
If you are looking for interior inspiration, then use a piece of art as the starting point for a new colour scheme (and what better place to hang this art than above your fireplace?), pulling out colours, shades, tones and tints for wall colour, furniture and even your cushions.
Does a mirror look good over a fireplace?
If you need to make a dark room lighter or want to enhance the sense of space, then try a mirror above the fireplace. Choose a frame that has plenty of interest – whether that’s an elaborate moulding for a maximalist room, or a paned design for a more Scandi, contemporary feel. Do check what your mirror reflects – if it’s the back of a boring door, then perhaps swap for a piece of artwork instead.
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Jennifer Morgan is an award-winning editor, writer and stylist, with over 25 years’ experience writing, styling and editing home interest magazines. Jennifer was the deputy editor of Ideal Home from 2008-2010, before launching Ideal Home’s sister title, Style at Home in 2010. Jennifer went on to launch several craft magazines and websites, before going freelance in 2016, with a client list that includes John Lewis, Dunlem and Nordic House. Today, she writes for Ideal Home, Real Homes, Waitrose, Woman & Home, Sainsbury’s Magazine and Homes & Gardens. But it was during lockdown that Jennifer realised her dream of publishing her own magazine – Simply Scandi.
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