19 fireplace ideas for a year-round feature – from modern painted mantelpieces to rustic hearths

Whatever look you want to create, these fireplaces will heat up any room... even when they're not lit
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  • After fireplace ideas? We don’t blame you – after all, what is more cosy and inviting than a fireplace and the flickering flames of an open fire? Whether it’s real or artificial, an ambient glow will give your room a warming and appealing atmosphere. But even if you don’t have a working fireplace, you can make a focal point of a fireplace that’s purely decorative.

    Our fireplace ideas can be incorporated into both contemporary and more traditional room scheme. And though most apply to the living room, there’s no reason they can’t inspire other spaces like a bedroom, hallway or open-plan dining area.

    Looking to add a fireplace in a house that’s lost its originals? Owen Pacey of fireplace restoration specialist Renaissance London has some top tips on how to choose one.

    “I’d always recommend sticking to the period of the house when looking to purchase a fireplace,’ says Owen. ‘This ensures that the styles align, and the fireplace will look like it’s always been there.’

    ‘The ground floor of Victorian properties always used to have a marble or slate fireplace and later on in the Edwardian era, slate became much more popular. My go-to material would always be marble, however, as it is generally very durable.’

    ‘If you’re thinking of inserting something functional or decorative inside your fireplace, I generally like to stick to original cast iron inserts or a freestanding basket.’

    Fireplace ideas

    1. Make your mantel pop


    Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore

    Not sure what to do with that tired old wooden fireplace surround? If you are feeling brave, painting it a bright colour will make it sing. Try to pick out your chosen colour in accents such as cushions and rugs, and smaller pieces of upcycled furniture for a more cohesive look.

    Think carefully about your colour choice. If you have a cool neutral like grey on the walls, pick a strong lemon yellow, teal blue or fuchsia pink. If you are working with a warmer neutral, try an on-trend brick or terracotta red, a sage or olive green or even plum.

    2. Go grey all over


    Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson

    One way to make a fireplace feel less old fashioned or obtrusive is to paint it in an on-tred, colour, and to also us that colour on the wall behind. This blue-grey is on trend, and makes this mantel feel smart. It’s also light enough that you don’t lose the fine details of any carved details.

    3. Make sure it’s to scale


    Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles

    This is important if you are choosing a replacement mantelpiece, or installing a new fireplace where one didn’t previously exist. ‘If you have lots of space and high ceilings, you may wish to opt for a tall fireplace with an overhanging mantel, an ornate overmantel and a wide hearth extension,’ advises Owen Pacey.

    ‘If your space is smaller, such as in a bathroom or guest bedroom, you may wish to opt for something more flush to the wall. Focus the detail on ornate jambs or tiles around the grate.’

    4. Turn a chimney breast into a home office


    Image credit: Future PLC/Anna Stathaki

    Here’s a very smart solution for a defunct upstairs fireplace – turn it into a desk or dressing table. Deeper wardrobes sit in the alcoves created by the flue, while attaching a shelf to the chimney breast makes an instant workspace or beauty bar. And the hearth becomes a place to tuck in a stool – it’s the home office you’ve always wanted, but takes up barely any space.

    5. Pare back a disused fireplace


    Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson

    Turn a simple hole in the wall into a stunning feature that reflects the style of your property. This house is located by the sea, so rustic materials – a raw concrete cavity and a stone base are complemented by the mix of textured ceramics and woven rattan inside.

    A small jar of coral is another nod to the surroundings.

    6. Use reclaimed wood for authenticity


    Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole

    A big open hearth and flue might look authentic, but they are also rather impractical. In this cosy cottage, the flue is sealed off so there are no draughts, and an efficient wood burner does a far better job of emitting heat directly into the room that an open fire wood.

    A simple reclaimed beam is a rustic alternative to a traditional mantelpiece, while still nodding to the age of the house.

    See more of this stunning home: Have a wander through this 400-year-old thatched cottage in the Cornwall countryside

    7. Create a dramatic bathroom feature


    Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole

    Ok, so chances are you won’t naturally have a chimney breast in your bathroom, unless you have repurposed a bedroom or done some serious reconfiguring downstairs. But if you do, it can be a very useful feature and the focal point of your space. Use it as a home for laundry baskets and fill it with plants for a fresh look. It’s also the natural home for a mirror.

    If you don’t have a chimney breast in the bathroom, you could fake one. It might be a handy addition, particularly if you are trying to box around and hide pipework. Just add a wooden mantel and no one will know it’s not authentic.

    8. Fake it in a new build with this instant fix


    Image credit: Next

    Though it’s not true of all new builds, some can feel a little bereft of features. So if you are looking for a focal point to replace the TV, a fireplace surround like this one from Next could be the retro-fit solution you’ve been looking for. It will fit against a flat wall for an instant feature, and you you can add your choice of electric stove or hearth to complete the look.

    Buy now: Jefferson fireplace surround, £450, Next

    9. Keep things elegant with marble

    fireplace ideas

    Image credit: Paul Craig

    Marble is the perfect choice for a fireplace. It is resistant to heat and fire, meaning you can light the fire all winter long without worrying about any damage. Marble is perfect for creating a sleek modern look. It can be expensive, but the versatility and longevity of marble makes it is a great investment.

    10. Add character with exposed brick

    fireplace ideas 1

    Image credit: David Giles

    If you have inherited a fireplace already fitted with a heating element, rather than tearing it out immediately check to see if it is still safe to use and work with it. This old heating element and exposed brick fireplace add character to this otherwise modern living room. It is a lovely focal point that offers a nod to the history of the house.

    11. Create a modern, industrial look


    Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

    Has your original fireplace been ripped out? It’s relatively affordable to commission your own in cast concrete, for a surround that has all the character or marble or stone without the expense. Pops of orange fire up the neutral background when the stove itself isn’t flickering.

    12. Match your fireplace to your walls


    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    Fireplaces can sometimes stand out for all the wrong reasons. So if you want yours to blend in, paint it to match the walls around it. This is particularly effective if you go for a deep colour rather than a pale neutral. Pick out the tone in soft furnishings but make sure there’s enough ‘light’ to contrast with the shad to avoid overkill. Here, a grey stove and sofa with metallic furniture do the job brilliantly.

    Love this colour? See more blue living room ideas.

    13. Work in a woodburning stove

    Fireplace ideas

    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    Fireplace alcove not in use? Iinstall a log burning stove. It will create wonderfully cosy centrepiece and will heat the whole area. Be sure to enlist the help of a trained contractor who will make sure the structure is safe and built to the latest regulations. The results as seen here in this quaint country living room are stunning and can be enjoyed from all angles of the room.

    14. Dress an inglenook

    Fireplace ideas

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    Large open fireplaces or Inglenooks as they are often known are the ultimate indulgence for cottage living. They were originally used in houses to cook, and for people to gather in for extra warmth but these days they are purely decorative and atmospheric.

    Their grand appearance is the epitome of rustic cosiness and looks the part amongst beamed ceilings and comfortable sofas. You need to have sufficient permanent ventilation into the room to ensure that the fire can work safely with a good draught up the flue.

    Want to know more about woodburners? READ: How to clean and maintain your chimney and heating stove in time for winter

    15. Decorate the mantel

    Fireplace ideas

    Image credit: Brett Charles

    Ever wondered where the living room furniture pointed before the days of the TV? Although many have been neglected or ripped out completely, the fireplace is gaining gravitas once more thanks to our current love of all things heritage.

    Whether offering a place for your wine glass at a party to perching a family portrait, the mantel itself has long reflected each era of design. Use a bare mantel to display your favourite objects – a sure fire (get it?!) way to cheer you up on a dull, dreary day.

    Select specific items to make more of a statement – oversized letters to spell out kid’s names looks great, or use the wall above to position a large scale print and leave the mantle free.

    16. Fill your fireplace with shelving

    Fireplace ideas

    Image credit: Heather Hobhouse

    If you have a small fireplace that no longer houses a fire or has been blocked up and plastered over, why not use it as an alcove for shelving to fill an unwelcome gap? This works particularly well in bedrooms for storing books, and also in kitchens by creating extra space for pretty displays.

    17. Pop storage into the niche

    Fireplace ideas

    Image credit: Nikki Crisp

    If you’re lucky enough to have a big fireplace that is no longer in use, take advantage of the tailor-made niche in which to house a freestanding cupboard. Rather than have a built-in design, which can be an expensive project, ready- made furniture is a great alternative. Especially effective if you paint it the same colour as the alcove and the surrounding walls, blending the whole look together.

    18. Fill in the gaps with logs

    Fireplace ideas

    Image credit: David Giles

    Fill an unused fireplace with logs for an eye-catching display. Fire wood is making a rustic style statement this season. Stacked and styled with an interior designer’s eye, the storage of this humble heat source is also the ‘hot’ new way to bring a textural element into the winter home.

    We’ve got plenty more log storage ideas where that came from, too.

    19. Light up your fire

    Fireplace ideas

    Image credit: David Giles

    An exposed brick chimney breast is a popular decorative fireplace style right now. It demands attention, adds texture and lends itself well to not only rustic but modern schemes as it gives a nod to the industrial trend. It particularly looks the part in this relaxed living room as creates a focal point and balances the eclectic scheme. If your fireplace is not in use, light up the hearth with a quirky novelty LED letter light as an extra highlight.

    20. Adorn your fireplace with foraged foliage


    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    Give those Sunday afternoon walks extra purpose by taking the opportunity to forage in the hedgerows for pretty foliage to adorn your fireplace. Slip your secateurs in your pocket and be on the look-out for ivy, rose hips, eucalyptus, yew and box cuttings. As well as looking pretty, they’ll double as kindling.

    The time honored and traditional fireplace was once a necessity to heat a room, but in today’s world they can be seen as more of a comforting indulgence and delight. From artificial gas and electric fires to rustic wood burners and roaring open inglenooks, there is certainly a style and type to suit every style of living room, bedroom, kitchen or even bathroom.

    Should I buy a restored fireplace or reproduction fireplace?

    A beautiful fireplace might be a must-have now, but it’s a sad fact that in the 1970s and 1980s, homeowners couldn’t rip them out fast enough. That’s left many older homes lacking their original fireplaces. So if you want to reinstate them, is it best to seek out an old fireplace, salvaged from a property of a similar age, or to buy new?

    ‘Restoration can be a hugely gratifying and challenging process, from sourcing to installation, but the result is a true piece of history amongst the fabric of your home,’ says Owen Pacey of Renaissance London. ‘Alternatively, specifying a reproduction fireplace gives you the freedom to create something entirely new. It can be made to look old while incorporating all the detail and personalisation you could wish for.’

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