7 Fireplace Decorating Ideas

Olivia Elsher

Feb 15, 2023


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Few would argue the delight of a crackling fire. Those lucky enough to have a fireplace in their home enjoy a cozy, warm space during the colder seasons. 

A fireplace often serves as a focal point in a living room or bedroom, which means it’s essential that its overall appearance is up to par with the rest of your home design. 

If you’ve looked at your fireplace and thought it could use an upgrade, these seven fireplace decorating ideas might inspire you. 

1. Replace the Mantel

Swapping out the mantel makes a massive difference in how your fireplace looks. For instance, installing a wood beam over a brick, stone or white-painted surround could enrich your fireplace’s warmth and rustic charm. 

Look for a wood beam that’s either smoothly sanded or stained. You might also be interested in a reclaimed beam with considerable imperfections and divots. 

Conversely, if you don’t plan to hang stockings during the holidays or decorate with accessories and trinkets, you could remove the mantel without a replacement. A fireplace without a mantel delivers a sleek, modern design to take your interiors from drab to fab.

2. Whitewash the Brick

Old brick or stone fireplaces might look dated compared to today’s design standards. Perhaps your stones are too brown or the brick is too red and doesn’t align with your tastes. 

Replacing your fireplace is expensive, costing an average of $6,750, depending on your modifications.

A much more affordable way to update your fireplace is by whitewashing the surround. Whitewash is applied similarly to paint, but just a more watered-down application. The technique allows you to cover the brick without entirely disguising the original color and texture.

You can also determine how heavy you prefer the coating. The lighter the layer, the more rustic or cottagecore your fireplace will look. Otherwise, a somewhat heavier application can provide a more modern fireplace design.

3. Pile Birch Logs

Perhaps you don’t have a working fireplace or opt not to use it very often. Maybe you prefer your fireplace to be just for show.

Piling birch logs is an easy way to decorate a non-functional fireplace while paying homage to its traditional use. You might not light the logs, but stacking them on a grate will give off the proper aesthetic.

You can also stack birch logs in the firebox from top to bottom — without a grate — to fill the entire space. Another option might be to lean bundles of birch logs against the inside and on top of each other.

4. Stack Books

Stacking old books is another way to decorate your fireplace — an intriguing design idea if you’re a bookworm. There are several ways you can achieve this style, including:

  • Covering the books in white and brown paper for a neutral palette
  • Positioning them so that the pages are facing outward
  • Displaying the bindings for color and interest

Experiment with how you want to stack the books in the firebox. Maybe you prefer them evenly aligned, from largest to smallest or alternating directions — five stacked horizontally and five vertically — until the firebox is full.

5. Light Candles

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), three in 10 house fires start because of fireplaces and chimneys. That’s why scheduling an annual fireplace and chimney inspection and cleaning the flue is essential. 

Preparing and maintaining your fireplace each year can be a hassle, which is why lighting candles might be a good alternative. Candles won’t give off as much heat as a roaring fire, but they will enhance the coziness and intimacy of your home. 

Position different-sized candles in the fireplace, starting with the largest ones in the back. You might also consider LED-operated products if you’re still concerned about starting a fire using candles. 

Even if you don’t burn firewood in your fireplace, it’s still a good idea to call an inspector to ensure proper ventilation and look for structural damage.

6. Lean a Mirror or Artwork

A widescreen television might not look right hanging above a fireplace in a formal living room. For a more off-limits space saved for special occasions and friendly get-togethers, you’ll need more luxe decor.

A large mirror with an intricate frame or shape will look stunning perched atop the mantel while leaning against the surround. Mirrors also reflect a lot of light, making the room feel more spacious.

Another idea could include artwork instead. Do you have a famous painting you’d like to display? Maybe you’ve had a family portrait blown up. Mirrors and artwork are ideal standalone pieces but may also be the perfect backdrop for accessories, heirlooms or garlands on the mantel.

7. Enclose the Surround

Decorating the fireplace might come down to completely covering the surround, in which case, you have more options than you could have ever imagined, including:

  • Shiplap
  • Patterned porcelain or ceramic tiles
  • Solid-colored tiles
  • Marble
  • Stucco or concrete
  • Natural stone slab

Shiplap has become a popular trend for several interior designs, such as coastal, shabby chic, modern farmhouse and contemporary.

Consider installing shiplap vertically to prevent dust and give height to your ceilings. Vertical lines help draw the eyes upward and create a more modern look.

Stay on Trend With These Fireplace Decorating Ideas

Every fireplace could use a little attention and care to stay on trend. With these seven fireplace decorating ideas, you can improve your home’s interior design and change the entire room’s look.

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