8 Ways to Style a Non-Working Fireplace

Evelyn Long

Feb 11, 2023


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A non-working fireplace isn’t rendered entirely useless. Sure, you may miss out on the cozy pleasure of a roaring fire in the winter; however, there are plenty of ways to get creative with decorative pieces.

Before disassembling or covering up your non-working fireplace with drywall, try these eight tips to add style and comfort to an empty firebox. 

1. Cover the Façade

An empty fireplace possesses so much style potential with an attractive ceramic tile and a pop of color. In fact, re-tiling a non-working fireplace can change the room’s entire look.  

Pair a Victorian surround, pilaster and hearth with a geometric tile that infuses modernity with a classic look. You could also use a star-shaped or similar patterned tile to achieve the farmhouse style you’re after.

If re-tiling your empty fireplace doesn’t interest you, consider covering it with shiplap or marble. A continuous floor-to-ceiling cladding draws the eye upward and makes the room feel more spacious.

While you’re at it, you may want to upgrade your mantel with a wood beam or a more contemporary material.

2. Apply Fresh Paint

Applying a coat of paint is another way to style your non-working fireplace. For example, if the fireplace is constructed with brick or stone, whitewashing the surface is a straightforward DIY project that can brighten up the space. 

Whitewashing is a design process that includes watered-down white paint, allowing the brick’s texture to show through while covering most of its reddish tones. Depending on your preference, you can adjust the whitewash opacity of the original brick color. 

You might also coat your empty fireplace in a solid color to match the walls for a uniform look or add a contrasting paint color to showcase it.

3. Fill It With Candles

Candles tend to imbue a hint of luxe to any space — including a non-working fireplace. 

Fill your unusable fireplace with candles in various sizes. You could lay them out on a fire log grate or purchase candle holders at different heights. 

Stagger the candles however you like, mixing their heights or layering them from tallest to shortest. Your non-working fireplace will exude elegance and romance when lit.

4. Stack Logs

Just because your non-working fireplace isn’t capable of an actual fire, you can still create a traditional fireplace scene.

Stack fire logs in a fire log grate the way you usually would. You might even keep a few logs alongside the hearth to warm up the space.

Some people like to fill the entire empty firebox with the ends of the logs facing outward. This works particularly well in a rustic cottage, farmhouse-style decor or if you’re simply looking to incorporate more natural elements into your home’s design.

5. Add a Screen

Another way to make your non-working fireplace appear functional is to cover the firebox with a screen. For example, a classic black screen can add a lot of character to an empty facade.

Otherwise, a statement screen can produce a different type of design effect. Purchase a screen with a coral fan shape to go with your coastal theme or a bold panel screen in gold or silver for a bit of shine. 

6. Insert a Flower Arrangement

Flowers and greenery can also enhance the appearance of a non-working firebox. 

Decorate with a flower pot and a fake floral arrangement for some color. This could also deliver a beautiful seasonal look for spring. 

You might also add potted plants, succulents or a garland on the mantel. Garlands with eucalyptus and mint are aesthetically pleasing and freshen up the space. 

7. Display Artwork

A different approach to styling your non-working fireplace may include adding artwork or pottery.

Add interest to a chic, all-white firebox with a small canvas painting and novelty figurines. You might also integrate different textures like hand-woven baskets or linens. 

Seek out local artisans and include their works in your display. Your fireplace will transform into a unique art gallery that serves as a focal point in the room.

8. Fill It With Books

Bookworms will delight when they glance over at their non-functional fireplace and see a stack of their favorite novels.

An empty firebox can make a unique bookcase for rare, vintage books with distressed covers and weathered pages. Face the book binds outward or showcase the pages instead.

Play around with the arrangement, as well. Choose to use only a few books or fill the entire firebox with books going in different directions.

Create Function for Your Non-Functional Fireplace

Sprucing up your empty fireplace can give a non-functional architectural feature purpose and style. Changing the color and surface or incorporating small decorative elements will make your non-working fireplace look like it’s always belonged.

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