14 Inspiring Ways to Create a Striking Fireplace Surround

Amber Guetebier
Written by Amber Guetebier
Updated January 11, 2022
White brick floor to ceiling fireplace in a living room
Photo: hikesterson / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

These ideas flame to please

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Winter brings thoughts of warm drinks, good books, and a cozy fire. Whether your home has an existing fireplace yearning for an upgrade or you’re designing a new fireplace from scratch, the look of your fireplace surround can set the tone for your home’s interior design. With so many fireplace surround materials and designs to choose from, here are 14 ideas sure to spark your imagination.  

1. A Centerpiece of Stone

Stone fireplace with wooden mantel in a living room
Photo: Courtesy of Kathy Pelto

You can use stone to refresh your fireplace, as it’s one of the best fireplace surround materials—especially if you’re going for a contemporary design. Natural fieldstone of varying sizes brings the outdoors in at this snug Door County, Wisconsin residence. The open concept living, dining, and kitchen areas mean they can enjoy the fireplace when eating, cooking, or cozying up in front of the hearth. Winters can get chilly in Door County, so the homeowners love that the wood-burning insert is energy efficient. “When we first looked at the house, the fireplace was an immediate attraction as the centerpiece of the room, and we loved that it complimented the natural views around the home,” said homeowner Kathy Pelto. “But it’s more than just ambiance: it’s so efficient we almost never have to run the furnace, even in the coldest months.” 

2. Hidden Treasures

Vintage brick fireplace with oak mantel
Photo: Courtesy of TheLittleTileHungCottage

During a six-week renovation, the homeowners of the TheLittleTileHungCottage found the original fireplace and hearth hidden behind an old boiler built into an ugly brick facade. They painstakingly removed the layers of plaster and paper to reveal the bare, exposed brick, then installed a rehabbed Morso stove from Denmark. The mantel was created from oak wood leftover from other projects, creating a minimalist mantel with maximum charm. 

3. Painted Transformation

Fireplace with yellow surround and tile hearth
Photo: Courtesy of Jade S. of Cosy Home

Sometimes, all you need is a coat of paint. Jade of Cosy Home, who loves vintage, gave her wood and tile fireplace surround a big update without losing any of the original charm. She chose butter yellow paint and a complimentary wallpaper on the accent wall. She also updated the hearth with tiles replacing the existing black ones with bright white.

4. Elevate Your Screen

Black marble fireplace surround
Photo: Courtesy of Claire Crow Coll Collection

Elevate your fireplaces with a little something extra. This moody marble surround gets a unique, contemporary vibe thanks to Claire Crow Coll, maker of bespoke fireplace screens. The Celeste screen features hand-forged star points and textural ceramic spheres designed to invoke the night sky.  

5. Artistic Vision

Ghost Ranch Guest Bedroom Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
Photo: Ghost Ranch Guest Bedroom 1, 2019. Krysta Jabczenski. © Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

There are few Southwestern homes more iconic than those of artist Georgia O'Keeffe. Ghost Ranch, one of the artist's two homes in Northern New Mexico, features multiple adobe fireplaces throughout. This one in the guest bedroom has a natural clay adobe color and brings to mind the organic, curved lines that O’Keeffe is known for. The result is a restful space that is both uncluttered and expansive, matching the surrounding views. Taking in the natural environment and history of a region allows individual homeowners to replicate a tranquil, seamless hearth in their own homes.

6. Practical Magic

Home interior with adobe fireplace
Photo: Courtesy of Blue Eye Interiors

While many people think of adobe fireplaces in white or earth tones, Blue Eye Interiors chose the dark color in this home for strategic reasons. Adobe fireplaces frequently get smoke stains, and the designer wanted to minimize the appearance of the stains while still allowing for the fireplace to be the centerpiece. Blue Eye Interiors owner Letisha Perry says, “The natural clay is very energy efficient. It will hold heat and radiate heat into a space long after the fire is gone.” She also cautions that one of the challenges is knowing how to repair or patch an adobe fireplace if there is damage. She recommends hiring an experienced local fireplace repair expert trained in adobe repair. 

7. Adorn the Ordinary

Brick fireplace surround with wooden mantelpiece
Photo: Courtesy of Ewa’s English Cottage

If you have a plain brick fireplace surround in your home, painting or refurbishing aren’t your only options. Adding an ornate wooden mantelpiece to the surround can give you the feeling of a vintage wooden surround without having to do a major remodel, like Ewa’s English Cottage did here.  

8. Working Assets

Stone wall and plaster fireplace surround
Photo: Courtesy of Josephine Bell

Derbyshire, England-based interior designer Josephine Bell created a restful surround by using materials that don’t fight each other. The stone wall becomes the focal point, while the plaster surround and simple wood mantel play supporting roles to create a natural harmony. The simple black wood stove insert gives efficient heat but maintains the classic hearth feeling. 

9. Be Bold and Unexpected

Blue plaster fireplace with white cabinetry
Photo: Courtesy of joshandg

Designer Joshua Williams of Emerald & Grace Interiors does custom carpentry and interior design work, including the beautiful alcoves seen here. In this case, the cabinetry was painted a satiny white to blend into the walls, helping the bold color of the fireplace wall pop and keeping the fireplace as the centerpiece of the room. The smooth plaster finish of the wall gives the blue hue the right home.

10. Hit the Ceiling

Floor to ceiling marble fireplace surround
Photo: Courtesy of Dean Design International

Led by designers Anna Dean Karin and Rod Dean, Dean Design International created this opulent floor-to-ceiling marble fireplace surround for a client with high ceilings and large windows. A smaller fireplace may have been lost in the same space, but this design makes the fireplace the focal point

11. Paint It Black 

Stylish living room with black brick fireplace
Photo: Courtesy of Savvy Home Staging and Decor

The stylists behind Washington, D.C.-based Savvy Home Staging and Decor repeated the smoky color palette of the painted brick fireplace in this home, making the fireplace the star feature. Painting brick with a heat-resistant color gives any fireplace an instant makeover. 

12. Life’s a Beach

Neutral tones living room with fireplace
Photo: Courtesy of West Coast Design

The fireplace's smooth surface and straight lines at this vacation rental from West Coast Design create an unexpectedly minimalist and restful adobe feel. The fire becomes the centerpiece while the surround blends into the white walls, highlighting the clean, beachy feel of the home. 

13. Restore and Renew

brick fireplace with oak mantel
Photo: Courtesy of Canny Little Home

The owners behind the transformation of Canny Little Home took their hearth from a 1990s gas and brass cover-up to a fireplace that is more in keeping with the original character of their 1920s home. They capped the gas fireplace and removed all the cement and brick holding the old surround in place. After plaster-skimming the chimney breast, they rebuilt the surround with reclaimed bricks from the same era of the house, then topped it off with an oak beam from @funkychunkyfurniture and an antique mirror.

14. DIY in a Day

Floor to ceiling cottage stone fireplace
Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Cox

Believe it or not, this fireplace makeover took only one day, from tear-out to installation. Homeowner Jennifer Cox was remodeling her home in an English/Tudor style and selected her materials to go with that. The stone is called Cottage Stone by Horizon Stone. She hired a local stone company to first remove the original tile fireplace surround, and then do the stonework. Instead of a wood-burning fireplace, Cox, “decided to leave the pre-existing gas insert for an easier and more affordable fireplace update. The total project cost was around $3,000.”

Fireplace Installation Costs

Before you can set a realistic budget for your fireplace, you’ll need to decide on materials for your surround. The typical cost to install a fireplace or wood stove runs between $880 and $3,800 and depends largely on the materials you choose. It’s also important to consider whether you need to install a vented or ventless fireplace

Fireplace Repair and Maintenance

 If you’re lucky enough to have an existing fireplace that you’d like to bring back to life, you can expect to pay on average about $530 for fireplace repair costs. That does not include the costs of a fireplace makeover, which many creative homeowners choose to do themselves. 

It’s also essential to have your fireplace inspected and cleaned once a year, usually in the early fall, to ensure your fireplace and chimney are winter-ready.

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