Make Your Fireplace the Center of Attention With These 13 Tips

Ginny Bartolone
Written by Ginny Bartolone
Updated January 5, 2022
 A modern fireplace in a living room
Photo: Westend61 / Getty Images

Even if the weather outside isn’t so frightful, your fireplace will always be delightful

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After decades of gathering around the glow of a TV set, fireplaces—the original focal point of a home—are enjoying some time in the limelight again. Stunning fireplaces, mantels, and hearths deserve our attention since they create a natural hosting space and generate light and warmth during a long, chilly winter. Even better, fireplaces increase the value of your home. We've rounded up 13 tips for making it the focal point of any room year-round.

1. Renovate Your Fireplace Surround

There are two main ways to approach fireplace renovation: Change up your home decor or make the fireplace the architectural focal point of a room. And your fireplace surround is the hard material—think brick, stone, or concrete—surrounding your fireplace. It may extend up to the ceiling or encircle your firebox (the chamber that contains the fire) on either side.

Update your fireplace surround to match the overall aesthetic of your home. Whether you have a wood-burning or gas fireplace, consider adding new brick, natural stone, metal, or concrete for a minimalist look. A new fireplace surround may spark fresh ideas about a matching mantle and hearth, but we'll touch on those in a moment.

2. Pair With an Accent Wall

The area behind your fireplace will draw the eye just as much as the roaring fire itself. Design a stylish accent wall by choosing a pop of paint color that complements the rest of the room. You can also opt for a unique wall design material, such as shiplap, stone, or a textured wallpaper. 

3. Opt for an Interesting Firebox

While the firebox plays a major functional role in your fireplace, its design can also be eye-catching. Whether you opt for a customized look or preconstructed panels, consider how the firebrick or metal liner pattern reflects the rest of your fireplace design. Opt for a herringbone pattern or a metal liner matching the black accents throughout your room.

4. Showcase With Lighting

Fireplaces make excellent mini-showcases for your artwork, photos, and festive decor. Give the mantel a little extra attention with the right lighting installation. Track lights, recessed lighting, and dimmers can each direct the eye toward your fireplace when you enter the room. Remember that candles, table lamps, and reflective surfaces also add to the glow.

5. Widen and Update the Mantel

Close-up of a fireplace with a decorated mantel
Photo: Image Source / DigitalVision / Getty Images

There's a good reason mantels get so much of the attention in fireplace design. This decorative piece frames the whole design, so it's one of your biggest tools to create a successful focal point. If your modern home doesn't quite fit its classic wood-carved style, call your local fireplace installation team for tips to add something more modern like stacked-stone, marble, or granite.

Add a bit of drama to your living room by even widening the mantle, fireplace surround, and hearth. There's no need to alter the fireplace itself, simply the area that frames its beauty.

6. Consider a Double-Sided Fireplace

While not possible in all homes, the double-sided fireplace can completely transform a living space. These installations allow you to view the fire from at least two sides, if not all the way around. Consider this design during major home renovations or when building a new home from the ground up.

7. Upgrade the Hearth

Last on our architectural list is the hearth, the stone area just in front of your fireplace. The hearth protects the surrounding room from embers and the heat of the fire, but it can be a truly stunning element as well. Consider popular natural stone options for your hearth, such as granite, marble, or limestone.

8. Opt for Eye-Catching Art

Let's move on to what comes around and above the fireplace itself. It may be tempting to cover your mantle in knickknacks, but opting for one or two striking pieces of art goes much further. Choose a color scheme for the art or photos, particularly ones that tie in with the colors of your room.

9. Alter Your Furniture Floor Plan

The right floor plans can reinvigorate how you use a room. Create a conversation-ready configuration. Your sofa, chairs, and coffee tables should open up toward the fireplace. The focus on the seating area will advise you and your guests on where to look, even when there's no fire roaring away.

10. Reflect the Light

Your fireplace is already a symbol of light and warmth, but you can celebrate this theme with mirrors, metallics, and other reflective surfaces. Mirrors are especially helpful in smaller rooms with minimal natural light, and the mantel is the perfect stage for layering mirrors and lustrous decor.

11. Display What's Important

As the natural heart of a home, take the traditional approach for updating your fireplace by adding something important to you and your family to the mantelpiece. Display a large framed family photo, a personal painting or other DIY art, or a collection of each. 

12. Choose Stylish Accessories

Don't forget the small accents of your fireplace that can make a huge difference in a simple space. Fireplaces require a screen and a set of tools—typically the brush, shovel, poker, and stand. Opt for a metallic set that matches the rest of your space.

13. Remember the Off-Season

Fireplaces are the ideal place to start when decorating your room for each new season. When the fire season is long gone, display plants, crafty DIY decor, and pillar candles to maintain the mantle's style throughout the year. 

Redecorating the fireplace—both before and after the winter—can also be a great reminder to call in a local top-rated chimney sweep and check off all of your fireplace maintenance tasks on the list.

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