You may not be aware of it, but your fireplace is central to your home décor. If you have a separate TV room and use your living room for entertaining, then your fireplace essentially replaces the TV as the area of focus. It keeps everyone warm, but it’s also soothing to stare into the fire during lulls in conversation, or even at the height of it. After all raw flames seem to ignite – and pacify – something deep, sensual, and primal in all of us.
Even if you have electronics in your living space, your fireplace can still become a key area of interest. It can set the decorative tone for your whole space, and if you use it right, you can make a real mark. Of course the style of décor will depend on the type of fireplace you’ve installed. If you have a hearth or mantelpiece, it requires a divergent approach from a flush in-built that doesn’t protrude from the wall.
For this reason, your decorating decisions begin way back, when you’re purchasing your fireplace. As you shop, don’t just think about artificial media, automatic thermostats, and remote controlled options. Think about the exteriors. Are you going for a particular theme, or does your current décor lean towards a specific colour? This can be helpful if your fireplace is available in multiple finishes.
Modern fashions lean towards minimalism, clean lines, sharp angles, and glossy finishes. Pick a furnace that has clear glass pieces or metallic tones. In-builts – with their large viewing panels – are good for the modern home. Instead of driftwood or logs, opt for crushed glass or ceramic coals as burning media, because they’re more current and tech-oriented.
Buy a fireplace that has an edgeless or frameless fascia. It’s the fireplace equivalent of an infinity pool, where there’s no clear marker between the firebox and the wall. Often, the door isn’t visible, so it gives a clean, undisrupted finish. If you want to build a ‘fire spot’ around the in-built, use chairs with metallic tones, such as steel feet or shiny tufted buttons. You can also use chrome seats and glass-topped stools.
Because the main appeal of in-builts is leaving your room open, you could choose to keep it roomy. Instead of placing large pieces of furniture near the fireplace, stack throw pillows or foldable canvas seats nearby. Lay a comfy rug next to the fire, then residents and guests can simply place a seat near the glass when they want to warm up. When they’re done, they can put away their cushion or pouf, leaving the area spacious and uncluttered.
At the other extreme, you could build your decorative theme around a protruding mantel. If your hearth doesn’t already have one, you could buy a fireplace that resembles a mantel. You can also buy a mantel separately and install its shelving above your fireplace, whether they’re in-built Regency gas fireplaces or wood-burning Lopi insert stoves. Now you can select your mantel décor to match your style.
You could go simple with potted plants and artificial flowers, or arrange family photos and kids’ art. Another idea – especially if you don’t have cats – is to arrange trinkets. They could be porcelain figurines, troll dolls, scented candles in decorative candle-holders, or kaleidoscopes and bits of shiny metal and glass. Your mantel décor can make an interesting conversation piece, so you could display kids’ trophies or knick-knacks from your travels.
You might even opt to use the mantel as a book shelf, but be careful with this choice. It’s safe if your fireplace is an in-built with protective glass, but for a live hearth, paper and flames in such close proximity … not the best idea. You can put some art above the mantle, in the form of a canvas or print. Or you could place a mirror or inspirational plaque. Mirrors and reflective picture frames are good for making the room seem larger and brighter.