12 fireplace back panel ideas that will instantly elevate your home's focal point

traditional living room with open fire
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you are on the hunt for some beautiful and original fireplace back panel ideas to top off your interior scheme in style then you have come to exactly the right place. 

Your choice of fireplace ideas can transform a room into a space that feels instantly warm and homey and bursting with character, but to work well, each and every section that makes up the design as a whole needs to be given some careful thought. 

Pairing the wrong style of fireplace back panel with your mantel or overall decoration scheme can result in a final look that just doesn't work or that can become a focal point for all the wrong reasons. Take a look at our collection of inspiration to start getting a good idea of what will (and won't) work for you. 

Why are fireplace back panel ideas important?

To understand why you need to give some consideration to your fireplace back panel it is first important to get to grips with exactly what they are.

"A fireplace back panel is basically a panel which fills the space between the fireplace opening and the fireplace surround," explains Joanna Humphreys, fire and stove specialist at Direct Fireplaces. "Whilst it doesn’t necessarily ‘do’ anything, it’s an integral part in the overall look and feel of a fire.

"Without a fireplace back panel in place, you’d simply see the bare wall between the fireplace opening and the fireplace surround — not exactly a sophisticated look."

However, you might also see them referred to as 'slips' and these are the individual sections used to form a back panel like those described above. 

There are different ways that fireplace back panels are supplied. Sometimes they come as part of package that includes the surround, hearth, mantel and even the insert. However, they can also be bought as stand-alone products which is perfect for those restoring a fireplace

It is also worth noting that, in some cases, fireplace back panels are referred to in relation to the flat panel of material that sits behind the fire or stove to protect the wall. 

diagram showing parts of a fireplace

The fireplace back panel usually bridges the gap between the surround and the fire insert.  (Image credit: Direct Fireplaces)

1. Go for a smart and simple back panel

white stone fire surround

The clean lines and crisp finish of this fireplace, with its matching back panel, look great against the stormy grey of the walls.  (Image credit: Direct Fireplaces)

Co-ordinating your back panel with your surround, mantel and fireplace hearth, either by using matching materials or those of the same colour, is the ideal way to create a very fresh and modern look — perfect for those after a more minimalist finish. 

Here, a smart white fireplace sits beautifully against the grey of the living room walls, with the slim rim that runs between the surround and back panel mirroring this shade. 

2. Take a modern approach with monochrome

modern living room with fireplace

A simple black and white finish used for your surround and back panel will look fresh and modern.  (Image credit: Getty Images)

Even very simple, timeless and classic fireplaces can still slot seamlessly into more modern décor schemes with the right choice of fireplace back panel and mantelpiece ideas

Here, a very classically styled marble surround has been teamed with a sleek, black back panel for a beautifully simple yet welcoming finish that could easily withstand a whole range of interior decoration schemes should the homeowners change their minds at some point in the future. 

3. Select eye-catching tiles for added interest

white fireplace with tiled insert

Beautifully eye-catching tiles ensure all eyes are on this fireplace. (Image credit: Direct Fireplaces)

Using tiled fireplace ideas for your back panels is the ideal way to inject some of your own personality into your fireplace and your decoration scheme as a whole, leaving you free to take a more pared-back and neutral approach elsewhere. 

While the walls of this living room have been painted a subtle mushroom shade, the choice of fireplace, from Direct Fireplaces, ensures the whole space is full of character and individuality. 

4. Boost the glow with hidden lighting

fire surround with LED lighting

Aim to illuminate your fireplace a little to ensure that it really is the focal point of the room.  (Image credit: Charlton & Jenrick Ltd)

Don't forget to spend time developing your fireplace lighting at the same time as thinking through the style of back panel, surround and so on — they have the potential to really bring the whole feature to life. 

The Opulus 16” from Charlton & Jenrick Ltd is an electric all-in-one fire that can be controlled via an app, from which you can select an optional crackle sound effect,
pulsating log lights and 16 colour options. In addition, there is the option to add on lengths of LED lighting strips, controlled from the fire's handset, in a palette of 13 colours that can be set separately to the flame and fuel bed effects.

5. Go grand with elegant stone

grand living room with high ceilings and large fireplace

Natural stone instantly lends a space a classic look that is unlikely to date.  (Image credit: Getty Images)

If you are after something elegant, sophisticated and timeless then natural stone is most certainly the way to go. All kinds of stone fireplace ideas are possible, from those incorporating solid chunks of hefty limestone and slate to those that mix-and-match materials such as timber and marble. 

Here, the elegant proportions of the room have been well matched with the simple yet powerful design of the fireplace, featuring granite back panels and a decorative yet subtle white surround. 

6. Get a classic stone model for less

real stone fireplace

This replica stone fireplace includes the hearth, while optional slips are available. (Image credit: Haddonstone)

If you like the idea of a stone fireplace but are worried about the associated costs, there is another option that will still result in a beautiful and classic finish. 

The Classic Fireplace by Haddonstone, from their Robert A.M. Stern Collection, is made from their TecLite material. It is more lightweght and affordable than real stone making it easy to handle and install.  

7. Tie your back panel in with your living room décor

green living room with fireplace

Using the same shade for the back panels and surrounding furniture brings the whole look together.  (Image credit: Tapi Carpets and Floors)

For a pleasingly cohesive look do consider how your fireplace back panel will sit alongside the rest of your living room design scheme — both in material and colour. Opting for a back panel shade that sits in contrast with the surround yet is echoed elsewhere in the room, such as on walls or built-in joinery is a fantastic idea. 

In this living room, the surround has been fitted around the crisp, plastered opening of the fireplace, which has taken the place of any back panels. 

8. Add individual character to modern spaces

contemporary fireplace with modern internal timber cladding

Open, modern spaces will really benefit from the inclusion of a fireplace.  (Image credit: Jonathan Gooch)

In contemporary spaces, particularly those that are largely open plan, it can sometimes be a struggle to inject a sense of warmth and a welcoming feel — but using some modern fireplace ideas is the ideal way to do this.

Of course with the right fireplace back panel, there is no reason why a fireplace need detract from the sleek, clean lines of a modern interior scheme — this extension and renovation project of a 1970s house is proof of that. 

Flanked by cedar cladding, the stunning black surround and mantle also features a little metallic glimmer in the form of the bronze lower header section. 

9. Love the luxury look with marble panels

Luxury marble fireplace

The creamy marble of this back panel is the perfect partner to the rest of the room's scheme.  (Image credit: Getty Images)

Marble touches are known for the fact that they instantly conjure up a sense of luxury and opulence, be that in the form of floor tiles, worktops or within fireplace design. 

Within this striking cream and gold interior scheme, the choice of the elegant marble fireplace back panel is key to ensuring the success of the whole look, drawing together the various elements of the sophisticated finish. 

10. Finish off your fireplace with stylish tiles

fireplace with log burning stove

Tiled fire backs make it easy to bring an interior look together.  (Image credit: Direct Stoves)

There are various ways of protecting the wall directly behind your fire or stove and one particularly popular method is to use decorative tiles — this works particularly well in openings that have been fitted with a stove of some sort as they tend to remain cleaner and more visible than if you were to fill the opening with an open fire. 

Here, the Didsbury 5 stove from Direct Stoves sits within an opening lined with classy black and grey patterned tiles which tie in perfectly with the white stone surround and slate hearth. 

11. Pair fresh white with rustic exposed brick

open brick fireplace

Exposed brick is the perfect foil for a crisp choice of surround and back panel.  (Image credit: Jord Home)

Using brick fireplace ideas is the perfect way to add a rustic, warm touch to your home and really can bring a fireplace to life. They also work very well with open fires and stoves alike.

Here, the all-in-one surround, complete with mantel and back panels, provides a fresh clean contrast to the original brickwork which has been left on show. 

12. Keep things simple with a sleek panel

granite fireplace back panel

Using a simple yet stylish back panel on the wall behind a freestanding fire is a great way to add an individual touch.  (Image credit: Lundhs Real Stone)

Opting for a freestanding log burning stove or similar does not mean missing out on the decorative element of a back panel — a simple section placed directly behind the stove will not only protect the wall but is also a great way to introduce a little colour or texture. 

Lundhs Real Stone Blue has been used for the backdrop of the fireplace in this modern living space. The natural stone defines the fireplace and continues down onto the floor as a hearth, while the material's feldspar crystals will sparkle against the flames.

Do I need a fireplace back panel?

Not all types of fireplaces will benefit from a fireplace back panel — and in some cases they would be completely pointless. For example, if you plan on installing a freestanding log burning stove or like the idea of a simple hole-in-the-wall style fireplace. 

What are fireplace back panels made from?

Just as with fire surrounds and hearths, there are a range of materials that back panels are available in. 

"Because of their proximity to the fireplace opening and insert, back panels will usually be made from a similar, heat-resistant material to the hearth," points out Direct Fireplace's Joanna Humphreys. "As such, it’s possible to buy fireplace back panels made from materials such as granite, marble and slate. It’s also possible to buy fireplace back panels made from wood —however, wood back panels should only be used with electric fireplaces."

Natasha Brinsmead

Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Content Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. Over the years Natasha has renovated and carried out a side extension to a Victorian terrace. She is currently living in the rural Edwardian cottage she renovated and extended on a largely DIY basis, living on site for the duration of the project. She is now looking for her next project — something which is proving far harder than she thought it would be.