Fireplace ideas shouldn't just be about keeping you warm and cosy in the colder winter months — they should also help to create character and a strong focal point.
In many period homes, getting living room fireplace ideas right is key, as these spaces tend to be arranged around the fireplace — this is how the former owners used to keep warm, after all. This means it's an important part of your overall design to get right, whether you're hoping to introduce a log burning stove, a gas or electric fire or no fire at all.
If you're building a new home or extension however, your options are much more open when it comes to designing a fireplace into your home. Recent years have seen large, open space zoned using fireplaces and stoves, which to add character and visual warmth.
Including creative uses of alcoves, interior design-led schemes and top tips for modernising existing fireplaces, we've collected a range of styles and sizes to spark some inspiration.
How to choose fireplace ideas for your home
Everyone will have a different idea of how they want their fireplace to look and work and the fireplace ideas you're able to make use of in your home may depend quite heavily on what you're working with. If you're building a new home, the world may be your oyster, but not all new builds incorporate a traditional chimney breast fireplace, and often freestanding stoves are a more economical use of space in this instance.
If you do have an existing fireplace in your home, there's no guarantee that previous owners will have retained the original fireplace which could mean opening up a fireplace. However, finding a new fireplace shouldn't be too much of an issue. Modern fireplaces are relatively easy to find, while you'll be able to pick up original fireplaces from places like salvage yards or even from social media marketplaces, where people are renovating period houses.
1. Add a touch of luxury with marble
Marble is known for being a luxurious material, adding a touch of opulence and sophistication to the spaces it graces.
Despite being a material often used in classic-style homes and one that was popular with the Georgians, there are ways of using marble that result in some highly modern fireplace ideas.
Cullifords' range of natural stone fireplaces include this Bianco Covelano Marble which looks great used in combination with dark surfaces.
2. Draw attention with a modern double-sided model
A double-sided fireplace is a great way of breaking up or zoning open plan spaces, resulting in a focal point that can be enjoyed from more than just one room.
The owners of this 18th century barn conversion were keen that the new interior scheme would not detract from the original features of the agricultural building and so opted for a clean, minimalist approach.
A double-sided fireplace acts as a divide between the split level open plan spaces and lends a crisp finish to the interiors.
3. Open up a fireplace in a renovation project
When renovating a house, it is not uncommon to discover old fireplaces underneath layers of plasterboard and brick — opening up and taking the time to get to grips with restoring a fireplace allows these treasures to be showcased in a living space or bedroom and really let the building's history shine.
This Victorian fireplace was opened up and carefully modernised with a contemporary colour treatment which matches the wall behind.
4. Highlight any original features for character
Every renovator hopes they will find original features and fittings within a period home and to discover an authentic fireplace will set you well on the way to ensuring your home is full of charm and character.
The owners of this 250-year-old former fisherman's cottage were delighted to find the original range, complete with baker's oven, in-situ and were careful to bring it back up to scratch.
5. Go ultra glam with moody marble
Prized for its natural beauty, intricate veining and luxurious appearance, marble is the idea material for creating a focal point such as a fireplace.
For this striking, modern open fire, an elegant grey marble fireplace, from Cullifords, was chosen. The result is a fireplace that manages to add plenty of character and warmth to the room while still looking ultra contemporary.
6. Use a double-sided fireplace to break up a space
When looking at how to convert a barn, it can be hard to know how to approach the interior fit-out in a way that will allow the original structure of the building to shine without leaving the spaces feeling empty or lacking in warmth.
The owners of this previously dilapidated barn needed to come up with solutions to zone the 18-metre-long living space while retaining sightlines through one space into another.
The space has been broken up with a double-sided Omega Platinum fire by Xen Design.
7. Turn your fireplace into a decorative feature
After some alternatives to fireplaces? There is no reason why you have to fit an existing fireplace with an open fire or stove — it is still possible to turn it into a focal point using other techniques.
In this period renovation project, the owners were keen to introduce plenty of colour and individuality to each room and here the fireplace has been highlighted thanks to the pastel pink and white diagonal paint effect used for its interior.
8. Add charm to a bathroom
Including original features into your bathroom design ideas can really help add personality and a touch of the unexpected into the space.
There is no reason why a bathroom should not have the same character and warmth as other spaces in your home and including a fireplace in your interior scheme can really help with this.
In this renovated Victorian house one of the bathrooms has been relocated and features the original cast iron fireplace.
9. Incorporate fireplace ideas into the interior scheme
Fireplaces make amazing focal points in a room, so if your interior scheme is swaying towards neutral, inject some personality with an eye-catching surround, mantel or hearth to draw attention.
Delicate stone or even tiled fireplace ideas can create this effect, or for a more flexible option choose a striking paint scheme to build a contrast.
This pared-back oak framed living room incorporated a granite fire surround to showcase the bioethanol fireplace inset.
10. Skip the fireplace and go for a freestanding stove
Get creative with your home's take on a traditional fireplace by installing a freestanding stove with a bold hearth for an ultra-modern appearance.
"For a modern-inspired scheme, a fireplace isn’t always necessary, especially if you choose contemporary design," advises Jon Butterworth of Arada. "Freestanding stoves can be installed almost anywhere in the home, but you will need to consider its proximity to other surfaces and objects in the room before going ahead."
Fireplace hearth ideas can include stones flush to the floor, as in the above example, or a raised platform to make the stove the centre of attention at eye level.
11. Double up on fireplace ideas for twice the comfort
If you're extending to the side of your living room, or have a room adjacent which shares the chimney breast, a great design idea is to add a double-sided stove.
Not only is it an unusual feature for a modern home, but also provides value for money and optimal enjoyment from every angle.
This brick fireplace idea has been incorporated into not one, but two rooms of this bungalow extension. Plus, the heat from the stove warms not just one, but two rooms in the house.
12. Get the proportions right when designing a fireplace
If you're designing from scratch or updating an existing fireplace, the key is to ensure the chimney breast ideas, surround and mantel (if you're having one) are proportional to the room as a whole.
This is especially true of modern fireplaces, where styles and trends might adapt and change how you feel about a certain shape — just think about the garish brick and stone clad beasts of the '50 and '70s.
While wide and putting a twist on traditional inglenook fireplaces, this contemporary fireplace blends seamlessly into the room at large.
13. Paint the fire surround the same colour as the walls
Painting the fireplace surround the same colour as the walls is an interesting tactic, as it visually blends into the background but still retains its form and texture and continues to frame the fireplace.
Incorporating mantelpiece ideas alongside this design, such as complementing books, objects or even a mirror will break up the block of colour for a pleasing result.
14. Conceal a TV above a fireplace
If you can avoid it, don't put your TV over a fireplace, as it draws too much attention. You don't want a bit of oversized tech to be your focal point, after all.
However, if it's unavoidable, placing the TV on the dark wall means it is slightly concealed, putting full attention back on the stove below.
15. Install a stove in an existing fireplace
Undeniably a smart move for those who enjoy the vibrancy of a real fire, but are conscious of the sub-optimal efficiency of an open fire, a log burning stove can be much more efficient addition to an existing fireplace.
"Safety should be your first priority when installing any appliance in the home but none more so than with a wood burning or multi-fuel stove," advises Jon Butterworth, director at Arada Stoves.
"Building Regulations stipulate strict minimum distances between a stove and its surroundings to reduce the risk of household fires and therefore protect property and its inhabitants," he continues. "Each individual stove will come with pre-approved measurements that your fitter will refer to when recommending the right design for your home setting.”
16. Create a focal point with an exposed brick fireplace
When it comes to a classic fireplace idea, you can't get much better than an exposed brick fireplace. It's a design that works for both traditional and modern homes and, in the right home, it's a relatively easy job to uncover your brickwork.
However, before you go pulling off plaster to expose the brick underneath, bear in mind the brick may not be what you're expecting, or be in the best condition. It's a calculated risk, but one that might see you looking for a plasterer to re-instate the wall.
If you think your home's brick might not be up to scratch, you could also consider creating an exposed brick fireplace with brick slips, thinly cut brick tiles that will look like the real thing when adhered to the wall.
17. Look to the corner for fireplace inspiration
Locating a fireplace in a corner is a great way to open it up to the room, particularly if you've chosen an open plan living space.
This two-sided fire is lined by a contemporary anthracite frame while a monochrome tile and stone plinth elevate the design to a unique feature.
Corner log burner ideas are also on the rise, so take a look at some engenius inspiration to get your plan in motion.
18. Reinstate period charm with the right fireplace
If you live in a period home that has been stripped of its features at some point in its life, consider sourcing a period fireplace to restore some of the home's charm.
“I’d always recommend sticking to the period of the house when looking to purchase a fireplace," says Owen Pacey, founder of Renaissance London, specialists in fireplace restoration. "This ensures that the styles align and the fireplace will look like it’s always been there."
But how do you know what the right type is for your home? "The ground floor of Victorian properties always used to have a marble or slate fireplace and later on in the Edwardian era, slate became much more popular. My go-to material would always be marble, however, as it is generally very durable."
19. Centre a fireplace in the room for real wow-factor
If you're self building or building an extension, don't be limited to the idea that a fireplace is solely a chimney breast against a wall.
Modern fireplace designs allow for interesting set-ups, including this design with a fireplace creating the divide between living and dining area in this broken-plan space.
But how can you have a fireplace with no chimney for wood smoke? Simply, don't get a wood burning fire. Modern bioethanol fireplaces are great as they don't need extraction as there's is no smoke, while still giving you the joy of a real fire in your home.
20. Use your mantlepiece to add character
Fireplaces are often located in sitting rooms and snugs, where the warm crackle of a fire is a hug on a cold winter night. So, make sure the surrounding areas of your fireplace are as welcoming as the open fire or log burner in your space.
Adding an oversized wooden mantel is one place to start as the visual appeal of timber against any coloured background will instantly add character.
Carefully considering where to place essentials for stoking the fire will also lead to fireplace success. Create dedicated spots for extra logs, kindling and pokers to live on or around the hearth with log store ideas such as baskets and decorative buckets.
21. Modernise a fireplace with a colour pop
Bring any fireplace up to date with a pop of colour — a cost-effective yet eye-catching idea that works wonders in this renovated farmhouse.
The small living room ideas masterfully balance the period detailing of the stone hearth and antique stove while no changes in the room can't be undone and restored to its original aesthetic.
22. Make the most of fireplace alcoves
Fireplace chimney breasts are frequently a bulky intrusion in a room, creating strange recesses either side of the feature that can feel a little lost. The rather obvious solution is to find the right fireplace alcove ideas that would work best for your living room.
These often-awkward spots can be given a purpose, be that built-in cupboard storage, shelving for treasured objects or books and even provide an additional source of living room lighting, as here.
The trick to these spaces is keeping a design simple, anything too busy will make a living room or snug feel boxed in.
23. Add personality to electric fireplaces
Electric fires, while without the inherent visual appeal of a gas or solid fuel stove, are a cost-effective way to shake up elements in a living room or snug.
Add instant charm to an electric fire by installing an oak beam or mantel above the fire for an interesting fireplace finish.
Alternatively, invest in the latest generation of electric products — some of the best electric log burners also include an intricate steam that evokes the smoke from a real fire.
24. Consider a stone fireplace
Using stone fireplace ideas can provide a sleek, natural design."Natural stone is the ideal choice for a fireplace surround. Thanks to its natural composition, it is resistant to heat and can withstand temperatures of up to 300ºC, so you can have it as your surround without fear of damage," explains Hege Lundh, marketing director at Lundhs Real Stone.
"It is also incredibly easy to maintain and so easy to clean. If you are working with an open fire, consider placing a slab of natural stone in front as your hearth as well as this will not only tie the whole aesthetic together but it will also serve as a good protection from any debris from the fire.”
25. Add a splash of colour with a tiled fireplace
Use tiled fireplace ideas as an opportunity to create colour and material variation in a room. “Tiling is a popular choice, especially for characterful homes. Ceramic tiles withstand heat well and are durable, so make the perfect choice for any fireplace. Available in various sizes, colours and finishes they offer the homeowner an unparalleled choice of styles." says Arada's Jon Butterworth.
"We would suggest a gap of at least 100mm is maintained from the stove body to any non-combustible materials to aid the convection of heat out of any fireplace. Squeezing too large a stove into a small opening is an often repeated mistake and should be avoided.”
These pale blue tiles (from Walls and Floors) have raw edges for a rustic finish that blends perfectly with the exposed brick and black painted walls.
26. Get creative with a modern fireplace
The key to a successful contemporary fireplace is to consider the proportions of the room and how this can be best showcased using modern materials and stylings.
If your room is wide, consider emphasising this with an exaggerated surround and raised hearth — the image above masterfully contrasts a blackened steel design with the charming barn timbers to a great effect.
If you are dealing with a slim space, could dramatic chimney breast ideas which include architectural details or reach the ceiling create an interesting focal point?
27. Renovate an original open fireplace
Sadly in many renovation projects original fireplaces have often been removed or boxed in. Where the latter is the case, try to save what is left of an authentic chimney and fire by opening up a fireplace which has been blocked.
In homes affected by mid-century tastes which led to gas and electric fires being installed, explore how to replace a gas fire with a woodburner.
28. Whitewash a dated brick fireplace
Although older properties may be blessed with attractive brick colours, that is not always the case and we have seen all kinds of dated combinations over the years — from red brick with black mortar to grey all over.
Using the best masonry paint you can find, leaving a brick chimney breast exposed and whitewashing or painting to a more contemporary colour can often do the trick when updating or modernising without very much effort or cost.
This all-white kitchen is beautifully warmed by the slight tint to the brick fireplace left after whitewashing. While the brick fireplace ideas match the overall design scheme, the old reception room is now a characterful kitchen thanks to this quick treatment.
29. Inset a fireplace into built-in storage
In smaller homes where every inch matters for storage, combine the two and integrate an inset stove and flue into a larger boxed-in storage unit for a sleek, pared back finish.
This eye-catching design features a raised concrete plinth which seems to extend from the polished concrete floor and provides a handy spot of the log basket while the wooden pocket door cupboards to the left conceal the TV.
30. Change position with a gas fireplace
Gas fires are incredibly convenient when compared to stoves and open fires which can often feel like a full time job to keep lit and warm. A warming fire can appear at the touch of a button, or even controlled remotely and are easily installed in a connect home.
Height and location are often down to the homeowners preferences (with units such as this which require no recess). While this may sound like the possibilities are endless, the fact remains that fireplaces are best positioned in more intimate spaces, such as snugs or sitting areas in open plan spaces.
31. Add a fresh look with timber fireplace surrounds
Adding a fire surround can be a quick update to any fireplace. Traditional surrounds can include all manner of tiled designs to add something special into the room, while more contemporary styles, such as this wood-effect surround, can be pared with a dark hearth and backing for a vibrant, scandi design.
Make sure the wood or veneer is of decent quality in a fireplace surround to ensure a fresh look thats worth the time and money and keep the new surround in proportion with the room, lest the 'focal feature' become overwhelming and garish.
32. Create a fireplace without a fire
Now this might seen like an oxymoron, but in modern, more efficient homes fireplaces can be redundant and a real fire seldom lit and blocking up or removing a fireplace can often be a wise decision.
However, that's not to mean fire-less fireplaces can't provide a function, be it alongside your interior scheme or as interesting storage.
Install small shelves for books and trinkets, fill with decorative logs or simply add visual warmth by using inset candles or LED strip lights.
33. Create a chimney breast wall
Vaulted ceilings are quickly becoming a firm favourite in modern homes and extensions, and can be found in many a period property so treat them with the grandeur they deserve.
Combine show-stopping chimney breast ideas with your fireplace design for something truly special that can be enjoyed year-round, not just in the colder months.
This self-build ingeniously utilises the double-height chimney breast to disguise the flue of the inset stove, provide alcoves and a raised hearth for storage. Most importantly, however, the kitchen and dining areas are located behind the chimney breast and away from the sitting area.
34. Use cladding for a feature fireplace
Fireplaces can be clad in all kinds of interesting materials to make them a design feature of your space.
One brilliant idea is to use a material such as hardy granite or quartz, pictured here in Sensa from Cosentino, which allows you to create the look of a dramatic slab of stone in one piece, retaining the beautiful veining with no visual breaks.
35. Source a characterful fireplace to make a statement
Reclaimed fireplaces can be found from all kinds of sources, from scrapyards and reclamation centres to online marketplaces on social media. These period designs are more likely to be detailed in a way that many modern fireplaces aren't, and so can bring some real flair to a room design.
This fireplace, sourced by antique fireplace specialists Renaissance London, transforms what is otherwise quite a simple room by giving it a sense of grandeur and history.
36. Be period appropriate when choosing a surround
Fireplaces are a distinctive feature to include in a renovation project. Choose wisely to ensure the style and detailing is appropriate for the time and the results will speak for themselves.
This doesn't just relate to a period farmhouse, but also to mid-century and contemporary homes.
For instance, Art Deco fireplaces are very distinctive, often featuring concentric ridges while also monolithically sized. Choosing an Art Deco fireplace over an alternative design from another period will instantly set the scene for your scheme, allowing you to commit to this glamorous, decorative style in full.
37. Go for a simple, classic fireplace idea
Traditional fireplaces for solid fuel, gas or woodburning stoves are generally made up of two hearths (one front and one back), a fire surround and, last but not least a chimney breast.
While more can be added for decoration or for various practical reasons, use these of your starting point when looking for fireplace ideas to spark a design.
A minimalist yet timeless look has been created for this log burner by using a stone hearth with no mantle or fire surround, meaning the stove does all of the work to add character and warmth to the interior.
38. Remodel an existing ugly duckling
Existing fireplaces aren't to everyone's tastes but there are certainly steps homeowners can take to makeover and update an ugly duckling.
Plastering, tiling, brick cladding or even painting can drastically remedy a dated fireplace.
In this mid-century home the renovators knocked through from the hallway and kitchen areas into the dining room, but utilised the large fireplace and chimney breast to carefully divide the spaces. Ideas such as this are the difference between a functional space and an utterly unique home that provides visual interest.
39. Mix and match styles for a welcoming finish
There's no rule in any interior design book that means styles have to be rigidly adhered to, so shake things up a bit by combining ideas that inspire you. It is afterall, your home.
In this example, a unique fire surround, inset log burner and Scandi-inspired hearth are paired with a modern take on a log basket, creating an individual and timeless fireplace.
40. Consider an open fireplace for a cosy room
While woodburning stoves offer a certain charm, an open fire is without a doubt one of life's simple pleasures.
This characterful fire pit creates an alternative to a regimented and boxed in fireplace — and it beautifully completes the cosy aesthetic to the rest of the room.
41. Transform a stone fireplace with a modern insert
Although recent trends drifted away from larger stone-clad chimney breasts, the current love of mixing mid-century and modern styles definitely works to the advantage of inter-war homes.
Striking the perfect balance, this living room stays true to it's '60s roots while adding some modern pizzazz in the form of a gas insert.