10 stunning inglenook fireplace ideas for any style of house

large stone inglenook fireplace with new woodburning stove in kitchen
(Image credit: Simon Burt)

Inglenook fireplace ideas should not be restricted to those renovating a period property or self builders constructing a traditional home. As our collection of inspirational designs shows, inglenook fireplaces can suit contemporary homes just as well as more classic properties. 

Although many people searching for fireplace ideas are often put off the idea of an inglenook fireplace for fear of them being energy inefficient, treated in the right way, they can perform well as a heat source.

Here, we have brought together some great treatments for this beautiful architectural feature to ensure that whatever interior scheme you are aiming for, there will be something for you.  

Which inglenook fireplace ideas will suit my home?

The great thing about this type of fireplace is that it can be adapted to suit a range of house styles. Although the inglenook fireplace has very historic roots, it can also suit modern homes, where its oversized nature and the wow factor can elevate a contemporary look. 

Renovators lucky enough to have an original inglenook to work with shouldn’t feel they have to design the rest of their scheme around the materials and form of the fireplace either — very often, a contrast between the existing elements of period properties and any newer additions can work brilliantly. 

What is an inglenook fireplace?

Before looking at ideas, it is useful to understand what an inglenook fireplace is. 

Inglenook fireplace was a term that, in the past, was used to describe the spaces on either side of a large open fire. However, the term is now more commonly thought of as describing the whole recess within a chimney breast that has been opened up to form a large space to hold a fire or stove.

Inglenook openings really come in all shapes and sizes but between 2-3m is common. That said, some are as much as 1.5m high. 

Here, we give a selection of ways to design and treat inglenook fireplaces — get ready for some seriously cosy inspiration. 

1. Pair classic brick with a log burning stove

brick inglenook fireplace with log burning stove

Exposed brick provides a neutral, yet characterful, finish for inglenooks.  (Image credit: Getty/Mint Images)

Make the most of the character that log burning stoves can bring to a home by framing yours with a suitably warm and rustic inglenook fireplace design. 

Exposed brick fireplaces offer a classic, easy-to-live with finish that won't fight for attention in a space and can be paired with all kinds of fires, stoves and hearth materials. If you fancy something a little fresher in appearance, painted bricks also work well for inglenook fireplaces — although paler shades will show up dirt more. 

2. Expose a stone surround

living room with stone inglenook fireplace

Stone surrounds add a luxurious finish — here, the grand inglenook is balanced by the laid back country chic design scheme.  (Image credit: Getty)

If you are lucky enough to have a natural stone surround to your inglenook fireplace then make sure all eyes are drawn to it by leaving it exposed and only plastering the walls up to it.

Just as with brick, stone fireplace ideas can work with all kinds of interior design schemes, sitting just as happily in a pared back contemporary scheme as they will within a charming traditional one. 

3. Keep it crisp and minimal for a modern look

contemporary inglenook fireplace

The sleek black-lined interior of this modern inglenook fireplace in a project by Mole Architects, sits in stark contrast to the all-white design scheme used elsewhere in the space  (Image credit: David Butler)

The inglenook fireplace translates brilliantly into a contemporary design feature, with its oversized proportions making it easy to create a focal point even in new builds. 

Keep the opening crisp and uncluttered, extending the hole-in-the-wall idea to fill out your chimney breast. Bear in mind too that there is nothing to say that your fire or stove has to be located in the centre of the inglenook — placing it off-centre, as has been done here, can add a quirky element.

4. Take advantage of a full-width inglenook

traditional brick inglenook fireplace

Ensure your inglenook is an inviting spot around which to gather by incorporating finishing touches such as cosy lamps and seating.  (Image credit: Getty)

Whether you have taken on a renovation project with an expansive full-width inglenook fireplace or have built one from scratch, make sure you really embrace its proportions. Here, a chunky and very sizeable fire hood over the open fire helps to fill the space, along with a selection of traditional fireplace accessories. 

The positioning of a cosy chair and floor-standing lamp makes the space all the more inviting. 

5. Pair your fireplace with a media wall

modern inglenook idea

In this project, by architectural practice Brown & Brown, a contemporary log burning stove sits in a minimalist inglenook fireplace adjacent to a built-in media unit.   (Image credit: Gillian Hayes)

Although media walls are often suggested as one of the alternatives to fireplaces, there is no need to choose between one or the other — the two can actually work brilliantly side-by-side as one large focal point. 

This is an idea that works really well for those with contemporary living rooms. It is a good idea to keep the inglenook opening fuss free and to paint or line the recess with a material in a shade that mirrors elements used in your media set-up — this can really tie the two together. 

6. Consider fireplace lighting carefully

large inglenook fireplace with log burning stove

Installing downlights or concealed LEDs within a large inglenook fireplace will bring it to life as the sun sets.  (Image credit: Tina Downnham/Rachel Bragg/Stuart Cox)

Make sure your beautiful inglenook is the star of the show in your home by incorporating brilliant fireplace lighting ideas

Before you get carried away with this element of your lighting design though, do check with your electrician how close wired lights can be positioned to the chimney and fire. If you plan on using any plug-in light fittings, check with the manufacturer whether the products have any temperature limits. 

When it comes to inglenooks, using warm spotlights or concealed LED strips gives a welcoming glow — providing the space is roomy enough, it might also be possible to use downlights, but check this out with your electrician first.  

7. Use a narrow design where space is limited

modern narrow brick inglenook with log burning stove

This neat, eye-catching brick fireplace suits the open plan family space perfectly and also helps to visually zone the room.  (Image credit: Adam Scott)

You don't need a huge living room to incorporate an inglenook fireplace into your scheme — sometimes, a narrow, tall design will work better. If you are looking for small brick fireplace ideas then this is one to take note of.  

Within this scheme by architect Lewis Bailie, the new rear extension features a timber roof that has been supported on a masonry base, a section of which has been used to form the brick inglenook fireplace.  

8. Tie the fireplace in with an oak frame

oak framed living room with inglenook fireplace

Paring an exposed oak frame with a large oak mantle over the inglenook in this self build project has cemented the character and charm of the interiors.  (Image credit: Mark Watts)

Exposed oak frames create a wealth of character and warmth and looks fantastic paired with inglenook fireplaces. If you have an oak framed home, it really does pay to mirror the timber used elsewhere in the design of your fireplace for a nice, cohesive finish. 

In this home by Oakwrights, the brick inglenook, with its reassuringly chunky oak mantle, suits the country chic interiors down to the ground. 

9. Opt for soft and rustic for a country look

cream living room with inglenook fireaplace

The interiors of this restored farmhouse have been given a neutral finish — the inglenook takes centre stage without dominating the space.  (Image credit: Polly Eltes)

Period properties should not be perfect — far better to aim for a relaxed, rustic finish when it comes to the interiors. Here, a soft-textured and pleasingly uneven plaster finish has been used around the inglenook fireplace that cosies up the space. The pretty arch of the fireplace has been mirrored in the narrow alcove next to it and the exposed brick elements of the opening really help to draw the eye. 

10. Use your inglenook as an extra space

modern kitchen with traditional stone inglenook fireplace

The owners of this renovation project have made full use of the original inglenook by using it for additional seating and kitchen storage space.  (Image credit: Simon Burt)

A large inglenook fireplace need not be a waste of floorspace if used wisely. If space allows, incorporate seating within the inglenook, as would have been done in the past. Seating can either be built in or placed within the opening. It is also a good idea to make use of existing alcoves for storage or, if creating an inglenook from scratch, to build in shelving or useful nooks. 

In this renovation project, the stone inglenook sits in complete contrast to the sleek, white modern kitchen yet the two work perfectly together. 

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.