Our pick of the best modern fireplace ideas to add wow-factor to your home

timber cladding on double height fireplace with eames chair
(Image credit: Jonathan Gooch c/o Remagination)

Modern fireplace ideas are perfect for blending the traditional trend of a warm and cosy focal point in a living or sitting room with contemporary design and stylings, frequently in new open-plan layouts. 

Using fireplace ideas will help you to hone in on which colours, shapes and materials you respond to and what will go well in your modern home. Plus, we've gathered helpful advice from interior designers, industry experts and architects to provide the tools for you to create the perfect contemporary fireplace. 

"Colour blocking is a hugely popular trend this year — so why not incorporate them into your fireplace and choice of wood burner?," suggests Jon Butterworth, director at Arada Stoves. "As consumers look to more mood enhancing interior schemes, add a pop of colour to your fireplace via colourful tiles, a combination of bright paint colours as the mantelpiece or the addition of a beautifully bold, colourful stove. 

"A bright fireplace can make a great impact in a room as it is usually a strong focal point anyway, so create something striking and inject fun into your home."

"The Hygge trend has also meant that people want to be able to enjoy viewing the fire itself too, which is why the ability to view the flames has become more of a draw for customers," adds Declan Kingsley-Walsh, MD at Morsø. "Glass panels are now bigger and wider so one can really enjoy the beauty of a log fire."

1. Add warmth to contemporary spaces

kitchen island with view of stone fireplace inset into wall

(Image credit: Lundhs Real Stone)

"Frank Lloyd Wright said that the hearth is the psychological centre of the home," says architect David Nossiter. And he is right. We have gathered around fires and fireplaces for centuries as a place of community and comfort. 

Position your fireplace in the room you will use it most, be that in a traditional snug, or an open-plan kitchen which acts as the heart of the home. 

"If you have a large living room with a fireplace within it, think about creating an intimate warm restful corner," advises David Nossiter. "Be mindful too that fire making creates soot. Consider extending the hearth to contain ashes, leaves and other debris. It is wise to have access to the external fuel store without traipsing through the whole house — and locate a window nearby for rapid ventilation"

2. Rethink a chimney breast

vaulted living room space with large fire in centre

(Image credit: Sofa.com)

Contemporary chimney breast ideas should go hand in hand with your fireplace design — even if that means concealing it in a wall for a sleek and minimalist style. 

"Insert stoves can be fitted flush into a wall, a dividing wall or an old fireplace opening which makes quite the statement," Morsø's Declan Kingsley-Walsh explains. "The living room is by far the most common room in the home, as we tend to spend most of our time there. An insert stove instantly makes a room cosier, whether it be a large or small space, and becomes a statement piece to the room." 

This living room in a large barn conversion utilises an oversized chimney breast with insert stove to partition spaces and create cosier zones. 

3. Use a 180° fireplace to cater to open-plan spaces

open plan dining and living room split by corner gas fireplace

(Image credit: Richard Kiely)

Resulting from the popularity of open-plan, contemporary fireplace designs are available to suit pretty much any layout. During the design phase of your project, discuss with your architect and supplier how you will interact with the spaces to find a style that will suit your lifestyle. 

For instance, in this open plan dining/games/living area, the fireplace strategically has three sides so no matter where the family are the enchanting flames are visible. 

Installing a gas or bioethanol fireplace like this one also provides cleaner burning/heating than solid-wood burners and looks incredibly modern with flames which can follow the window line. 

4. Give a modern rustic spin to a traditional inglenook

modern living room with rustic inglenook fireplace painted blue

(Image credit: Stuart Cox)

If your home already features a fireplace, but the style is too traditional for your taste, modernise using various tricks to bring the design up to date. 

"Traditional fireplaces will often have beautiful mouldings or similar detailing so bring them up-to-date with a pop of bright colour through mantlepieces accessories such as vases or art, paired with colourful or patterned tiles around the hearth," suggests Ann Marie Cousins, founder of AMC Design

Here, opening up a fireplace which had been closed and concealed has provided the snug with a focal point, while a modern rustic style was introduced using a new reclaimed oak beam for the inglenook and a fresh, modern colour treatment. 

5. Use modern tiles to cover a dated fireplace

black and white modern tiles on chimney breast with shelves either side

(Image credit: Walls and Floors)

Tiled fireplace ideas are a fantastic way to modernise a dated or tired fireplace that lacks pizazz. Quick, simple and cost-effective to undertake, tiling the feature will further draw the eye and create a textural change within a contemporary space. 

Choose tiles which are either colourful or have an interesting pattern to them — if your room is blessed with plenty of natural light, crackle glaze tiles create a dreamy effect throughout the day. 

In this monochromatic living room, fireplace alcove ideas have been included in the design (taking advantage of handy and often wasted spaces either side of the chimney), while matt-effect pattered tiles give the fireplace a new lease of life. 

6. Choose a double-sided fireplace for multiple rooms

modern white living room with brick chimney breast and double sided stove

(Image credit: Siobham Doran)

If adding an extension to the exterior wall where an existing fireplace is positioned, open up the other side and add a double-sided log burning stove. The effect doesn't just look fantastic, but ensures multiple rooms benefit from the addition. 

Exposed brick fireplace ideas like this one are also a fantastic way to add a new material into a modern interior design scheme. 

7. Install a minimalist hearth for a modern stove

wood clad living room with picture window and stove

(Image credit: Simon Maxwell)

Many homeowners are eschewing traditional fireplaces for stoves with exposed flues in living areas. 

"Stoves give the illusion of an eye-catching 'window of fire', so opt for a minimalist approach to styling to let the fire take centre stage," advises Morsø's Declan Kingsley-Walsh. 

Here, a simple slate fireplace hearth idea has been implemented alongside the modern timber cladding in a shape reminiscent of the mid-century furniture surrounding it. It is simple, elegant and effortlessly stylish.

8. Take a fireplace outside 

outdoor seating area with modern rendered fireplace

(Image credit: Schiedel)

Outdoor living has really ramped up in the last few years, with outdoor sofa, dining sets and outdoor kitchen becoming more popular. The style can be taken one step further by taking the concept of an outdoor firepit and creating a fully outside fireplace. 

Not only does it keep the fire contained, but also allows for cooking and a real indoor-outdoor feel. 

9. Inject on-trend colours into a period-style fireplace

traditional fireplace in living room redecorated with patterned wall paper and green mantle

(Image credit: Arada Stoves)

If you think you're stuck with a traditional fireplace that you don't want to (or can't) rip out then turn to interior design trends to update and modernise the style to something which will suit your taste more. 

From painting to contemporary mantlepiece ideas, period details can look great when juxtaposed with bold colours and modern finishing touches. 

This home has also taken it one step further by installing a bright pop of colour in the form of a small stove — the contrast looks incredible and inviting. 

10. Remodel an existing fireplace for the 21st century

timber cladding on double height fireplace with eames chair

(Image credit: Jonathan Gooch c/o Remagination)

During a '70s home transformation, this fireplace was completely remodelled to suit the new home layout and modern style. 

"The fireplace is the only part of the original house that remains visible, and it was important for us to keep it," explains Jon Doughty, homeowner and founder of Remagination. "However, it’s original form was dwarfed by the new space around it, so we gave it much more scale with the black surround and mantle, and then set this into the cedar-clad timber wall which wraps around into the living areas to each side and joins all the open plan spaces together. 

"Our layout concept for the project provided us with this central double height atrium space, that acts as the hub of the house. The cedar cladding, set vertically, allows us to stretch that feeling of height further, and link the two floors. 

"The fireplace is the central feature in there and was needed to create a focus for the space, and acts as an anchor for a sitting area. It’s offset with Tom Dixon lighting, various knick knacks, plants and furniture pieces and is lit during the day by a huge skylight overhead."

11. Design a modern stove unit

vaulted open plan kitchen and living room with exposed beams and modern stove unit

(Image credit: David Barbour)

One decision to make before creating a fireplace is weighing up open fires vs log burners. While a open fires tend to be fixed to a wall (or at least a partition), trends in stoves have meant that a fireplace can be transported anywhere in a room to fulfill various functions. 

Here, the stove unit includes log store ideas, the stove and a bookcase on the other side. 

"Consumers are certainly viewing their stoves as a focal point for their home as much as an efficient way to heat it," explains Declan Kingsley-Walsh from Morsø. "That’s why more contemporary styled stoves are becoming more popular — those with cylindrical, curved shapes and with the option to be either wall mounted or raised on a simple pedestal."

How do I modernise a fireplace?

"While fireplaces and wood burners are often more traditional in their design, modernise it by adding pops of colour and clean silhouettes," suggests Jon Butterworth, director at Arada Stoves. 

"A modern stove design with a large viewing window can instantly elevate the look of a more classic fireplace due to its sleek shape and prominent use of glass. 

"Alternatively, if you want to remain with a more traditional stove design, opt for a bright colour instead like pink or yellow. This will certainly add interest, without detracting from its authentic charm."

fireplace and chimney clad with painted timber

(Image credit: Cox & Cox)

How can I make my fireplace beautiful?

Consider updating the mantle or hearth for a relatively easy way to make an existing fireplace look more beautiful and appealing. Tiling the fireplace surround is also a great way to implement your personal style and individuality on a fairly basic design. 

Amy Reeves

Assistant Editor Amy began working for Homebuilding & Renovating in 2018. She has an interest in sustainable building methods and always has her eye on the latest design ideas. Amy has interviewed countless self builders, renovators and extenders about their experiences for Homebuilding & Renovating magazine. She is currently renovating a mid-century home, together with her partner, on a DIY basis, and has recently fitted her own kitchen.