Tips for Updating Your Fireplace
Most interior designers know that our eye is naturally drawn to the darkest area in a room. In most living spaces with a fireplace that’s going to be the unlit firebox. The fireplace is a commanding feature so you’ll want to keep it updated with your decor, even if you’re not using it. Here are some of the best tips for renewing this key component in your home.
Use stone tile
For a dramatically different look to your fireplace, update the fascia and mantle with stone tile. Pale tiles will add a classic, slightly lavish look, while hollows can be fitted with downlights and wood frames to highlight ornaments and create living artworks.
Cover up asymmetry with shelves and wall hangings
Some fireplaces appear off-centre, perhaps because of renovations or the addition (or removal) of a wall. You can help make your fireplace look more centered by cleverly placing wall hangings, paintings, and shelves near the fireplace. Combined with careful orientation of your furniture your fireplace now looks like a central and symmetrical feature of the space.
Reclaim it as a storage space
Updating your fireplace doesn’t mean you have to make it work. Seal up the flue and turn the pit into a storage area with wicker baskets to hold blankets, cushions and other cosy living room necessities. Depending on the size and depth of the fireplace you could also try placing a TV unit inside.
Your fireplace doesn’t have to be utilitarian either. Many upscale interior designs use it simply as an aesthetic centrepiece, placing a signature item in the firebox and framing it using the natural darkness and shape of the mantle.
Keep the flame alive
Traditional fireplaces that have already been retired can still be used to heat the room. Update with an electric fireplace or even arrange a candle set, look for different shapes and heights, to retain the warmth and comfort of having an actual fireplace in the living room, for a fraction of the effort.
Paint the brickwork
Some fireplaces have fascia made from less than flattering brickwork. While indoor brick can look amazing when done right, in some cases it can quickly become an aesthetic eyesore that clashes with your modern home. A relatively inexpensive update can be made by painting. A double coat of primer and a light hue of egg shell, ash or some other neutral tone will turn the unsightly brickwork into a beautifully textured feature area. Make sure the paint is easy to clean, and heat resistant if the fireplace is still in use.
Alternatively, you could choose to drywall or plaster over the brick and start with a blank canvas to do whatever you want with!
Add a mantle
Mantles and fascia can turn even the most uninteresting firelit area into a beautiful and elegant centrepiece. Custom mantles can be shaped and painted to fit the overall tone of your house. Darker colours like black communicate sophistication, while paler colours like cream create a more elegant feel. A stained wood mantle can add a classic touch when paired with stone tiles, or you can add texture to the mantle by layering exposed brickwork closer to the firebox.
Add an entertainment unit
If you have space above the firebox, a receded television and entertainment unit can be installed above the mantle. It’s especially useful for smaller rooms or ones with lots of windows where there isn’t much space to put a television. Just make sure there is the necessary heat shielding in place to stop the chimney from damaging or melting your flat screen.
Add some bookshelves
If there’s empty space either side of your fireplace, bookshelves can elevate and update your home design. Open shelves give you the opportunity to showcase your favourite books and ornaments, while closed shelves add structure and character to larger spaces.
If your fireplace has a mantle you can try closed shelves at the bottom and open shelves at the mantle level for consistency across the horizontal. Illuminate with downlights as a nice design touch or place a few lamps and reading chairs nearby to make the space cosy.
Paint the brass
Some enclosed fireplaces have brass bordered doors or screens to keep ash and cinders in the firebox. Unfortunately, brass is not exactly a versatile modern texture. A quick way to uplift the screen without going to the expense of buying a new one is to paint it black. Kylie M. Interiors outlines an easy 3 step process:
- Sand back the surface with fine grit sandpaper – this creates a rough surface for your new paint to adhere to.
- Spray thin coats of heat resistant spray primer – this needs to be applied carefully to avoid drips and uneven layers.
- Spray heat resistant paint – this needs to be suitable to high temperatures and can take up to three weeks to completely dry.
The key factor here is to ensure both primer and paint are heat resistant. If you’re not sure, look for BBQ paints, as they will fit the bill.
Don’t paint the firebox
It needs to be said – you should not paint the firebox if you plan on using the fireplace ever again. Heated paints will burn, release noxious chemicals and be a hazard to both your health and the safety of your home.