What Are the Different Types of Fireplace Decor?

Jessica Ellis

Choosing the right fireplace decor can help turn a boring house space into a visual centerpiece of color and style. Fireplace decor tends to center around three distinct areas: the mantel, the hearth, and the fireplace itself. Some decor ideas go even further, incorporating the finish of the fireplace and chimney into the design concept.

A fire burning in a fireplace.
A fire burning in a fireplace.

The mantel and surrounding wall space may be the most important area for fireplace decor. Framed photographs of the family can be a wonderful way to turn a plain mantel into a personalized space. Paintings or mirrors hung just above the mantel can draw attention to the entire display, serving as a primary focus point. Flowers, vases, and draped greenery can add a more naturalistic tone to to fireplace decor, making the area seem warm, lush, and inviting. A good way to enhance the light-bearing properties of a fireplace is to use the mantel for a display of candles, creating a multi-level light source.

The hearth is the ground space surrounding a fireplace, and is an excellent place to add some fireplace decor. Traditionally, fireplace tools, such as pokers, are kept on the hearth. The area can be enhanced with a decorative fire guard, which helps reduce the risk of runaway sparks while also adding an artistic touch. Wrought iron screens fit in well with shabby chic, Victorian, or California arts and crafts design styles. More modern glass and metal fire screens can complement streamlined, clean decor styles.

Since many regions aren't chilly enough to require a fire in the hearth all year round, fireplace decor can move into the actual fireplace to keep the space useful during warmer months. One popular type of fireplace decor is the candle garden, in which several candles of varying heights are placed inside the fireplace to allow it to provide light without additional heat. A fireplace can also be an interesting site for indoor, shade-loving plants; consider setting several on ground level and terraced pedestals to create a waterfall of lush greens. A large vase can also be placed in the center of the fireplace, turning it into an unusual niche for flower arrangements instead of a heat source.

Fireplace decor can also involve the finish of the fireplace itself. Some options for refinishing include adding a stone or brick veneer or painting the existing finish to match room colors. More complex finishes might include intricate tiling, creating Mediterranean mosaics, Moroccan or Dutch-inspired tile displays, or modern, monochromatic looks. If refinishing is part of a decor plan, it may be helpful to consult with a professional to ensure that structural security is not endangered in the process.

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