How can I pimp out my fireplace?

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trin and patton and tv fireplace and oilers jersey and hudsucker proxy

Hard not to love a question that’s short and sweet, yeah?

Hi guys,

I was wondering what other people have done to make their fireplaces and mantlepieces awesome?


We’ve just been attacking reader questions, so I’m excited to see what y’all have got. What have you done to make a hearth inviting, impressive or just plain awesome?

Comments on How can I pimp out my fireplace?

  1. If your a crafty kind of person (and own the fireplace) you could try tiling, some really awesome colours or eastern earthy tones can do wonders to make a fireplace pop.

    You could also put ornaments either side of it, arty pieces you really love to bracket the focus. My friends mom apparently has a love of giant animals, so she has a pig and a cockerel – yep you guessed it, lots of jokes about giant cocks were told!

    Although it more for the holiday, I used to hand beads, of different colours on the mantle with candles and wreaths for Christmas time and it always gave it a Victorian oldy feel which was nice with mince pies and whisky 🙂

  2. First thing you need to do is paint it the right color! Make the mantle pop or disappear as you wish. We chose shiny black over our butter yellow for maximum impact. You can paint brick as well, but ask the landlord first.
    During summer, I put 5 big candles instead of lighting a fire, it puts a great ambiance into the room.

    Here’s what we did on ours:

  3. i can’t give you good advice w/o seeing it. upload a pic & reply in a link, please.

    i’ve done a tone of things to mine, stacks of books, candles, plants, but it really depends on the fireplace.

  4. Ooo. These ideas make me wish I had a fireplace! But I’ve seen a lot of cool stuff done to the nonfunctional fireplaces that populate NYC apartments. Going on the assumption that it’s nonfunctional:
    1. Hanging a brightly colored paper lanterns and/or painting it a bright color.
    2. Someone above said wine bottles with candles (gives it a very medieval feel!)
    3. books and/or book shelves
    4. flowers or plants or a terrarium. You can even find hanging terrariums!
    5. And because I’m a cat lady, I’ve heard of small apartment owners hiding their cat box behind a screen in their fireplace.

  5. I made pumpkins with old jack o’ lantern stems and scraps of velvet and grouped them beside the fireplace. But I have to move them on the odd occasion I want to use it.

  6. I did the same thing when I used to have a fireplace and mantle as I do now with no fireplace and a shelf on the wall in the mantles place- I use it as the main decorating area of the house. I change it every couple of months depending on the season or holiday. I always theme them and use basic visual merchandising and design principles for display. It’s so much fun and I get compliments all the time. I collect a lot of little things from around the house to put into the displays so I’m rarely buying anything new for them (although I already own a lot of little decorative items and decorations).

  7. well, i built our fireplace by myself, which makes it automatically awesome. =)

    i’ve seen people use non-functional fireplaces (where the flue was close up, but the fire space not bricked over) as a little nook for wine storage, which looked really cool. all the other suggestions — candles, mirrors, art around it, etc — also look great.

  8. My friend’s mom keeps a huge, fancy, faux wrought iron candelabra in her fireplace. She hates the smell of burning wood, but they still get a nice, pretty glow from that area.

    My last apartment had a small, sad-looking gas fireplace with a huge mirror above it, all sticking out of the main wall. Looked like a sore thumb. We got a pair of tall IKEA book shelves (fancy-ish ones that nobody believed came from Ikea, which I think they don’t sell anymore) that fit perfectly on either side, so the books were flush with the mirror. Think Ariel’s living room bookshelf, except with a giant ceiling-height mirror in the middle and a fireplace at the bottom of that. It made the place very cozy, like a private library. Of course, whether or not that will work in your home depends on the fireplace, room, decor, architecture etc.

  9. We basically put all our nerd paraphernalia on our mantle. Observe:

    The metal lithographed signs were bought from Half Price Books and are some of my favorite things. My husband loves Rubik’s Cubes and is scary good at solving them so all our cubes are up there. Empty bottle of Leninade, because it amused us greatly; a handful of very personally meaningful Pokemon and Trigun merchandise; our brain cell from ThinkGeek; my ac-cow-ntant; and the pink unicorn I got for Christmas for putting “I ALSO WANT A PONY (make it pink, maybe a unicorn. I’m thinking big this Christmas!)” on my Christmas list. (One of many unicorn-related things I got last year — teach me for being flip!)

    And of course, the McD’s MLP figures. My husband may be a bigger MLP:FiM geek than I am. This is why I love him.

  10. A fireplace screen can go a long way in making your fireplace look awesome. They come in so many different styles, so you can def. find one you like. We found ours on craigslist for like $25.

    Our fireplace is functional but horrendously ugly, so we got the screen, and I also put some shells, candles (which I move if it’s actually going) and rocks around it on the hearth to add some visual interest.

    We sadly have no mantle, but my mother’s mantle is full of lovely little art pieces from travels and above it is a South American art quilt that has this really cool agricultural scene.

    I also always really liked the look of leather/fabric bound vintage (or at least vintage looking) books on the mantle. You can usually find cool looking ones at thrift shops. Interspersing the books with little candles and figurines and stuff would be cool.

  11. It’s hard to say without seeing what kind of fireplace you have. For the mantle, you could make it a place to display a collection of things you love: family photos, trinkets and figurines, art, cool nature finds, whatever. Also, I think it helps to vary the scale of things on your mantle. Some variety in size will add visual interest and move the eye from piece to piece.

    Here’s my fireplace/mantle right now:

    We were super lucky, because the previous owners left the fireplace screen when they moved. Score! I love having one because it’s pretty and it also keeps the cats out of the fireplace. Part of me wants to make it more funky and fun, but I haven’t decided how yet. The big framed picture is one of my engagement pictures that we used at our wedding, the small picture is a framed card my mother-in-law sent, and the books are there because I’ve run out of bookshelf space. 🙂 And there’s our fat cat, Jack, sleeping in the recliner.

  12. One thing we wanted to do but probably won’t is to have a big like limestone rough-hewn raised hearth, do the surround in plates of copper, and have our dark-stained oak mantel from the junk store. Feel free to use this idea if it suits you!

  13. When we moved into our house we took out a very dated gas-fire, blocked up the chimney and plastered it until we could make our minds up what we wanted/could afford a fireplace.
    Then we were given a second-hand fish tank from a friend who’d left it in direct sunlight so it went green and manky- after a good scrub it sits in the fireplace, the light gives the room a warm glow and it’s very therapeutic.

  14. If you don’t like using it.
    Turn it upside down – Fire on top, decor inside. Cover the mantle with a ton of different sized pillar candles and votives and fill with candles. Then put some big decor pieces inside – maybe a buddha, CD/DVD holder,big glass vases (if you can’t afford the real thing -marshalls and ross have cool ones) or as other OBB girls suggested, wine rack.

  15. We have a corner fireplace that we decorated with a large, round, ornate clock, a couple tall paintings and family photos. I also use this space to play up holidays with banners, garland, pumpkins, stuffed animals, and plants.

  16. I redid my fireplace last year. This is the post I wrote about the rehab.

    My dog claimed the fireplace as his own when we moved in, so it’s never been functional. His argument was that we live in Houston so he’ d use it more than I would. He was right. There are candles inside from pier 1 and dog pillows on the hearth in front.

    When I moved in nine years ago, the disco fireplace was the only thing I wanted to change about my house. I finally got around to it last year.

  17. Our mantle is over an ugly-ass old gas thing surrounded by stone against a brown wall, sided by yellow curtains. The mantle itself is an olive green. (don’t ask me what they were thinking – its freaking weird). As its a rental, theres not much we could do about it. So I got out all my art and funky pieces and found items that made it look less weird. We ended up with a big antique tea tray in a really dark stain (one of my favourite things EVER) in the middle of the mantle standing up against the wall, with our engagement photo on one side (us at movie world with bugs and sylvester!), an african artwork made of butterfly wings (they were NOT killed for the art!) on the other, and my indian elephant statues partnered with a pair of rabbits wearing 1900s farming gear (AWESOME thrift find).

    Now it looks like its MEANT to be weird!

  18. Ok, I will totally post a picture soon (I actually want to submit my house, I just haven’t gotten around to it) – I would go take one now but we’re in the middle of painting the dining room and we took everything off the mantles and walls so it didn’t get ruined. =/

    Anywho, we have a gorgeous 150+ year old house with a functioning brick fireplace. My mom does seasonal things with vintage decorations, a lot of which have been passed down through the family, on the mantles. There are just a lot of vintage knickknacks on display there. Above the mantle place, we have – shelves? Not really shelves, but these little display posts that have vintage teacups on them. For a while we had these green man sculptures displayed on either side (something similar to this:, but one fell off and we need to fix it and figure out a better way to attach them. I am also working on painting wooden plaques with each of our family tartans to hang on either side. So we’d have the green men probably in the bottom two corners, and the plaques in the top two corners.

    And can I just say, when I was little I used to *love* to play Cinderella by boiling water in a tea kettle, pouring it on the fireplace, and scrubbing it. =D

  19. Hi,

    The last place I lived was a big modern apartment (ie- Boring) so to add some warmth and light I made a spinning lampshade like the childrens ones below but with flame designs and colours. when it was on it would project warm moving light onto the surroundings. It works with any bulb that gives off a little heat and any basic lamp fitting. I wish I still had it but it didnt survive 3 country moves in 10 months…

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