The fireplace is one of the most important parts of your living room and your home. When it comes to designing the space around your mantel, you don’t have to settle for the drab and boring. Why not look back to the past, or into the future for inspiration? Check out these 8 fireplace ideas for transforming your mantelpiece into a comment-worthy feature of your home.
The fireplace at Fountainbleu, France is a perfect example of a classical mantelpiece. Stretching from ceiling to floor, it’s framed by a pair of satyrs and crowned by vines and the royal symbol of France, the fleur-de-lis. The trim is gold, matching the moulding of the room, and the hearth itself is accessed by a raised dais.
You don’t have to have a king’s budget to go classical with the fireplace design. Plenty of companies offer classically themed mantelpieces that have traditional elements like Greco-Roman columns, scrolling, or fluting.
While you may not have an epically-sized pair of mythical beasts book-ending the flames, you could get some classical decor like a bust, candles, porcelain statuettes to place on top of the mantle. Frame the fireplace with classical art, throw some moulding up into the corners of the room, and you’ve got yourself a very classical looking hearth.
If your home has darker, earthier tones, but you still want a traditional look, a medieval style of hearth might suit you best. In Medieval times, the fireplace was used for light, warmth, and cooking, so they often looked like portals into a room of fire, rather than just a small space for flames.
You don’t have to turn your fireplace into the one you can see at the Castle of Amboise, although that one is pretty cool, looking like a stone oven hood crowned by some Medieval heraldry.
Stonework, dark woods, and well selected decorative materials like posters, paintings, or wall tapestries can give your fireplace that medieval look.
If you have an outdoor space or even an indoor space that can be covered by a hood and chimney, you might consider a centralized hearth like some of those designed by American Architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who used modern design to seamlessly blend interior and exterior spaces.
Wright’s spaces often wrapped around the fireplace, which could radiate heat to the rest of the home. A prime example of his use of stone, wood, and other natural materials is found at the Wingspread House in Racine, Wisconsin, where the materials and floor plan are layered around a centralized fireplace.
You don’t have to hire a premier architect to take advantage of this style. Plenty of contractors and masons can build a centralized fireplace between, say, your kitchen and living room. If you have an outdoor space, you could also install some sort of pit or brick-oven, which can also function as a place to bake and cook during outdoor entertaining.
Warped wood, beach glass, and other materials washed by sea and sun are part and parcel of nautically-themed architecture. You could look for a mantel that has a sand (or ocean) blasted look, which could look especially pleasing if it matches the nautical decor of your living space.
Additional touches like pictures of ships, a captain’s wheel, or treasures from the sea (like shells) can augment the appearance of your nautical mantelpiece to turn your living room into the cabin of a commodore. If you really want to look pirate-like, put a ship in a bottle on top of the mantle, and maybe some globes and maps scattered throughout the room.
Even if you don’t want to redo the fireplace with natural materials, you can transform your already extant materials into a nautical masterpiece with coastal touches.
While traditional fireplace materials of stone, brick, and wood are all great, you may prefer to do something a bit more futuristic. You might like the look of an art deco fireplace. It’s a look that’s more common in commercial buildings, and especially in certain areas like New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, but it can certainly be used in residential interiors as well.
Art Deco design is characterized by clean, aeronautical lines, geometric forms, and strong but stately colors. Since the look is not so common, you’re sure to have a conversation-starting fireplace if you go with that look, but you may need a specialized company to do the installation.
You’ll get a really unique look if the fireplace blends seamlessly into the wall, without any kind of celebration or shift. If you can afford to panel the wall with marble, stone, or brick, you can really just leave the fireplace as is without any kind of mantel or frame around it, and still create an incredibly pleasing placement of the hearth.
This look especially plays well into the idea of less is more, so if your home has a more modern theme, or you’re looking to transform one wall of the living space into an accent wall that contrasts against the other parts of the room (say, like built-in bookshelves), this one-and-done material concept can look really cool.
Nothing is as avant-garde as breaking the mold entirely. Why not just do away with the traditional notions of what a fireplace should or shouldn’t look like and embrace something truly original, like this look, which stretches along the floor?
If the idea of flames dancing near the wood are is a little too far for you, you can get a similar-looking fireplace installed in the wall. These horizontal glass pieces look great, blend seamlessly into the already extant design of the house, and usually don’t require much in the way of ventilation or constructing a flue.
Southwest fireplaces are truly unique, not only in terms of design but in terms of structure. Unlike their East Coast counterparts, southwestern fireplaces were often built into the adobe structure of the home, in order to facilitate some radiant heat (the same was true for colonial hearthstones, but they tended to be made of a separate material, and not part and parcel of the wall).
A southwestern-looking hearth, especially in the corner of your living room, will turn it into a cozy little sweat lodge or kiva. Try painting the edges around the fireplace with earthy tones and geometric patterns, and hanging some southwestern hallmarks up on the wall, like masks, animal skulls, or Native American artifacts.
This look goes best with stucco walls that mimic the mud-based adobe structures of the Southwest. Complimentary materials in the floor and ceiling would include red tile and natural woods, all in earthier tones. For an even more unique look, you could have built-in benches or additional alcoves to showcase pottery.
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