Ideas to Help the Naturally Ugly Fireplace

Realtors will tell you that fireplaces are a major bonus in desirable homes. Which I can absolutely believe if the fireplace is beautifully framed and cozy and all things warm and flame-cracklingly peaceful. However, it’s a harder bit to swallow if you’re staring at a room that seems blighted by an ugly, outdated hole in the wall that someone, somehow, deemed to be a “fireplace.”

Not to fear, though! There are several things you can do to help your fireplace transform from something you try to hide into something you invite people over specifically to see. Here are some ideas:

Change out the fireplace surround altogether.

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Use slate (or similar) tiles, framed by substantial chunky mouldings, to create a grand, impressive fireplace focal point. To create a sense of unity, frame out whatever is mounted above the fireplace (in this case a flat screen, although it could also be a mirror or artwork) in a similar style. This entire look, from the luxurious baseboards all the way up to the impressive top mouldings, makes a huge statement and likely changes the vibe of the entire room.

Add a wood mantel.

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A floor-to-ceiling stone (or brick) fireplace with no horizontal mantel to break up the space looks both overwhelming and, ironically, embarrassingly incomplete. So add a wood mantel! The size and scale and detail of the mantel will likely vary on your fireplace, your taste, and the rest of the room. A wooden mantel like this one provides warmth, spatial definition, and a place to showcase treasures…all at the same time.

Paint it white.

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While there is definitely something to be said for the charm of original brickwork, sometimes it just comes across as dingy and tired rather than industrial and chic. If this is the case with your fireplace, consider coating the whole thing with a fresh coat of white. In this photo, the fireback bricks are kept unpainted, which adds a pleasing rustic-vintage visual contrast (and maybe safety as well). The fireplace transforms from being an eyesore to being like a work of art…in a fantastically chunky white frame.

Frame it in natural stone (or brick) and flank with built-in bookcases.

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This adds dignity and substance to a smallish fireplace that would otherwise be overpowered by a large room. Because the room itself is all white here, textural details are huge, which is why a textured stone fireplace surround was an excellent choice. Additionally, the mounted flat-screen TV helps to “complete” the fireplace by bringing the visual focus all the way to the ceiling…and those beautiful box beams.

Add artwork and keep things simple.

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A fireplace really doesn’t get more traditional than a red brick surround. Rather than compete with that, these homeowners instead amped up the charm of the brick and left it alone, simply adding a large piece of nature-focused art. The rest of the room is painted a very light grey (or white) and is decorated in a similar clean-lined vein. The end result is a lovely blend of traditional and contemporary aesthetics.