The modern fireplace is the natural successor of its historical predecessor. You don’t have to look hard for modern fireplace ideas with chic and cozy vibes.
The home fireplace has become a style point rather than a feature to be taken for granted. Their purpose hasn’t changed, but their aesthetics and ambiance have evolved.
Modern fireplaces can have a wide range of different designs and styles. Before we get into that though we should discuss some of the basics first.
How To Choose The Right Modern Fireplace Surround
Both the surround and the mantel are decorative elements that surround the actual fireplace. They create a frame around it and give it context and they often play a decorative role.
There are numerous factors to take into consideration when choosing either one of these.
This is mostly a matter of personal preference. Modern fireplace designs can vary quite a bit and some prefer their fireplace surround to look grand and imposing while others go for a minimalistic approach.
There are of course a few technical details to keep in mind here such as the width of the chimney breast which can dictate what the approximate size of the surround and mantel should be.
If you’re having doubts about the size of your fireplace surround or mantel for aesthetic reasons, consider the size of the room that the fireplace is in. Always make these sorts of decisions based on context. A large surround will look out of place in a small room even if it’s otherwise very beautiful and vice versa.
Once again, this is a matter of personal preference perhaps even more so than the size. There’s many different materials that you could be choosing from for your fireplace surround and mantel and each has its own unique characteristics.
- Wood for example adds warmth to the space around it and is very versatile. Wooden fireplace surrounds and mantel is thus very popular and you can find them in a wide range of styles and sizes which gives you more options.
- Limestone is another common material used on fireplace surrounds and modern fireplace mantels. There are a few variations to choose from such as Portuguese limestone which is a beautiful natural stone with a matt finish and an off-white color with grey veins. Agean Limestone is whiter and has no veins which makes them better for minimalistic interiors.
- Marble is another beautiful material used on mid-century modern fireplaces and mantels of all styles. Carrara marble has a beautiful bluish-gray color with darker veins. There’s also micro marble which is made of crushed marble and resin and comes in a variety of colors.
- Black granite is great if you prefer modern fireplace designs that look dramatic and imposing or if you want the fireplace surround or mantel to contrast with the lighter-colored surrounding surfaces like the walls or the furniture.
The Common Types Of Fireplaces
If you’re just starting to conceptualize what your fireplace will be like, you should settle on a type before actually going into the details about style, mantels, surrounds, and everything else.
These are some common fireplace types you could be choosing from:
A gas fireplace is fairly similar to a more traditional wood-burning fireplace but with the obvious distinction that the flame is produced by gas.
These fireplaces produce a small amount of smoke and they require a proper venting system. There are two main options to consider if you want a modern gas fireplace: gas logs and gas inserts.
- Gas logs are designed to look like real wood logs but they’re typically made of ceramic. They mimic the look of real wood logs with all the warmth that comes with them but they’re more manageable and a lot less messy.
- Gas inserts are installed into existing fireplaces and their role is to replace wood-burning fireplaces and to provide a more practical, cleaner and maintenance-free alternative.
An electric fireplace is heather that mimics a fireplace. It has many benefits which make it a preferable alternative to gas or to traditional wood-burning fireplaces.
It’s very low-maintenance, easy to clean, and generally a lot simpler and safer than other fireplace types. An electric fireplace can thus be modeled and stylized in a lot of different and unique ways.
This is the classic fireplace that a lot of us are most familiar with. Its uniqueness comes from the crackling of the wood logs and the scent of burnt wood which you simply can’t replicate with other types of fireplaces.
There’s no electricity required to use a wood-burning fireplace but you do need logs. Also, most wood-burning fireplaces tend to have a rustic or traditional aesthetic.
An outdoor fireplace can be of several different types. It can be electric or it can use gas or wood as a fuel source and so on.
Compared to an indoor fireplace, an outdoor one is usually larger in size and less expensive. Because it sits outside it also needs to be very durable and to be able to withstand the weather conditions throughout the year. Outdoor fireplaces also need a chimney cap.
How High Should A Mantel Be Placed?
Modern fireplace mantels come in all sorts of different materials and sizes and the same goes for other styles as well.
Most modern fireplace ideas and designs include a mantel so naturally, a question arises: how high should the mantel be? There are a few different ways in which this can be determined.
Proportional to the ceiling height
One way to measure the height at which a fireplace mantel should be is based on the height of the ceiling. This ensures that the mantel is proportional to the room and fits within the context of the space around it. For a ceiling height of 9 feet, the mantel should be placed 54”-56” from the floor. That leaves plenty of space above for decorations.
Proportional to the firebox
Another option is to measure the height of the mantel from the top of the firebox. The most important thing to keep in mind, in this case, is not to have the mantel too close to the firebox because it can become a fire hazard. Place the mantel at least 12” above the firebox to keep it away from the flames.
Is it OK to put a TV above the fireplace?
This is a very commonly asked question and the reason for this is because most fireplaces are placed in front of a living room sofa and the wall space above them is ideal for hanging a TV for optimal viewing experience.
But is it OK to have a TV placed directly above the fireplace or is this something you should avoid at all cost?
The short answer to this question is both yes and no. In other words, it depends on the situation.
- Enough heat from the fireplace can damage the TV
This is something to keep in mind especially if you have a gas or wood-burning fireplace. These can generate quite a lot of heat and as the heat rises the area directly above the fireplace is exposed to it. This can have negative effects of a TV or any other electronics that are placed in the vicinity of the fireplace.
- Electric fireplaces are less damaging
Because electric fireplaces don’t produce as much heat as the gas or wood ones, you might be able to get away with having a TV placed directly above the fireplace without any issues. This is especially true if the fireplace is only for ambiance and barely produces any heat at all. In any case, it’s best to measure the temperature by placing a thermostat above the fireplace.
- How to check the temperature
The best way to be sure that it’s safe to place a TV above the fireplace is to first measure the temperature in that spot. To do this you can either use a thermostat or a thermometer. Tape the thermometer to the wall in the approximate center of where you want your TV to be placed, then start the fireplace and let it run for a few hours.
Check the thermometer and if it’s close to or over 100 degrees Fahrenheit this clearly means it’s not safe to have a TV there. If it’s below you could theoretically have a modern fireplace TV wall.
- Placing a TV over the fireplace can void its warranty
Some TV manufacturers specifically mention that the act of mounting the TV over a fireplace voids the warranty, even if there’s actually no heat damage. Be careful t read the fine print before making a final decision regarding the placement of your TV.
- The TV could be too high and uncomfortable to watch
At the end of the day, even if it turns out it’s safe for you to mount the TV above the fireplace you might still decide not to do it for a very simple reason: the TV would be too high up and it would be uncomfortable to watch it. Make sure you place the TV at a comfortable height so you don’t have to bend or stretch your neck when you’re sitting on the sofa looking at it.
How high should a TV be mounted above a fireplace?
The ideal height of a TV should be measured based on where and how you’ll be sitting while watching it.
It’s always context-dependent so the best way to ensure you’re making the right decision is to use a tape measure and your own intuition. There are however a few things to keep in mind.
The ideal height for standard living room seating
As a general rule, you should measure this so the TV is centered around your eye level when you’re sitting on the sofa. If the sofa is 18” high for example, you should position the TV 42” on center from the floor. Measure this based on the height of the family members and those usually watching the TV and reach a consensus that creates a comfortable viewing experience for everyone.
The ideal height for a TV above the fireplace
If you want to mount the TV above the fireplace, calculate its placement in relation to the mantel. If the fireplace as a whole is less than 4 feet tall, position the TV about 12” above the mantel. If the fireplace is taller then mount the TV 6” above the fireplace. Of course, these measurements can vary and should also take into consideration the optimal viewing angle and the experience as a whole. There’s also the possibility of a modern TV stand with a built-in fireplace in which case everything changes.
The ideal height for bar seating
It’s also common to have a TV in a home bar. In this case, you’d be viewing the TV while seated on a barstool so measure the height based on that. This typically means the TV should be placed 48”-53” on center from the floor.
Modern Fireplace Ideas That Add Value To Your House
With all the possible design variations modern fireplaces can have, the number of styles and ideas that you can choose from is limitless.
Seeking inspiration in existing interiors and the work of various designers is often a good way to narrow down one’s personal preferences.
A perfect hanging fireplace focal point
There’s two beautiful focal points in this lounge area. One is the modern fireplace hanging from the ceiling at the center of the room and the other is the gorgeous panoramic view unfolding in the distance.
You can enjoy this view at the Vineyard Hotel in Portugal designed by Maria João Andrade.
Modern Steel fireplace surround and Decorative logs
Even if a modern gas fireplace or an electric one doesn’t actually use wood as a fuel source you might still want to use logs as decorations.
An idea is to create a firewood storage niche either below or next to the fireplace. Check out this beautiful design by ARRCC for inspiration.
A modern wood-burning fireplace can fit beautifully in a space that also has a visible industrial vibe. A beautiful example is this studio interior in the United Kingdom designed by Richard Parr Associates.
Fireplace With a Marble Surround
Marble is a timeless material that goes with lots of different styles. It also has many different uses in interior design. One of them is for a modern fireplace surround that’s chic and elegant. This lovely home interior from Montreal designed by la SHED is a nice example.
Flush with the wall
Sometimes there’s no point even thinking about a mantel because not all modern fireplaces have one. The one designed by Pitsou Kedem Architects for this beautiful penthouse in Tel Aviv is flush with the wall which gives it a very clean and modern aesthetic.
Green Colorful Fireplace Tiles
There’s a variety of different materials to choose from for your modern fireplace surround, including tiles which come in an infinity of colors, finishes and patterns. They’re really great if you want a fireplace surround that stands out, like the one chosen by Flaviano Capriotti for this stylish resort in Italy.
Fireplace room divider
Here the fireplace is a lovely companion for the reading nook but at the same time it acts as a room divider, separating this cozy reading area from the rest of the open floor plan. The design is done by studio designfunktion.
Symmetry on a grand scale
A fireplace introduces symmetry into a room’s design and decor. That’s because typically the fireplace is centered on a wall, whether we’re talking about a modern TV stand with a fireplace, a fireplace TV wall or a big fireplace with no TV at all.
This for instance is the lounge area designed by studio Mecanismo for the Akelarre Hotel in Spain.
Two-sided fireplaces go hand in hand with large open-plan spaces and modern and contemporary interiors. Most often we’re talking about gas or electric fireplaces with sleek and simple designs, like the one included here by studio Calaci & Bergher Architects.
The fireplace and the TV are slightly offset here which makes the design even more interesting.
Modern fireplace and TV wall combo
Mounting a TV above the fireplace is not typically advised but in the context of a design like this one the combo makes sense and looks gorgeous too.
Technically here the fireplace and the TV wall are separate structures, one being attached to the floor and the other to the ceiling. This is a design by Studio Tenca & Associati.
Corner firewood storage shelf
This modern fireplace and its adjacent wood storage nook are equally eye-catching. The wood storage shelf actually wraps around the outer corner and this makes it seem as if the fireplace itself is wider than it actually is. This is the interior design created by SKUPAJ ARHITEKTI for a house in Slovenia.
A massive fireplace surround
Without seeing the rest of the space and only looking at the fireplace, this design by JUMA architects would actually look quite rustic.
All the wood and the fact the fireplace has a massive surround with firewood storage nooks on either side make it an impressive focal point.
A modern fireplace is not always the main focal point of a room. Because it can be really small and sleek, it doesn’t necessarily stand out as much as a traditional fireplace. Here for instance there’s a very smooth transition between the fireplace and the platform which curves around the corner and doubles as a seat. It’s a design by studio Scenario Architecture.
A central fireplace placement
Fireplaces are rarely seen from multiple angles or sides. Double-sided modern fireplaces are quite common but this one can actually be seen from all four sides. It takes center stage in this lounge room designed by studio Plusdesign for Hotel de Rougemont in Switzerland.
Compact corner fireplace
You don’t need a lot of space for a fireplace, especially a modern one. A great example is this lovely midcentury modern fireplace that fits in the corner between two evenly-spaced windows in this lovely French home designed by studio 05AM Arquitectura.
Framed by beautiful views
Most often than not a fireplace is built into a solid wall that may or may not have windows. Here however the windows stretch from floor to ceiling and are the wall. This gives a really nice view to focus on in the distance while chilling in front of this fireplace. This is a design by JMV RESORT architectes.
Circular and cozy
Isn’t this the coziest room ever? It’s small and there’s not much going on in terms of furniture but it has a lot of charm and character and a lot of it has to do with the floor-to-ceiling fireplace in the center. It’s part of a project completed by Andrey Antonov in Russia and the fireplace is by Virtu studio.
A minimalist fireplace
Some modern fireplaces play a purely aesthetic role. A good example is this minimalist fireplace included by architect Cecconi Simone when designing the Art Shoppe Lofts in Toronto.
The minimalist fireplace surround emphasized the height of the ceiling and the openness of the space.
The way in which this modern fireplace was designed makes it seem as if the wall peels back and reveals a hidden nook that’s been there all along.
This is the IL CANTO DEL FUOCO fireplace by Antolio Lupi Design featured in a beautiful house interior by Nuca Studio.
Some fireplaces are designed to make a statement. That’s definitely the case in the Bella Vita Villa designed by studio Prototype Design Lab. This modern fireplace has the most magnificent surround made of weathered steel with perforated panels and branch-inspired cutouts. At the same time, what makes this fireplace special is that it’s an indoor-outdoor one.
A different kind of corner fireplace
This is probably not the corner fireplace you’d expect to see but it is one that makes perfect sense in a modern or contemporary interior design.
What’s cool about this design by CORREIA/RAGAZZI arquitectos is that it’s very space-efficient and simple.
This modern lake cottage in Canada designed by studio UUfie has a pitched roof and the fireplace surround actually mimics this shape, making it seem like there’s a mini house silhouette inside the house. There’s no fireplace mantel but there is a stylish firewood storage nook.
The pillar candles are not actually the only source of fire or heat this fireplace offers. They do however look really beautiful here when the fireplace is turned off.
It’s a lovely idea that you can use in your own home’s design. This particular interior is designed by architect Elias Kababie.
There’s a very clear distinction between an indoor fireplace and an outdoor one in the traditional sense of the term but not so much in modern and contemporary design where we have spaces like this one designed by studio Taller Aragonés.
A modern fireplace and TV wall
When we envision a modern fireplace and a TV mounted above it, it’s typically something like this. Notice that the TV is actually designed to fit inside the wall in a shallow nook carved out just for it.
Also, the width of the fireplace matches that of the TV. It’s subtle details like these that make this design by NORM ARCHITECTS so elegant.