Simple Upgrades for Your Fireplace

Does your fireplace need a facelift? Check out these 20 ideas for updating your fireplace with easy-to-apply embellishments and simple-to-make constructions.

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    Add Substance

    Give your fireplace a natural look with this simple DIY project. Quartzite tiles reframe a fireplace and give it the look of stacked stone.

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    Cohesive Composition

    Built-in cabinetry anchors this fireplace, amplifying the structure's presence while making it appear as one part of a much larger composition. Brilliant blue paint firmly connects the different components, as do a number of architectural additions. Molding details on the upper section of the fireplace's paneled surround mirror the shape of the cabinets' paneled doors; the mantel (a piece of crown molding topped with a shelflike board) takes its cue from ceiling-set crown molding that underscores the connection of shelves, cabinets, and fireplace.

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    Modern Influences

    White paint gives a traditional brick fireplace a breezy lift that's complemented by a way-cool fire screen and a high-shine raised hearth. Look for a ready-made fire screen that makes the appropriate style statement; or create your own by priming, painting, and hinging together cut-to-size plywood panels. Boost the bright by installing mirrored surfacing or reflective glass tiles across the top of the hearth; finish the look by framing the hearth's face with wood boards stained to match your floor.

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    Seasonal Shift

    Make sure your fireplace appeals through every season. Even when flames aren't flickering, black-hole fireboxes can boast personality when filled with attractive pieces. Here, a good-looking vintage tin ceiling tile stands tall in a custom-built footed frame to cover the dark recess and brighten the overall view.

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    Easy Extension

    One long reclaimed beam generates plenty of buzz when it performs as a mantel that reaches outward to crown adjoining built-in bookshelves. To get a similar look, select a beam or timber that is the same depth as the fireplace surround, and attach it to the wall using heavy-duty brackets screwed into the wall studs. Use smaller brackets to mount shelves of the same depth on the wall below to create extra display space.

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    How to Style a Mantel

    Make your mantel look magazine-worthy with these simple styling tricks.

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    Opposites Attract

    A white-painted finish, decorative molding, centrally placed embellishments, and an iron-door fire screen allow this formally formed fireplace to advance off industrial-looking brick walls. Ceramic tiles in varying shades of aquamarine energize the fireplace surround and pull the fireplace into the room's jewel-tone scheme.

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    Classic Embellishments

    Details matter when choosing mantelpieces that are meant to impress. Look for mantelpieces that combine an array of decorative molding types when updating a plain stone-tile fireplace. This mantelpiece combines crown and dentil moldings across the top; fluted moldings partner with decorative corner blocks on the face to give a newer fireplace an ageless outlook.

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    Earthen Elegance

    Banish boring by refacing your fireplace with marble, granite, or slate tiles in colors that pop off surrounding architectural elements. Large tiles requiring fewer grout lines fashion a more uniform and traditional view; mosaic tiles made of glass, stone, and ceramic (or a combination of materials) offer equally fetching options that supply a modern twist.

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    Something Extra

    Built-ins -- be they cabinets or shelves -- enhance a fireplace's silhouette while providing valuable display and storage space. Though this bookcase was custom-fit to this nook, you can get a similar look by moving in a freestanding bookcase or shelving unit. Paint the furniture piece to match the color of the walls or fireplace to create the impression that all the parts are actually a singularly spectacular piece.

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    Old-World Allure

    Move in a ready-made mantel. Look at architectural salvage yards, stone dealers, and antiques shops for a vintage mantel that fits your fireplace and your decorating preferences. Carved-stone mantels, like the one pictured here, work beautifully in Tuscan, French, and Spanish designs. In addition to stone mantels, fireplace retailers offer old-world versions formed of concrete or cast from composites of crushed stone.

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    Mosaic Magic

    Break a bunch of colorful dishes, grab some tile adhesive and grout, and creatively frame your fireplace with an artistic creation. These homeowners added a deep mosaic border that stretches the silhouette of their mantelpiece to cover the width of the fireplace wall. Decorative trim pieces fashion the outer frame, which highlights a vivid medley of solid-color and patterned pottery shards that were adhered to the wall and then grouted.

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    Accentuating the Positive

    Balance a stone fireplace's massive profile with strategically arranged furnishings. Here, new sconces of noteworthy weight and sculptural shapes frame the fireplace. The sconces are set to reinforce the shift from the fireplace's stone face to plaster chimney as well as illuminate a gilded-framed painting and gracefully contoured console that provide refined counterpoints to the fireplace's rustic stonework.

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    Heightened Interest

    Woodwork painted with a glossy white finish perfectly complements rough red bricks. A paneled surround fashioned from plain-profile moldings adds a formal, but not fussy, finish to the primitive brick fireplace. The simpler-the-better idea repeats as an unassuming mantelshelf supported by softly curved wood brackets.

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    Stylish Storage

    Don't let blank walls flanking a fireplace go to waste! Maximize every inch by installing cabinets on either side of the fireplace. Consider using stock kitchen upper cabinets as your starting point. Mount them to wall studs and add trim pieces as needed to align the cabinets with the top of the fireplace. Then cap the cabinet with a board that spans the fireplace as a mantelshelf. Paint the new construction to match the existing fireplace and create an easy-on-the-eyes feature wall.

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    Decorative Hearth

    When there's no firebox or chimney and you need a focal point, go faux. Mount a mantelpiece on a wall to create the illusion of a fireplace. Fill the firebox opening with birch limbs, a plant-filled urn, or a basket of pinecones. Add a mirror, some pretty lamps, and an exhibit of your favorite collections. Voila! Instant focal point.

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    Reclaimed Beauty

    Flat-plane fireplaces benefit from additions that provide texture, color, and dimension. The easiest way to do all of that is to mount a salvaged beam or architectural artifact as a mantel. This beam's weathered patina and asymmetrical form partner with the fireplace's interior brickwork to warm the white-walled living space.

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    Artistic Rendering

    Draw attention to your fireplace with thoughtfully displayed collections marshaled along your mantel. These curvaceous vessels make a fine stand-alone exhibit, but they gain in status because they subtly mirror the pattern of the wallpaper framed by decorative molding. The frame creates the illusion that the wallpapered wall is part and parcel of the fireplace.

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    A Fine Production

    Stage a little drama by painting a fireplace surround, mantel, or chimney a color that moves your hearth to center stage. Glossy dark paint highlights this chimney's textural imperfections, emphasizes the chimney's shape, and supplies high-impact contrast to the white-painted brick outlining the firebox. The paint color picks up on hues seen in the tiled hearth and provides a theatrical backdrop for showcasing a faux taxidermy trophy.

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    Strikingly Contoured

    Fashioning a fireplace surround that commands attention requires only a few carpentry skills. Here, pieces of wood form a lattice pattern within a larger wood frame mounted to the wall. The shapely panels -- rectangles switching to squares switching to rectangles -- keep eyes moving from floor to ceiling. Gold paint, one shade lighter than the wall color, unites the pieces and lets the structure stand out.

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    Duo-Tone Delight

    This fireplace mirrors the homeowners' love of dazzling colors and streamlined shapes. Painting the stone surround white and adding natural wood details muted the fireplace's traditional beginnings. The neutral surfaces also allowed the homeowners a bit of artistic license; they painted the chimney a brilliant turquoise, capped it with white crown molding, and employed the blue surface to spotlight a very hip mirror.

  • Next Slideshow Before and After: Fireplace Makeovers

    Before and After: Fireplace Makeovers

    If your fireplace is in need of a facelift, find inspiration to get started. These remarkable fireplace remodels feature new mantels, fabulous surrounds, fireplace tools, and cozy hearths.
    Begin Slideshow »
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