21 Easy Ways to Upgrade Fireplace Designs that Will Update Any Room

white brick fireplace
Photo: Kim Cornelison

If your fireplace lacks polish or doesn't mesh with the rest of your decor, it might be time for an upgrade. There are tons of simple ways to update fireplaces with new paint, tile, decor, and more. Try one of these fireplace ideas to achieve a dramatic transformation and create a stylish focal point.

01 of 21

Update Fireplace Brick with Paint

fireplace living room
Anthony Masterson

Transform your plain brick fireplace with a fresh coat of paint. This DIY project requires heat-resistant paint and some prep work, but the result is a stunning transformation. Choose white for a clean look, or introduce drama with a bold accent color.

02 of 21

Establish Balance with Fireplace Mantel Decor

neutral modern living room patterned fireplace surround layered rugs
Edmund Barr

Counteract the visual weight of a black firebox with strategically arranged furnishings. Above this fireplace, modern black sconces frame a large arched mirror layered with smaller artwork and accessories. The scale of the fireplace decor, along with the subtly patterned tile that stretches to the ceiling, helps achieve a pleasing balance.

03 of 21

Install Colorful Fireplace Tile

fireplace makeover after
Edmund Barr

Revamp a lackluster fireplace with bold, colorful tile. These handmade patterned tiles reframe the once-plain fireplace with a Mediterranean-inspired look. A reclaimed wood beam forms the new mantel, introducing even more texture and character.

04 of 21

Mount Fireplace Lighting

white brick fireplace
Kim Cornelison

Direct attention toward your fireplace with statement-making lighting. This ceiling-mounted fixture trains light on the built-ins flanking the fireplace, ensuring the colorful fireplace decor is well-lit at any time of day. The lighting's shiny finish ties in with other gold accents sprinkled throughout the room.

05 of 21

Modernize Your Fireplace

gray living room with warm wood floors and modern chandelier
Suggested paint color: Silver Mine PPU26-18, Behr. Peter Molick

This sleek, updated fireplace replaced a more traditional mantel design that felt out of place in the modern living room. Now, geometric tiles and framed art dress up the fireplace's flat face with a minimalist style. Eliminating a mantel keeps the focus on the fireplace decor.

06 of 21

Embrace Fireplace Character

Stone fireplace white couch shelf
Emily Followill

Upgrade your fireplace while maintaining the character of its original brick or stonework. Instead of painting over this stone fireplace wall, the homeowners embraced its rustic charm by mounting a mantel crafted from reclaimed wood. A vintage landscape painting over the mantel and shelves lined with antique finds reinforce the time-worn look.

07 of 21

Streamline Your Fireplace Design

updated gray marble fireplace in corner
Jeff Herr

Situated in the corner of the living room, this fireplace needed to blend in rather than stand out. The bulky mantel was swapped for a clean-lined modern design for a simpler, more refined look. The streamlined shape is complemented by narrow, gray-and-white marble tiles that cover the surround.

08 of 21

Create a Faux Fireplace

glossy black fireplace
Edmund Barr

Establish an instant focal point with no firebox or chimney with a faux fireplace. Mount a mantelpiece on a wall to create the illusion of a fireplace, then fill the firebox opening with a basket of birch limbs, plant-filled containers, or framed artwork. Frame the spot with sconces and mount a piece of art above to add definition to your faux fireplace.

09 of 21

Accessorize Your Fireplace

bright contemporary living room with sectional
David A Land

Due to fire safety concerns, you should decorate fireplaces sparsely and only with non-combustible items. But if you have a non-working fireplace or choose not to light it, you have much more freedom with decoration. Accessorize your mantel or hearth with artwork, potted plants, books, vases, and other decorative objects that showcase your personality.

10 of 21

Incorporate a Decorative Mantelpiece

Fireplace white mantel
John Bessler

A new mantelpiece can be a striking detail as a plain stone-tile fireplace. Look for designs incorporating an array of decorative molding types for added character. This mantelpiece combines crown and dentil moldings across the top; fluted moldings on the face give the updated fireplace a timeless look.

11 of 21

Display Collections on the Mantel

mantel decor framed art blue fireplace
David A Land

As the room's focal point, the fireplace offers prime display space for treasured collectibles. Layer framed artwork, antique books, pottery, and knickknacks to create a curated arrangement of your favorite things. This bright blue mantel houses a colorful collection of objects that showcases the homeowner's eclectic taste.

12 of 21

Add Architectural Features

blue built in cabinetry
Michael Partenio

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 seamlessly connects the different components, as do several 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.

13 of 21

Introduce Modern Fireplace Decor

fireplace screen
James Carriere

Modern updates, including a coat of white paint and a contemporary fire screen, give this traditional brick fireplace a breezy lift. To re-create this look, purchase 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. Next, boost the brightness 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.

14 of 21

Extend the Mantel

wooden shelf
Edmund Barr

This fireplace features one long reclaimed beam that serves as a mantel and extends outward to crown adjoining built-in bookshelves. To get a similar look, select a beam or timber with 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.

15 of 21

Highlight Fireplace Features

white-painted decorative molding
David A. Land

Upgrade fireplaces with historical details that highlight instead of downplay them. Here, a white-painted finish, decorative molding, centrally placed embellishments, and an iron-door fire screen make this fireplace stand out against 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 color scheme.

16 of 21

Retile Your Fireplace

granite fireplace
Jeff Herr

Reface 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. For a modern twist, try mosaic tiles made of glass, stone, and ceramic (or a combination of materials) for a textured arrangement.

17 of 21

Supplement with Shelving

built-in bookcase display
David Tsay

Built-ins, including cabinets and 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 unite the individual elements.

18 of 21

Bring in Stylish Storage

mounted white cabinets beside fireplace
Helen Norman

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 a practical and stylish feature wall.

19 of 21

Mount a Reclaimed Mantel

reclaimed wood mantel
Michael Partenio

Flat-plane fireplaces benefit from additions that provide texture, color, and dimension. The easiest way to do all 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.

20 of 21

Upgrade Fireplace Style with an Accent Color

dark painted fireplace
Michael Garland

Make your fireplace stand out by painting the surround, mantel, or chimney a bold color. 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 black paint color picks up on hues seen in the tiled hearth and provides a theatrical backdrop for showcasing a faux taxidermy trophy.

21 of 21

Paint a Two-Tone Fireplace

turquoise chimney with crown molding
Adam Albright

This two-tone painted fireplace echoes the room's colorful palette and sleek style. 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 gold sunburst mirror.

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