A Nonworking Fireplace Isn’t a Burden, It’s a Major Design Opportunity
Grab the plants and pillar candles.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:54 AM
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You’ve finally found the perfect candlesticks for your mantel and arranged your living room so that your fireplace, deservingly, is the center of attention. But there’s a catch: You won’t be lighting fires in your hearth anytime soon. When your fireplace doesn’t function, it can feel like a letdown—but it’s actually a great opportunity to have some fun.
Firewood and flames are by no means your only options for filling the empty space, and you don’t even have to go the expected route of covering it with a screen. These eight ideas make use of things you probably already have around your house to transform your fireplace into a focal point that beats the heat by a mile.
Stack Some Logs
Here’s the most traditional method to take: Get some firewood, stack it up, and simply never light it, as seen in Dallas’s Hotelette, designed by Allison Crawford.
Play Around With Pillar Candles
Just because your fireplace isn’t connected to a chimney doesn’t mean you have to totally rule out the possibility of an open flame. Room for Tuesday arranged white pillar candles of varying heights to create a point of architectural intrigue. Light them up and things will get cozy quick.
Bring in Your Books
Follow Josh Young’s example and use an empty fireplace as home for all those books you’ve already read but don’t want to part with. If you want a neutral color palette, flip the spines inward—though, admittedly, this works best with books you won’t need to reach for anytime soon.
Pop in a Plant
Dare we say an especially lush fern is just as dramatic—if not more so—than a crackling fire? In this space by The Pink Clutch, Cousin It–esque greenery is a welcome contrast to the ornate, stark-white mantel.
Consider the Cactus
Alternatively, if you want to tap into desert style, position a few cacti and succulents in coordinating pots together. In this California home, the sculptural (and low-maintenance) plants are a perfect match for the sleek, simple fireplace.
Line Up Some Votives
For a subtler touch, follow the lead of this Paris apartment found on Plum Guide and place just a few short, colorful candles on the hearth. When you’re dealing with a particularly old-school feature, this is an easy way to add some whimsy.
Go Full Jungle
When it comes to plants, more is more—just take a look at all that greenery in front of Serena Mitnik Miller’s fireplace. White containers keep it cohesive, and a sheepskin rug just in front of the setup adds a warm touch.
Keep It Empty
Surprise! In Lauren MacLean’s Montreal home, an unfilled fireplace feels anything but unfinished. Rather, it lends the space a little breathing room so you can appreciate its other details instead—can we talk about that marble coffee table?! Just paint the brick inside the same shade as the mantel and you’re all set.
There’s no need to build a fire when you have these ideas to give you the warm and fuzzies all through winter.
See more living room ideas: If Bookcases Had a Best-Seller List, These Would Top It 36 Sculptural Candleholders, Because You’re a Grown-Up Now 17 Places to Shop for a Sofa When You’re Absolutely Stumped