Decorating a fireplace — 180+ photos from readers’ homes

decorating a fireplaceUploader now closed, thanks for all the photos, everyone! When Peter asked for ideas about decorating the beautiful stone fireplace in his 1957 house, we promised to power up the uploader so that readers could show how they have decorated their fireplaces.  Above: A lovely, glowy fireplace perfectly punctuated by a mysterious, smallish, painting — contributed by reader sugarshellandbutterknife when we had our 306 reader living rooms uploader. And oh my, what a coincinkydink: A story in the UK — just Sunday! thanks for the tip, Gavin! — about the background of this famous 1950s painting by Vladimir Tretchikoff:  “Chinese Girl”, popularly known as  “Green Lady”. So: Get snap happy — light up fire, get some glamor shots — and share them here — it’s easy –>

Tips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge and you can also read my captions… move forward or back via arrows below the photo… you can start or stop at any image:

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  1. linda h says

    This is the first time I have noticed that Kate’s fireplace is in it’s own little corner. I need to pay closer attention! So many details in these pictures, I can hardly take it all in.

    • Kate says

      Oh yes, the corner fireplace! That plus 4 doorways (directions to exit), 1 pass through from the kitchen, and a built in bookshelf make furniture placement tricky!

  2. Laura E. says

    By the way, the original of that Tretchikoff poster is up for sale at Bonhams in London March 20. It’s expected to make up to $800,000.

      • says

        I’m confused; I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a model earning royalties from a painting. Why would she? This article makes it sound like she was cheated. Can you imagine trying to make it as an artist if you had to pay out to your inspiration every time you sold a work?

        I love the painting, but for the shock of colors and the glow of those tones on that neutral brown, not for the particular person posing.

    • says

      It’s funny about that picture. We found that in a little thrift store in Bardstown, KY (while we doing the Bourbon Trail) for $13, I believe. Neither one of us had ever seen that picture before and thought it was “unique”. In fact, we had two different people stop us on the street with it to take a look because it was so different. After I got home and researched it, I found out about it’s popularity and how it appeared in movies. It even has a Wikipedia page. We still have guests that come to our house who’ve never seen anything like it before and think it’s really cool. Also, we bought the picture with nowhere to hang it because we hadn’t purchased our house yet, but knew we just had to have it. When I saw that fireplace, I knew we’d found our home 😉

          • says

            Thank you Laura – I always learn so much on this blog. Was horrified by what I learned on yesterday’s post! You all kept mentioning Jere sculpture and I had never heard that name before. Googled Images. Gasped in horror when I saw the large bronze sailboat wall sculpture – the very exact same piece that hung in my late mother’s condo in FL, that we GAVE to the THRIFT SHOP (!)

            Yes, when we sold her place last year, we had to empty the contents quickly and I had already shipped so much stuff (china and crystal, family albums etc.) plus my husband didn’t like it that much and it would have cost hundreds to ship to Colorado…. So, “thanks” for educating me about Curtis Jere yesterday and that I gave away a $1200 sculpture. DH was apologetic, needless to say. :-)

            We just hope that find made someone’s day and is hanging in an awesome MCM home!

    • Jay says

      Yes, interesting! I was not familiar with it so when presented with something new, I like to get the “story” behind it and being lunchtime, well let your fingers do the walking through the internet. The different articles I read on-line were followed by quite nasty comments. It appeared to be very popular in the UK let alone the US.
      I must say, hung by itself on the brick surround, the picture makes quite a statement.

      • says

        Yes, I just found a UK article about the original going up for auction and a lot of the comments are really negative (and hilarious)! I don’t know – she makes me happy every day, but then I didn’t have to grow-up looking at her either, so maybe that’s why. Perhaps it will be my children leaving such comments in another 25 years, ha ha.

        • Jay says

          Now that’s funny, tell them it’s their inheritance. I like the story of how you found it and truly, it does look stunning – it has been elevated to high art in that setting, much like a prized picasso or monet.

  3. Jeanne says

    Wow – the room with the blue/white checkered tile floor and the ceiling fan is gorgeous! I love the way the wood fireplace surround is built to incorporate the brick that goes all the way up to the ceiling. Looks like a professional photo, as well.

  4. Maryanna says

    I agree that the checkerboard floor living room with the Marimekko above the fireplace is an amazing room! Making me rethink my standard-issue mirror above my fireplace. :)

      • Maryanna says

        Ahh, yes! I remember quite well being so impressed with your pink bathroom reno! I somehow missed the before and after links you posted though. Fantastic job all around, I love it. :)

      • says

        MikeD, I just looked back at the “before” of this stunning room of yours, pictured above. That has to be one of the most impressive before/after comparisons I’ve seen! Bravo! :-)

        It did, I notice, have a checked floor originally but in different color. Did you completely replace the floor?

        • MikeD says

          Thank you much Diane.

          We did not touch the floors, exactly same same as in the before pictures. It is really surprising how the floors can take on a very different look when put against a different color scheme and decor style. The black and white checkered went from country to vintage.

          Besides the kitchen and baths, most all of the renovation is simply paint, fixtures, furniture, and decor. You don’t have to gut a house to make a drastic difference. Even in the kitchen we kept the floors and counter tops, saving us thousands and thousands.

          • Janice says

            Mike, your house is lovely and retro in all the right ways! Can you tell me the color name and brand of paint you used in your living room. I’m doing a grey and orange master bath and I like the color you used. Is it grey or light blue?

            • MikeD says


              The paint color is wet payment (or maybe its we cement). A Valspar color from Lowes. Definitely has some blue in it, but changes with the light. We spent several weeks trying to pick the right “gray” color and ended up with this one. All grays have either blue, purple, or green tones. if you are wanting a “pure gray” then I don’t suggest this one… but at the same time, if you find one let me know lol

              • Janice says

                Thanks Mike. I’ll take a look at the color you used to see if it will work in our bathroom. Thank you for following up with me!

          • says

            But it’s curious that the lighting makes the checked floor look BLUE and white, not black, in the photo above. That’s why I asked.
            Yes, half the battle is often won by the seller moving their stuff out! :-)

          • Jeanne says

            Ah. Maz. Ing. MikeD! I hadn’t looked at your photos before. Your home is gorgeous! I see you have the Giraffe art from Pete Campbell’s apartment! I love your wall shelving unit! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Betsy says

    April, your living room makes me want to come over for a cup of coffee. I promise I won’t leave with your swag lamp…Betsy

        • Janice says

          Betsy, are you referring to the Janice who had a picture of a lit fireplace at Christmas? If so, that’s me, but for some reason I can’t see it on the list of pictures. Have I been banned from my own home? haha

          • Betsy says

            Yes, Janice. I’m seeing your room #33 out of #42 right now. I just love everything about your space, especially the lamp. I just bought a fabulous Lane Surfboard table today at the Salvation Army – spectacular condition ($30) – and so yours really caught my eye.

            • Janice says

              Thank you Betsy! Yes, I see it now. I’m such a dunce, I was looking for it to post at the end of the string of pictures and had already looked through all of them once. Don’t know how I missed something that I should have immediately recognized. Thanks for your kind comments and congrats on finding that steal of a deal on the coffee table!

        • April says

          Betsy, Yes to the egg nog at Janice’s. I love your living room Janice! Fantastic furniture and those hanging lights are to die for!

          • Janice says

            Thank you April! I remember the day I won those lights on Ebay and thinking I was the luckiest girl alive to have found them at a price that I could afford…which isn’t always the case anymore. It’s been great fun seeing people’s fireplaces and living rooms today!

  6. Robin, NV says

    I was glad to see how many others have wood panelling surrounding their fireplace. I’m in good company! I love my panelling and wouldn’t ever take it down. I’m intrigued by the room with the parquet-like paneling on the wall. Very cool! And parquet is another great Scrabble word.

    • Wayne in Colorado says

      Robin, when I bought my place several of my friends asked when I would replace the paneling around the fireplace. I told them “Never”. Those same friends are glad I didn’t take their advice!

      • Robin, NV says

        Never, ever, ever. The kneejerk reaction is “paneling is dated and icky.” It’s not, especially when it’s good quality. I’m so tired of seeing new houses with taupe, greige, or khaki walls.

    • Angela UT says

      Moving in to home with parquet paneling (love that word…thanks) in 2 weeks. Any design suggestions would be appreciated!

      • Robin, NV says

        I didn’t appreciate my paneling at first but now I love it. So warm and pretty. Let your house grow on you before you change it. It’s taken a couple of years for me to “hear” what my house wants.

  7. Jamie D says

    I just barely missed our mail carrier delivering the huge Elgin starburst clock and matching sconces that will finally highlight our boring fireplace. I can’t wait to remove the oddly-placed chandelier that’s in front of the fireplace right now – it’s at prime head-whacking height and needs to go ASAP. I don’t know what the previous owner (or builder?) was thinking, hanging a chandelier from a 7 ft. ceiling.

    This clock is going to look sooooooo cool.

    • Robin, NV says

      Your post made me laugh! I often see photos of other people’s houses and think “what the heck were you thinking?” Not that my house is going to be featured in Architectural Digest any time soon (hence the super tight shot of my fireplace). Maybe you could get your clock and sconces installed before Pam takes down the uploader?

  8. Annie B. says

    I’m dying of fireplace envy. Roman brick, beautiful stone, starburst sculptures, handcrafted mantels, and Those Genie Bottles. Be still my heart.

    Robin NV’s fireplace decor is what I had in mind for Peter’s home: no mantel and a single, profound statement over the firebox.

    • Robin, NV says

      Gosh thanks Annie. After seeing everyone else’s photos I was thinking mine is pretty plain. I’ve gone back and forth over adding a mantel but I can’t help but think it would look wrong somehow. Sure would be nice to have a place to put knick knacks though.

    • Liz says

      I think you may be talking about my mantel and if so, I’m super flattered! The wood paneling was put up in the 70s and I think it is very pretty. We had our friend’s dad over one time and they made a comment about how we could take it down easily enough (I think he must have hated it). We had to kindly explain to him that we actually loved it and planned to keep it that way. He seemed confused. :-)

      • pam kueber says

        Send ’em to this website! I should put my business cards online so you all can print them out to hand out to “confused” visitors!

      • says

        We have a lot of wood paneling in our home, too. But it looks nice–it’s not cheap looking at all even though it is veneer. Most of my friends (who live in more mcmansion type of homes and don’t share my design aesthetic) actually love it, too! It fits the home and more and more people seem to get it these days.

        • Liz says

          Pam–YES, printable business cards online would be great because there are a ton of pink bathrooms in my neighborhood that NEED to be saved. These people really don’t know what they have! I moved into an awesome area with tons of cool ranch houses but it seems most of the people I talk to don’t really love their house in the way I think they should, haha. I sure hope that changes someday! :-)

          Tricia–I totally just realized that I’m a recent follower to your blog! Your home is soo awesome and your wood paneling rocks. Our whole basement is wood paneled too…but it isn’t the nice quality stuff that is upstairs (more of that 70s knotty pine look). Upstairs in my house is where I do more serious MCM and downstairs is more kitschy MCM. I really love both styles so it is very fun to have room to play with both!

          • says

            Oh wow Liz-thanks for following my blog! Our house sounds similar-more kitschy in the basement. Upstairs is is more serious MCM, too. Funny thing is that friends love our basement–the kitsch makes people happy!

  9. Passerby says

    Though not midcentury, I am absolutely in awe of the Art Nouveau copper repoussé work on one of these and its matching mirror above it. Stunningly beautiful fireplace! You made my day uploading this, lucky owner.

  10. Krsity says

    Copper Glasgow Style fireplace after George Walton – WOW! One of the coolest fireplaces I have ever seen – love the mirror above too – gorgeous!

  11. Scott says

    I just uploaded my version of Extreme Fireplace Decorating in my 1954 MCModest, otherwise known as three new walls. I’m just not a fireplace kind of guy and this was a truly sad, sad fireplace, unlike many of the stunning showpieces already uploaded. And my fireplace is not destroyed, it just tucked under some drywall for some future homeowner to discover.

    As wild as it sounds, this gave me the freedom to arrange my furniture the way I wanted, not how the fireplace dictated, it brightened up the room considerably, and it gave me 5 more walls to decorate! :-)

  12. says

    m + t — with the 1950’s ranch…. how about painting the fireplace brick the soft green or the avocado from the map? I would paint that brick in a heartbeat. All else in the room is slick and clean and bright — and then the red brick seems a bit dreary. I love the map! Pick up a color from that print. (so easy to be a sideline critic, isn’t it?) Love your room!

  13. Kelly Wittenauer says

    Great uploader! So many gorgeous fireplaces. I recognized Kate’s from her blog, but is one of these Pam’s?

  14. Diana of Mt. Lebanon says

    It is humbling to see all these beautiful fireplaces and living areas! Even though we love our fireplace and built-in bookcases (and wood panelling), ours is filled with kids stuff and doesn’t have nearly as much of the style as these!

  15. Diane in CO says

    Danny, I think your fireplace room is great! I especially love that deerhead – it’s so Jonathan Adler meets Natty Bumppo. :-)

    So many fabulous uploads – I am enjoying them all. Thanks Pam!

  16. Kelly Wittenauer says

    “Sorry no mantle” with the white freestanding fireplace in the bed of gravel – who designed your house? I could swear I saw that room in one of the house books I’ve read recently, but can’t remember which one.

      • Kelly Wittenauer says

        Wow! Living in a house by one of the icons of modern design – too cool. I saw your fireplace on page 99 of “The Second Treasury of Contemporary Houses” written in 1959.

  17. Dino says

    Hey Pam

    I think I submitted 2 different pictures, choose whichever looks better. I forgot to add that I am in Columbus OH. Thanks!

  18. Dino says

    Michael, your basement recroom and fireplace are great. The paneling looks a lot like what I had in my last house. Cool tree too

    • Michael says

      Thanks, Dino! We actually had four aluminum trees set up in the recroom this year. I loved hanging out down there during the Christmas season. One of these days I’m going to try oiling the paneling to give it a little more ‘life’.

  19. Wendy M. says

    Wow- so many great pictures! I especially like the one tagged “Arapahoe Pass Fireplace.” I love everything about that room!

  20. tammyCA says

    Neat to see everyone’s fireplaces. I love my used red brick fireplace (1954) but not sure if I can get a photo of it. I always thought the firebox part had a ’70s look until I saw a vintage home magazine with a similar one. I am so grateful that it was never painted as I super love the brick and its patina. And, the backside is a wall of brick.
    My childhood home was red brick and had a bedroom addition that had the exterior brick as a wall and closet. We used to pretend we were in a backstage New York theater in the closet which was curtained with nubby barkcloth…and, there was a built in bookcase next to the closet that had an open back so we could “peek outside”. A quirky room, which is probably why I love red brick so much. There should be a “save the red brick” along with the pink bathrooms & knotty pine. :)

  21. nina462 says

    thanks for posting these pictures. sometimes it’s the hardest thing to decorate in my living room. right now I have a deer picture.
    I try to change my mantle decor for the seasons – as does everyone else it seems. wish I could find the ‘right’ look for the huge red fireplace I have. I’ve even tried looking in old catalogue, still can’t quite come up with it. So, thanks for the pics & ideas.

  22. Jim says

    m + t —- maybe try a Miro print/painting. You can easily find a Miro that will pick up the colors from your chairs. No one is more mid-century than Miro; bold colors, amoeba shapes and starbursts. Stacia, with the “not vintage, but tried to decorate it that way…” might also try Miro; he used a lot of black in his work.

  23. Greg says

    Seeking a source for 60s style white brick, but for my purpose a brick veneer is needed.

    An important detail is the intended use in stacked course, bricks arranged in vertical stacks, not staggered as is the typical practice.

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