Decorating fireplaces — great ideas from 10 reader living rooms

decorating fireplaces that are symmetricalOur recent uploader all about decorating fireplaces generated more than 180 photos to help Peter with ideas to decorate the fireplace in his 1957 house. Today, let’s take a look at a few of our favorite photos straight from reader living rooms. Above: Jessica used the colorful brick in her 1954 fireplace to dictate the color palette of the room. Burnt orange, charcoal grey and warm browns — when evenly distributed around the room like this — make the whole room look put together and inviting. A bit of sentimental art — her mother’s 1970 floral cross stitch — not only adds softness and cheer, its contrast further accentuates the fireplace brick as the focal point of the room. Nicely done, Jessica!

Decorating fireplaces to emphasize their symmetry or asymmetry

As you look at all the photos today, think about this: Is the architecture of your fireplace design symmetric — or asymmetric? Decorating fireplaces to emphasize and accentuate their fundamental architecture is probably the best place to start. Symmetric designs are usually matchy-match starting at the center and working to the left, then to the right. Decorating an asymmetric space is a little trickier — you still want to aim for “balanced asymmetry” — with sort of equal measures of “weight” side to side.

decorating fireplaces traditionalAbove: This reader gives us more ideas about decorating fireplaces that are symmetrically styled. Each side has a built-in book shelf, a globe lamp, and even the pictures on the mantel are symmetrically arranged. Perhaps the loyal family dog sensed that the furniture was making one side of the room “feel heavier” and came to the rescue to fill the empty space and restore balance. We also like how pup matched the wrought iron cabinet hardware. Good boy. (Reader, can we make a recommendation? Can you paint the white leg protector cap thingies on the bottom of your ottoman black, too? That would be just the perfect touch. Pam wanted me to add this. She’s not too anal retentive about decorating touches like this. No, she’s not. No. Really. tee hee.)

decorating fireplaces modernAbove: Sometimes the fireplace doesn’t require any further ornamentation — as this fabulous three-sided stone fireplace demonstrates. The relief of the stone, the size of the fireplace and the irregular shapes of the stones themselves make quite the decorative statement on their own. Kudos to these homeowners for their ability to be restrained.

decorating fireplaces1954-double-sided-fireplace-2Above: Readers Drew and Eric have a two-sided fireplace with an even brick pattern that has been painted all one color. In this case, leaving the fireplace alone might have felt too sterile. On one side, they added character with shelving and a starburst mirror — these decorative touches are balanced, and restrained. On the other side of the fireplace, they had a perfect spot to create a cozy reading nook.

-faux-fireplaceAbove: Eartha Kitsch’s fireplace is non-working, but that didn’t stop her from going for the glow with faux. To decorate around this traditionally designed fireplace, Eartha chose a somewhat dark wall color to set off the white trim… and decorated the mantle asymmetrically to give the scene a little dynamism. Notice how the vibrant orange in the Nixon painting picks up the orange in the fake burning fireplace logs. Kitty approves.

1949-traditional-fireplaceWe loved Hillary’s 1949 living room that we called it out earlier on the blog. Readers doled out lots of praise for her artful mix of traditional modern. The Tiffany blue wall color, a large framed portrait and symmetrical chair arrangement makes her fireplace stand out as the focal point of the room.

-roman-brick-54-ranch-fireplace with knotty pine panelingReader Jennifer’s 1954 roman brick fireplace is surrounded by knotty pine paneling and the cutest scalloped trim molding I’ve ever seen (see our story on where to get scallop molding like this today.) Jennifer has smartly continued the homey and kitchy feel of the knotty pine into the pieces she’s chosen to hang above the fireplace and put on the mantel. Her built-in bookshelves dictate a symmetrical arrangement — which she has picked up on and executed nicely. Knotty is Nice!

malm-preeway-mid-century-fireplaceAbove: This is kind of genius — this reader has brought elements of the outside in, by adding a bed of gravel around the fireplace is with a bed of gravel. This stylized interior design has me thinking that James Bond will appear any minute with a very dry martini in his hand.

mid century fireplace with starburst clockReaders Rob and Julie used the niches in their fireplace stone to create the illusion of tiny fish tanks on either side of their stone fireplace. Choosing just a few more large scale pieces that contrast with the light stone  make for an interesting arrangement. I’m dying to know — is that an Andy Warhol doll sitting on the edge of your fireplace doors?

white fireplace in colorful retro roomAnd finally, reader Terri’s fireplace was kept minimal — so that it didn’t try to compete for attention with her collection of art, funky lamps, colorful chairs. What a happy space!

Whether you want your fireplace to have a starring role or simply to support the rest of the room –these readers give us some terrific ideas for decorating fireplaces that make the most of this valuable feature.

Categoriesliving room
  1. emiller says:

    I live in Florida and sadly have no “need” for a fireplace, but I want one so badly. I have been hunting around for the perfect electric fireplace to add to my front living room, but alas nothing stands out as “mid century” to me. Has anyone found a good site? My great aunt had a beautiful limestone fireplace that was long and low, perfect for my 1958 ranch, but unfortunately it was sold many years ago. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  2. Those fireplaces are totally gorgeous. They have their own unique design according to the owner’s taste and preference. You stated a great list, too! The home decors and furniture pieces used in those fireplaces are really stylish. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Evan says:

    SO glad to find this discussion about fireplaces! We are restoring a 1948 ranch style that has a brick fireplace. It is the narrow, horizontal brick, exactly the same as the exterior chimney. The problem is that I’m certain this was NOT painted white in its original life. The question is how to remove the white paint safely without harming the brick? Anyone have tips?

  4. Robin, Maine says:

    I am trying to find a source for the long thin stones like the ones in the 3 sided fireplace that is in the 3rd photograph down. The tricky part is that I need these in a veneer. Does anyone have any suggestions where I could find this?

  5. julie s says:

    Yeay, you showed one of my pictures again! I just got back from a quick vacation and saw this. This is Julie, from Rob and Julie in Colorado, and yes, that is an Andy Warhol doll sitting on my fireplace screen!
    Thanks for showcasing my fireplace!

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