This is the series where we bring you the best of our research and ramblings to show you the freshest, most innovative interiors ideas, focusing on one category per post.
Today we’re talking about fireplaces! We’ve seen enough houses where the fireplace is unused, dirty and just plain neglected (with one perfunctory log sitting there sadly to make it look ‘used’, even though the flue hasn’t been functional for 30 years). But fireplaces and mantles, especially in older houses, are often beautifully detailed and can make a gorgeous design feature when taken advantage of!
Read on for a round-up of our favourite ideas…
This has to be one of the coolest fireplace ideas we’ve spotted, especially great for small spaces that are always short on storage! The fireplace would need to be sealed off properly first, of course, with a smooth layer of plaster, drywall or MDF in front in order to be able to mount a piece of beautiful wallpaper, as done here. To install shelves, we recommend getting MDF cut to size at a DIY store (most provide this service for a small fee). Get some help building DIY shelves here. Remember to seal the MDF before painting, then use a durable paint such a melamine that will stand up to use and be easily cleanable.
Failing the DIY effort, you could try your luck with some IKEA pre-made modular shelving to see if they are the right size! Try the Ekby Jarpen style which can be cut to size (check with a salesperson for your specific requirements).
The benefit of this approach is that they will already be painted in a durable finish.
Similarly to above, wallpaper has been used here to create a striking graphic element out of the fireplace. The colours here are very bold yet the overall effect remains understated with the deep blue walls keeping the feel sophisticated.
We’re calling this one (below) ‘Fahrenheit 451’, have you read it? (In case you haven’t, to sum it up, they burn a lot of books!) Hopefully these won’t be used as fuel but they certainly do make a fun and eye-catching filler for an unused fireplace. Even if you don’t have a lot of books lying around, a pile could be picked up for pennies at a local market or second hand shop. Coordinating the colours to be monochromatic or perhaps to form a gradient (ie from dark to light, or from one colour to another) could further customize and enhance this idea!
This idea with flower pots mounted onto a small piece of wrought ironwork could be either monochrome and sophisticated (as here) or fun and quirky, depending on the type and colour of plants you put in! Buy rings for mounting pots at a garden centre or DIY shop. This could work with an existing fireplace grate as well, depending on the design and whether a) it allows for mounting and b) it is heavy and stable enough to hold the weight of the pots.
Alternatively, skip the complications and place pretty vases in the fireplace instead! It still brings in the freshness and colour of some plant life but looks a little more modern. Use different sized and textured vases in the same colour or material to keep a clean look. Flowers in a strong contrasting colour, as shown here, really set off other features in the room and lend balance to the scheme.
One larger plant may work better in some spaces, depending on the scale of the fireplace and the surrounding furniture. In this case (below), a larger, bushier single plant pairs well with the large patterned armchair, and provides a nice colour contrast to the shock of pink above (near-opposites on the colour wheel!). If you were choosing between the three plant-related options above, definitely consider the style of the room but also the scale as you don’t want to be putting small pots or vases into a fireplace or room that is going to dwarf them!
And finally, an idea I love which was actually one of the sources of inspiration for The Unexpected Chic!
What a way to make a stylish feature out of something which would normally just go in the recycle bin. Or the rubbish, god forbid! The cardboard rolls bring a real craftsy, chic poverty-stricken-artiste feel to this interior. They also look very graphic, and I love how since they are paper, originally wood, they are like a tongue-in-cheek version of logs, for a hip consumer society.
Hopefully you will now be off creating beautiful, rejuvenated fireplaces for yourself, your friends or your clients! Happy weekend from The UC!