Fireplaces are one of the most charming features in old homes and new. Unfortunately, many of them aren’t functioning, usually having to do with the age of the home. If your fireplace isn’t equipped to burn wood and you aren’t into the idea of a faux log insert, there are so many other ways you can draw attention to your fireplace, making it the focal point of the room. We spoke to several interior designers who offered up some genius suggestions on ways to style your fireplace that don’t involve wood.
1. Fill It With Pillar Candles
Casey DeBois suggests filling your fireplace with lots of inexpensive white pillar candles. “Light and let them burn a bit to melt the wax,” she suggests. “The way the melted wax drips down the candle creates this really cool textural element.” She points out that you can also do this with glass candles if you want a cleaner look. “You really can go crazy with the amount of candles you use—really fill the space,” she adds. If you want to add some color, these Melt Candle Company unscented pillar candles are available in just about every hue imaginable.
2. Try a Luxurious Log Alternative
Add a sculptural element by adding a selenite log to your fireplace. “I really love these ones from Jayson Home and Garden,” says DeBois. “They are simple but really luxe looking and will instantly elevate the overall look of your fireplace.”
3. Arrange a Tub of Flowers
Maggie Griffin, Founder & Designer, Maggie Griffin Design suggests filling a big metal tub with a bunch of dried hydrangeas. “During the holidays, magnolia leaves heaped into mounds inside the fireplace are chic and distinctly Southern,” she suggests.
4. Try a Vintage Chinoiserie Screen
Caroline Brackett suggests finding a vintage or antique Chinoiserie screen. “This instantly adds a layer of tradition and character to the room without throwing the room off balance,” she explains. Then, behind the vintage screen, you can opt for Selenite logs instead of wood or pile in different sized candles of varying heights and textures that you can light (or not) to give a sense of warmth and ambiance to the space.
This instantly adds a layer of tradition and character to the room without throwing the room off balance.
5. Fill it With Wine Bottles
Got some empty wine bottles? Karen B. Wolf is intrigued with an emerging styling trend, which involves repurposing wine bottles as décor in the fireplace.
6. Seek Out Other Light Sources
Candles aren’t your only alternative to wood if you want to light up your fireplaces, points out Cathy Maready of Elephant Ears. Lanterns of different sizes are another option. “We also use small containers that burn rubbing alcohol and negate the soot of candles, but still provides that wonderful warmth of a fire,” she adds.
7. Layer Pumpkins in It
Keshi Akino, Vice President of Design for Frontgate, offers a fantastic fall fireplace filler suggestion: pumpkins or gourds. “I love the idea of layering pumpkins (multi-color!), candles and some beautiful lanterns surrounding in a soft patina finish to enhance a fireplace moment and create a cozy mood,” she reveals.
8. Add Some Flower-Filled Vases
Flowers aren’t just for tabletops! Akino also suggests setting a bunch of beautiful vases with floral arrangements in and around the fireplace, in addition to some larger more substantial candleholders and candles to create height. “Make sure there is a mix of materials—metal, wood, ceramic—to add dimension,” she suggests.
Make sure there is a mix of materials—metal, wood, ceramic—to add dimension.
9. Fill It With Strings of LED Lights
Katie Stix, IIDA |(Partner, Design Director, LEED Green Associate) at Anderson Design Studio, suggests brightening up your fireplace with little LED twinkle lights in order to “add a little sparkle.”
10. Add Some Greenery
Stix also suggests filling your fireplace with a bunch of live plants, including succulents, flowers, or other types of greenery. “They are a nice option to decorate around the fireplace all year-round,” she says.
11. Focus on the Mantel
Instead of looking for things to fill your fireplace, focus on the mantel. “A mantel is always the perfect spot to dedicate a standout piece of artwork,” explains Ariel Okin. This could also include topiaries in varying heights, or a small and interesting sculpture. As for the fireplace, selecting a sleek set of fire tools—like the brass ones from the recent collaboration between goop and CB2—is a nice touch.
12. Try Finding a Totally Unique Ventless Gas Insert
Chris Stout-Hazard points out that despite being unable to use his fireplace as wood-burning, he still wanted to make fires. “While we could have stuck with candles or flowers, we wanted to USE our fireplace—it gets cold here in Omaha—so we opted for a ventless gas insert,” he points out. While there are plenty of convincing artificial wood fireplaces, they wanted something modern and sculptural, so they chose a stack of cannonballs. “Not exactly run-of-the-mill, and the source of many comments from guests, even when it isn’t burning,” he exclaims.