Straight from the Hearth: Beautiful Fireplace Surround Ideas
Your fireplace surround is rife with design potential—it just takes a little imagination. "Fireplaces often get overlooked as opportunities for a bold statement," says Lance Thomas of Room Service. "The layout of a space and the furniture arrangement is typically centered around the fireplace. They serve as a focal point of a room, which is why the fireplace surround should have a strong voice to firmly anchor the space."
What can you do to give your fireplace surround a bolder voice? "A fireplace surround offers a great way to play off and accentuate the architecture of a space," says Marie Flanigan of Marie Flanigan Interiors. "By bringing in new and unexpected materials—think marble, tile, brick, and slate—you can allow the beauty of the surfaces to take center stage."
Our experts say another way to play up a fireplace surround is to accentuate the display with décor. "While different structural materials can give a fireplace surround a certain mood or tone, the real design opportunity lies in choosing whether or not to highlight the area with lighting and accessories," says Wendy Yates of Abigail-Elise Design Studio. "It's also an opportunity to create a mini art gallery," adds Laurie Blumenfeld-Russo of Laurie Blumenfeld Design. "People love to gaze into the fireplace—it's a meditative experience. Why not layer some of your favorite objects around to enhance it?"
Searching for some more savvy ideas? Ahead, our experts share their best advice on creating a sleek and stylish fireplace surround, and here's what they had to say.
Don't Let the Firebox Show
According to some of our experts, showing off your firebox is a fireplace surround faux-pas. "Make sure you pre-plan your surround to line up with the edges of the firebox so it doesn't show," Marie Flanigan of Marie Flanigan Interiors says. "If you are redesigning an existing condition, there are ways to clad the inside of the box with a brick veneer or plaster so that it can add to the overall beauty of the surround."
Mind the Details
Play with Scale
Our experts say that even small pieces of art can make a statement above a fireplace. "Fireplace surrounds provide the opportunity to select beautiful materials and add architectural details on a smaller scale," says Elizabeth Cooper of Elizabeth Cooper Design. "It also allows for a great focal point for art above the fireplace."
When it comes to decorating a mantel, Laurie Blumenfeld-Russo of Laurie Blumenfeld Design says the more variety, the merrier. "Mixing heights, materials, and different sized objects bring an eclectic and layered look to your mantel," she says. "Create symmetry by mounting a pair of globe sconces that provide some ambient lighting."
Have Fun with Color
Keep Things Cozy
One of your favorite spaces to entertain is likely around your fireplace—it's a cozy place to congregate with friends and family, which is why our experts say it is essential to make it naturally warm and welcoming. "Use raw materials where you can to keep the area cozy and classic feeling," Wendy Yates of Abigail-Elise Design Studio says. "Then add versatile seating around the base, such as benches, poufs, and ottomans, to soften the scene."
Mount a Mirror
If you ask Jessica Davis of Atelier Davis, fireplace surrounds are the perfect place to experiment with different textures and materials—especially mirrors, which she uses to "bounce light around the room." Layer your lighting—she recommends sconces and candles—for greater impact.
Decorate Your Firebox
While some designers see fireboxes as an eyesore, others see them as a design opportunity. "Don't ignore the inside of a firebox," says Robin Rains of Robin Rains Interior Design. "We love using cement fireballs as an architectural detail and beautiful andirons or a fire screen to add in beautiful design elements."
Consider Antique Marble
Our experts say you can always count on antique marble to forge a luxe and elegant fireplace display. "If the house calls for it, I prefer to do antique marble fireplace surrounds wherever possible," says Kevin Isbell of Kevin Isbell Interiors. "They add history and make for a beautiful focal point—and you can often find materials at your local salvage yard."
"There are so many beautiful and bold options of stone, glass, or mixed materials that can drive home a homeowner's point of view," says Drew Hoffpauir of Room Service. "Take a chance and contrast the fireplace surround's style with the rest of the room. Eliminate the mantle and consider a floor-to-ceiling decorative tile for a contemporary twist."