What to do with a decorative fireplace?

My current home has two decorative fireplaces. My previous home had four. Older homes, especially in Pittsburgh, have fireplaces that serve no purpose other than adding a bit of character to a room. I must say the mantles of the fireplaces are great for setting things on that we want to keep out of the reach of our two year old, but a fake fireplace is definite overkill. 

The fireplaces in our current home are totally blocked off so we can’t use them for storage. I was thinking of using a fireplace in our previous home as storage, but I really couldn’t justify it because we had decent-size closets. So, I considered doing something less practical and more aesthetic. I thought of placing dozens of logs into the fireplace. I liked that idea, but we were planning on moving at that point, so I never did it. Does anyone have any unique ideas that you have tried with your decorative fireplace? Any experience taking them out? I have no idea if getting rid of a fake fireplace changes the value of a home, so it might not be a good idea to get rid of them. Any lessons learned? Share them in the comments.

(image via Beach Studios)

68 Comments for “What to do with a decorative fireplace?”

  1. posted by Alfreda Prufrock on

    Ours is a defunct non-vented hearth that once accommodated a gas room heater. We live in a 100 year-old arts and crafts bungalow, with dark wainscotting around the room. The tiles are also dark. The house is the sort where you walk into the middle of the living room. Rather than have the couch face the fireplace, we blocked the fireplace with the couch. It works great. The mantel is overhead with decorative stuff, and we have a painting hanging over the mantel.

  2. posted by Ranger Smith on

    If it’s not functional, then remove it. I think that’s the best way to unclutter.

  3. posted by mb on

    I have a fireplace that is functional but never used. I got piece of sheet metal from home depot, put some foam door insulation around the edges, put up the piece with the foam side against the brick and put a dvd bookshelf in front of it. Without being blocked, the chimney would suck all the heat out of the room in the winter.

  4. posted by tabatha on

    i think you should have someone paint it so that it looks like some kind of weird tunnel that is going somewhere…

  5. posted by Helen on

    I used to keep dried flowers in a huge display in front of our empty, unused fireplace. As my husband would give me more flowers, I would add them to the arrangement and it would just continue to dry and grow. Now however, I want to use the hearth to put a big flat screen HD TV when we get one. It’ll be perfect!

  6. posted by Leslie on

    I keep books in mine and people love it when they finally notice it, probably because we have so many books elsewhere that it’s clear we are out-of-control book collectors who just overflowed into every space. My mother used to grow a big aspidistra (its dark glossy leaves were more dressed-up-looking than a fern) spilling out of hers. It didn’t need a grow-lite. My grandmother’s fireplace had a plywood cover and she let me paint a still-life on it when I was in high school. It was really bad, so I could tell how much she loved me!

  7. posted by Faye W on

    I was thinking of actually making a tv fireplace. Get a fireplace casing from Lowes or Home Depot and put a flat screen in so I can actually hook up a DVD that plays a fireplace burning. Would the tv get too hot inside the casing you think? The back is always open on the casings though. What is some thoughts on my idea.

  8. posted by Scott on

    My TV goes in there.

  9. posted by Julie on

    If you’ve got a big enough space, then here’s an idea: Paint the whole space white, add a mirror to almost cover the back wall (a cheap old tatty one, with or without a frame from a junk shop would be fine). Paint an old ‘basket grate’ or just an ordinary one white and fill it with large candles of different sizes in your favorite colors, various pastels or just plain white. Then you could swirl some fairy lights round the base of this with a few gorgeous silk or fake flowers stuck into them here & there to pretty it up even more. The mirror could be substituted for an old wrought iron gate painted white (with or without the mirror behind it. Some decorative odd, mismatched ceramic tiles could be used instead of the grate & for a bit of over the top decadence, you could even hang a fake crystal chandelier in there! This may or may not be to your taste, but it sure beats dumping your TV in there!

  10. posted by Jessica on

    My old box-shaped TV fit perfectly inside my fireplace. I think the fireplace works, but we don’t use it.

    People were pleasantly surprised to see a TV in there!

    Eventually, I hope to get a flat-screen TV and stand it on the hearth in front of the hole of the fireplace. The Fireplace is in the exact center of the room and the focal point for all three of my couches. Without putting the TV there, I would have had to put the TV in the corner and it would be hard for anyone to watch it. It works out great!

    Although if I owned my house and had unlimited money, I would want to rip it out and build built-ins for the TV, DVDs and bookshelves to take up the entire wall.

  11. posted by Meghan on

    If you live in an older home, and if the fireplace is architecturally attractive, DO NOT take it out. That’s something that when you try to sell the house or people come over, they say ‘why did you get rid of your fireplace? are you nuts?’ I have lived uptown New Orleans most of my life and always have fireplaces in my apartments that just can’t be used because they are so old. Almost every single one has been filled in, so dust does not come in, but you have a beautiful mantlepiece to put a flat screen tv or mirror over. You can even get creative and put your TV in the old fireplace or stereo etc… Then, around Christmas, buy one of those ‘hearth’ DVDs that plays christmas music as well. It’s quite enjoyable.

  12. posted by Joan from Pittsburgh on

    The fireplaces in old homes in Pittsburgh, where I live, are the charming, warm focal point of each room. They are not fake, but rather simply no longer functioning. The mantle holds a few beautiful objects, and the wall just above displays a favorite painting or print. Fireplaces are timeless classics; TVs are ever-changing pieces of equipment. Don’t ruin your beautiful fireplace with any permanent change. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but you just don’t know any better! ;-)

  13. posted by Teresa from Charleston,S.C. on

    Here’s a real head scratcher.We have a great room with a extended wall 2′deep by 6′wide,floor to ceiling length that contained a fireplace.It was removed with the complete surround and mantel.Now I have a 52″wide by 47″ high hole.And wall to ceiling.It’s to deep for shelves and to expensive for us to replace.It’s a real eye sore to me.The inside is 20″ deep.Any ideas?It’s driving me nuts.

  14. posted by What to do with a decorative fireplace? | Unclutterer | Mantel Mania: Mantels, Fire Fronts and Fireplaces on

    [...] Visit link: What to do with a decorative fireplace? | Unclutterer [...]

  15. posted by sharon sloan on

    i’ve got an ugly hole in the wall where my fireplace one sat. I have placed a few logs and a big coo coo clock there and it looks great everyone admires it especially when its time for the coo coo to pop out!! so fun!!!!

  16. posted by N Fradkin on

    My husband is just completing a “humongous” hearth-to-ceiling media center that completely blocks/encloses the whole ugly fireplace that we never used. It has room for a 60″ LCD TV on a shelf built on the hearth, and adjustable shelves above the mantel for all the other equipment. He used maple particle board and wood trim for decoration plus he’s considering building doors to cover the TV and equipment when we don’t want them visible. It will resemble a giant wardrobe, but for electonics. It’s a gorgeous piece of custom furniture designed and built by a non-professional woodworker

  17. posted by Design Happens » Archive » Decorate Your Unused Fireplace for the Hot Season on

    [...] I’m a major bookworm, but have little space to house my immense book collection. I love this idea of using the fireplace as book storage. [...]

  18. posted by Decorate Your Unused Fireplace for the Hot Season — New York Real Estate on

    [...] I’m a major bookworm, but have little space to house my immense book collection. I love this idea of using the fireplace as book storage. [...]

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