Making the Most of Your Rental: Reimagining the Nonworking Fireplace

Making the Most of Your Rental: Reimagining the Nonworking Fireplace

Kimber Watson
Mar 7, 2013

I lived with a unusable, nonworking fireplace for seven long years. The placement and mantel definitely added architectural interest to my apartment, but it was a bit of a slap in the face to have to gaze into the empty hearth on a daily basis. I just wanted to be able to use it so bad! If you're one of those poor souls that finds themselves in my situation, instead of focusing on that blank hole in the wall and all it can't do — here are 10 ideas to transform your fireplace back into the focal point of the room.

1. Have fun and treat it like a blank canvas to display something unique, personable, or something that just needs to take center stage, like these wine bottles. I mean, why not? Victoria makes these bottles look even sexier with their matte black backdrop.
2. Got plants? If you have enough natural light coming in, why not use the fireplace as a grow room of sorts. Fill it with low-light plants, such as ferns and mosses, and create a backdrop of greenery. I particularly love the addition of the wood stump (you could also use a stool), which was added as a plant pedestal to help create levels. Inexpensive, inverted terra-cotta pots can be used in the same way.
3. One large mirror is inset into this fireplace (any glass shop should be able to cut you one for a custom fit), reflecting the bold color scheme. Mirrors do double-duty for making the space appear larger.
4. If you have kids, why not make it a play nook for your little one? We all know how children long for a little spot of their own. Painting the fireplace a bold and bright accent color no longer makes it seem drab and dingy and gives the room a pop of color.
5. If you're a collector, creating a fireplace vignette could be a way to show off your collection, with the fireplace serving as your backdrop and continuing the look to the mantel. The trunk in front hides part of the fireplace but also elevates the collection off the floor, which makes it more visually pleasing.

6. If space is at a premium, you could add shelves and turn the fireplace into bookcase of sorts. For this "bookcase", a plywood frame was built to be inset in the fireplace and then shelves were cut to fit and mounted from the frame. The back was wallpapered for added drama. If you want to store items that aren't display-friendly, you could choose to cover the opening with a hinged door or screen.
7. While you may only know the meaning inside the hearth if you're told, this remodel shows how symbolism can be used to create a focal point out of a faux fireplace. The interior displays architectural plans while the "screen" to the fireplace was made using metal wire and upholstery tacks.
8. Another spin on the reflective hearth. This look is designed for the fireplace to be the focal point of the room. The mirrored vases placed in front repeat the glam look for even more dramatic flair.
9. This fireplace surround was given a rustic look by trimming it out with salvaged wood from an abandoned school. The schoolhouse vibe is completed with stacked books, a globe and a weathered chair.
10. Logs or stacked logs is probably the most common idea for the unused fireplace. Here is a fresh DIY on stacked wood that uses rolled corrugated cardboard coated with plaster to produce a birch log look. For complete instructions, head over to Design Sponge.

(Images: 1, SF Girl By Bay; 2, Real Simple; 3, Domino via Urban Curator; 4, Hannotte Interiors; 5, All About Vignettes; 6, Better Homes and Gardens; 7, Kara Paslay Designs; 8, Domino via Brides; 9, Design Sponge; 10, Design Sponge.)

Originally published 3.7.13 - JL

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