Beyond its ability to keep you warm and cozy in the winter, a fireplace can also function as a huge design element in your home. While many may associate fireplaces with brick and a more traditional type of home, there are a multitude of ways to modernize them, and contemporary fireplaces come in many shapes, styles, and colors. Whether you want to make your fireplace the dramatic focal point of the room or simply update it to match the rest of your design aesthetic, the following fireplace design ideas will help you achieve a fireplace you will want to gather around with family and friends.

Incorporate Mirrors

One of the most traditional ways to decorate a fireplace is by adorning the wall above it with a mirror. However, depending on the type of mirror chosen, this kind of style can actually be quite modern as well. To go more modern, play with interesting shapes and choose sleek mirrors without heavy frames. Hanging a mirror above the fireplace can help give the illusion of a larger room. Today, many people opt to install flat-screen TVs above their fireplaces instead of mirrors, which both opens up the room and keeps attention on the fireplace.

Experiment with Tile and Stone or Update Your Brick

Nowadays, there is a huge selection of materials available for decorating the space around your fireplace. While brick is the most traditional way to go, decorative tile and natural stone are also very popular and come in many varieties. If you want to stick with brick, a good update would be to depart from the classic red and paint it a different color. When choosing the material that will frame your fireplace, be sure to pick colors that will complement the other design elements you plan on including.

Try a Unique Mantel or Screen

Browse antique stores or specialty shops for one-of-a-kind mantels and screens. Often, you can pick up an old piece for a relatively low price and repurpose it easily. Think about playing with proportion; a mantel that is much taller or wider than your fireplace can create an interesting visual framing effect. An ornate screen can also add a dramatic touch to the room’s decor.

Raise the Fireplace off the Floor

It is becoming increasingly popular to move fireplaces up off the floor and closer to the middle of the wall, and it is a good, modern alternative to the classic mantel look. Raised fireplaces are usually set into recessed wall areas—much like the TVs people often hang above fireplaces—and give the designer a lot of freedom as far as shape and dimension go. For instance, the fireplace could be a long, thin, rectangle that cuts through a section of the wall.

Extend the Fireplace to the Ceiling

To really make a modern statement, try extending all the brick, stone, or tiling around the fireplace up to the ceiling. This creates a sort of textured column in the room, which can help break up a large, blank wall space as well as really draw focus to the fireplace.

With all the design options available, it is easy to customize your fireplace regardless of the style of your home. A fireplace update as simple as adding a decorative screen can radically improve the appearance of your room, so consider whether you are truly making the most of your fireplace, and explore your options accordingly.

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Sources: Better Homes and Gardens; Country Living; HGTV; House Beautiful.

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