Go for a classic look or a creative twist on fireplaces, either indoors or out
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Thomas J. Story
Go for gold
Instead of letting the fireplace recede into the background, the homeowners decided to make it the room’s shining star: They applied gold leaf to the brick to tie it into turquoise-and-gold color scheme of the rest of the space. The dark paint around it makes it stand out even more. Gold leaf, from $10/18 sheets;
In this 1910 beach house, the homeowners removed some dated teal tile around the fireplace, only to discover some beautifully aged brick underneath it. Rather than cover it up again, they decided the patina fit the home’s character and left it as is.
The dark ceramic tiles, by Heath Ceramics, create a perfect backdrop to a showpiece freestanding fireplace. The turquoise pops in an otherwise subdued, neutral living room, and serves as a focal point even when it’s off.
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Use it as a space divider
The modern concrete fireplace serves as a focal point, but by being sunken, the seating area around it feels like a distinct “room” on the spacious deck.
It’s one of designers’ favorite tricks for making a ho-hum fireplace look modern: Paint it white. Be sure to use masonry primer and at least two coats of water-based interior paint. (And don’t paint the inside of the fireplace!) White Opulence OC-69 by Benjamin Moore.
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A non-functional fireplace allows you to make unconventional decorating choices. Here, the homeowners turned their simple fireplace into a dramatic accent wall by applying a dark patterned wallpaper. Wallpaper shown: Graham & Brown's Midsummer: Black (56503).
It’s easy to fill the mantel with tchotchkes, but a careful edit will go a long way in a room. The mix of vintage photographs and paintings ties into this living room’s classic library look. The white painted brick keeps the room looking fresh, not musty.