DIYinterior design

15 Beautiful DIY Ideas for Your Fireplace

by Grace Bonney

Finding an apartment with a working fireplace is a big deal here in New York. If you can find a beautiful old mantel, you’re in luck, but if you can find a working fireplace, you’ve hit the jackpot. Most building owners have closed the fireplaces in apartments to prevent fire hazards, but some of them have been kind enough to leave the empty fireplaces or surrounding mantel intact. Whether you own, rent or just have plans for a vintage mantelpiece you found at a flea market, fireplaces are a great (albeit somewhat unexpected place) to flex your DIY muscles. Whether you’re making your own decorative screen and faux logs or crafting a new surround from tile, there are so many ways to give a fireplace an update. Today I’m highlighting 15 of my favorites, from painted fireplaces to fun projects for renters who can’t leave a mark on their existing setup. Here’s to a toasty fall and winter spent inside where it’s warm. xo, grace

Image above: I love the idea of using a fireplace outcropping as a bold, wallpapered accent wall. Just be sure the paper is far enough away from the fireplace opening to meet all necessary fire safety codes. Photo via House & Home Magazine.

Click through for all 15 ideas after the jump!

Brenna of Paper + Ink shared this genius idea with us (and even went on Martha Stewart’s show to demonstrate!) back in 2011. Brenna used cardboard to create faux-logs that you can use to fill a non-operational fireplace.

This project is an oldie, but a goodie. DS alum Kate Pruitt shared one of her first DIY projects with us back in 2008 when she gave her (non-functioning) fireplace a DIY makeover. If you have a mantel, but your fireplace is no longer in operation, try using foam core and wallpaper to cover less-than-stunning tile or materials you’d rather streamline with a clean, modern look.

Lucy Allen Gillis has always had one of my favorite home tours and her two-tone painted fireplace is a simple but great idea for anyone who wants to give their fireplace a little upgrade.

No fireplace? No problem! Emma Cassi’s bedroom fireplace mantel is cozy and beautiful, but doesn’t require logs or ventilation. You can easily create the look and feel of a fireplace in your home (this is great for renters – just lean it up against the wall) by finding a great vintage or antique mantel online. We love Etsy and eBay for great online finds, but flea markets tend to have the best prices.

Waste not, want not is Jessica Lynch’s motto. When she found this old bus door in the woods behind her house, she had a hole cut in the center to create a new frame around her fireplace. Be sure to check fire codes and your town’s permit requirements first, but if it works with your safety requirements, using a beautiful piece of found metal can make for a striking and unexpected fireplace frame.

For too long, white has been the go-to color for repainting fireplaces. Not only does matte black look chic and modern, but it goes a long way to disguise smoke and soot stains, too. We love this version in Amanda’s Catskills home.

In Paula Mills’ home, a non-operational fireplace becomes a place to display treasured books and objects. The key to this idea is painting the interior of the fireplace a dark or contrasting color so the objects pop against the background.

We love the way Chris and Dave dressed up their decorative fireplace with logs that have been painted on the ends. Natural wood is of course beautiful on its own, but painting the ends of logs (try color-blocking and ombre paint techniques, too!) is a nice spin on a traditional log pile.

Chenin didn’t just use this fireplace for displaying artwork, it became a fully functioning (mini) bookshelf! I love the bright pop of yellow in the background.

This clever project turns an old window into a decorative fireplace screen. Obviously the wooden sides make this only decorative and not something to use when in operation.

Graphic wallpaper becomes a bold decorative fireplace screen thanks to a little DIY energy. With any wood- or paper-based screen, please be sure to remove this before you use your fireplace.

Stencil a pattern on your fireplace if you need a little makeover, but don’t want to invest in tile or a completely resurfaced fireplace.

If paint isn’t your cup of tea, try wallpapering the entire fireplace outcropping as an accent wall. Just be sure the paper is a safe distance away (check your local fire codes and ordinances!) from the fireplace opening.

Tile is a common fireplace material, but why not go big? Consider creating a frame of oversized decorative tile around your fireplace to make a bold (and fire-safe) statement.

A little bit of bright color never hurt anyone, so why not try an unexpected pop of color (like this bright yellow fireplace at This Old House or this teal fireplace at Apartment Therapy) in a neutral room?

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    • Termet

      Here in NYC (and in lots of other areas), it’s common to come across fireplaces that have been closed by the building owners, but left for ornamental purposes. This is a way to have the look and feel of logs for anyone who can’t actually light them to start a fire. You could of course use real logs, but sometimes it’s fun to make your own version of things. That’s the core of our general DIY philosophy.


  • Such a great post! It’s always the best to find a way to update what you already have. I especially love the fire-place they turned into a bookshelf, and Jessica Lynch’s bus door decor is so original!

  • somewhere, sometime, i saw someone using a beautiful old fireplace mantle and storing shoes inside on little shelves – and it totally worked. can’t remember at all where that was, but i’ve always wanted to try that variation if i had a fireplace in a bedroom.

  • I’ve been looking for a long time for a idea and you have just sorted that for me the fire screen zig zig ! Fantastic. Thank you. :)

  • I want to make a nice fireplace. It makes sense that I would want to get a good mantel! I’ll see if I can find an antique one before I decide to make my own.