How To Decorate an Unused Fireplace

You have a beautiful fireplace, but it’s no longer usable for one reason or another. Now you are stuck with this natural focal point in your room, but no way of actually using it. This doesn’t mean you are stuck with an awkward hole in your wall.

What you need are a few unused fireplace ideas to get you inspired. Think beyond the mantel and use the fireplace as an opportunity to create your own display as a focal point.

These ideas will show you how to decorate an unused fireplace so that it adds to your decor.

Hide It With a Screen

Screen over fireplace

The simplest and easiest decorating idea is to hide the open space with a fireplace screen. With this approach, you don’t have to worry about cleaning or painting the firebox to make it presentable.

This solution is nice because it leaves the option open for using the fireplace in the future.

When choosing your screen, look for one that has a decorative design and blocks your ability to see through it.

The screen should extend from one wall to the other so that the entire front of the fireplace is blocked.

Match the design of the screen to the interior design theme in the rest of the room. A modern room will look nice with a simple square that’s dark grey or black. A rustic, farmhouse or bohemian room will look beautiful with a woven screen.

Create a Faux Display

You know your fireplace doesn’t work, but that doesn’t mean anyone else needs to know. Instead, style your fireplace and hearth as if it was a working fireplace.

Leave the chimney intact and style a faux fireplace arrangement in the firebox. Start by placing a grate in the middle.

Scale the size of the grate to the space available. Then place a few logs on the grate. You could choose real dried-out wood logs or faux ones that look like wood but aren’t.

Place a fireplace tool rack next to the opening on the hearth. It would have a small broom, poker, and everything you need to tend to a fire.

Use a Flower Arrangement

Place a large vase in your fireplace and use it to hold greenery or fresh flowers. The Vasesource black ceramic planter has a nice low design, giving you plenty of room for your larger potted plants. Its simple design gives it a modern feel that will look beautiful in a contemporary home.

This rustic and weathered oak wood barrel is perfect for a flowering house plant or fresh-cut flowers. Its rustic design and wine barrel shape make it perfect for a rustic or farmhouse interior design.

Keep in mind the amount of light that reaches your fireplace. If it’s a low light area, then you’ll want to use a hardy houseplant, like pothos, English ivy, or a snake plant. These are all easy to keep alive, have low light requirements, and aren’t demanding with water requirements.

Light It With Lanterns

Create a soft glowing light similar to when there is a fire burning. You could use pillar candles, but that is overdone. Instead, place an arrangement of candle holders that range in width and height. This style of arrangement creates visual interest by having variety.

Another great option is to use metal floor lanterns with either white candles or fairy lights. Choose an odd number of lanterns that vary in size. Then place a string of battery-powered fairy lights in each lantern.

Stack Wood Logs

Logs stacked in fireplace

A natural solution for your unused fireplace is to fill it with wood. This makes sense because fireplaces are meant for burning wood. Stacked wood stays true to its original use while giving it a fresh look.

You have plenty of options when choosing the wood you use. A common choice is to use chopped wood that looks like stacked firewood. These are log pieces that have been split. Another option is to use logs that are still around.

Stack the wood so that it fits together and fills the space with the ends showing. If this feels too plain, you can paint the end of the logs for a pop of color. If the idea of using real logs isn’t appealing, you can buy a Birch Fill a Space design that does all of the work for you.

Organize Your Magazines

Are you an avid magazine reader? Then you know the struggle of having stacks of magazines cluttering your flat surfaces. Your non-working fireplace is the perfect place for storing your magazine collection.

Purchase a magazine rack and place it in the firebox where the fire grate would normally sit. Then you can fill it with magazines. The Mkono macrame magazine rack (shown above) is perfect for complementing your bohemian decor ideas. Its handmade look adds plenty of texture to the room. It also doesn’t look like a typical magazine rack, helping it to look more decorative than functional, yet its large size means it can hold plenty of magazines.

Display Decor

Instead of leaving a single display up year-round, consider using your unused fireplace as a seasonal decor opportunity. For example, use pumpkins, pine cones, dried flowers, and fall leaves for Thanksgiving. Then finally, change the fireplace decor to have a winter or holiday theme for Christmas.

For spring, you could have Easter-inspired decorations or fresh blooms. Halloween is the perfect time to break out your spookiest decorations. During July, add red, white, and blue decor for a patriotic display.

Add Tile

Instead of leaving your fireplace with its original brick or painting it, give it a fresh and modern feel by tiling over it. You’ll see decorating ideas that use large-scale tiles for a modern look, marble for a luxurious feel, or mosaic tiles for an artistic touch.

While rectangle subway tiles never go out of style, don’t be afraid to use tiles with different shapes. Fish scale and geometric patterns are currently trending. Using tile is a creative way of updating your fireplace while keeping it true to its original purpose. The tile is durable and heat resistant.

Add a Space Heater

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The whole point of having a fireplace is to add heat to the room. If your fireplace isn’t working, then you are missing out on this heat source. This may not be a big deal for modern homes with state-of-the-art HVAC systems. However, for older homes, this can result in drafty rooms that are uncomfortable to be in.

Instead of making the fireplace usable again, consider adding a space heater. You could choose one that’s styled to look like a vintage stove. With this approach, you are adding heat back into the room while also adding a decorative piece.

The vintage stove look is perfect for a rustic room. If you prefer a more modern feel, you can have a square space heater set into the opening with a screen that digitally displays a fire. Now you have the best of both worlds.

Make a Bookshelf

Turn your fireplace into a built-in bookshelf. Start by painting the inside of the firebox. Then paint boards to match. Mount the boards in the firebox space. You should be able to comfortably fit one or two shelves.

Now you have extra storage space that doesn’t take away from your floor space. Use this extra storage space as a mini library, display your prized collection figurines, or anything else that you would like to make the focal point of the room.


One popular decorating tip is to have a basket where you store your extra throw pillows and blankets. Except now you have a large basket that you have to put somewhere in your living room. An unused fireplace is a perfect spot.

You could paint the inside of the firebox or leave it untouched. Clean the space and remove any residual soot and ash. Place a large woven basket that comfortably fills the space but leaves room for you to fill it with pillows and blankets. Then, you can pull it out when you need it and tuck it away when you don’t.

Having this basket on display helps to create a cozy feeling in the room. While you could do this idea in any design theme, it works especially well in a Scandinavian-inspired or farmhouse room.

See more about The Top 90 Fireplace Wall Ideas