Hot Design

Fireplaces are among the most polarizing of decorating subjects in the modern home. Some people consider a fireplace sacrosanct and refuse to modernize it in any form, while others are more open to paint and refinishing options or even (gasp) covering up a fireplace with drywall. “One thing that is certain about fireplaces and decorating is that they cannot simply be ignored,” says Philip Connor of FinestFires.com  Even the tiniest of hearths must be considered when choosing the right décor for a space.

An exposed brick fireplace can be decorated to compliment any color scheme, whether modern or traditional, warm or cool. Many options are available for different finishes in fireplace doors, and wooden mantels can be painted, refinished or even replaced altogether. Stone mantels are a little more difficult and expensive to replace and have fewer decorating options, but can still complement almost any décor. A more expensive option to dress up a fireplace is to add marble tiles of any color. Ornately carved fireplace surround pieces, though costly, are available as well, and come in a variety of paint colors and wood finishes.

A controversial though permanent option is also to paint exposed brick. Brick can really be painted in any color, though choosing a color other than white is not for the faint of heart. Before painting a fireplace, it is a good idea to take some time to really think the choice over. For one thing, once a fireplace is painted, it can’t be unpainted – the only option is to change the color. Also take time to consider color choices other than white. A six-foot wide swath of bright blue fireplace in the middle of a family room, for example, might cause some decorating difficulties in the future. Properly done, however, and with the right tools, a freshly painted fireplace can breathe new life into tired décor.

Traditional, wood burning fireplaces are being frequently replaced with the advent of new fireplace inserts like these ones here. One of the main reasons for this is cleanliness. There is no escaping the dirt associated with a wood-burning fireplace, and this is a turn off for many. Gas inserts provide a cleaner option, especially for those who suffer from allergies that might be irritated by wood-burning fireplaces. Electric fireplaces that provide completely fake flames are also available. While these lack the homey feel of a real fire, they are a clean and safe option. One thing to consider when choosing a fireplace style is cost. A traditional, wood-burning fireplace will cost little outside of routine maintenance. Gas inserts require a gas supply line, whether to a tank or public gas service. Both options will be a little more expensive, especially with the fluctuating cost of gas. Electric fireplaces might seem like the least expensive, but since they plug into the wall, they draw from a home’s electricity supply and can raise electric bills. Costs vary from person to person and with the charge for electricity from the local company.