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Hot Stuff! How to turn up the heat — and add some value — with fireplace updates

That first crisp feeling of fall is the ideal time to focus on something right in front of you: your fireplace. After all, it is one of the main focal points of your living room. If its not up to snuff with the rest of your decor, it could tilt toward eyesore rather than eye-catcher. Fortunately, there are many ways to enhance the beauty of any fireplace. Lets see how painting, tiling, dcor and technology can breathe new life into a tired hearth.

The anatomy of your fireplace

When we hear the term fireplace, most of us probably think of the opening where the fire burns and the area that surrounds it. However, distinguishing between each element helps to plan improvements with more precision. 

The chimney breast refers to the part of a chimney that may protrude forward from a wall to make room for a fireplace.

The fireplace, or firebox, is the opening contained in the chimney breast, where a fire is built.

The term fireplace surround refers to the trim, molding or material that wraps around the fireplace opening.

The mantelpiece, or mantel, projects from the wall above the fireplace opening. It often acts as a ledge for displaying art and objects.

The hearth is the area near the floor that is directly in front of the fireplace opening. It is either flush to the floor or built up above it a bit. 

fireplace design

How to spruce up your fireplace design and dcor

When youve invested in decorating a room, the fireplace is often overlooked. Dont fret! Were here with unique fireplace design ideas that can spruce up your space and make the fireplace the hearth of your home.

Update the surround

If your current surround is stone, brick or wood, painting it is a simple way to update it and create more visual harmony in the room. Whitewashing red brick or using creamy colors can soften its sometimes-harsh tones. The color is entirely your choice, and an interior decorator can offer suggestions that will maximize unity in the room while retaining the inviting warmth of the fireplace. One trend: Painting the fireplace surround the very same color as the wall, for a chic monochromatic look. Or, consider a German smear. This treatment involves applying textured plaster over brick to give a rustic appearance. Often used on brick exteriors, this technique has grown in popularity to transform brick surrounds, too. Beyond brick, other striking surround options include tile, marble, metal, cast stone and limestone.

Style the mantel

There are numerous mantel styles for every taste, and there are absolutely no rules you need to follow. A floating mantel is a great way to add character to a room without making any permanent changes. If you want to add some architectural interest, go for a mantel with corbels. These are carved or molded supports that project from the wall and frame the fireplace opening. They became popular in the Victorian era, and theyre making a comeback, due to their ornate detail.

A modern surround mantel can add a touch of sleek sophistication. Often, these mantels are made from glass or metal and they lack any traditional ornamentation. If you have a traditional fireplace and want to give it a modern update, consider using a contemporary mantel. Similar to a surround mantel, a classic mantel incorporates slightly more detailed features.

Rustic mantels offer old-world elegance. They can be made of unpainted wood or brick or a combination of both. Industrial mantels take rustic to another level by incorporating features that harken back to a preindustrial age, so they become an immediate point of conversation.

There are some wonderful high-style mantel ideas, here.

Change from woodburning to gas

Gas fireplaces have become very popular for two main reasons: They are a great option if you happen to like a modern look and they are extremely convenient  started by flipping a switch instead of with newspaper and kindling. Todays gas-fueled fireplaces provide a realistic flame appearance and can even generate more heat than their woodburning counterparts. And, unlike woodburning fireplaces, gas fireplaces can be installed almost anywhere in your home where space allows.

Add personality with dcor

Once youve chosen the surround, mantelpiece and paint color, you can add in some fireplace dcor. This can be anything from framed photos and artwork to seasonal displays. Remember that the fireplace is a place to gather, so make it feel warm and inviting with personal touches.

Hanging artwork above the mantel or propping it on the mantel itself is a more traditional approach to fireplace dcor. Think about adding other elements, such as a collection of vases, a group of candles or candlesticks or a beautiful or striking clock. Another fun trick? Alternating your dcor, depending on the season or holiday.

Yes, home is where the hearth is

A well-designed fireplace creates a warm, inviting and relaxing environment for family and friends. With creativity and careful planning, you can transform one into an inspiration that reflects the character of you and your home. 

Whether you are staying in your home or selling, reach out to any Briggs Freeman Sothebys International Realty agent for sage advice about the fireplace options that can maximize your home investment.

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