During the winter, having a fireplace on cold nights is a delight. With enough wood (or a gas line), you can always have a warm, cheerful fire whenever it would be most cozy to gather 'round. During this time, the mantel is decked with stockings and holiday décor and the hearth is just a place to sit near the fire.
But what about in the warm months? Should your wonderful fireplace really go ignored becoming a dead spot in your living room for 6+ months out of the year? Not at all. Your fireplace, hearth, and mantelpiece can still be a center point of family life with a springtime design update. For the warm seasons, let's reimagine our fireplaces.
Scrub Down Your Fireplace and Mantel
The first step for any unused fireplace design is to clean your space. In the winter, the fireplace is coated in ash and soot. Ash from logs is cleared away regularly, but the space is still dusty. Your hearth and mantle may also show a little soot.
You can clean your fireplace brick easily with a little elbow grease and a floor brush.
Make a bucket of soapy water, dish soap or pine sol both work, and alternate scrubbing and rinsing the fireplace. You can use your ash trap as a clear-out. Use a clean solution to scrub your hearth and any soot on your vertical brick or stone on the mantel above.
Clear the Space and Start Over
Instead of "decluttering" your space, clear everything. Remove every decoration, cushion, and container. Give yourself an empty canvas of brick and tile to reinvent your fireplace area. Remove everything around the space, including the edges of the hearth, and step back. Envision how you can decorate the space to be inviting when fires aren't being lit.
What will you put on the mantel shelf to create a centerpiece display? What will you hang on the wall above? Consider making your hearth into seating and storage, giving it a functional purpose as part of your seating circle.
Decide on Your Color Palette
Choose your color scheme. Now is your chance to make your fireplace a part of your entire living room design. While you probably won't paint your bricks, you can decide the color palette of the fabrics and decorations used in the space. Throw pillows, colorful glass, overhead artwork - it can all reflect your chosen color scheme.
Build an LED Display in the Fireplace
What should you put in the fireplace when it's not cold outside? How about LEDs? LEDs are versatile, multi-colored lights. There are LED light bulbs, string lights, light ropes, light signs, and simulated fires. LEDs are energy-efficient and have a great decorative potential. The first time we saw this trick, it was a curling ball of glimmering fairy lights in the fireplace. LED fireplace lights have come a long way since then. You can get an artificial fire that shines in reds and yellows, but cool for the summer. You could also clean out your fireplace and build a work of custom LED artwork.
Place a Summer Cushion on the Hearth
The hearth is a warm place to sit when you're soaking up the heat of the fire in the winter. But what about the summer? In the warmer months, your hearth can still serve as extra seating - but with a cushion instead. Place a long-padded cushion along the length of your hearth, use flat throw pillows, or even a folded quilt. But the best cushion is the type designed for patio furniture, two or three seating spaces wide along the full space of your hearth. A padded hearth makes great seating for children and a gathering space for large groups.
Display Delicate Items Above the Mantel
During the winter, the mantle is full of holiday décor and reasonably sturdy items. After all, mantle décor may need to survive a little soot and a lot of activity. But during the summer, your mantle can become the home to more delicate decorations.
Adding vases of vibrant flowers from the local farmer’s market, or even your own yard, is a beautiful way to use the mantle space when there is no fire in the hearth. Colorful glassware will look light and cheerful on your mantelpiece while delicate paintings will be safer hanging over the fireplace with no fire or smoke inside the house for several months.
Give yourself a chance to get inspired. These warm months give you a unique space to decorate without the limitations of keeping a fire safety zone.
Hang Local Artwork
Speaking of framed art above the mantel, not everyone has a family portrait or a famous landscape to hang in a place of honor. But that doesn't mean your mantel should go un-adorned with beautiful artwork. Instead, visit an art walk or art festival in your town. Let your eye be your guide and find a piece that you love. Buy from a local artist to support a budding art career and hang a piece in your home that isn't just another replica of a classic.
The key to hanging a painting above your mantel is the frame and hanging hardware. The frame sets the tone of your living room almost as much as the art itself. A single pane of safety glass can also keep the canvas safe over months and years. Be sure to use a sturdy hanging bracket.
Mount a Focal Point Mirror
One popular way to spruce up your fireplace is a mirror. While light may not be coming from the hearth, you can reflect any light in the room to brighten your family space and provide an elegant above-mantel work of art. Mixed metals and decorative metal frames are especially popular for mirrors right now.
If you don't have a piece of art in mind for the space above your mantel, a mirror is a great addition to the room. Mirrors are especially powerful in a post-modern and minimalist design where metal and simple sculpture are your primary decorative style.
During the fall and winter, your fireplace is a center of family activity around a cozy fire on cold nights. But during the spring and summer, how can you keep that space a beautiful and useful part of your living room? With a little redecoration and a few padded cushions, your hearth and mantel will be beautiful and comfortable all year long. After you have restyled your fireplace, check out our other blogs for more clever home décor ideas and inspirations, and Contact us when you are ready to transform your sink!