As the mercury drops and the holiday season approaches, nothing holds as much appeal as curling up in front of a crackling fire, hot toddy in hand and the nip of winter at bay. And while your fireplace might be the prime spot to cozy up, hearth and home (to borrow an old aphorism) obviously go hand in hand as far as decor is concerned. A mantel, be it bold or traditional, is, naturally, a glowing focal point for your living room, bedroom, or patio. So how do you go about transforming your existing fireplace or designing one from scratch in a way that feels at once functional but has that wow factor?
We’ve been seeing mantels trend bolder (dare we say hotter?) than ever before, but as designer Tim Godbold cautions, you might want to think twice before playing too much with fire. “Stay away from whatever is trending ‘hard’ presently,” he advises. “Try to come up with something unique but based in classic proportions so that you aren’t ripping it out in three years because it looks dated.” For a particularly striking travertine mantel he designed for a home in East Hampton, New York, Godbold found inspiration in the muscular architecture of British architect David Chipperfield. It’s “traditional architecture but pushed forward to n-o-w,” he adds. Luckily, there are plenty of striking mantel designs in our archive that demonstrate precisely that. From historical hearths to sculptural stunners, here are 36 fireplace ideas that are sure to spark the imagination.
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No boring bricks here! In this incredibly chic Paris pad, designer Eric Allart tapped Portuguese, Brussels-based ceramist Bela Silva to create the beautiful tile fireplace surround, inspired by waving leaves in a tropical rainforest. And with a complementary rug, this look is parfait.
Matching Moody Fireplace
We love how designer Colette van den Thillart matched the marble on the fireplace surround to the inky lacquered walls in this cozy den in Toronto. The rich palette and roaring fire make for a chic, and cozy, combo.
In the same Toronto residence, van den Thillart approached the living room fireplace like a work of art. She specifically looked to two historical hearths in creating this design, Renzo Mongiardino’s mantel for Elsa Peretti and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s fireplace. “The original mantel let the room down, while this is more of a sculpture,” the designer tells us.
Design studio PlaidFox worked with this Vancouver home’s existing architecture in designing the ’70s-chic fireplace. This one’s clad in red and pink Italian terra-cotta tile by Mutina. Add curved furnishings and a walnut piano, et voilà—instant coziness.
You can’t mess with a classic. Designers Jaime Drake and Caleb Anderson certainly didn’t in this century-old home outside New York City. Here, they allowed the antique fireplace to shine, but painted the walls in a salmon-y plaster and rolled out a matching carpet.
Architect Raëd Abillama cites Tadao Ando as one of his biggest influences, so it’s no surprise that his minimalist Lebanon home has a fireplace to match. This one, with its see-through surround and monolithic flue, feels like a work of art.
Traditional Mantel, Untraditional Room
When interior designer Elizabeth Mollen first moved into this Chicagoland Tudor, it was dark and oppressive. To lighten the move, she preserved traditional details—like this fireplace–but amped them up with contrasting colors, as with the black mantel and the cheery blue paint coating the rest of the room.
Designers Miles Redd and David Kahoi filled this New York mansion with Gilded Age elegance, a vibe that literally applies to the fireplace wall and its opulent gold mirror. An artwork by Jack Massey brings the look into the present day.
This century-old home used to belong to Hollywood mogul Samuel Goldwyn. Today it has been transformed into the Los Angeles outpost of the Future Perfect, and period details, like the grand fireplace, are the backdrop for contemporary art and design. To give your space an elevated “white cube” feel, paint your walls and mantel the same tint of white.
Glossy Black Fireplace
When Martin Cooper and Karen Suen-Cooper purchased this 1790s Federal-style farmhouse, they wanted to give it a sense of a “storied past.” No better example than with the glossy black fireplace, whose inviting flames match the persimmon-colored Brunschwig & Fils wallpaper.
Jet Black Marble Fireplace
This Houston home may be virtually brand new, but designer Elizabeth Young worked to imbue it with historic grandeur. In the salonlike living room, that meant installing a jet-black fireplace that matched the dark flooring, a look that feels Old World but oh-so-contemporary.
Let’s face it: Some of us might be lucky enough to have a fireplace in our apartment, but it was blocked up a long time ago due to code restrictions. Do as designer Robert Couturier did in this effortless Manhattan home and transform yours into an alternative bookshelf. Bonus: The surrounding artworks help mediate the mantel’s scale.
Coral Gables Chic Fireplace
It was love at first sight when designer Natalia Miyar found this 1925 Italian-country-style house in Coral Gables, Florida. She maintained and restored all the original details, including the conical fireplace, but brought in her own punchy design sensibility with the rattan furnishings and pops of hothouse hues.
English Country Fireplace
If your house has original period details, as with Toast CEO Suzie de Rohan Willner’s Oxfordshire, England, country home, embrace them! Here, she painted the original Georgian surround in Tarlatan by Paint & Paper Library to match the walls. Artful accessories on the mantel keep the look from becoming cottage-cutesie.
Grand Harlem Fireplace
The overall vibe in this Manhattan home, featured in the ELLE DECOR archive, is “Miss Havisham Meets Harlem,” according to homeowner Warner Johnson. If you have a similarly historic home, emphasize your original mantel by painting the walls an eye-catching hue and the surround a crisp white.
Low-Slung Contemporary Fireplace
If traditional isn’t your vibe, go for an ultracontemporary fireplace, like this long-and-lean one in a Long Island home designed by architect Blaze Makoid with interiors by Joe Nahem. Bonus: Logs can be tucked in the cubby beneath, a nice aesthetic echo to the curved custom sofa.
Antique Italian Limestone Fireplace
Designer Ken Fulk refuses to stop at anything short of perfection, which is why he went as far as importing this gorgeous antique limestone mantel from Italy to complete the look of this cinematic Sonoma, California, estate. “As we begin with every project, I create these movies in my head,” explains Fulk. Cue the Oscar nomination!
Basketweave Tile Fireplace
Eschew standard glazed tiles and choose something more textured, like this subtle basketweave in a Hamptons home designed by Tim Godbold. The original bedroom fireplace especially comes to life against the pair of Claude Conover glazed earthenware vessels from the homeowner’s collection that sit prominently in front.
In the same East Hampton, New York, house, Godbold designed this custom Roma travertine surround to evoke the buildings of British architect David Chipperfield. ”It’s really quite brilliant,” Godbold says.
Dual-Tone Victorian Fireplace
To give your fireplace additional depth, try painting your mantel’s facing in a complementary shade to the surround. Here, in his West Virginia Victorian, landscape architect Thomas Woltz went with a cool and a warm gray.
This monochrome look, in the Melbourne, Australia, home of stylist Simone Haag, is the perfect vanishing act: By painting the walls and fireplace in the same smoke gray shade, the home’s original ornate textures provide a sultry backdrop to Haag’s collection of vintage furnishings and objects.
Classic Brooklyn Fireplace
This trendy Brooklyn townhouse features a classic Brooklyn fireplace. Ishka Designs took the arched shape of the mantel and echoed it in the rugs, fixtures, and furnishings. “We love the principle of a circle,” says firm cofounder Niya Bascom. “There’s no beginning, no middle, no end—only constant growth.”
Mixed Materials Fireplace
Leave it to Michael K. Chen to create a fireplace that’s equal parts art and comfort. Here, in a Manhattan apartment, the architect combined gray marble, bleached walnut, and brass to design one of the most elegant and inventive fireplaces we’ve ever seen.
If you want your fireplace to be the glowing center of the room, try painting your surrounding walls in a dark hue, à la Nicole Hollis in this San Francisco stunner. She selected a dazzling blue-veined marble slab and topped the look off with a tondo by artist Doug Aitken.
Not only is this framelike marble fireplace in a Brooklyn home designed by Delia Kenza effortlessly stylish, its scale also helps distract the eye from the TV above.
Perhaps you live in a home where the fireplaces have long been sealed up. No fire? No problem. Use the mantel and former firebox as a place to stash your treasures, like art historian Carolina Vincenti did in her Rome apartment. Bonus points for a bold hue.
Historic Hearth Fireplace
Alyse Archer-Coité amped up the country charm in her 1770 upstate–New York house by painting her kitchen hearth in a happy shade of blue. The shelf is the perfect venue to showing off her ceramics collection.
Nobody puts baby in a corner, but it could be the perfect space for your fireplace. In his Los Angeles residence, Cliff Fong matched his mantel to the polished concrete floors for the perfect blend of tough and cozy.
Art Lover’s Fireplace
If you want your living room to exude a gallerylike feel, keep your fireplace minimal and go with all-white walls, like in Lisson Gallery CEO Alex Logsdail’s Hamptons home. This way, your art can shine.
Roaring Outdoor Fireplace
Fireplaces aren’t just for interiors. We especially love this welcoming Texas set-up, designed by architect Paul Lamb in a contemporary Austin ranch home.
The same rustic fireplace look extends to the home’s interiors, where warm adobelike finishes lend the room some serious Texas kick.
Vintage Cool Fireplace
Even if your decor skews minimal, your fireplace will bring plenty of hygge atmosphere. Take this kitchen located in a gorgeously converted lighthouse by Sally Mackereth. The all-white palette, dark accents, and humble furnishings make this the perfect respite from a chilly winter’s day.
This Belgian manor may have once been a medieval hunting lodge, but Jean-Philippe Demeyer injected it with plenty of color and whimsy. If you’re feeling brave, why not paint your fireplace in a similar lime green?
Everything about this cozy California den, designed by Workshop/APD is easy on the eyes thanks to split-faced stacked stone walls, neutral furnishings, and the stone mantel.
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