Whether you're updating an existing living room fireplace or adding a new feature to a bedroom, study or even a bathroom, checking out the latest fireplace trends used by designers is a great way to mine some inspiration. After all, with winter on the way, now's a great time to think about an update to make this functional feature a centerpiece in its own right.
With so many styles to choose from, spanning new materials, textures and even shapes, the world of fireplace ideas is exciting at the moment, offering options for any space – be it ultra-sleek, contemporary and minimalist or a little more traditional.
To help inspire you, we've highlighted six trends that are proving popular with designers right now.
1. Natural stone
Natural stone fireplaces – particularly marble – are nothing new; if you own a period home, perhaps you're lucky enough to have inherited one. But designers are using these natural materials in new and interesting ways, particularly in more contemporary applications.
In this project by New York design studio GACHOT, the marble fireplace forms part of an entire wall surface in the material – the same of which also flows on the floor. Using a stone with a pale blue-grey hue gives this look an unexpected twist, tying in with the teal bathroom furniture and the darker blue marble of the countertop.
2. Fluted finish
Fluting has made its way onto furniture, accessories and even kitchen islands, so it's no wonder it's a popular choice amongst contemporary designers for fireplaces. This finish adds a textural layer to a space while still feeling calm – perfect for a more minimalist scheme.
In this living room by Los Angeles and New York-based practice KES Studio, the finish helps cement the desired feel of the scheme. 'In this particular room, we were trying to create a calm and earthy setting,' explains the studio's founder, Kara Smith. 'With the fireplace as such a focal point, it was important to choose the right finish instead of something that would take away from the overall feel. We thought a combed plaster would give the right amount of interest and calmness the room needed, playing off the other materials and colors used throughout.'
3. Two tone
Feature fireplaces in a two-tone finish are popular amongst designers wanting to create a focal point in a scheme. They can help to pull disparate colors together or make a room's height feel greater by drawing the eye upward.
In this design by New York's Workshop/APD, for example, plaster-look tiles on the upper part of the chimney carry the texture of the walls across and contrast with the black fluted finish running along the fire and cabinetry below. Using the lighter shade in this way draws attention to the impressive high ceilings.
4. Curved shapes
Curves have found their way from furniture to more permanent architectural and design features like curved walls, kitchen cabinetry and, of course, fireplaces. The centerpiece of this Brooklyn living room by New York studio Barker Associates Architecture Office is a curved fluted fireplace surround featuring custom plaster by Kamp Studios.
'Curved fireplaces like this are evidence that the trend for more fluid, sinuous shapes and silhouettes is going nowhere,' says Livingetc global editor-in-chief Pip Rich. 'If you're working with a room that's all straight angles and featureless walls, using plaster in this way helps to create an architectural feature that feels contemporary but also timeless. And it is breathtakingly beautiful.'
5. Full height features
Perhaps you've noticed that most of the fireplaces featured here have something in common: they extend to the full height of the room. It's a sleek and contemporary update to the classic chimney breast, getting rid of the traditional mantlepiece and instead building fireplaces in flush to the outside finish. The result is a feature that emphasizes or enhances the height of a room – and as shown in this living room idea by GACHOT, it also presents an opportunity to experiment with contrasting finishes in a fluid way.
6. Metal finishes
Metal might not be your first thought when you're choosing a fireplace finish, but while unusual, it offers some really interesting options for a more contemporary scheme. In this living room by Louisville-based Natalie O Design, patinated steel forms the basis for the fireplace feature wall.
'We worked with a local fabricator to create a steel fireplace surround,' explains Natalie Officer. 'It is 100% steel with an oiled patina finish. The patinization creates the texture and the reflective quality. While many falling for this trend work with lime wash and plaster, we much prefer something with the staying power of the other hard finishes within the home. The dark finish adds weight and balance in an otherwise light filled and airy space. With the staircase on the other end, the balance of the two volumes and finish quality felt important to the outcome.'
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Ellen is deputy editor of Livingetc magazine. She cut her teeth working for sister publication Real Homes, starting as features editor before becoming deputy editor. There, she enjoyed taking a peek inside beautiful homes and discovered a love for design and architecture that eventually led her here. She has also written for other titles including Homes & Gardens and Gardeningetc. While she gets ready to buy a house of her own, she takes inspiration from the works of some of her favourite architects and tastemakers. She has a particular passion for green design and enjoys shopping small, local and second-hand where she can.
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