Design Dilemma · Fireplaces · Inspiration · Interiors

Design Dilemma: What to do With a Non-Working Fireplace

Some of us are not blessed with a working fireplace.  It would be lovely to have a roaring fire in the fireplace during our many freezing Chicago days and nights, but the fireplaces in our 1920s vintage high-rise apartment building are only decorative, not functional. Nonetheless, I love having a beautiful mantle to style, and I think a fireplace, whether working or not, acts as a focal point in a room.

I know there are others out there who are living with a non-working fireplace, and I thought I would share some ideas for what you can do with the unused space.  These ideas can also be used if you have a working fireplace, but aren’t sure what to do with it during the warmer months.

Add Plants:

Adding a large green plant to the inside of your fireplace fills up the space and adds color.  The basket holding the plant in the fireplace pictured below adds texture, as well:

Amal Kapen Interiors

Ferns are a good choice:

The Pink Clutch via Southern Living
via Dear Lillie

A hydrangea plant adds color and liveliness to the dark fireplace cavity:

Farrow & Ball


Add Something Sculptural:

In our fireplace, I painted the inside the same color as the wall (Benjamin Moore Linen White) and placed a stone sculpture inside.  I also added a plant and garden stool:

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 1.10.42 PM.png

Below, a tortoiseshell hides an unsightly gas heater:

William McLure via One Kings Lane

In the fireplace pictured below, sculptural coral adds visual interest and the black painted interior provides a dramatic backdrop:

Mark D. Sikes via Instyle

Some heirloom pumpkins make an interesting seasonal display:

Sarah Tucker

A bust and piece of coral fill up this space:

via Popsugar

Add Candles:

A mass of candles in different heights can add light and interest to the space:

Elle Decor
via A Beautiful Mess


Add Wood:

This might actually fool people into thinking that you have a working fireplace!  Logs stacked in interesting ways can be pleasing to the eye and add a rustic and natural touch:

Becca Interiors
via Bloglovin
This Old House
via Pinterest


Add Books:

This can be a good storage option if you have more books than shelf space.

via Pinterest
Design Sponge
Apartment Therapy

Add Baskets:

This is a good way to fill the space and add texture.

via Pinterest
The Lettered Cottage


Do you have any other ideas for decorating a non-working fireplace?

6 thoughts on “Design Dilemma: What to do With a Non-Working Fireplace

  1. Now you have me wishing I had a fireplace to style! I really like the look of the overflowing pumpkins. A creative way to style the empty space and decorate for fall at the same time!


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