Faux Fireplaces — Yay or Nay?

What do you think about faux fireplaces?

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately because unfortunately, the house doesn’t have a fireplace. We might add one when we tackle our major remodel in a few years (more on that plan soon!), but for now, there’s a place in the living room that just seems perfect for a fireplace.

But since I really don’t like the look of those vent-free numbers that you can buy from Home Depot and Lowe’s, and I’m really not concerned with actually being able to use the fireplace (I really just want a pretty mantle), I’ve been considering a completely faux fireplace. As in, one that very obviously isn’t a real fireplace, but lends all of the architectural detail that a real fireplace does to a room.

My favorite faux fireplace of all time has to be this one from Sophia’s.

Faux fireplace with chalk drawn bricks, logs, and fire

The style of the actual mantel isn’t quite what I would want, but the chalk drawing of the bricks, logs, and fire have clearly been done by someone with artistic talent.  I love that it’s not trying to fool anyone into thinking that it’s a real, working, wood-burning fireplace (which is my problem with the ones from Home Depot…they try, and fail, in my opinion).  It’s quirky, eye-catching, and artistic.

Another option is simply to use the mantel as an architectural detail, and leave the opening completely open, like this one from Dreamy Whites.

faux fireplace - dreamy whites blog

Then there’s always the idea of filling the inside with wood, like this one from Jute Interior Design (found via Houzz).

Faux fireplace from Jute Interior Design

And then, of course, there are the old standbys for filling fireplaces (both functioning and faux) like plants and candles.

As far as my own personal style, I’ve always loved Kevin and Layla’s fireplace in their first home.

Fireplace makeover from The Lettered Cottage

And I also love the added shimmer of the tile on the one that they did in their HGTV room.

Fireplace makeover in HGTV room from The Lettered Cottage

If I could create something that looks like those, adds the architectural detail to the room, but doesn’t look like it’s actually trying too hard to trick people into thinking it’s a real fireplace, I think I’d be happy with it.

So what are your thoughts on faux fireplaces.  Do you like the architectural detail a mantel adds to a room even if there’s no fireplace?  Do you think a room with no functioning fireplace should be left mantel-less?  Are you like me, and you like a faux fireplace as long as it’s not trying too hard to look real?

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Comments

  1. Stacy says

    I love all of those designs! I think there is something inviting and whimsical about a mantle, real fireplace or not. If the room has a space for it I think it’s a great idea to have a faux fireplace, especially if it serves a repurposed function like storage, or just an artistic focal point.

  2. says

    I generally dislike the look of fake fireplaces (like those from Lowes and Home Depot), but I like the idea of setting it up to look like it’s a real fireplace that’s just not being used. I really like the fireplace filled with wood and Kevin and Layla’s. I’m not too into just adding the mantel to any given wall like the one from Dreamy Whites. I also really like the shimmery tile on the HGTV home.

  3. says

    I thought about a faux fireplace in our living room under our projector screen initially. We were going to use it as a bookcase. So it basically would have been a bookcase with a mantle built around it. =D Then, we were going to build “built ins” that would house our electronics, and be our media console to the left and right of the mantled bookcase, just below the mantle. Our projection screen turned out to be so large, that a mantle wouldn’t work. We became spoiled by the screen size, so we scrapped the idea.

    Speaking of fireplaces, my favorite simple, clean, modern DIY fireplace makeover is found at Stephanie Strickland’s blog: http://swingncocoa.blogspot.com/2013/07/fireplace-makeover-part-3-deliciously.html I just shared her link in a comment by Lilikoi Joy too, so fireplaces seem to be a hot topic right now! =D

  4. lindyb says

    I really don’t like the fireplaces with no recess inside, but I completely understand the desire for a pretty mantle. I like the look of the wood in the fireplace, though I can’t helping thinking a lot of spiders would set up shop in there. I think Yvonne’s idea for a mantle surround a bookcase built in is awesome! It gives it function without having to be a functioning fireplace.

  5. Lee says

    I do like the look of a fireplace, real or faux. I love a big, chunky mantel because it gives you numerous opportunities to decorate it throughout the year. I love the idea of filling it with wood, pumpkins or seasonal plants. I do not like the ones that look like just a mantel slapped up against a wall.

  6. Sabina Claus says

    Love them!
    I think of them mostly in Christmas time and only install it for that time of year!
    Kevin and Layla’s is my favorite and what I plan on installing in my next home…candles give off such warmth and in Colorado we have so many restrictions on wood burning and I don’t like gas
    sooooo I guess i’m saying GO FOR IT!
    and sometime when you come to colorado….I’m gonna have you come by and help me!

  7. Mary says

    No I don’t like fake fireplaces & I don’t want a fireplace anyway but that has to do with a woodburning furance & always freezing before we moved to years ago. I do like the look & idea of the mantel though. And having decorations on it. So this Spring I bought a long wood shelf from Michael’s, painted it black & thought I could display stuff on it. Now if only I could get someone to put it up!

  8. LISA JANUSKA says

    I love the Shimmering tiled one, but I love the wood added to the Jute Int. in the Houzz pic. Your daring color combos, I am sure you will come up with something stunning!

  9. julie says

    I love them! I actually have a real fireplace, but use candles on a candelabra instead of logs/fire. No mess, no smoke, no dirty bricks. But I still get the ambiance of flickering lights. I say go for it!!

  10. Betsey says

    I love fireplaces but only some faux ones. I had been looking for one and finally found one at Big Lots. All the other ones I saw were short and this one is more the height of a fireplace. It is electric that somewhat looks real and you can also have it put out heat. I love it!,

  11. Christine says

    Love Kevin and Layla’s fireplace! We have a real fireplace in our living room but with a bay window, 2 other windows, and 2 doorways, its hard to arrange furniture in it. The rooms 14′X 16′ .So we just blocked it off and set the TV cabinet in front of it. Not really happy with the idea, don’t know what else to do. If you hang the TV above it on the wall it could be damaged when using the fireplace, so I’m kind of stuck. :(

  12. says

    big thumbs up for faux fireplace treatments…..even if you don’t have heat or flame, they add a homey touch and architectural interest to any space….of course, they can be done well, or they can be a box in the middle of the wall—-i’m sure whatever you do will be awesome!

  13. PML says

    I think that in these photos, all these fireplaces look very cute and fun. However, if I had it in my own home, I would probably think it looked a little cheap and too quirky (for me). Kevin and Layla’s fireplace from their first home is my favorite, and I can actually see myself having that in my house, but the other ones, although beautiful, are not quite my cup of tea. :) I’m sure you will come up with something unique that will knocks all our socks off though.

  14. Linda says

    Why not shop salvage places for an antique fireplace surround and just add it to a wall but decorate the wall where the opening would be? Then you would have your mantle, the character you love, and the opportunity to be creative without actually having the expense of a real or faux fireplace?

  15. Vicki McIver says

    I like the idea of a fireplace and mantel. You can always cover the “opening” with a hand painted “firescreen” like the ones used during Victorian times (big baskets of flowers or whatever you choose for a theme). I once made one to fit into my fireplace opening to block out the cold air when not in use. It was made out of recycled weathered lumber and stenciled wit elk.

  16. says

    I used to have a real wood fireplace in a previous life. It Sucked every bit of hot air out of the house when it was working. Obviously, technology is much better now, but we just installed two fireplaces, one, propane and one electric. I’m more interested in ambiance and both give us that. Chopping and storing wood is not for sissies. I did it in the farmhouse where I was a child, another previous life and it is Not romantic. Go for form, not function, ambiance, not heat…..unless you live in a forest.

  17. Robin says

    We built 3 years ago and have a ventless fireplace. It was our first and we love it! We’ve had wood burning and vented and ventless is my favorite. It came from a local retailer, not Lowe’s or Home Depot. If you don’t need the wall space in that room, I like some of the fake options you’ve chosen. My favorites are the one filled with wood and the one at Kevin and Layla’s first home. We painted the inside of ours with the high heat black spray paint and I like that look best. Love your blog and can’t wait to see the new house transformation!

  18. Gilmer Gal says

    I have a fake fireplace and really, really can’t like it. It’s built in and wired, so taking it out would be a major hassle. I thought I wanted a fireplace that didn’t make a mess, like my old one. I miss my big woodburning fireplace now. However, you can make or refinish a fireplace mantle with the surround, and use it for real when you remodel your room to include a “real” fireplace. I like the one with the wood stacked (it’s probably just slices of logs attached to a backboard?). Anyway, aren’t you glad you have all the time now to make a decision!?!

  19. Sheila says

    Nay. No. Not a fan of the faux fireplace.
    If I had a free wall to make a focal point, I’d go for some sort of shelving every time.
    Two free walls? More shelving. I love arranging books and accessories on shelves and would be happy to wrap a room with them.
    I’ve got a big wood-burning fireplace in my living but no mantel and I don’t want one either (Dec 24 excepted).
    Clearly a case of different strokes for me!

  20. Vicki says

    You need to come see Robin’s faux fireplace, or I’ll send you a photo. It’s got some charm and is another way to build one. We have a real fireplace that we don’t use because it seems that every FP we’ve had still emits enough smoke inside to give me migraines. So we have a creamy iron lattice firescreen in front of it in the summer, pumpkins in the fall, and candles in the winter. We are thinking about lowering the mantle (which I do love) and turning the fireplace into some sort of bookcase and putting the TV on it. I like the Layla FP, and the white one with chalk drawing. You will come up with a great idea, I have no doubt. The more flexible the better, so that you can change it as the muse inspires you!

  21. Kevin says

    The 3rd one seems to fit the style taste of your condo to me. I think a well designed Faux fireplace with some type of real fire source look add a wonderful feel to a room. My is electric with the flicker of a real flame, I enjoy watching it just like the ones I have had in the past, wood burning and gas. Now I never want to be without one. Go for it !!!

  22. Angie says

    I say go for it! I love them. I think if they are built or installed correctly, they can look just as nice as a real one. My mom has a beautiful marble one from her old house, that has no place in this house. It has a full marble surround and hearth…gorgeous. It always used to convince people that we had a real one upstairs when we didn’t. Now she is looking to sell it, so if there is anyone in TX (Dallas area) interested…let me know! [email protected]

  23. Joanne says

    I love a faux fireplace. I have a gas fireplace downstairs but would love to have a mantel upstairs that I can decorate and put my “pot belly” electric heater in front of it in winter. I like the one in Steve and Layla’s house. Also found a plan on Ana-White that would look similar if the top were swapped out for a nice wood beam.
    http://ana-white.com/2012/09/plans/mimi039s-faux-mantle.
    This is also what I’d like to put in our great room. I’m excited to see what you choose!

  24. Reta says

    Building a fireplace mantle shouldn’t be too difficult. It can be a series of boxes stacked together. Then with the wide variety of trim available, you can create a masterpiece. Another benefit of building your own is ability to adjust the size to fit your room. Your mantle does not have to be 4-5 feet wide that might overwhelm your room. You could build a small mantle if that is what you want.

    So go for it and have a good time.

  25. Colleen says

    My current house has a fireplace, but my house previously did not. I hated it. There is something about a fireplace that “grounds” the room. I say go for the faux fireplace until you decide to do your remodel. I’m sure it will look fab!

    • Colleen says

      Oh, and my new one is gas, and I love, love, love it! It already had a gas starter so I had it converted. It is mainly for the ambiance, but it does put off a little heat.

  26. Cathy Stenquist says

    I am a mural artist. The owner had added a piece of sheet rock over the opening. I painted a Trompe-l’œil brick opening and tile around it. Then 3 post of geraniums in side. Really looked cute. Is there any way to post pictures?

  27. says

    I like them Kristi! I have been seriously thinking of one too… and pinning all kinds of images of them as well as of mantel shelf designs. I need something like that for season decor… just not sure whether to go with the full mantel or just a shelf. Hmm…. tough decisions!

  28. says

    The mantle with the stacked wood looked great! I would personally prefer a real fireplace if I had the option, but a faux one can still tie a room together if it’s done right.

  29. Genelle McDaniel says

    I had exactly the same reaction as you to the Lowe’s/Home Depot faux fireplaces. I wanted something that look more real. After a year of searching, I came up with an idea that really works. Wish I could send you a photo of it. I searched all the ebay auctions for fireplaces, being very careful to look only at the ones that were the size I wanted. Finally I found a used one (store sample) that had the architecture that I wanted and the size I wanted. It was electric (LED) but did not have a flat glass screen the way most of them do. It does have a glass cover, but inside it has real depth with the look of brick lining that was slanted back to the back wall of the fireplace. That’s what really sold me. And if you get an electric fireplace make sure you get one with real flame technology. You’d be surprised at how real it looks. The problem??? It was a dark brown, almost black color and the fireplace surround was faux marble that was the worst faux marble I had ever seen. I could have painted better faux marble. Solution??? It came with the electric insert packed separately, so before sliding it in place, I spray painted it a white (ever so slightly an ivory which looked like real white.) The molded wood grain showed up great after painting. I then distressed the finish by rubbing off some of the paint in places that might ordinarily show wear after a hundred years. That horrible faux marble surround? I bought the tiny 1/2″ glass tiles on a net backing that come in about a foot square. You have to cut the net backing to fit, glue them on and then use a mortar for looking real. The glass tiles I chose were a mixture of different shades of jadite green and tan. It is the most beautiful fireplace I could ever have imagined. I have pics, but not sure how to send them to you.

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