Fireplace Makeover Ideas for a Cozier Winter

From a new log basket to an entirely new look, these changes will help you snuggle up by the hearth

By Laura Gaskill  |  Courtesy of Houzz.com

What could be cozier on a cold day than lounging in front of a crackling fire with a hot drink and a novel you’ve been wanting to read? Make the most of your fireplace with these ideas for budget-friendly changes, worth-it upgrades and major transformations.

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Quick, Budget-Friendly Changes

Style your mantel with salvaged finds. Whether you choose vintage signage, eclectic pottery or a recycled glass bottle filled with fresh flowers, adding your own mix of unique accessories is a great way to put your stamp on your fireplace. Shop your house first to see what you can pull together — you may not even need to buy anything new.

Get a new log holder and tool set. With options at all price points, this upgrade can make your fireplace look more finished and blend with the style of your space. Plus, a good set of toolsand a firewood rack (or sturdy basket) will make building your next fire easier.

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Replace the screen. If your fireplace doesn’t have a screen or the screen is dated, broken or rusty, making this one swap can really freshen up your fireplace. Look for a new fireplace screen that coordinates with your decorating style (modern, rustic, craftsman, etc.) for a cohesive look.

Add a shelf mantel. If your fireplace doesn’t already have a shelf, consider adding one. A shelf mantel, either floating like the one shown here or set atop corbels, adds

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Paint a brick surround. Painting brick is certainly controversial, but if you have no love for your brick fireplace — particularly if it overwhelms your space or the brick is an unattractive hue — painting it can be the simplest way to give your fireplace a fresh look. Before beginning, make sure the brick and mortar are in good shape and make repairs if needed. When it comes time to paint, give the brick a good cleaning, and use only primer and paint designed for masonry.

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Worth-It Upgrades

Replace tile. If your fireplace has a dated tile hearth or surround, replacing the old tile with one you love is a great way to change the look of your fireplace. And because the area to cover is small, the cost of about $10 to $25 per square foot feels more doable than it might for a larger space such as the kitchen or bath — so you can splurge on something you really like.

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Install an efficient fireplace insert. If you want to use your fireplace more often but worry about contributing to air pollution or aggravating allergies, switching to a cleaner-burning, efficient fireplace insert is a smart investment. Depending on your needs and your current fireplace setup, you may want to convert to gas, electric, wood pellets or a cleaner, more efficient wood-burning stove. Look for an EPA-qualified fireplace insert or retrofit to be sure you’re getting a cleaner-burning, efficient model.

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Major Transformations

Add built-in bookshelves or a custom mantel. Who doesn’t dream of curling up by the fire with a good book? Make the fantasy come to life with built-in shelving to surround your fireplace. This project can be modified to suit a range of budgets and styles, from basic built-ins crafted by a contractor to deluxe custom millwork designed to your exact specifications.

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Wrap the surround in stone veneer. A stone facade can add character to a room without many architectural features and can help bring the outdoors in. With the cost of wrapping a fireplace wall in stone veneer coming in at around $9,000, there are certainly less costly upgrades — but there’s also no denying that a stone fireplace is sure to be the focal point of the room.

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Start from scratch. Adding a fireplace to your home is a big project, both in terms of time and cost. But for a fireplace lover, the joy of having a crackling fire to warm yourself by on a chilly winter day can certainly be worth it. Start by browsing photos of fireplace styles, and save your favorites to a Houzz ideabook. Think about what you want from your fireplace — for example, if you live in an area that restricts the use of wood-burning fireplaces or has frequent “spare the air” days, a clean-burning gas fireplace is a better choice. When you’re ready, contact a pro to get started.