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

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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.