Decorating & Design

November 27, 2019

Ask A Designer: How To Warm Up A Dated Fireplace

In this Ask A Designer column, Jennifer Koper shares her ideas for giving a drab fireplace a modern makeover.

Question: We’re moving into a new home that has a fireplace with decorative niches on one side of the wall. Could you recommend a mantel style and help us furnish the space? — M.B., Kanata, Ontario

ask a designer fireplace before

Answer:  Congratulations on your new place! Instead of adding a mantel, why not try something with serious impact? For a truly modern focal point, tile or paint the fireplace wall black, similar to the Inspiration room designed by Amber Interiors (see below). This will visually unify the television and fireplace and really make a statement.

ask a designer fireplace

Ideally, you could put a new fireplace installation with a larger version that would better anchor the room. Make sure that the fireplace and television are installed in the center of the wall, with the television above. I recommend drywalling over the niches to simplify the look. Opt for a paint treatment if you’re not sure you want to commit to tile, but a large, matte black, flat-edged subway tile with black grout would look very polished.

(Source: 4″ by 12″ Soho Black Matte Tile by Cinca, price available upon request,

Next, cozy up the space with a large leather sectional so that the wall adjacent to the fireplace isn’t left empty — and you’ll also get plenty of lounge space.

timber corner sectional through Article

(Source: Timber Corner Sectional in Charme Tan, $4,399,

To add depth and color, layer in modern and traditional rugs.

stockholm rug by Anna Sörensson through Ikea

(Source: Stockholm Rug by Anna Sörensson, $249,

hand-knotted touserkan rug through Shop House & Home

(Source: Hand-Knotted Touserkan Rug, $1,603,

For a textural accent, opt for a round rattan coffee table that can do double duty as an ottoman.

(Source: Somerset Cocktail Table in Neutral, price available upon request,

Finally, set an open-framed accent chair just left of the fireplace.

chiara lounge chair in leather through EQ3

(Source: Chiara Lounge Chair in Leather, $1,149,

With these steps, you can enjoy an inviting and modern living space, perfectly set up for entertaining.

Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to [email protected].

Author: Jennifer Koper

Tessa Neustadt


House & Home November 2019


Amber Interiors