Dress Up an Unused Fireplace
Create a Sylvan Scene in Your Fireplace
There’s an enchanted quality to this placement of greenery, as if delicate plants are spilling in from the chimney.
First check to see that your fireplace gets at least a little bit of sun. Then shop the garden center (or your house) for about a dozen low-light plants—ferns and mosses are perfect—and nice-looking terra-cotta pots of different heights and shapes. Use a stump (again, at the garden center) or a stool to elevate one plant. Turn over spare pots to serve as stands for others, creating a sense of organic randomness through varied levels. Place some plants inside the fireplace opening, with others inching out and a few flanking the opening. Matched pairs pull the look together. Leave some blank space, rather than filling every inch. The intricate leaves can be appreciated (and watering is easier) with a little air around them.
Create a Birch Still Life in Your Fireplace
It calls to mind a dense forest, but really the stack is only one layer deep.
Buy birch at a garden center and have it cut to your specifications. You’ll need logs that are two inches longer than the fireplace opening. (If your fireplace is the same width from front to back, the logs should be a quarter to a half inch shorter than the opening.) You’ll also need a heavy, solid-bottom wooden crate. Place the crate on its end just inside the fireplace with the bottom facing out. This will help hold up the skinny stack of wood. Pile one log directly on top of another in the fireplace opening, adjusting the crate for support. The logs will fit together nicely if you take your time and experiment, trying them in different orders until you find the best arrangement.
Show Off a Collection of Vases in Your Fireplace
Lusciously curvy and reflective, opaque ceramic and glass pick up the colors of the room.
Gather similar pieces in a simple, two-color palette. Here, light-catching reds and browns echo the outline and the vibe of a crackling fire and connect with tones in the rug and the woodwork. A variety of heights and shapes is what makes an arrangement like this interesting, so choose some tall vases and some squat pieces. If you have a dark-colored stool, use it to elevate one item (the stool will fade into the background). The goal is to cluster the vases so that they read like a unit—one thought, rather than a bunch of separate ideas. Start by placing the tallest object just off center. Spread out the medium-size vessels, then fill in the nooks with the smallest items.
Fill the Frame of Your Fireplace With a Mirror
So subtle you might miss it, this sleek trick brings extra light into the room and makes art of a colorful rug.
How to Do It
At a local glazier or framer, have a piece of mirror cut to the exact dimensions of the fireplace opening. Ask to have the edges of the mirror seamed, so they’re not sharp. Place a heavy, sturdy wooden crate just inside the fireplace, with the bottom facing out; this will keep the mirror safe in case a vacuum cleaner or a pet pushes on it. With super-strong double-faced tape (such as Scotch Heavy Duty clear mounting tape; $6, amazon.com), attach the mirror to the bottom of the crate, then carefully shimmy it into place. For a more casual effect, simply lean a large framed mirror against the front of the hearth, as you might lean a piece of art against the wall above the mantel.
Make a Ball of Lights in Your Fireplace
A surprising way to bring a glow to the fireplace—and especially striking against a shiny floor.
How to Do It
You’ll need 10 strands of lights—we used blue (50 TCP mini-LED Christmas lights; $16, Just Bulbs, 212-888-5707)—and a dark plastic or rubber kids’ ball about 12 inches in diameter. (A black basketball would work.) Wrap the first strand of lights around the ball as if you’re winding yarn, rotating as you go. Connect the plug of the first string to the second strand of lights and keep winding. As you wrap the rest of the lights, use the same method, doubling back when you near the end of a strand so that all the cord connections are close together and easy to hide. You can use twist ties to help hold the strands in place. This is a casual, playful display, so go ahead and snake the cord out of the fireplace to plug it in.