Designing a Living Room Around a Non-Functional Fireplace

Having a fireplace is, for many people, a real asset. Being able to light a real wood fire on chilly evenings will make nights in at home much more pleasant, and keep you warm and cosy in the most traditional way.

Then again, there are houses with fireplaces that are no longer functional, often because the chimney has been blocked up at some point in the past. In this situation, a fireplace can still look nice but it isn't really much use. And if you're looking at redesigning your living room, having a fireplace stuck in the way can be a massive inconvenience.

Work around the fireplace and make the most of it being there with these simple design tips.


Repainting a room with a fireplace is a chance to use its existence to your advantage. The chimney breast – that's the bit above the fireplace that protrudes out of the wall and contains the lower part of the chimney – can be painted a contrasting colour to the walls for a beautiful effect. Alternatively, if there's bare brick underneath the paint, stripping it away to reveal the colour of the brickwork works wonderfully in a traditional design scheme.

In addition to the chimney breast, don't forget the hearth and mantelpiece, which give you further creative options. You can paint these in further colours, making a lively, cheerful design, or there might be attractive wood and stone that can be revealed. Whatever you choose to do, don't just blend the fireplace in like you're trying to hide it; really show it off and make it a cherished detail of the room.

Arranging furniture

Many living rooms are centred around a television, which can be challenging when there's a fireplace in the way. One option is to fix the TV above the fireplace, then arrange your seating accordingly.

If you have quite a large living room, you can create two separate areas: one with seats facing the TV on a wall, and another with some seating around the fireplace for quieter evenings.

Using the space

A non-working fireplace gives you a nice little decorative space. There are all manner of things you can do with this, limited only by your imagination.

For echoing its former purpose, a cast iron grill filled with logs or pine cones looks like you're ready to get the fire going. Alternatively, filling it with candles of differing heights brings back a little bit of fire to the fireplace.

More unusual but highly effective ideas are filling the fireplace with potted plants, books, fairy lights in jars, framed photos or a large mirror. Anything you want to display can find the perfect new home in an old fireplace.