How to decorate an empty fireplace – 6 styling ideas favored by interior designers

From vases of flowers to candles and books, this is what interior designers use to enhance an empty fireplace with beautiful decoration

How to decorate an empty fireplace. Blue living room with fireplace with candles | Fireplace with blue wallapaper. Farmhouse bedroom with stone fireplace and flowers.
(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer | Pearson Lyle Management, Jan Baldwin | Future)

As beautiful, cozy and warming as a working fireplace can be, not all spaces benefit from, or need, a roaring fire, with many of us having empty fireplaces in our homes instead. 

With these eye-catching architectural features often acting as the natural, main focal point in a room, it pays to enhance your fireplace ideas with stylish decoration – from mantel decor, to accessorizing your hearth and the inside of your fireplace. 

To ensure every part of your fireplace is styled to perfection, we've asked a collection of interior designers to share their favorite design ideas for decorating an empty fireplace.

Learn how to decorate an empty fireplace with our expert styling advice

A non-working fireplace really does provide a wonderful area to get creative with a whole host of decorative styling opportunities – the empty space can even work as a more practical, (albeit, very unique) storage location, too. 

Whether you have a traditional fireplace, a farmhouse fireplace, or a more modern design, our decoration ideas can cater to all.

1. Keep it cozy with candles

black cast iron fireplace with pattern tiled hearth in hallway. ofedwardian villa

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

One of the most popular decorating ideas for an empty fireplace has got to be candles. A collection of cozy candles can evoke a similar feeling to sitting by the flames of a working fire, helping to create that inviting and warming ambiance.

Interior designer, Kristina Khersonsky from Studio Keeta advises, 'Try styling your empty fireplace with an eclectic arrangement of vintage candle holders and candlesticks, or simply use larger, block candles of varying heights.'

As well as real candles, there are a range of faux, LED designs that can create a cozy feel too, like these flameless pillar candles from Pottery Barn.

Kristina Khersonsky
Kristina Khersonsky

Los Angeles-based interior designer Kristina Khersonsky is the  principal of interior design studio, STUDIO KEETA. 

2. Stacks of books

Fireplace decorated with books and antique ornaments

(Image credit: Studio KEETA)

If you're running out of room on your shelves for all of your books and magazines, why not extend your book storage to your fireplace?

We love this unique display by Studio Keeta, and how the stacks of books have been elegantly enhanced with a collection of antique ornaments, making for a truly unique display and talking point.

If you don't have room for a magazine rack in your living room, we think an empty fireplace provides a wonderfully unique alternative, perfect if you have lots of seating surrounding your fireplace.

3. Plants and flowers

Farmhouse style bedroom with fireplace

(Image credit: PAUL MASSEY)

Many of us adorn our mantels with beautiful plants and flowers, and these natural accents can work well sitting pretty inside of an empty fireplace, too. 

Interior designer Artem Kropovinsky, founder of Arsight says, 'For a touch of organic elegance, seasonal greenery or dried botanicals can add a sculptural element to the inside of your fireplace, creating an inviting, indoor-outdoor feel.'

In this farmhouse bedroom, the traditional stone fireplace has been decorated with a vase of dried flowers, which feels perfectly in keeping with the more rustic and natural style of the space.

Many of us will use natural decorations for fall mantel decor and Christmas mantel decor, and there is no reason why you cannot extend these accents to the inside of your empty fireplace, too. From stacks of real or faux pumpkins to arrangements of Christmas foliage, a fireplace will always be one of the best places to embrace stylish seasonal decor.

Artem Kropovinsky headshot
Artem Kropovinsky

Founder of NYC-based interior design firm, Arsight, Artem Kropovinsky has a decade of extensive global design experience, connecting a cohesive, collaborative team of passionate professionals, who work on interior projects in the U.S. and worldwide. 

4. Decorative ornaments and accessories

Colorful wallpapered fireplace, two patterned chairs, vases of flowers


Just like you would style shelves and coffee tables with ornaments and trinkets, these decorative accessories are perfect for enhancing an empty fireplace with characterful, personal decoration.

Artem Kropovinsky says, 'Treat the fireplace as a stage for rotating displays. From seasonal decorations, collected artifacts, and beautiful ornaments, ensure this area becomes a living part of your home's story and style.'

The fireplace in this colorful living room has not only been elegantly enhanced by beautiful living room wallpaper ideas, the perfectly placed platform inside the fireplace creates an inviting surface to display decorative ornaments; creating a similar effect to that of a pedestal or podium in an art gallery.

As well as ornaments, if the inside of your fireplace is big enough, it is also a great area to decorate with mirrors and to decorate with artwork.

5. Get creative with tiles

Traditional style bedroom and bathroom with tiled fireplace

(Image credit: PAUL MASSEY)

Fireplace tile ideas are not only a practical design feature, they can look beautiful, too. 

Tiles can uplift your fireplace with stylish color, pattern, and character, and can create a similar, artistic effect like that of wallpaper or artwork on a wall. Wonderfully versatile, tiles can also be used across your fireplace, from decorating the inside to the hearth extension and mantel.

We love the classic feel of the fireplace in this beautiful main bedroom, with the traditional blue and white patterned tiles, which show intricate drawings of flowers, animals, and people, perfectly complementing the palette of the marble surround and creating beautiful visual interest across the fireplace.

For some further tile inspiration, we explore tile layout patterns and ideas in our dedicated feature. 

6. Keep the fireplace empty for a simple and streamlined look

Pink bedroom with gallery wall, fireplace, alcove shelving

(Image credit: Future)

And finally, as much as we love the creative styling opportunities that an empty fireplace provides, as the old saying goes, sometimes less is more. 

'If the inside of your fireplace has a traditional metal insert, as shown in the pink living room above, I always think that this space can be left as it is, as it already provides such a beautiful, interesting design feature that celebrates a fireplace design of the past,' says Homes & Gardens' digital editor, Jennifer Ebert.

From inserts to tiles, stone and brick, no matter what your fireplace has been crafted out of, leaving the inside space empty can not only allow the eye to focus on the other parts of the fireplace, such as a decorated mantel, it can create a more simple and streamlined look, ideal for a more modern and minimalist setting.

Jennifer Ebert
Jennifer Ebert

Jen is the Editor (Digital) of Homes & Gardens. Before starting this position, she had completed various interior design courses at KLC Design School, as well as working across Ideal Home, LivingEtc, 25 Beautiful Homes and Country Homes & Interiors as an interiors writer.

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How do you make an empty fireplace look good?

The key to making an empty fireplace look good is ensuring the space feels connected to the overall style and decor of the room it sits in. An easy way to do this is to style your empty fireplace using objects that coordinate with your room color ideas.

As we have explored in this piece, enriching your empty fireplace with a few key decorations and meaningful pieces, such as artwork and ornaments, is an easy way to make this area appear more characterful, visually interesting and connected with your personal style.

As well as our expert tips on styling an empty fireplace, to help you ensure every inch of your fireplace is beautifully decorated, we also asked the experts to share their best advice for styling a mantelpiece.

Zara Stacey
Managing Editor

Zara is the Managing Editor at Homes & Gardens. She joined the brand in February 2022 as an Interiors Content Editor, specializing in writing content on interior color trends, decorating ideas and design inspiration. After studying English Literature at University, she worked as an Ecommerce Website Editor, Content Writer and Buying Intern at multiple independent businesses within the luxury retail and lifestyle sectors. She enjoys nothing more than discovering new trends, brands and products, whether that be in fashion, interior design or lifestyle.