Styling Non-Operable Fireplace To Look Real

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The allure of a crackling fire within a beautifully styled fireplace is timeless, creating a sense of warmth and comfort. However, not everyone has the luxury of a working fireplace or the means to install one. This is where the magic of faux fireplaces comes in, offering a cozy, aesthetic charm without the need for actual flames. Today, I’m sharing the world of fake fireplaces that look real and how to decorate unused fireplaces! Including a creative DIY project that transformed a space, styling tips for non-operable fireplaces, and how to curate an enchanting fireplace accent wall.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Cozy room with a faux fireplace featuring peel and stick brick background and a custom wood mantel, illustrating creative fireplaces in home decor. Showing how to decorate unused fireplace.
Shop my office: Floral Rug, Woven Rug, Armchair, Armed Sconce, Rattan Lamp, Wall Sconce, Chair and stool are antique.

DIY Faux Fireplace Project

Let’s start with my journey in creating and learning how to decorate an unused fireplace in our third-floor guest bedroom and office space. The key piece of this fireplace accent wall project was using an antique iron fireplace with a summer cover from Facebook Marketplace, making it seem more realistic.

Adding the peel-and-stick brick behind the summer cover instantly elevates the texture and depth of the fireplace’s appearance. Then, a mantel was built around this insert, creating a cohesive and inviting focal point. This project shows how creative ideas can make a fake fireplace look real and transform a space, proving that you don’t need real flames!

Showing a before and after of a faux fireplace with bookcase project completed on my third floor. Art above the victorian fireplace, and shelves to the left with decor and books. Great idea for fake fireplaces that look real and how to decorate unused fireplace.

Styling Non-Operable Fireplaces: Bring Life to the Hearth

Old fireplaces, once the heart of a home, may no longer serve their original purpose but can still be a feature. Styling non-operable fireplaces is an art, turning these dormant pieces into pieces of beauty (and history). So, here’s how to decorate an unused/fake fireplace to breathe new life into them so that they look real:

  • Fireplace Candles: Arrange varying heights of candles inside for a soft glow that mimics the ambiance of a fire. Faux or flameless candles also look beautiful; you may find inserts specifically to hold candles!
  • Above Fireplace Decor: Utilize the mantel to display art, photos, or other decor. So, this space is prime real estate for personal expression and can serve as an above fireplace decor feature.
  • Fireplace Accent Wall: Elevate the entire wall around a non-working fireplace by painting it a contrasting colour, adding wallpaper, or using decorative tiles.
Modern bathroom with old architectural details from the original home.
Learn more about this project: Converting a Bedroom into a Bathroom

The Mantel Makeover: Without the Fireplace

There are some great options for those who may not have a fireplace insert or electric fireplace. A standalone mantel can still add architectural interest and warmth to a room and even create a fireplace accent wall. Here are ideas for styling a non-operable fireplace to make it look real and integrated:

  • Anchor with a Mirror or Art: Place a large mirror or piece of art above the mantel. This acts as a focal point, drawing the eye upward and creating the illusion of depth and space.
  • Decorative Screens: Position a decorative screen where the fireplace opening would traditionally be to add texture and intrigue.
  • Seasonal Styling: Adapt the mantel decor with the seasons, incorporating fireplace candles, greenery, or seasonal decor.

Looking for a realistic looking electric fireplace DIY? Learn more about this project here.

Chic fireplace accent wall with brick with decorative frame tv art above the mantel, embodying stylish above fireplace decor ideas.
Kitchen details. Shop the space: Frame TV, Art, Armchairs, Faux Fireplace (similar), Thin Brick, Shelf with Hooks, Stool (similar), Basket

Layer in Texture and Warmth

  • Use Soft Lighting: Incorporate soft, ambient lighting around the fireplace area. Small, battery-operated LED lights or fairy lights can mimic the twinkling effect of burning embers, adding warmth. One of my favourite ideas is shared below.
  • Add Textural Elements: Place a plush rug, throw blankets, or decorative pillows near the fireplace. These elements invite coziness and comfort, creating the welcoming vibe of the fireplace area.

Functional Decor Ideas

  • Book Display: If your faux fireplace has depth, consider using it as a unique book nook. So, stacking books inside the fireplace can add a personal touch and transform it into a point of interest.
  • Plant Haven: Arrange indoor plants inside or around the hearth for a fresh, lively look. This adds colour and life and purifies the air, marrying aesthetics with health benefits.
Seasonal accent wall with bookcase and mantel, cat running across the picture.

Seasonal and Holiday Decorating

  • Embrace Seasonal Changes: Tailor your fireplace decor to reflect the seasons. For autumn, think pumpkins, pinecones, and warm-toned foliage. Winter calls for snowy accents, twinkling lights, and evergreen branches.
  • Holiday Themes: Make your faux fireplace the centrepiece of holiday decorations. So, stockings hung from the mantel for Christmas, Halloween elements, or spring flowers are just a few ideas.
  • Wood Basket: Adding a basket or a stack of real wood logs or kindling can help make the fireplace seem more realistic, which I did with our kitchen fireplace.

Engage the Senses

  • Scented Candles or Diffusers: Even if you can’t have the smell of burning wood, scented candles or essential oil diffusers can fill the room with comforting aromas like pine, cinnamon, or baked apple. I love this wood-wick fireside scented candle, providing scent and the crackle of a fire.
  • Soundscapes: Play background noises such as crackling fire, soft music, or nature sounds to enhance the atmosphere around your faux fireplace, making it feel even more real.
Bright and airy bathroom featuring a non-operable fireplace mantel decorated with a large art and vase, exemplifying how to make a mantel without a fireplace insert look real. Showing how to decorate unused fireplace by using battery candles!

Interactive Elements

  • Create a Conversation Area: Arrange seating to face the faux fireplace, encouraging social interaction and making it the heart of the room. So, this setup fosters a sense of intimacy and warmth, inviting conversations and gatherings around the “fire.”
  • Display Interactive Decor: Incorporate items on the mantel or around the fireplace that invite interaction—photo albums, intriguing artifacts, or tactile decor pieces that guests can admire up close.

By integrating these additional elements and ideas, styling your non-operable fireplace or faux fireplace can become more than just a visual feature. It can transform into your home’s dynamic, sensory, and beautiful focal point creating a fireplace accent wall. The goal is to create a space that feels as inviting and warm as a real fireplace through these creative ideas. This will make it a cherished relaxing spot and socializing in your home.

Rustic faux fireplace setup with a brick surround, creating a feature wall, adorned with vintage decor pieces and a woven basket of wood, capturing the essence of creative fireplaces in a cozy setting. A good example of fake fireplaces that look real.

Embracing Creative Fireplaces in Your Decor

Faux fireplaces open up possibilities for creativity and personal expression in home decor. Whether you’re undertaking a DIY project to create a fake fireplace that looks real, styling a non-operable fireplace, or curating a captivating mantel display, the key is in the details. Through thoughtful arrangement, selective accents, and a bit of imagination, you can transform any space into a warm, inviting haven that centers around the timeless appeal of a fireplace—no real fire necessary.

Remember, learning how to decorate an unused fireplace properly helps evoke the warmth and charm of a traditional hearth, creating a space where stories can unfold and memories can be made. So, light up your fireplace candles, arrange your above fireplace decor, and enjoy he glow of your own creative fireplace solution.

Victorian iron fireplace with an intricate summer cover, set against a peel and stick brick backdrop, beautifully illustrating the charm of fake fireplaces that look real in a vintage-inspired decor.

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