There are so many ways to create a focal point out of a chimney breast that go further than just painting it a different colour.
Looking for some home reno inspiration? These 19 chimney breast ideas are perfect for old, new and transitional spaces, let’s get stuck in!
19 Chimney Breast Ideas With Big Impact
1. Built In Shelving Alcoves
Chimney breasts will almost always have alcove space on either side and one of my favourite ways to elevate these is by adding shelving in. Whether its a living space or a bedroom, extra space for storage is always a win!
Shelves provide the perfect opportunity to display your favourite decorative items, making the space feel unique and personal to you.
It further helps to draw the eye in to the chimney breast – paint the shelves in the same colour or create more of a contrast with differing shades.
2. Define With Black Accents
A snapshot from my very own Victorian terrace living room. The chimney breast was once boarded up with a piece of plastic and we brought it back to life with a Georgian cast iron old fireplace.
Original antique fireplaces are more difficult to come across in properties these days as people have ripped them out over the years.
Facebook marketplace and local reclamation yards are some of the best places to grab original pieces at affordable prices.
I love the presence it adds to the space, we combined with a black arched mirror to soften the space, whilst the defining black hues draw the room together and add definition in the neutral space.
3. Playing With Colour
By utilising contrasting or complementary hues on a chimney breast wall, you have the opportunity to create a striking feature that adds depth, drama, and a sense of individuality.
One of the primary reasons to use differing colours on a chimney breast wall is to create visual interest and draw attention to this architectural element.
The juxtaposition of colours adds an element of excitement and drama, capturing the eye and adding a captivating dynamic to the space.
Whether it’s a simple splash of colour on the chimney breast wall, or an introduction of it through the mantlepiece, it helps to create a more existing colour scheme.
4. Contrasting Chimney Breast Wall
A chimney breast wall naturally draws attention due to its prominent position in the room. So, by adding a bold, colour you can elevate its visual impact and transform it into a captivating focal point.
A shade such as navy blue against white or grey will instantly draw the eye, infusing the space with depth and charm. Team with some wooden logs underneath for warm, rustic detail.
This colour scheme is perfect for the cosy winter season as it creates a cocooning, enveloping feel in the space. Add a round mirror above the fireplace opening, it will bring softness to the space and bounce around what available light it has in the living room.
5. Built In Media Wall
Media walls remain a huge feature throughout homes – they’re great for functionality, and can aesthetically look great if styled properly.
I’m not a fan of TV’s above fireplaces, however, if you can incorporate a smart TV which can double up as artwork when not in use, then go for it!
Media walls come in a variety of styles, some only cover the chimney breast wall, whilst you may want to make use of the alcove openings on the other two sides to create more of a feature. In doing so you can add a fire and alcove shelving and cupboards for storage and decorative purposes.
6. Playful Lines & Elevated Wood Log Storage
LOVE! There is something so unique and perfectly executed about this chimney breast and alcove space. The clever block colours and opening of space above for log storage is unique yet instantly draws the eye up.
Playing with two contrasting colours like this brings extra visual interest and creates a focal point with high impact.
Where a traditional flat ceramic tiles hearth would usually sit, this interesting take has built an almost podium under the fire to create even more of a focal feature out of it.
7. Exposed Original Brick
As an interior designer, I wholeheartedly endorse the timeless elegance and character that an exposed brick detail brings to a chimney breast wall.
The integration of this distinctive feature can transform a plain and ordinary wall into a captivating focal point, adding depth, texture, and a touch of rustic charm to any space.
The unique textures, earthy colours, and inherent irregularities of the bricks create an authentic and raw look, teamed with the dusty pink shade creates such a rustic, earthy feel.
8. Keep It Classic With Panelling
Classic panelling details on a chimney breast wall are perfect for period style properties as it’s in keeping with the architectural parameters of the property.
Simple mouldings on a chimney breast are classic, timeless and they set the perfect stage for framing a mirror or artwork if you wish.
Fireplaces can easily be restored to their full glory, or insert a new fireplace or previously reclaimed fireplace that has been sourced from a reclamation yard, flea market or Facebook marketplace. You really can find some stunning treasures in these places for a fraction of the price of what a brand new fireplace and mantle would set you back.
9. Playful Wallpaper
Adding playful wallpaper is one of my favourite ideas to update a chimney breast.
This design choice not only provides a fantastic opportunity to infuse colour, pattern, and texture into your room but also allows you to create a focal point that adds depth and visual interest.
Team with a dado rail and differing block colours above for intense dramatic impact, and to draw the eye up as you enter the room.
10. Beams & Built In Alcoves
Incorporating beams into a living room creates structure to the space, creating depth and character in the space – from new build spaces to cottages, it’s something that can work for all.
The placement of the beams draws the eye into the chimney breast, with beautifully built alcove spaces on the side of the chimney breast for displaying decorative accessories.
Arguably, compartment spaces like this can be much easier to style than an expansive length of a shelf.
11. Built In Cooker Hood
It’s not all about living rooms and bedrooms, often there will be existing chimney breast walls in a kitchen and this gives a unique opportunity for a stunning built in cooker hood.
Utilising it to your advantage can create a concealed cooker hood that not only looks amazing, but it will look like it’s always architecturally been part of the property.
These can easily be worked into any new kitchen design, but you may be able to add one to an existing kitchen if you have the available space to do so. It adds structure and formality to the kitchen and it’s a great way to disguise ugly, stainless steel cooker hoods.
12. Exposed Brick Detail
If you love the earthy feel of exposed brick detail but don’t want to continue it up the entire chimney breast wall, this is a great alternative.
Chimney breasts are inherently unique architectural elements that often serve as a structural support for fireplaces.
But by exposing the brickwork, you bring attention to this focal point, accentuating its inherent beauty and charm, a great place for a wood stove or an open fire.
13. Elevated Chimney Breast Opening
Dare to be different and take things to a new level by creating an elevated inglenook fireplace opening.
Rarely we see openings of this height, but it works with the height of the wood burner fire, it creates visual interest with the tiled backsplash and makes the space feel warm and cosy.
I love the addition of the white panelling on either side for the continuation of drawing the eye up, it does help to open up the room and make the room feel bigger than it is.
Create visual interest by keeping any cupboards or shelving in your alcoves a different colour, or in their exposed material finish. It provides a natural contrast against the white panelling and it works so well with the storage of the logs.
14. Seamless Wall
Build your alcove spaces out on either side so they are flush with the chimney wall. This gives the illusion of a seamless wall and is a good use of what is otherwise considered dead space.
Adding a set of shelves and a cupboard underneath is one of the best ways to generate more usable storage space in a living room.
From a design perspective, adding a different colour to the ceiling and cornices such as a bright white will instantly draw the eye up as you enter the living room, giving the illusion of high ceilings.
15. Ornate Panelling Details
Use the chimney breast to your advantage and create a boxed in chimney breast with stunning ornate panelling details for a classic, timeless look.
By framing the mantel and fireplace it creates such a clean, traditional contrast. Team with rustic, vintage details on display for a stand out look.
If you’re looking to achieve a modern finish, don’t forget to introduce some black accents, whether it’s on light fixtures, decorative accessories or cabinetry finishes, a black finish will go a long way at pulling a space together and delivering a touch of modernity.
16. Add A Rustic Wooden Beam
On a chimney breast wall, if you have an inglenook fireplace, adding a rustic wooden beam as a mantel adds some countryside rustic charm, whilst it provides the perfect perch for some decorative accessories.
This style of mantel will bring warmth and depth to an otherwise neutral chimney breast, perfect for country cottages, rustic and transitional interior design schemes.
You do need to be careful about adding a wooden beam above an open fireplace, so please do consult a specialist before trying this in your own home.
17. Concrete Brick Style Chimney Breast
For farmhouse charm, concrete brick style chimney breasts are IN and we can expect to see a lot more of these in homes as we progress through the year.
It’s a great opportunity to add some serious texture and depth to this focal wall without compromising on neutrality of the space. The result is something that looks like it’s an integral part of the property.
18. Exposed Brickwork & Contemporary Fireplace
A great idea to make a chimney breast stand out is to take it back to an exposed brickwork look. It brings natural warmth into the living room and creates a true focal point.
Create an inglenook opening and add a contemporary fireplace like this wood burning stove, plus the black accent from it grounds the space and brings a touch of modernity with it.
19. Contemporary Log Store
In recent years, inglenook fireplaces like this have become hugely popular in older homes and newer build properties.
Place a stack of logs on either side of the fireplace for a built in log store that adds natural beauty and warmth to the living room.
Chimney breast walls are one of the best ways to make a real focal feature out of a space that can benefit your home and your enjoyment within this heart of the home. Which of these ideas is your favourite?