The Dos and Don’ts of Decorating Fireplace Built Ins

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Having a built-in around your fireplace can be a royal addition to your living space. But if you don’t decorate it accordingly, it may just fall flat. Fireplace built-ins are a great way to increase shelving space and help refurbish the overall look of your living room.

If your fireplace built-in is in your living room and serves as your entertainment center, let’s face it, you’re going to be spending a lot of time staring at these shelves.

Fireplace Built-Ins with brown tiled floor with wood accents and floral pattern on furniture

Whether you’re decorating your custom fireplace for the first time or simply redecorating your fireplace built-ins, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to cover the dos and don’ts of decorating fireplace built-ins, tips about decorating, and frequently asked questions to help you create a great room!

The Dos and Don’ts of Decorating Fireplace Built-Ins

√ DO: Start Fresh

When redecorating your fireplace surround shelves, the first thing to do is clear everything. It may seem like a tedious and unnecessary task, but it will help you envision the look you are going for and focus on one thing at a time.

Shelf accessories start looking normal where they are, especially when you leave them stationary for an extended period. When you have all your items in a pile in front of you, it’s easier to pair new items together and change up the overall look of your fireplace built-in!

× DON’T: Overbuy New Accessories

It’s hard not to get too excited when choosing decor for your home! While it’s fine to buy a few new pieces to create a great room, don’t feel the need to buy everything new for your fireplace mantel or custom built-ins.

More likely than not, you can walk around your house and find accessories that you can relocate and pair with items in your built-ins. It’s tempting to buy fresh, fancy pieces, but try to use what you already have around the house or in storage – which can also be a challenging and rewarding task!

√ DO: Pay Attention to Color and Style

Built-in shelves take up a lot of wall space and, therefore, are very eye-catching to anyone sitting in the room. For this reason, you want the shelves to be clean and have a harmonious look in your fireplace makeover.

Arrange your accessories and books according to color or style. Make sure they complement each other and aren’t world’s apart, which is distracting and uneasy for the eyes.

× DON’T – Rush the Decorating

Decorating built-in shelves will take time. For this reason, you should only attempt redecorating when you have a lot of free time and aren’t feeling rushed. You want to enjoy the process and have a blast while decorating your home. Rushing the décor will not only stress you out, but it will also most likely result in you not loving the final result. So take your time, lay everything out on the floor, and have fun! 

√ DO – Vary Heights and Objects for Aesthetics

Brown fireplace built in with wood flooring and gold decor

Varying heights, objects, and textures will give different dimensions to your fireplace built-ins. Mixing and matching books, frames, plants, photo frames, and other accessories to establish a layered shelf will scream elegance!

A little bit of everything will do the trick! Try not to pair off items side by side and do not use too much of one thing. Intentionally creating these height differences will be a visual aesthetic for anyone looking at the built-in shelves, and they’ll offer a feast for the eyes, drawing your gaze across each layer you’ve created.

× DON’T: Overcrowd with knick-knacks

It may be tempting to use up small trinkets and items you’ve collected over the years to fill up space on your built-ins! But the final look will be tacky and busy. Keep in mind that you don’t need to fill every space! Instead, try grouping your small items or putting them inside a gorgeous glass box to add an edge. The most beautiful built-ins are not too cluttered and have some free space between items.

√ DO: Use Books as Décor

Books will add a great edge to your built-in shelves. Plus, these shelves are designed to look like a bookshelf, right? Not only can they make you look classy and intelligent, but they also have other perks, such as adding color and filling up space on your built-ins! 

You can pile up books to differentiate the height to add dimension. Or you can stand it up to make one shelf look like an actual bookshelf.

× DON’T: Choose Common Items

This built-in is yours and yours only! That means you can decorate it with whatever piece resonates with you. Don’t feel the need to buy the generic vase, frame, and plants you see in aesthetically pleasing photos online.

Choose quirky and fun accessories that speak on who you are as a person. The more authentic your living space is, the more comfortable you will be, and the more people will inquire about your interesting choices! So don’t be afraid to think outside the box – it adds character!

√ DO: Add Sentimental and Meaningful Pieces

Cozy fireplace with furry rug and Christmas tree

Now, this doesn’t mean you need to fill all your built-in shelves with valuable family memorabilia and heirlooms – especially if it doesn’t go with your style or theme. Adding polaroid photos of your family or a beautiful letter your child wrote can be a great addition. 

These are little details that others may not zero in on, but you and your family will have significant pieces scattered about your built-in shelves, making your shelf decor so much more special!

× DON’T: Mix and Match Dissonant Colors

Fireplace built-ins are all about having a harmonious balance of items. It should be a brilliant space to wind down in. But imagine having a splatter of disagreeing colors and combinations? It will be distracting and unsatisfying to look at. Instead, try to aim for more neutral, complementary colors that will enhance your fireplace and living room to develop a balance without your accessories look mismatched or out of place.

FAQs about Built-Ins

Q: Are built-ins worth it?

Built-ins around your brick, tile, or stone fireplace add personality to your home and are an investment. You can consider built-ins for more storage space or simply for aesthetics. Whatever your reason is, built-ins are sturdy, will become a part of your home, and will add value to your home down the line. As long as you install it properly and get professional help when you need it, your fireplace built-ins will be worth it!

Q: How much does it cost to install built-ins?

Depending on if you’re installing it yourself or getting professional help, built-in shelving will range in price. The average range will be about $1500 to $4000. Consider both options and compare the costs before you make your decision.

Q: Are built-in bookcases outdated?

Bookcases will never go out of fashion. It always adds great character and value to your home. Built-in bookcases or shelves made from high-quality wood are not outdated and will likely boost the value of your home if you choose to sell it.

Quick Reminders

Outdoor fireplace with wooden outdoor furniture

  • Keep it simple
    You don’t want too much going on on your shelves. People tend to use up these shelves as extra storage space, but that doesn’t always end up looking the best.

If you feel like your built-in shelves look cluttered, you may want to remove some items and get used to having a little space. In times of doubt, just remember that less is more!!

  • Stick to one style or theme
    Picking a style that works will give you a royal result! It may be a tedious task because you might need to buy new items or sift around your home looking for accessories you can relocate to your fireplace built-in, but it will be oh so worth it! Try decorating with objects within the same color palette and similar design style to make your decorations look coherent and pleasing.
  • Potted plants add dimension
    Adding potted plants to your built-in shelf will improve the look. You can never go wrong with a little greenery! Make sure to choose a plant that blooms even in low light. You may need to do a little research on this.

 Remember not to overdo it with the plants. A touch of one or two pots should be just right! And don’t water the plants on the shelves – the last thing you want is a muddy mess on your beautiful built-ins!

Final Thoughts

Decorating fireplace built-ins can be such a rewarding experience if done right. Most people use their shelving as extra storage space and end up overcrowding the look of their entire living room. But decorated tactfully, your fireplace built-in can be the most eye-catching feature of your entire home.

Your built-in shelves represent your family, so have fun dressing them up to suit your style and personality! The perfect fireplace built-ins will thoroughly encapsulate your family’s aura. So, choose a décor that is authentic to who you are.

Hopefully, this guide featuring the do’s and don’ts of decorating fireplace built-ins has inspired you to start beautifying your living room! Have fun and embrace the process!

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