festive fireplace fillers…
without lighting a fire


We love fireplaces. They’re pretty. They’re romantic and charming and when the weather starts turning chilly, we think of cozy fires. We’ve even offered up some options for going green with your fireplace. However, many homes have non-functioning fireplaces that have become stark, lonely black holes. And that makes us sad.

Obviously, the first suggestion is to install an alternative, green fireplace like glass, alcohol, or gas. There are options that will work even without a chimney. If that’s not an option, or just doesn’t appeal to you, then keep reading for some great ideas on what to do with that unused hearth. Oh, and these tips will see you throughout the rest of the year as well!

First things first, if your fireplace is non-functional, ensure it’s also well sealed and not creating a draft. Then it’s time to have some fun!

It’s still fire – arrange a group of candles to fill your fireplace to create soft, flickering light and the warmth and charm of a fire. Opt for big, chunky pillar candles, or delicate tea lights. Select candle holders that fit with your overall décor. One caveat: candles are still flames, so take the same care as you would with a fire, and ensure the fireplace is safe to burn candles within the box. You should also check that any material used to seal a non-working fireplace is heat proof.

Put a log in it – lay in logs as if they’re ready to be lit. It’s a warm, welcoming scene that’s fun and festive. Take your time to create the perfectly laid fire, complete with kindling and pretty logs all arranged on a grate.

Get whimsical – hang a wall-mounted wine rack inside the firebox, or rest a wine rack on the hearth and store your favorite vintages right at hand. Bonus points, tuck a bottle opener into a nearby vase and you’re ready to sit back and enjoy a glass of vino! 

Add some storage – install shelves, paint or paper them to match your décor and use the firebox as a place to store magazines, a basket of dog toys, or throws. This is a great idea in smaller homes and apartments where storage can be at a premium

Collectibles on display – got a few vintage suitcases, or some large antique frames? Use the firebox as a mini stage and create a vignette to display your collectibles. Remember that even a non-working fireplace can be dusty, so bigger items are better than small (and easier to clean).

Show off – if you’ve got some large-ish sculpture, place it inside the firebox to create an unusual display. Paint the inside of the box a highly contrasting color and think of the space as a spotlit display. Perfect for a large planter, copper pot, a plaster bust or a giant shell.

Go gallery – instead of hanging that favorite painting, group a few framed pieces together and rest them inside the firebox. It’s unexpected and transforms that empty black box into a vibrant conversation piece.

Mini library – you can install shelves, or fill the space with attractively stacked and piled books for a seemingly haphazard style. You’ll be adding color and texture to the room and creating a practical mini library. Add a comfy chair and a good light and you’re ready to go.

Everything’s blooming – fill the space with a large vase full of flowers. You’ll add color and texture to the room and fill the void with something natural and beautiful. If flowers aren’t your thing, or it’s not the season, try branches of curly willow, or holly and seasonal berries.

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without lighting a fire

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