How to decorate a room with a fireplace
Wednesday, 10th July 2013, Lucy Mccoy
Throughout much of the 70s, 80s and 90s, much was done to hide the original features of houses. In recent years, people have begun to appreciate the beautiful character of these old features and many have been working to restore them to their former glory. If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace, but are not sure how to design the living room around it, this guide is for you.
Living rooms can be one of the most challenging and most rewarding spaces to decorate. Unlike the kitchen or the bathroom, both of which have a clearly defined purpose, the living room can be a difficult space to master. This is especially true of rooms with fireplaces.
Begin by determining how the room will be used. How many people will use the room on a regular basis? Will people mainly be watching television? Will you be entertaining? These questions will help you get a better idea of the core requirements and will prevent you from buying things which do not suit the room's requirements.
If at all possible, begin with an empty room. This might be easier said than done, but a blank canvas is always the best place to start any project.
Choose a colour scheme early on
The colour scheme will dictate all of your buying decisions, from paint to furniture and furnishings. Here are few ideas for living room themes:
Warm tones. Cucumber-green walls with yellow and green accent pieces as well as splashes of colourful artwork will create a warm and playful environment.
English Countryside. Green, red, blue or grey toile-patterned wallpaper, shabby-chic furniture, chinaware with neutral tones to offset the colour.
Modern. Minimalist is the name of the game here, Neutral tones like grey, beige, and dark brown work well. Furniture should have straight lines and smooth surfaces, with the occasional curve in accent pieces.
It is a good idea to sketch things out. Take measurements and make sure that everything will fit. Once you have a good idea of how you want the space to work, it is time to start planning.
TV vs Fire
As a general rule of thumb, all living rooms should have a point of focus (POF); something that draws the eye through the room.
These days the television is more often than not, the point of focus. It is what most people spend their time looking at and therefore the furniture is usually centred towards it. However, a fireplace can also make a fantastic POF and can make a refreshing change from everyone being forced to stare at the TV.
By making the fireplace the focal point, the room subliminally suggests to guests that this space a social one, for talking rather than vegetating in front of the television.
However, having both a television and fireplace can throw a spanner in the works as both are likely to vie for the eye's attention. This is especially true if the living space is a small one.
There are ways of overcoming this hurdle, one of which is to place the television above the fireplace. However, there are few things that should be considered before you put your prized television above your prized mantelpiece:
Viewing angle. Televisions are designed to be viewed at eye-level. All televisions have a recommended viewing angle and beyond that, the picture becomes degraded. You also run the risk of neck strain, depending on how high up the TV is in relation to the seating. If you have a low fireplace this should not be an issue; however, if the television will be higher, it may be worth considering a different location for the TV. Alternatively, there are brackets available which will allow the TV to be tilted downwards to suit the viewer's needs.
Wires. Another consideration is obviously the wires. While it is entirely possible to dismantle your chimney breast brick-by-brick, it is not recommended! A much easier solution is to incorporate a unit into the mantelpiece which hides the wires. These can be bought or depending on the aesthetics of your fireplace, can be handmade from similar materials.
The last thing to consider is the well-being of your television. A wood or coal burning fire that is used will cause a build-up of soot and ash and will likely cause harm to your set. Even if it is a gas or electric fire, the heat can easily cause damage.
Once you have the television position sorted, it time to begin thinking about furniture placement. If you are deal with a large open living room, sofas are very effective at breaking up space. This maintains the feeling of openness but also gives each space a sense of purpose.
Facing two sofas towards each other in front of the fire works very well in a large space. Again this configuration creates a social atmosphere which works well for those who like to entertain guests.
Smaller Victorian style houses may be better suited to a single or L-shaped sofa. L-Shaped sofas are great for maximising seating while fitting the contour of the room and freeing up space.