Did you know that fireplaces have been dropping in popularity for years? While the prevalence of modern HVAC systems might be partially to blame for this trend, it also has to do with how little the average homeowner knows about fireplaces and their use.
Contemporary fireplaces have come a long way from the days of chopping wood and sweeping chimneys. You can now enjoy the warmth and beauty of a lit hearth without the smoke or endless upkeep. Countless fireplace units are even compatible with handheld remote controls!
There are many, many unique fireplaces on the market today. So let's take a look at 20+ types of fireplace styles, surrounds, fuel sources, and more!
The Different Types of Fireplace:
- River Rock
- Wood Panel
- Faux Mantel
- Lift Door
A classic wood-burning fireplace is probably what first comes to mind when thinking about relaxing by a warm, crackling hearth on a cold night. In fact, all residential fireplaces were once wood-burning units!
Today, this style of fireplace has fallen out of fashion. Not only are wood-burning fireplaces hard to maintain, research points to potential health problems associated with burning wood in the home.
Still, the aesthetic of a pile of burning logs can’t be beaten in terms of coziness. So fireplace designers are constantly looking for ways to replicate this look in more practical setups.
Compared to burning wood, gas is notably safer to use in the home. This, along with its minimal maintenance needs and affordability, has made gas fireplaces the go-to for most homeowners.
Another awesome benefit of gas fireplaces is that a chimney isn’t required. The gas fuel byproducts are funneled to the outside using a small pipe or safely released into the room.
Gas fireplaces take on many forms. There are countless examples of modern, linear gas fireplaces to choose from. But this fuel can also be used in fireplace inserts that mimic the look of real wood logs.
Electric fireplaces are the most popular alternative for those looking to replicate the look and feel of a real fireplace without actual flames. This type of fireplace uses a visual light element and optional built-in heater in place of burning wood or gas.
Not all electric fireplaces produce much heat. But some models are specifically designed to double as a space heater!
An electric fireplace does not produce any fumes and doesn’t require a vent or chimney. All you need is a standard outlet, so an electric fireplace can be installed nearly anywhere in the home.
Despite their similarities, bio-ethanol and gas fireplaces are distinctly different fixtures. Bio-ethanol is more sustainable than gas while better replicating the aesthetic of real flames.
Like electric fireplaces, bio-ethanol units do not produce emissions and do not require a vent. This is great news for anyone concerned about lung health or trying to add a fireplace to a small space.
If you’re looking for a fireplace insert that will heat your home during the cold winter months, it’s best to look elsewhere. Bio-ethanol fireplaces produce far less heat than gas models.
Many electric fireplaces use internal lights to create the illusion of active flames. Some fireplace inserts forego the fake flames altogether in favor of a more modern look.
An LED fireplace offers all of the benefits of a regular electric unit but with a very unique aesthetic.
This style of LED fireplace still produces light and heat. Instead of flames, though, LEDs are reflected throughout the hearth. These lights can be almost any color — some models allow the LED hues to be customized or set up in a gradient.
The classic storybook fireplace is framed by a red brick surround and mantel. While brick is no longer the fireplace material of choice for contemporary homes, this style is still considered timeless.
A brick fireplace surround blends seamlessly into the chimney above (which is, more often than not, also made of brick). Original brick fireplaces typically feature wood-burning inserts but can easily be updated to use gas or electricity.
Brick fireplaces are often seen in historic homes. If you want to imitate this aesthetic in your newer build, a brick overlay is an affordable alternative to authentic masonry.
7. River Rock
River rock essentially serves the same purpose as brick but with a more natural, rustic appearance. This style of fireplace is incredibly popular in cabins and lodges.
River rock is a material made of stones that are all different shapes and sizes. While some river rock fireplace surrounds feature decorative patterns, most are designed to look as organic and as possible.
A river rock fireplace will blend in nicely with any cottage- or farmhouse-style home. This material can also be used to cover an exposed chimney.
A tile fireplace surround provides a finished look that is easy to coordinate with the room’s existing decor. Tile can be used to cover the entire surround or as an accent alongside other materials.
Nearly any type of tile can be used around a fireplace as long as it is heat-resistant. Tile can even be used to line the inner walls of your fireplace hearth.
Decorative ceramic and marble tiles are a few of the most popular options for contemporary homes. Natural stone tiles can be used for a more subdued appearance.
9. Wood Panel
Stone and brick are not the only options for finishing a traditional fireplace. Wood panels are an excellent alternative that can bring visual warmth and texture to any living space.
A wooden fireplace surround has a slightly rustic appearance that pairs nicely with modern design trends like Scandinavian decor. Shiplap or reclaimed pallet wood can be used for a farmhouse-inspired fireplace.
Wood is one of the most versatile materials in interior design. Natural wood panels offer a much different aesthetic than panels that are painted.
You might not think of a cast iron stove as a type of fireplace. But you can’t deny that this fixture serves the same purpose as any other style of fireplace.
Cast iron stoves can be installed as freestanding units or inside a traditional fireplace hearth. The latter option allows you to maintain the aesthetic of a fireplace surround and mantelpiece.
Like regular fireplaces, cast iron stoves can be powered by wood, gas, or electricity. Emission-producing models must be connected to a flue.
A linear fireplace is a rectangular insert that is synonymous with the words “modern” and “contemporary.”
Linear fireplaces are fueled by gas or electricity. This type of fireplace can be installed into any existing wall — ventilation is very rarely needed.
It’s easy to see why linear fireplaces are so commonplace today. Not only do these fireplaces boast a sleek aesthetic but they are also one of the easiest types of fireplaces to install.
How do you add a fireplace to your home when you rent or can’t undergo renovations? Good news: Freestanding fireplaces are better and more affordable than ever before!
A freestanding fireplace is any self-contained fixture that does not connect to a wall or chimney. Freestanding fireplaces can be almost any size and shape.
Freestanding fireplaces are frequently used as visually pleasing space heaters. Most run on electricity but other fuel sources may be used as well.
13. Faux Mantel
The best part of a fireplace isn’t always the fire itself. Mantels are a classic element of home design that doesn’t need to contain an active hearth to be stylish and functional.
Faux mantels can be filled with decorative logs, candles, or string lights. You can also use a faux mantel over a freestanding cast iron stove or space heater.
A faux mantel is not really a type of fireplace but it’s hard to separate one fixture from the other. Plus, many of the design ideas you might use for a real fireplace also apply to decorating a faux mantelpiece.
Much of interior design is about making the most of awkwardly shaped rooms. A corner fireplace may just be the most efficient use of your home’s available space.
A fireplace built into an outside corner (one that juts out into the room) will often feature two open sides.
While constructing this type of fireplace can be more expensive than a traditional insert, you’ll be able to enjoy your new hearth from twice as many angles.
15. Lift Door
With a lift door fireplace, you can choose between an open or enclosed hearth at any time. This style of fireplace is one of the most flexible options on the market.
Lift door fireplaces make it easy to control the heat, burn rate, and atmosphere of your home’s fireplace. The door also makes it convenient to clean and maintain this fireplace interior.
The ability to switch to a completely enclosed fireplace at a moment’s notice is an important feature for parents and pet owners, as well.
No, an outdoor fireplace is not just a campfire or fire pit. Outdoor fireplaces can be just as stylish and versatile as indoor ones. The only difference is their location.
An outdoor fireplace is a great addition to a covered pergola or partially enclosed porch. Outdoor fireplaces can also be built out in the open like a fire pit.
Outdoor fireplaces can be fueled by wood, gas, electricity, and bio-ethanol. But if you do opt for a traditional wood-burning fireplace, being outdoors will give you a little extra peace of mind when it comes to potentially harmful fumes.
To get the most out of your home’s fireplace, consider going with a dual-sided model. Dual-sided fireplaces feature open panels on each side of the mounting wall with a central flame and/or heating element.
The benefits of this type of fireplace are obvious. You get to enjoy the light, heat, and aesthetic appeal of a fireplace in not just one but two spaces.
A dual-sided fireplace doesn’t need to sit between two separate rooms. Many double-sided fireplaces are installed in partitions or columns in the center of an open-concept floor plan.
A peninsula fireplace is simply an extension of the dual-sided fireplace concept. But instead of just two open sides, a peninsula fireplace can be enjoyed from three sides.
If your home features an open-concept layout, then a peninsula fireplace can help divide the space without settling for a plain, boring wall.
Peninsula fireplaces can be installed in many homes without changing the floor plan. They are often the most efficient way to install a fireplace in a central location.
Most fireplace design examples focus on how to add a fireplace to your home. But what about removing an existing fireplace?
Many homeowners opt to completely remove a non-functional fireplace once the flue is closed off. However, you can still use the mantel as a decor element without an active flame.
An old, closed-off fireplace can be replaced with a freestanding stove or electric heating unit. Or you can forego these substitutes and utilize the empty hearth as a recessed display cubby.
A fireplace is one of the last things you’d expect to see in a residential bathroom. So it’s worth noting how stylish and versatile this type of fireplace setup can really be!
Adding a simple fireplace to a bathroom creates a cozy and luxurious atmosphere. It can also supplement the room’s existing heating elements.
A bathroom fireplace requires some extra safety precautions, such as waterproofing the unit before use. Opt for a gas or electric fireplace that can be operated with a remote for extra convenience.
A converted fireplace is a wood-burning hearth that has been replaced with a gas- or electric-powered insert. This type of fireplace is extremely common in both new and old homes and is the perfect solution for anyone who loves their existing fireplace but is tired of dealing with logs and soot.
Converted fireplaces are often safer and more energy-efficient than wood-burning ones. They are also easier to maintain and don’t require a traditional chimney (or any ventilation at all).