As the saying goes, hearths have been at the heart of homes for thousands of years; the original hangout space for friends and family to gather in warmth and comfort – especially when the majority of fireplace hearth ideas are beyond cozy. While primarily a practical addition to a fireplace, the hearth is also a lovely way of introducing character and style into your living room, not to mention extra seating in some cases – raised hearth designs, we’re looking at you!
So, we think it’s safe to say that many of the best fireplace ideas come complete with a gorgeous hearth. Whether you’re restoring an original or creating a brand-new design, if your hearth is in need of some TLC, rest assured you'll find the inspiration you need to get a stunning look.
Fireplace hearth ideas that bring the heat
‘When it comes to solid-fuel burning fireplaces, non-combustible materials are a must for practical reasons’ but they’re great aesthetic choice, too’, says Lianne Leventhal, Founder of Beyond the Common. ‘With their natural texture and graining, brick and stone designs can make even the barest of rooms feel warm and inviting’.
It’s no surprise then, that despite more modern fireplace ideas and designs not necessarily needing a hearth (while glass fronted gas fires do still require a hearth, electric fireplaces do not have as many requirements – in fact most don’t require a hearth at all), many still include them as a decorative addition anyway. What’s more, they can be styled up to look great with or without flickering flames, so your fireplace looks at its best year-round.
1. Mix old and new
Live in a traditional-style property? Don’t feel like you have to update your existing hearth to create a more modern fireplace look – it can otherwise be done! The flagstone surround and concrete hearth were both original to this contemporary lakeside home. Designer and founder of Bespoke Only, Melissa Lee, explains; ‘we really liked this fireplace design and kept it as is – the raw and rustic materials anchored the home to its rural setting. To add a modern touch, we painted the room a neutral yet warm greige hue to complement the fireplace palette.’
2. Raise the stakes
Want to recreate a cozy cabin vibe like designer and DIY-er Jenna or
Jenna Sue Design Co. has in her stylish living room? A white-washed stone hearth is not only a practical material choice, it’s also a great way of capturing a rustic look without feeling too overbearing. She’s opted for a raised hearth design – if you’re planning to use it for extra seating, you’ll need to think carefully about comfort before installing. ‘While the average height for a fireplace hearth is 15 to 16 inches, you can go up to 17 or 18 inches to ensure comfort and appropriate sitting height, or to comfortably rest your knee when building a fire’, recommends Lianne Leventhal.
3. Keep colors consistent
While the materials may be different, choosing a matching color for your fireplace hearth and surround can make a massive difference to the dimensions of your room, as proven by this stunning all-white transformation by Ashley Montgomery; ‘This fireplace had a beautiful structure, so we didn’t want to make any cosmetic alterations, but it definitely needed an update from the brown brick. We painted it in a bright white and used a matching tile for the hearth, all of which blended in beautifully with the walls to make the space feel bigger and give it a new lease of life’. Finish off the look by decorating a mantel with vases, a statement mirror and the like for balance.
4. Be flexible
The perfect fit for a modern home, this Scandi-inspired free-standing stove from Stovax has the option of being paired with a traditional hearth or mounted onto a freestanding bench; ‘this gives you scope for transforming your space entirely, whether that’s embracing the industrial-style design of an exposed flue, the integration of a log store beneath, or the elevated presence of mounting directly to a steel bench’, says Jamie Wengradt, Creative Manager at Stovax.
5. Feeling flush
Opting for a flush hearth can be a great decision, particularly in rooms where space is at a premium; ‘it stops the fireplace from jutting out too much into the room, giving a better sense of flow overall. It also helps in narrow spaces where you don’t have a ton of depth to move around furniture’, advises Montgomery. This style of hearth also requires less material, making it a more cost-effective choice – something to bear in mind if you’re working to a budget.
Space created by Lindsey Brooke Design with Photographer: Amy Bartlam.
6. Head to the dark side
Love the boldness of this dark hearth? Consider using granite to recreate the look. Durable, hardwearing and scratch resistant, it’s one of the best hearth materials for solid fuel burning fires and isn’t too expensive, either. However, you’ll need to ensure yours has been ‘slabbed’ (cut into pieces and mounted in concrete) to give it space to expand as it heats up. Slate is also an option. Keep it in its natural deep matte grey tone or polish it up for a glossy jet back finish.
Space created by Black Lacquer Design and Photographer: Mary Costa.
7. Pick patterned tiles
Whether you’re replacing existing ones in a vintage fireplace or introducing them as part of a new, contemporary design, patterned tiles are one of our favorite options for a stylish tiled fireplace hearth – full of fun and character. Here, we love the way designer Erin Chelius of Chelius House of Design has picked out the shades in the tile pattern and mirrored them elsewhere in the room, creating a wonderful sense of cohesion. By keeping the rest of the fireplace neutral, she allows the subtle pattern choice to draw the eye and create a focal feature without overpowering – a clever design trick.
If you like this effect but aren’t keen on the work involved (or the expense!) why not try peel-and-stick decorative tiles? As much as they’re easy and cheap to use, bear in mind that most aren’t suitable for hot surfaces, so they’re best kept for unused fireplaces only.
8. Add plants – lots of them
Fancy sprucing up your hearth with some houseplants? Take inspiration from Lindsay Wallstrum – how gorgeous is her fireplace? As the owner of Leaf + Lolo, a company that focuses specifically on designing with plants, she believes the beauty and wellness benefits of houseplants should be celebrated and welcomed into the home at any opportunity. ‘Nothing makes a house a home quite like plants!’, she says. ‘I would start off with ‘more forgiving plants, such as Snake Plants, ZZ plants and Pothos. These can tolerate lower light and survive with less frequent waterings’.
9. Give bricks a makeover
Stylish, affordable and easy to install, not to mention highly heat resistant, it’s no surprise that bricks have been a long-standing favorite when it comes to hearth materials. Usually associated with more traditional fireplace designs, it’s super easy to give them a contemporary update with a lick of paint – this bold shade of pink does nothing if not make a statement, particularly when continued up around the surround, too. As well as the color, it’s important to consider the finish you want to achieve; matte paint will create a more rustic look, while a coat of glossy satin paint will add a touch of glam.
Look created by Black Lacquer Design with Photographer: Kyle Ortiz.
10. Be original
An authentic renovation doesn’t have to look dated, as proven by this stunning traditional fireplace redesign by JKA Design. ‘This beautiful fireplace is original to the home built in the early 1930’s, so we wanted to keep the renovation as sympathetic as possible’, says designer and founder John Anderson, designer and founder of JKA Design. ‘The plaster mantel was painted a soft, off-white to mimic stone, so we chose a dark bluestone for the hearth to anchor the fireplace. We then echoed the grey-blue tones elsewhere in the room for continuity’.
11. Get personal
If you’re lucky enough to have an original fireplace surround as beautiful as this one, chances are you’ll want to leave it pretty much as is. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little creative. ‘We always encourage and incorporate personal touches from our clients – these are the details that really make a house a home’, says Melissa Lee, Founder of Bespoke Only. ‘The hearth offers a perfect opportunity for a little character; these fun, hand-painted tiles were designed and made by the owners themselves’.
12. Play with texture
If you’ve opted for the same material for your fireplace design, combining different textures across the hearth and surround is a lovely way of adding interest. Here, an authentic stone surround is complemented by a modern stone hearth, adding an extra dimension to an all-white scheme.
Look created by Mindy Gayer with Photographer: Vanessa Lentine.
What can I use for a fireplace hearth?
Practicality is just as important as good looks when it comes to choosing materials for your hearth. ‘Open flames and combustible materials don’t mix, so it’s essential that a solid fuel-burning fire be placed upon a sturdy, fire-resistant surface, such as granite, marble, stone, or brick, all of which have the added benefit of looking great, too’, says Ron Wysocarski of Wyse Home Team Realty.
Alternative options such as concrete are a great way of modernising a fireplace, while tiles are also a popular choice for injecting fun, color and personality into a room – just be sure to use suitable ones that can withstand heat.
How tall should a hearth be on a fireplace?
Each county has its own set of guidelines for recommended hearth sizes, so it’s a good idea to check your local building codes or control for further information before you commit to a design. Ultimately though, it depends on where the firebox sits.
For raised designs, the average height would be between 15-16 inches from the floor to the bottom of the hearth opening, which allows you to safely install a seating area. ‘If it’s level with the floor, you can either have the hearth sitting on top of the flooring or inset so it’s completely level’, says James Bruno, Chief Construction Officer at Curbio. The height of the hearth serves a practical purpose, too. As well as catching embers or ash that might cause a fire, it also helps to remind everyone (little ones and pets in particular) not to get too close – something to bear in mind if you’re considering a flush-to-the-floor design.