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No Chimney Breast? No Problem

Boxy, featureless rooms ruining your home’s feel? Don’t be downcast – you can fake a fab focal point, fireplace or not

Houzz Contributor. Editor in Chief of RealHomes.com. I am an editor, journalist,… More

There’s no denying that an inviting hearth set within an original chimney breast gives a room instant character. But a room without one can be just as successful – thanks to a little creativity. Here’s how.

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Go for faux
Possibly the easiest of all the solutions, all you need is a fire surround – fitted flush to the wall and sitting on a hearth – with a stove in front.

No flue for real fuel? Pick out an electric stove – you just need a plug on the wall behind and you’re ready to glow.

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Pretend with panelling
This room has no hint of a chimney breast, but the panelling, designed around what could be an opening for a fireplace (but isn’t), pulls the neat trick of making us think it does – and the intended focal effect is achieved with panache.

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Style it out with a stove
Whether your room is contemporary or traditional in style, a stove sitting against a flat wall will work visually, give you something to centre your furniture on, and – in a small room – save on the space a chimney breast would suck up.

And if there’s nowhere to put a flue? Go back to the advice in room number one.

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Affect alcoves
Look carefully and you’ll see that, rather than a chimney breast and a pair of alcoves, this is actually a wall of storage shelves with a TV, neatly hidden behind screen doors, in the centre. The effect, with the sofa pointing at it, is just the same, though. Clever.

Find a local joiner or carpenter to create something like this for you

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Concoct a chimney breast
When is a chimney breast not a chimney breast? Read on…

There were no original features left when the homeowners got their hands on this creatively renovated Victorian terrace, but rather than simply reinstating them, they did a little reconfiguring first.

The aim was to create more space within the existing footprint (which they achieved dramatically, as you can see if you click through to the full tour, link below). Part of the layout rethink was to remove all the chimney breasts, replacing them with slimline protrusions that are purely decorative, but nod to the era of the house. The fireplace is, however, a salvaged original.

Tour the rest of this Victorian terraced house

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Put up a (feature-packed) front
Looking for a contemporary solution? Copy this: a super-sized, timber-tastic, built-in TV display cabinet that mimics the proportions of a chimney breast.

This design features doors that slide across the screen to allow the fire below to be the only focal point of the room.

Browse living room furniture and accessories in the Houzz Shop

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Feign a focus with a plinth
A great option if you’re on a budget, this chic, 1970s-style plinth can be recreated with a few bricks, a length of heat-proof kitchen worktop and a pot of paint.

Loving the nooks for logs and kindling and the neat proportions of the stove.

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Create a diversion with the TV
Where once humans were drawn to gather around a fire for warmth and comfort, now we’re much more likely to drift towards the TV (blame central heating). So why not mimic the layout of a chimney breast and shelved alcoves, but swap the fire for a telly?

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Bluff it
Just because there’s no chimney breast doesn’t mean you can’t build out a fake one (quite quickly) with studding and plasterboard. Have it wired up to house a faux fire – or perhaps even just fake it with a pile of logs in a painted opening.

Read about alternatives to fireplaces that aren’t a standard open hearth

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Steal space for a flush finish
If your living space shares a wall with a garage or utility space, you might get away with knocking a hole in the wall (subject to Building Regulations, of course) to create a flush-fit slot for a fireplace.

If fitting a flue in the adjacent room is tricky, an electric fire is an easier option.

Tell us..
Have you created an alternative focal point in your living space? Share tips and photos in the Comments section.

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