Does your fireplace have Asian-inspired style? If not, take it from blah to ta-da with these decorating ideas, DIY tips and accessory suggestions. From andirons and fire screens to Asian-inspired ways to fill an empty fireplace or repurpose a non-working one, I’ve rounded up lots of great solutions. And if you don’t have a fireplace but wish you did? Read on...
Above: Kathy at All About Vignettes recently updated her Asian-inspired mantel decor with items she already had on hand. They included faux coral, a Pottery Barn platter, antique books and painted branches from a Henry Lauder’s Walking Stick shrub. What great choices! Their colors and shapes work so well with the lines of the faux bamboo mirror, Chinese Chippendale chairs and seat cushions.
I’m particularly fascinated with the fireplace screen. Kathy told me it’s actually an antique bamboo headboard that was cut down. She found it in her travels and creatively repurposed it. Purely decorative, but such a clever way to use it! What do you already have on hand that you can use or repurpose to create a great fireplace vignette of your own?
At left: Fireplace screens are always a great way to add Asian-inspired style to a room. These sleek faux bamboo fireplace screen doors are a design investment, custom made to fit your fireplace.
At right: This single-panel fireplace screen from Horchow has a gold-leaf finish and wonderful geometric shapes reminiscent of Chinese symbols.
At left: The Cercis fireplace screen from Pier 1 is a more budget-friendly option. It’s made of hand-forged iron with a black frame, bronze tree trunk and green leaves. Matching fireplace tools and a log holder are also available.
At right: This open decorative screen won’t keep wood-fire embers from getting into your room, but it’s perfect to use with a gas or electric fireplace. It has an iron frame and is decorated with verdigris cranes, cattails and votive candle holders.
At left: Andirons are another way to add Asian-Inspired style to your fireplace. These hand-forged dragons are from Mecox Gardens.
At left: Elegant Chinese Emperial brass andirons.
At right: Dolphin fireplace andirons by Mayer Mill Brass. (Sold in pairs.)
Above: Huge blue and white Chinese temple jars flank the fireplace in this living room by Barclay Butera. Between them stands a bamboo firescreen, quite popular in Victorian times.
These oriental-inspired screens were mostly decorative, used to help hide a dirty fireplace when it wasn’t in use. Earlier versions were used to redirect the heat and keep someone sitting near the fire from getting too hot.
Antique bamboo firescreens are hard to come by these days. If you’re lucky, you might find one at an antique store or an estate auction.
At left: Here’s a beauty from the late19th-century that’s currently available online. It has a velvet panel adorned with Belle Époque French embroidery.
Above: Richard Rothstein decorated this fireplace with Chinese porcelain for a New Jersey Decorator Show House. Notice how he used a large porcelain platter to fill the empty firebox and keep it from being an eyesore.
Above left and right: If you don’t want to fill the empty firebox, you can put a wooden fireplace screen in front to disguise it. This wooden screen is finished in black lacquer, with hand-painted Chinoiserie scenes on the front. The back has a crackle finish with a different design.
At left: Mirrors are another option. In this elegant look from Domino, mirrors were cut to line the firebox and the area surrounding it. You can read how they did it here.
You could also have a flat mirror cut and installed to cover it up – or, much less expensively, just stand a store-bought mirror (framed or unframed) in front of the opening.
Below: Disguising ugly, dirty or unused fireplaces seems to be an age-old design challenge. In this 1910 photo from the fireplace screen chapter of Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, gathered silk was used to cover an unused fireplace facade.
For a more modern tailored look, use a flat panel of fabric rather than a gathered one. Something with a fabulous Chinoiserie or geometric pattern would be great.
And thanks to today’s tension rods, it’s an easy project. Just measure the portion of the facade you want to cover and add a few extra inches. Hem the sides and make a rod pocket at the top and bottom (use fabric glue or iron-on tape if you don’t sew). Insert the tension rods and that’s it. You’re done.
At left: Wallpaper is another solution. In this popular photo from Domino, Chinoiserie wallpaper lines the firebox and covers old brick. Read the details here.
At right: If you’d rather put a non-working fireplace to use, turn it into a bookcase with this DIY insert idea from Better Homes and Gardens.
Give the insert Asian style by covering the back panel with wallpaper or fabric in an Asian-inspired pattern – or paint the whole thing a glossy color.
You might want to paint the mantelpiece, too, or trim it with Asian-inspired stencils or painted O’verlays. Add a few Chinese or Japanese accessories on the mantel and shelves and you’ve turned dead space into a useful focal point.
Above: Okay, so you really wish you could have a fire in your non-working fireplace. If the firebox is non-flammable, you can insert a bio-ethanol fireplace like this sleek black $200 Gramercy.
Smokeless, odorless, eco-friendly and requiring no installation, it’s portable and can be used indoors or out. It’s also a great choice if you don’t have a fireplace but wish you did.
At right: For $100, this small, stainless steel, tabletop gel fireplace is also a low-cost way to fulfill a fireplace wish. It has great style and will fit right into your Asian-inspired decor.
Looking for more Asian-Inspired fireplace ideas? Visit this previous post.
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