Often seen in period properties, a chimney breast can be a great statement feature in any home. Of course, knowing how to make the most of this space is critical to success. Without the right styling, an unused chimney breast can quickly become a cumbersome and underutilised part of the room.
But fear not! I’ve got an array of showstopping chimney breast ideas that will provide you with the inspiration you need to transform this feature into something truly spectacular. Read on to discover how to use these innovative chimney breast ideas to upgrade your interior design…
1. Install an Oven in a Kitchen Chimney Breast
If your kitchen is equipped with a chimney breast, using it as a backdrop for an oven and hob is a great way to use the space. With a little modification, you can install a freestanding unit into the chimney breast so that it provides a seamless fit for your oven and gives the appearance of an integrated kitchen.
Kitchens are often short on space, so using a chimney breast in this way allows you to utilise other areas for worktops, sinks, cabinets and seating. What’s more – a chimney breast can be a great visual backdrop for a traditional range or a modern oven.
For optimal functionality, install a chimney extractor to remove steam and condensation from the kitchen. With a sleek extractor fan built into the chimney breast, you can increase the functionality of your kitchen without detracting from your interior design.
2. Create a Media Wall with a Living Room Chimney
A living room chimney breast can seem like it’s taking up much-needed space, but it can actually be a great focal point when used as the centrepiece of an entertainment zone. As a chimney breast protrudes from the main wall, you can use it as the ultimate media wall.
With a flatscreen television affixed to the wall and surround-sound speakers dotted around your living room, for example, a chimney breast becomes a focal point and a much-loved part of your entertainment space.
If you have alcoves on either side of the chimney breast, these can also be used to enhance your entertainment centre. From sleek speakers to game consoles or music centres, you can create a hub for technology that you use every day.
3. Showcase Reclaimed Brickwork
No matter what condition your current chimney breast is in, it may be worth peeling back the layers to uncover what lies beneath. In many cases, chimney breasts will have been built from beautiful traditional bricks but have been covered with plaster, paint or wallpaper. When you remove these excess layers, you’re often left with stunning reclaimed brickwork that is a feature in itself.
I love the look of exposed brickwork as it complements both traditional interiors and contemporary designs. Whether you’re planning a modernist and industrial interior or a cosy and classic space, reclaimed brickwork can be a fantastic addition.
4. Create Cute Seating
An unused chimney breast can become the ideal place for a reading nook or a kid’s seating area, with just a few modifications. When you extend the chamber (the part where the fireplace usually sits), you can create a larger space that offers more functionality. Then, simply prepare the walls and install custom seating to create a cosy and comfortable nook.
Pro Tip: If you love the idea of a kitsch seating area but you want to avoid modifying the chimney breast, then use the alcoves on either side as the basis of your seating space. This allows you to use the dimensions of the chimney breast to create a statement feature, without the need for any structural changes.
5. Add a Distinctive Fireplace Surround
A fireplace surround is the decorative part of the fireplace that typically sits on either side and above the fire itself. However, you don’t have to have a functional fireplace to add a stunning fireplace surround. In fact, you can enjoy the visual impact of a fireplace without going to the trouble of having a new fire fitted or having the chimney swept.
Solid oak beams can provide a fabulous traditional feel when used as a fireplace surround, for example. Alternatively, try patterned tiles or decorative plaster surrounds for an old-time, classic feel.
If you’re looking for a more contemporary option, think of clean lines and sleek materials, like marble, stone or granite, and add modern accessories to the chamber to keep the space feeling on trend.
6. Create Custom Wardrobes Around a Bedroom Chimney Breast
If your home dates back to the 1930s or earlier, you’ll probably find that at least one of the bedrooms has a fireplace and chimney breast. Before homes had central heating, occupants relied on fireplaces to warm each room, which means lucky homeowners inherit a whole host of period features when they purchase older properties.
To maximise space in a bedroom with a chimney breast, why not use the alcoves on either side to create custom storage solutions? With a little DIY, you can easily transform alcoves into unique wardrobes that increase the room's functionality, for example.
What’s more – selecting your favourite materials for cabinet or wardrobe doors allows you to weave your interior design into every part of the room. From mirrored or shaker-style sliding doors to intricate cut-out designs or louvre doors, there are endless options to consider when you use chimney breast ideas as the basis for bespoke wardrobes and cabinets.
7. Add a Log Store for a Rustic Feel
If you have an open fire, then a regular supply of wood is essential, but there’s more than one reason to have log store in your living room. Even if you’re not using the fireplace for its original purpose, a log store enhances the rustic feel of the space and adds character to your home.
For functional fireplaces, using the alcoves as a log store can be a great way to ensure there is a steady supply of timber available but, if you’re not planning on using the fireplace, then turning the chamber itself into a log store is a fantastic design idea.
8. Install a Modern Fireplace
A chimney is a must-have feature if you have an open fire, but modern alternatives mean that chimneys aren’t always needed. Some modern fireplaces, like gas-powered fires, do need to be vented, but electric or biofuel options don’t require an external flue or vent.
This gives you a wider variety of choices when it comes to design and positioning (and it means much less maintenance too!).
Integrating a sleek panoramic fire into an existing chimney breast allows you to echo the feature’s purpose while modernising its style, for example. Similarly, statement fireplaces, like wall insets or curved fires, can look fabulous when they’re installed within a chimney breast.
9. Create a Feature Wall
When you’re choosing the colour palette for any space, it’s important to consider the room’s architectural features. A chimney breast gives you the ideal space to create a feature wall and, as it doesn’t extend across the full width of the room, you can be even bolder with your designs.
Using an accent colour is an easy way to make a chimney breast stand out, for example, and a simple coat of paint will transform an outdated chimney breast into a statement feature. Alternatively, why not use my favourite option and hang wallpaper to add pattern and texture to your design?
Even if your chimney breast isn’t plastered, it doesn’t take much work to create a good base for papering or painting. Simply clean the brickwork and look out for any gaps that may need filling before you get started. For a smooth finish, you’ll need to plaster the area before you can paint or add wallpaper, but, if not, use masonry sealant and a pot of paint to breathe new life into an unused chimney breast.
10. Add Tiles or Cladding
Another way to make a chimney breast an integral part of your interior design is to use tiles or cladding to make it stand out. In the same way, that wallpaper or paint can transform a chimney breast into a statement feature, tiles and cladding will achieve the same goal.
Of course, you can choose exactly how subtle or impactful you want this feature to be, depending on the tiles or cladding you decide to use.
Glossy tiles add a sleek feel that can look great in a kitchen or bedroom, for example, while stone or marble cladding gives off a glamorous vibe that’s perfect in living rooms or dining areas.
Elevate Your Interiors with Showstopping Chimney Breast Ideas
Don’t let anyone tell you that a chimney breast is a hassle when it comes to designing the interior of a room or an eyesore that merely takes up space! As these showstopping chimney breast ideas prove, the right styling can turn this period feature into a stunning focal point in any type of space.