Fireplace with Built Ins Inspiration

Inspiration and plans for creating a fireplace with built ins…


Last summer when we moved into our house, I knew that the flooring and the fireplace were top on my list to change.  (You can see how we changed the floors here.)

fireplace before

I love the concept of a four-sided fireplace, but the stark black metal box (and its bronze decorative painting) was not my style.  Plus, the fireplace unit is old and the gas logs are not working properly.  Enter phase 1: cosmetic facelift.

Beautiful mirror above the mantel! Beautiful summer home tour with lots of whites, raw wood tones, and simple decorating ideas

We painted the fireplace and built two diy mantels (one for each side) to give it a more classic look.

I love this fireplace makeover! Some paint, a simple mantel, and a total transformation of this formerly dated black box fireplace |

The look is much more “me,” but we still have our second problem: the entire downstairs has zero storage except the kitchen, and no where to comfortably put a tv… much less the hundreds of books we own.  We knew that building bookcases somewhere was a high priority for us, but the walls of windows (about which I’m not complaining!) make that rather difficult.  So we explored lots of options: removing the fireplace entirely (this is Texas, after all), building floor to ceiling bookcases on either side, a ventless fireplace (which would need no chimney or chase above the fireplace) and low cabinets on either side – kind of a half wall look…  But we didn’t want to make the space feel completely closed off and we didn’t want to block light or views and we were hoping to incorporate the columns so they seemed less random.  In short, we went round and round.

I think we have finally landed on our plans, though!  We are planning to build a floor to ceiling bookcase just between the fireplace and the exterior wall (see below).

ideas for creating built ins around a fireplace ideas for creating built ins around a fireplace

As we knew it would, this will require a new fireplace (a two-sided one rather than a four-sided so that it will be safe to put wood bookcases right next to the side of the fireplace).  It’s not going to be easy or cheap, but (despite the asymmetry which was my hang up on this option), I think it will be lovely.  Imagine something like this with only one side of the bookcases…

Lots of white shelves with pretty molding above the mantel.

Our tv will fit inside just like the one below (on our family room side)…

While the living room side will just be floor to ceiling open shelves, I think.  We are considering a whitewashed or reclaimed red brick for the surround; I think it would bring a traditional yet casual feel to the space.  Maybe something like these:

And I definitely want a crisp, clean, traditional white mantel like this.

Whew!  I’m excited and exhausted just thinking about it all!  Can’t wait to get things started and share it all with you…  What do you think?

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  1. It’sounds going to be great!

  2. I absolutely love a fireplace with built in bookshelves! These options are gorgeous.

  3. Great idea, but are you sure you don’t want a two sided fireplace. I think its a lovely addition to the formal living room and if that is where you place your Christmas tree it would be so cozy. Of course, it is only my two cents worth and it is YOUR home.

    • Rachel Paxton says:

      Thank you, Deborah! It actually will be a two-sided… just not a four-sided like it is now. :) Sorry if that wasn’t clear!

  4. Sounds like a good plan! It will really define your space!

    • Rachel Paxton says:

      Thank you so much, Cecilia! We are excited about it. :)

      • When you first showed pictures of your new home with the open double sided fireplace, I thought what in the world would you do with that? You never fail to amaze! I love what you have done with the fireplace and these two rooms. But the ceiling to floor bookcase will just be icing on the cake. I would love to have shelving like that for our books. Can’t wait for your reveal!

        • Rachel Paxton says:

          Thank you so much, Peggy! I’ve felt that way since we moved in… so glad we have some direction finally. :)

  5. Can’t go wrong with the classic white. We put one in our CA ranch style when we moved in 20 years ago, and it has stayed classic. BTW, I love the blue and white tile in the last photo, though brick is more classic, I guess.

  6. How soon will you start?

  7. Love the idea of the bookcase. It will make the room so cozy but still
    open enough for light and good traffic flow.

  8. This will be great! We are planning to do a build-in on one side of our fireplace as well, but we haven’t gotten started yet. My guess is that you will beat us, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

    • Rachel Paxton says:

      Sounds wonderful, Tiffany! We were supposed to start a few weeks ago, but at this rate, you may beat us. 😉 I think we’re set to go by mid September now. Crossing our fingers!

  9. Love what your planning!

  10. Have you considered closing off that room and really doing a balanced book casing on either side? That way you can have the larger fireplace too – as yours is currently quite small from side to side….also not going ALL the way to the ceiling – but leave some space above to let that light in and make it feel a little more open.

    I don’t think you will feel too penned in though with all those windows and the light and bright decor style you have.

    Just a thought to chew on.

    Love your home and style!

    • Rachel Paxton says:

      Funny you should suggest that! It was actually my original plan with the house – floor to ceiling bookcases flanking the fireplace and incorporating those darn columns that are floating in the middle of the room… But the longer we’ve lived here (and moved furniture around), the more convinced I am that the two rooms need more than a doorway-wide opening between them. If nothing else, the view out the back of the pool and hills is too beautiful to cut off from the front room completely. But I so appreciate your suggestion; you are so sweet to help me think through this!!

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