How To Use Stepped Shelves Above Room Dividing Fireplace?

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Q: Our new house has this gas fireplace that is open on three sides and juts out between the kitchen and dining areas. We have no idea what to do with these stepped shelves above it. We don't want to just display little tchotckes there. Should we decorate, it or cover it/fill it in somehow? Please help!

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Regina is an architect who lives with her husband and children in Lawrence, KS. As a LEED Accredited Professional and longtime contributor to Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, her focus is on healthy, sustainable living through design.