Cover the Surround
Resurfacing your fireplace's surround can really change the look and feel of the entire room. In the lead image above, designer Elizabeth Roberts found someone to apply a tadelakt plaster to the fireplace in this minimalist New York apartment. (Also lead image above.) Of course, plaster isn't everyone's cup of tea, but tile, tin, granite, or marble are all possible options, depending on the vibe you're going for.
A Renter-Friendly Idea
As a renter, Tiffany Leigh covered up some old yellow tile with some peel and stick marble contact paper. It looks surprisingly elegant for such a quick and inexpensive fix.
Add a Mantel
A mantel creates visual interest, and, if your fireplace has a lot of stone or a huge wall behind it, adding a mantel breaks things up. You can either add a facade, as Lidy did for her fireplace (pictured above), or you can add onto your existing mantel if it isn't bold enough.
If you're worried about it being permanent, take a cue from Domicile 37 and create a renter-approved cover that's reversible when you move out. Hers is a dramatic black mantel that really grounds the room.
Upgrade with Paint
One of the easiest ways to breathe new life into a rundown fireplace is with a fresh coat of paint! If you go bright with a color that contrasts with the rest of the room, you might consider extending the paint up onto the wall above the fireplace to really draw the focus to the fireplace. Above, Gwen at The Makerista painted her fireplace surround a super vibrant yellow, which picks up the entire room and adds, as she calls it, "a big dose of happy."
Of course, you can also go with a more neutral tone that matches your room's walls, or a classic white like the stone surround above from Greige Design. This approach highlights any texture the fireplace may already have, from stone or brick. It also allows the fire itself, or the decor around it, to be the center of attention.
Give It a New Purpose
If you're not interested in actually using your fireplace, or if it doesn't even work, use the hearth for something else, like candles from the one above seen on Planete Deco. It can still be the main focal point of the room when filled with stacked logs, candles, or twinkle lights. For a less conventional look, fill it with flowers or plants, either in vases or pretty pots.
Or, use it as storage. Place a few baskets or containers in the fireplace and use them to hold toys, blankets, or records, seen above on Freunde von Freunden. You could even install shelving, if your fireplace's shape is right.