Living Room Fireplace – How to Create a Stunning Focal Point Without a Chimney

I absolutely loved the living room renovation in our old house, it was cosy, compact and painted in comforting colours.

living room renovation: our diy plans pinterest pin

It was a room that we closed the door to throughout the day and became our sanctuary in the evening once the kids had gone to bed.

The living room fireplace was the focal point of the room and helped me decide on the decor around it. 

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Our Living Room Renovation – House Tour 2021 

my old living room with dark teal green walls, central fireplace, gold mirror, green and pink velvet sofas and industrial style furniture
The green wall in our living room was a huge hit and probably what I’ve based my whole blogging and Instagram career on! Haha.
green velvet sofa with lots of cusions, pink flowers and a gallery wall in the living room
This green sofa was also the dream colour
green velvet sofa, white walls and a Lucy Tiffney throw in the living room
I love green and pink together

When we moved into our new house (I say new, we’ve actually lived here 1 year as of 5th March 2022! Where has that time gone?) our living room was a large L-shaped lounge/diner with little character.

It had the potential for a fireplace in the middle of the room and large patio doors which looked out onto our front garden.

It also had a strange high window to the left of the living room fireplace which overlooked our neighbour’s wall and was a little bit pointless.

our new house living room before renovating
Estate agent photos – the patio doors looking out over our front garden
our new house living room before renovating
It had an opening where a fireplace could go in the centre of the room and a window high up to the left.
our new house living room from the hallway before renovating
This is the view from the hallway into the lounge and dining area which wraps around in an L shape
our new house dining room before renovating
The dining area which was open plan with the lounge
our old living room with window looking out towards our neighbours wall
The window did let a bit of light in, but only in the evenings when the sun would come around the house. The view was of the neighbour’s wall!

I knew straight away when we bought the property that I did not want an open-plan living/dining area.

We had an open-plan kitchen/diner in our last house and as a family, this worked so much better for us.

It was much more social when people came around, or when we had large family roast dinners.

I also loved having the kitchen looking out and leading onto the garden as this is pretty much where we spent all our time in the warmer months.

kitchen with peninsula, wooden bar stools, wooden countertops, forest wallpaper and hague blue walls
We absolutely loved this open-plan kitchen in our old house and I knew we would need something like this again

Our new ground floor plans

The kitchen in this house was at the front, overlooking the cul-de-sac we live in, but not a social space.

It had a small breakfast bar but we couldn’t sit there as a family to eat which meant at meal times, I would be in the kitchen cooking whilst my kids would be in a different room and it felt very disconnected from the rest of the house.

our new house kitchen before renovating
The kitchen was a perfectly functional size and quite new. But it didn’t work for us as a family.
our new house kitchen before renovating
The breakfast bar. I updated the backsplash with self-adhesive tile wallpaper. I wrote a blog post about this here

We decided to extend the house to the back and move the kitchen there so it was a large open-plan space directly connected to the garden.  

To create this space, we would have to take over part of the lounge diner so we decided to put up a wall dividing the room, giving us a separate snug lounge.

ground floor plan
The layout of the house when we moved in.
architect floor plan for the house extension and renovation
The architect plans for our extension and renovation. We decided to go with a stud wall instead of sliding doors so the living room became separate.

Initially, the plan was to put in large glass doors between the living room and kitchen.

The living room is south-facing so this would help light flood into the north-facing kitchen.

However, once we started planning the kitchen, I realised I wanted to put the dining table against the living room wall which would give us more space around the bifold doors.

We decided to go with a full stud wall in the living room.

stud wall going up in the living room
The stud wall going in to separate the living room from the new kitchen extension
stud wall on the other side in the kitchen
On the other side of the stud wall is where our dining table will go.

I also preferred the living room to be a separate snug space.

During the day we tend to spend most of our time in the kitchen and in the evenings relax in the living room.

Keeping the living room separate helps to keep it tidy(er) from all the stuff that comes with having kids!!

It also works better when we have friends and family over as the adults tend to hang out in the kitchen and we can put a movie on for the kids in the living room.

Reshaping the living room

As the living room was originally a large L-shaped room, it meant that by putting in a stud wall, the length would shorten and the living room fireplace would no longer be central to the room.

I think having a living room fireplace is really important as it acts as a central feature and makes the room extremely inviting and cosy.

stud wall plastered
Putting in the stud wall meant that the living room fireplace was now in an inconvenient place
image of high thin window
It also meant that the window, radiator and fireplace opening took up valuable wall space and just looked odd!
green walls, gold mirror, centre fireplace and red velvet chair in the living room
I love having a central living room fireplace. It makes it welcoming and cosy and also gives me the opportunity to faff with mantlepiece designs!

Researching living room fireplaces

We looked at many ways to try and incorporate the existing fireplace, but due to its location, we knew we would have to block it up and look at placing an indoor fireplace without a chimney.

We also decided to move the radiator away from its odd position under the high window and brick up the window as well, as it didn’t really serve any purpose.

old window bordered up and plastered
Radiator removed, window bricked up
living room plastered ready for decorating
Fireplace bricked up
plastered walls
The stud wall and new radiator

This gave us a whole wall to play with in the living room so I started designing the room from scratch and researching living room fireplace ideas. 

I knew I wanted a central fireplace or wood burner, so I started researching ways how to install a fireplace without a chimney. This is when I came across bioethanol fireplaces!

What is a bioethanol fireplace? It is a renewable energy source which is produced by the sugar fermentation process.

This can come from products like corn, wheat or maize so it has a much lower carbon footprint than fossil fuels.

Bioethanol fuel produces a real flame but there is no smoke so no chimney is required!

Read more >>>

A Guide to Bioethanol Fireplaces – An Eco-Friendly Way to Heat your Home

imagin fires fireplace with brick surround
A woodburner that needs no chimney or flue! Image credit: Imagin Fires

This was exactly what I was looking for, so I contacted Imagin Fires and asked if they would be interested in collaborating on our living room fireplace renovation.

We decided to go for the Malvern Black bioethanol fireplace with a small false flue so it looked like we had a real wood burner and chimney in place.

imagin fires Malvern fireplace
Malvern black bioethanol fireplace – Imagin Fires
imagin fires faux flue
False flue, small – Imagin Fires

Wall units

With our bioethanol fireplace sorted, I set about designing the rest of the room.

I knew I wanted wall-to-wall units that surrounded the living room fireplace, so we decided to get a few quotes.

As I expected, they were eye-watering! We were quoted between £5000 to £14000 and some of these quotes still meant we would have to put the units up ourselves.

With a renovation still ongoing and plenty of other rooms left to finish, I couldn’t justify spending that kind of money to put up what is essentially a few bookshelves, so I decided to take on the project myself.

I have seen plenty of DIYers on Instagram and TikTok producing amazing IKEA hacks with the Billy bookcase so armed with a measuring tape, I started the design process.

dark green bookcases around the fireplace in the living room
Gorgeous dark green units. Image credit: @farm_fresh_curls
billy bookcase IKEA hack painted black with white trim
Stunning curves and all amazingly DIY. Image credit: @mygrandparentschair
black living room cabinets
Probably where my love affair with built-in bookcases began! Image credit: @mrs_macs_home

IKEA Bookcases

Although we shortened the space in the living room, we still had a lot of room to play with.

The measurements along this wall space are 432cm (w) x 240cm (h). My original plan was to go with 2 IKEA Billy bookcases on either side of the living room fireplace.

We are going to put the TV above the bioethanol fireplace, so doing this, would only leave us enough space for a 43” TV (which is fine but we wanted something bigger).

sketchup drawing of proposed IKEA billy bookcase hack
Wood burner in the middle, 2 Billy bookcases on either side

I still wanted to maximise the bookcase space, so I just dropped half of the Billy bookcase in the middle so that it gave us more room for a bigger mantelpiece and TV.

To create this IKEA hack, I needed –

sketchup drawing of IKEA Billy bookcase hack

To make it look bespoke, I will buy some MDF to put in front of the bookcases and will cut curves into the top.

I will add a hearth for the wood burner to sit on and a large wooden mantelpiece which will rest on the IKEA Billy bookcases on either side.

Finally, I will create a fake wall behind the living room fireplace and mantelpiece to hide all the TV cables.

Furniture

We want to keep the room mainly for entertainment and somewhere to chill and watch TV in the evenings.

We have been looking at large corner sofas, like the ones I’ve found on Sofa Club to fit into the back corner, with a coffee table and an occasional chair in front of the large patio doors. 

Soft Furnishings

I love Persian-inspired rugs and I think the Kamran Coral Rug from Ruggable will look perfect in this room.

I’ve learnt my lesson from previous rug experiences to only go for a flat weave or very short pile rug in the living room!

ruggable rug with white sofa
Kamran Coral Rug – Ruggable

We will eventually be putting shutters on all our windows and patio doors in the house.

I love the idea of net curtains fluttering in the summer breeze, so I will be putting up a plain white/cream voile across the patio doors to give us a little bit of privacy. 

Decorate

In my quest to make the Billy bookcases more bespoke, I will add half dowels to the front of the doors to give them a ribbed look.

I will replace the Oxberg handles with either gold or brass handles and add panelling to the back of the bookcases.

Once they are all in place, including the MDF, caulked and primed, I will paint the cupboards dark green (TBC!).

I love the idea of Farrow and Ball Studio Green or Dulux Heritage Mallard Green but I need to buy some tester pots to decide.

I absolutely adored the Valspar Blue Jade paint we had in our last house, but I’m not sure if it’s right for the bookcases… yet!

dark green walls with coral sofa
Farrow and Ball Studio Green – Image credit: 1930s_semi_charmed_life
dark green walls and fireplace with olive sofa
Dulux Mallard Green

The bioethanol fireplace and IKEA units have arrived and the room is prepped and ready to go!

I am extremely excited about this transformation of our living room and will write a blog post about it here once it is complete.

I can’t wait to get stuck in with this project! 

imagin fires malvern fireplace going in
The Imagin Fires fireplace has arrived, I cannot wait to get started with this project

If you want to see how my DIY IKEA Billy bookcase turned out, check this blog post >>>

Billy Bookcase IKEA HACK – How to Create Bespoke Bookcases for your Living Room

Mel x

our diy plans for a bespoke look in our living room pinterest pin

 

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