Fireplace Lighting Ideas

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You may not even think about lighting for your fireplace, which results in a missed opportunity to highlight its features. You can add accent lights to your fireplace in any style and on any budget.

Wall Sconces

For a fireplace in a formal living room, den or master bedroom with upscale furnishings, twin wall sconces add symmetry to the focal point of the room. If the fireplace has a mantel and it sticks out from the wall, position each light just inside the mantel’s edge. Place the lights farther apart if the fireplace is flush with the wall, but keep them within 8 feet of each other.

Hang wall sconces high enough to keep the bulb out of sight. Typically, the fixture should be about 60 to 66 inches from the floor. You may need to adjust the height according to what you hang on the fireplace in between them, such as a painting or mirror.

Choose a pair of fixtures that complement the design of your fireplace and the style of the room. In a modern setting, look for sleek fixtures with minimal ornamentation in materials and finishes such as:

  • Glass, crystal
  • Chrome
  • Polished nickel

Traditional and rustic settings work with more ornamental fixtures in finishes and styles that include:

  • Antique brass
  • Oil-rubbed bronze
  • Wrought iron
  • Copper
  • Art glass
  • Candle-style, glass globes, fabric shades or lantern designs

You can also look for sconces in specific styles to accent an antique, vintage, retro or eclectic fireplace setting such as curvaceous Art Deco lights, angular, geometric Mission-style lights, or the iconic hourglass cones of Spektr-style wall lights.

LED Strip Lights

Add a touch of ambiance to the fireplace using flexible LED strip lights. A remote control allows you to change the color of your accent lighting to suit your mood or complement seasonal decor.

Install a strip under the mantel or use them under built-in shelving around the fireplace for an enchanting glow. Strip lights create a mood-enhancing backlight behind a TV, mirror or a large framed picture mounted over the mantel. The flexible strips are self-adhesive, can bend around corners, and can be cut to any length.

Although attaching the lights to the surface is relatively quick and simple, some minor electrical wiring is involved in connecting them to the power supply box, which plugs into any nearby electrical outlet. If you have no experience with electrical wiring, consult with a licensed electrician.

Cord covers painted the same color as the wall help disguise electrical cords. A small run of lights going around the back of a mirror or picture frame can also be directly connected to a lithium polymer battery.

Directional Ceiling Lights

Recessed lights are often used to highlight architectural features, wall art, plants or focal points. An effect called grazing can be used to highlight the texture of a stone or brick fireplace. The fixture must be placed in close proximity to the vertical surface being highlighted. Lighting designer Randall Whitehead suggests using two recessed fixtures placed 2 feet out from the face of the fireplace to cross-illuminate its features.

Soffit Lighting

If your fireplace is slightly recessed into the wall, install small diameter recessed can lights underneath the soffit created by the overhanging edge of the wall. Focus the can lights to highlight the texture and various colors of a natural stone fireplace surround.

Pendant Lights

Hang a pair of pendant lights from the ceiling directly in front of the fireplace, allowing the lights to hover at about the same height as a pair of walls sconces. Place some decorative pottery, urns, tall candlesticks or sculptures on the fireplace hearth, so the hanging lights shine down to showcase them.

Fairy Lights

Fairy lights provide inexpensive yet creative fireplace accent lighting. These lights come in multitudes of styles and can be operated by a battery, and some are even immersible in water. LED fairy lights are energy efficient, long-lasting and generate very little heat.

Intertwine a string of flower fairy light along mantel decor for a spring or summer seasonal display. Fill a few glass jars with tiny LED fairy lights that come on thin, bendable wires. Suspend clusters of wire fairy lights under a grouping of hurricane shades or glass cloches for an elegant mantel centerpiece. Wrap them around a small bird cage or around willow branches displayed in a vase.

Place fairy lights around the frame of a mirror mounted over the mantel or outline the fireplace surround with a soft, white glow. Drape a string of rustic rattan ball fairy lights across a large, rugged wooden mantel.

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