Contemporary Hearth Design

March 17, 2014 Updated: August 5, 2014

The fireplace mantel, or hearth, is designed to be a major focal point of your home. Because of this, it’s important to decorate the hearth in the style that attracts the eye. If a more traditional, elegant style is what you love, furnish your fireplace with lots of rich colours, textured fabrics, and large, sophisticated décor pieces. If you crave a homespun feel, embellish your mantel with plants, family photos, and heartwarming trinkets. Contemporary décor, however, emphasizes simple, clean lines, empty space, and a few bold accents. If contemporary design is your thing, read on!

Keep it Simple

Less is absolutely more when it comes to contemporary design. If you have a fireplace that looks contemporary on its own, you’ll want to emphasize its simplistic design without distracting too much from it. Contemporary mantels can speak for themselves. That said, there are ways to enhance the natural beauty of a simple, geometric fireplace and draw more attention to it.

Choose an Accent

If you decide that your fireplace mantel is lacking visual appeal and needs a few statement pieces, begin with an accent piece. Your accent should be bold enough to make a statement without deterring the eye from the fireplace below. A safe rule of thumb is to choose an object that has two visual attractions. If a piece is large and textured, keep the colour scheme simple or neutral. If the piece is bright and large, make sure it has smooth lines and a subtle texture. Keep your other décor, if any, simple and neutral so that it doesn’t detract from your visual focal points.

Draw the Eye Downward

Instead of placing décor on the actual mantel, embrace the empty wall above, and add details in front of or to the side of the fireplace. A set of bookshelves on either side, or a bench or coffee table in front of the fireplace, can add interest while drawing the eye downward. This will allow the empty space above the mantel to speak for itself and for the eye to rest on the visual harmony of the fireplace and décor.

Keep it Natural

Contemporary designers often exhibit natural materials—architectural wood ceiling slats, natural stone or brick detailing, or bare windows like those common in Toronto or Vancouver designs by companies like Retroteck Windows. Going natural gives the contemporary style interesting textures, without being too ornate or overdone. Simplicity sometimes means stripping things to their bare bones. Many contemporary fireplaces showcase natural brick or stone, cut precisely into geometric shapes like squares, rectangles, or even circles.


Geometry is a principal essential to contemporary design in all its forms. Sharp, clean lines and bold geometric shapes give the room a modern, quirky feel, while keeping the simplicity and cleanness of the contemporary style. Instead of using many textures and patterns, contemporary designers add visual interest with simple yet varied geometric shape. Decorate your mantel with interesting vases, picture frames, or even a large canvas painting with abstracted shapes and colours. Round vases can be a great complement to a square fireplace, adding varied visual texture to the design-scape.


Whether you choose to decorate the mantelpiece, a nearby shelf, or a table near the fireplace, remember the important contemporary principle of asymmetry. In any horizontal, linear design, asymmetry will provide interest to the eye, actually enhancing the natural geometric shapes of the objects without detracting from their simplicity.

Barbara Johnson works in real estate and enjoys finding her clients the perfect homes. In addition, she shares her home improvement and gardening tips with others through blogging.

Article originally published by EiEi Homes Inc. For more information on articles, reviews, and contractors in your area, please see their website at