Decorating a Fireplace

Need some help decorating a fireplace Victorian style? Here are lots of ideas. If you use any of these ideas, take some pictures and send them to me to share with everyone! 

Decorating A Fireplace, Idea #1

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For handsome steel grates, fire papers are not generally used. Purchase a yard and a half of tarlatan, and pull it entirely to pieces, thread by thread. Fill the grate and fender entirely, as full and lightly as possible. The fire irons are removed, greased with mutton fat, rolled in paper, and put away in a dry closet for the season. Arrange a slight wreath of myrtle on the top of the shavings, or carelessly throw a few well-made muslin roses about the tarlatan in the manner shown in Fig. 1. 

It is very tasteful to use pale coloured tarlatan, the shade of the furniture, for this purpose, but the tint should be extremely light, A little gold, sold for the purpose, looks well on the coloured cloud thus arranged in the stove. Nothing can be prettier than the palest shade of pink tarlatan, unravelled, in the grate, with a few moss roses carelessly arranged about it, and the lace window curtains lined with pink tarlatan throughout, a couple of shades deeper in tone. Very pale green contrasts better with gold than with flowers.

Decorating A Fireplace, Idea #2

Another elegant way of fitting up a handsome stove for the summer is to order a piece of looking-glass in a plain gilt frame, to fit in as a chimney board. Displace the steel fender, and use a rustic one gilt, with a green tin inside, charged with flower-pots containing plants in bloom.

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In place of the mantel-shelf valance of fringe, hang point lace in deep Vandykes mounted on silk, edged with a narrow silk fringe, the colour of the furniture. Curtains of fine lace, lined with coloured tarlatan or thin silk, may be looped each side with good effect in some apartments. Fig. 2 shows the disposition of these adornments.

Curtains to chimney-pieces are much used in France, and are seen in England in many good old-fashioned houses: where the chimney boards are of cloth or velvet. Many sleeping apartments have such draughty chimneys, that curtains of this kind would be no undesirable addition. Where there is no more air than is needed for health, these curtains might be drawn in the day as a finish to a room, and undrawn and looped back at night when the apartment is in use. They should be removed if fires are lit, because drapery round a grate in use is unsafe. 

Decorating A Fireplace, Idea #3

Mantle Shelf BoardFig. 3 - Mantle Shelf Board

Many bedrooms furnished with mean grates and mantel-shelves would be much improved by such hangings, even of chintz. A mantel-shelf board should be procured: any board a foot longer than the shelf and half as wide again or twice as wide will do. Nail on at the back a couple of brass eyes to hold it subsequently to the wall; below, it should be furnished with an iron rod all round. If this is not to be procured, very thick wire twisted together might serve the purpose. 

Put hook nails at the ends to hold the wire; bend it square like the shelf-board, keeping it just with the margin. Put a hook nail in the centre, at C (Fig. 3), to support it. Place the rings on the wire before securing it. In Fig. 3, A A are the brass eyes, B B the rod, and C the hook in the centre. Cover the board with chintz. 

Make a valance of chintz, lined with glaze of a plain colour, to match the furniture, which we will suppose is green. Make a broad hem of the green over the chintz, about four inches deep. The valance should be about eight or ten inches deep. Box-pleat, and nail it round the board. Over the nails arrange a piece of furniture gimp. Line the chintz curtains, and either hem over the edge with lining or bind it all round. Sew the curtains to the rings. Put hook nails in the wall each side and a loop of chintz, to hold back the curtains when not in use.

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A bedroom, where there is a white muslin toilette frock over pink glaze, and a looking-glass draped with white muslin and pink, would be very prettily completed by a mantel-shelf draped with white muslin over pink also; and if there is a glass over it with a shabby frame, a little muslin and pink ribbon, dressed over it, would be an excellent addition. Fig. 4 is an illustration of this. Or the curtains may be looped back from the grate, and a pretty fire-apron or shavings placed in it.

Decorating A Fireplace, Idea #4

Some sitting-rooms during summer emit so much draught, damp, earthy smell, and falls of soot into a room, as to render curtaining the grate a very useful process; as much air as is desired can be admitted by the windows or doors.

There is another mode of ornamenting fire-stoves, by which a pretty effect may be secured. Fill the stove with very white fine shavings, and thickly scatter them in the fender, entirely filling up every space. Purchase at a wholesale artificial florist's a packet of ivy-leaves, in three different sizes. Then buy six yards of black ribbon wire. Cut off, with an old pair of scissors, half a yard, three quarters of a yard, and a yard of the ribbon wire. Cut the pieces down the centre, and take out the wire from the thread.

Take one of the half-yard lengths of wire, open a packet of the smallest-sized ivy-leaves, and with dark green cotton bind the stalk firmly on to the end of the wire, as naturally as possible; then take another leaf and fix it in the same way, the length of the leaf from the other. Place alternately a leaf of each size, repeating them until the wire is completely covered; or making each wreath distinctively of one sized leaf, and then blending the wreaths alternately. Use three of each size.

Make up the nine wreaths in the same way, placing the leaves as naturally as possible, avoiding stiffness, and mixing the different sized leaves as shown in Fig. 7, below. Tie the tops of the wreaths together to a stick and fix it at the back of the grate behind the shavings, allowing the wreaths to fall carelessly and gracefully into the fender. Fix separate leaves on the wire and place them among the shavings in the fender, to give the appearance of loose leaves from the ivy, and make as many more wreaths as may be required to trail above the fender. 

Different sizes of ivy leavesFig. 5 - Different sizes of ivy leaves

The wreaths may be merely twined about the savings, or fixed at top, according to taste. Figs. 5, 6, and 7, above, show how the leaves should be attached.

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Decorating A Fireplace, Idea #5

A few ivy-berries — red, brown, and green — add to the appearance of the decoration; they may be bought at the same place, and can be easily attached in little branches between the leaves. Passion-flower leaves with berries; rose-leaves and buds (the leaves mounted in threes), or any naturally trailing plants, look well; but it is most important to avoid the vulgarity of gaudy wreaths of any flowers that do not creep. A bunch of ferns at the top of the wreaths has a good effect, and fern-leaf decorations alone are very nice; the fresh leaves frequently fixed among the shavings, or arranged in pots, hidden among the shavings (see Fig. 8).

Decorating A Fireplace, Idea #6

A bunch of very short ivy wreaths in place of ferns, which are very expensive, look very well at top, and grasses may be mixed with the ivy in the fender. To give the leaves a natural hue, pass them quickly over the flame of a candle, through the smoke.

Decorating A Fireplace, Idea #7

A very pretty, simple, but elegant, stove paper may be made in the following way: — Get a quire (A set of 24 or sometimes 25 sheets of paper of the same size and stock) of pure white tissue paper, fold each sheet lengthwise (opened) into narrow folds about an inch wide, and cut each fold, forming strips; leaving about two inches of the paper uncut, to keep the strips together. 

When each sheet but one is cut into strips, take hold of the uncut parts of each, and gently shake the paper straight; then sew the uncut parts, of each sheet firmly together, and fix them to a stick. Fill the grate and fender with white shavings; fix the stick down at the back of the grate, and let the strips of paper fall over into the fender. 

Cut the sheet of the paper that is left into strips about half a quarter of a yard wide, and tie it into a bow and ends. Pin this bow on to the top of the fire paper, where it is fixed to the stick.

This style of paper is far more elegant than the coloured papers with the tasteless designs sold at bazaars. Simple elegance is preferable to vulgar display.

There you have it, seven ideas for decorating a fireplace. You may use the ideas as is or use them as an inspiration for your own decorating ideas. 

For more decorating the fireplace, see:

  • Shaded Oval Fringes (coming soon)
  • Water Lily Fire Apron (coming soon)
  • Fire Stove Roses and Leaves (coming soon)
  • A Simple Fire Paper Screen, Green and White (coming soon)
  • A Yellow shaded, Goffered Fire Apron (coming soon)

Note: This article about decorating a fireplace was written during the Victorian era. It has been edited for use on this site. Items mentioned may no longer be available. You will need to substitute those items with items available today.

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