Hot Trend: Everything You Need to Know About Mid-Century Modern Fireplaces

by Mark Soto
Interior of a mid-century house

Mid-century modern fireplaces are a unique type of fireplace that’s quickly gaining — or, should we say, regaining — popularity. These types of fireplaces are popular due to their clean aesthetic that blends well with modern interior design.

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In general, fireplaces create a sense of warmth and coziness, which comes quite handy during the colder months. However, mid-century modern fireplaces add a different kind of aesthetic to a home’s interior.

What Are Mid-Century Fireplaces?

There are two common types of mid-century modern fireplaces: built-in and freestanding. Built-in models have a clean design and are built into the wall surrounded by brick or stone. Freestanding models have a slim chimney and arched front opening. A freestanding fireplace is a great choice if you don’t want to spend money on an expensive home improvement project to get it built-in. You can just simply buy one and move it into your home.

Mid-century fireplaces mounted in the wall tend to be placed higher than a traditional fireplace. Andra DelMonico, lead interior designer for Trendey, says this is because they don’t always have the hearth area around them. However, if they have a hearth, it tends to be boxy and oversized.

When it comes to freestanding designs, the most well-known is the Malm. They’re often brightly colored and have a cone shape with a gentle slope, wide opening and a large flue. You can find these styles of fireplaces in different colors, designs and power sources. Like traditional fireplaces, you can choose between gas, electric and woodburning options.

How Much Do They Cost?

Costs vary, especially because there are two main kinds of mid-century fireplaces. Unsurprisingly, adding a built-in fireplace costs a lot more than a freestanding model. If you’re on a budget, you might prefer to buy a freestanding fireplace, which can cost anywhere between $500 and $3,000 (CAD 635 and CAD 3,800). Freestanding types come in many designs, so you have a higher degree of freedom when it comes to budgeting for one.

For built-in fireplaces, it’s hard to predict the cost of a fireplace installation because there are many influential factors like size, materials and whether it’s a prefabricated model. You can expect the project to start at around $2,000 (CAD 2,540) at the minimum. If your budget is on the high end, DelMonico said you can get a large custom-built fireplace that uses a unique stone for about $10,000 (CAD 12,700).

The work for installing a fireplace isn’t easy, so labor costs match the complexity of the project. While this can vary per home and layout, it might require removing or adding walls and shifting things around. Plus, if you’re getting an electric or gas fireplace, a contractor will need to install a gas line or add wiring to the area.

While it’s saving thousands of dollars by doing the project on your own is tempting, this is far from a beginner DIY project. Installing a fireplace is not a home improvement project that you should attempt without any experience. Unless you have fire-related expertise, the risk is too significant and can cause a fire hazard in your home.

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Should You Get One?

The main reason people add a fireplace to their home is to add warmth and a cozy atmosphere. DelMonico said a fireplace creates a natural focal point in the room and can enhance your chosen interior design theme. You can also increase the value of your home by adding a new aesthetic feature. For homeowners who live in cold climates, a fireplace can add a sense of security as a backup should the power fail and the heating system stop working. You can also reduce your heating bills by supplementing the heat generation in the home with an efficient fireplace.

Incorporating a Mid-Century Fireplace Into Your Home

Adding a fireplace to a space also gives you plenty of design opportunities. When installing a mid-century fireplace in a wall, DelMonico said that you can enhance the design by adding a fireplace surround. Choose a material that makes sense for your chosen interior design. Tile is an excellent option for emulating a classic, mid-century modern design. In this case, you can leave out the mantel, as this breaks up the lines of the in-wall fireplace. Instead, DelMonico suggests extending the tile all the way up the wall to the ceiling.

When choosing the colors for a mid-century fireplace, stick with earthy neutrals. They stay true to the mid-century design while maintaining broad appeal and easy adaptability to other design themes should you want to change your decor in the future.

Where Can You Buy One?

With the rising trend, there are an increasing amount of places that offer freestanding models for sale. You can find woodburning, electric or gas fireplaces in different styles and colors.

There are plenty of websites online offering Mid-century-style fireplaces, including Etsy, MalmFireplaces and UrbanAmericana. Similarly, you can also find them locally. Your best bet is visiting local vintage stores and asking around for them.