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Fireplace Bookshelves Add Warmth & Storage to the Home

Adding Built-In Fireplace Bookshelves as Custom Storage

Connotations of warmth and happiness surround the hearth as a traditional symbol of the home and everything that "home" stands for. It's a place to gather in the evenings to talk, read, play games and socialize. In many ways, it rivals the kitchen as the hub of the home and center of family life.

While the cold, dark days of winter are upon us, many people will find themselves gravitating around their fireplaces. It's a place for families and friends to spend time together while enjoying each other's company. For many families, their fondest memories and favorite activities take place in front of the fireplace.

fireplace bookshelves
These built-in fireplace bookshelves extend out in front of the wall. They include cabinet doors to cover the lower shelves with base and crown moulding, giving them a high-end custom look. See Project >

Many fireplaces can benefit from some type of bookshelves or built-ins to surround the hearth and organize all the materials that accompany a family's social activity.

Types of Fireplace Storage Solutions:

  1. Flush or Recessed Built-Ins:

    Fireplace built ins can either appear to be recessed into the wall or stick out from the wall like a wardrobe closet. When constructing built-in fireplace bookshelves, they always sit in front of the interior drywall. They gain their recessed appearance from the way your fireplace is constructed. If the fireplace sits out from the wall, when bookshelves are added, the mantle will be flush with the front of the bookshelves and they will appear to be recessed into the wall. You can build your bookshelves all the way to the edge of the fireplace with this type of setup. If the fireplace mantle is already flush to the drywall and the firebox sits in a brick chimney that extends outside the walls of the home, the bookshelves will stick out from the wall. It is best to leave a bit of breathing room between the fireplace and the bookshelves with this type of arrangement. Both types of fireplace bookshelves are considered to be built-ins as long as they are attached to the wall.

    built-in fireplace bookshelves
    These fireplace bookshelves appear to be recessed into the wall because they sit flush with the front of the fireplace. If you look at the top of the fireplace where it meets the ceiling, however, you will notice that the fireplace is actually constructed so that it sits out in front of the wall. The recessed appearance is an illustion. No walls were opened up in the construction of these fireplace bookshelves. See Project >
  2. Open Shelving

    There are several different ways to surround a fireplace with storage. One of the easiest and most common is open shelving. Open shelves can be used for books, display pieces, media components like televisions, and more.

    glass fireplace bookshelves
    A narrow tower of open shelving flanks either side of this fireplace. The open shelves are constructed from glass and are particularly well suited for use as display shelves. The use of glass also allows the recessed light from above to flow through all the shelves, highlighting the displayed objects.
  3. Built-In Seating:

    Built-in seating with storage underneath is a quick way to lend an American Craftsman Style to a room. Similar to a window seat, built-in seating on either side of the fireplace harkens back to an earlier era when custom built-ins were a common feature of new homes. Built-in seating works especially well when the fireplace is flanked by windows on either side because it won't block the view. Cabinets or shelves can be included beneath the seat for storage and home organization.

    built-in fireplace seating
    Built-in seating can surround a fireplace. This works especially well under a window and increases the seating in the room considerably, making it great for homeowners who like to entertain. Storage can be included beneath the window/fireplace seat.
  4. Cabinets and Drawers:

    Including cabinets and drawers under open shelving lends an upscale look to any built-in bookshelf storage system. The cabinets can be elaborate and include hook-ups for media components like flat screen televisions and cable boxes. They can also simply cover the lower shelves and hide messy storage like board games or toys. Drawers are convenient for storing smaller items or paperwork and files.

Fireplace bookshelves are currently in high demand amongst home buyers. Adding built-in fireplace bookshelves to surround your hearth will increase the storage and usability of your home. They provide a personalized look that can set your house apart from your neighbors. It is no wonder that they have become so popular in recent years.

Fireplace bookshelves can be created to offer different types of storage solutions. These include:

  • Open shelving
  • Cabinets and drawers
  • Built-in seating

The resulting built-ins can have a recessed appearance if the grate extends into the room. This is common when the fireplace is positioned on an interior wall. The built-ins can also extend into the room, sitting like a wardrobe cabinet next to the hearth if the fireplace chimney is on the exterior of the home and the mantle is mounted flush to the wall. Either way, they add a custom element to the warm and cozy atmosphere surrounding the home's fireplace, making the space even more usable and enjoyable for years to come.

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walk in closet with soft close closet drawers
walk in closet with soft close closet drawers
Built-in fireplace bookshelves add instant customization and pizzaz to any room. Notice the difference with these before and after photos. This fireplace went from drab to dramatic while simultaneously increasing the usability and storage potential of the room. See Project >
Built-in wall unit next to a fireplace
This built-in next to the fireplace is designed to function as a home media center as well as provide general storage for the home. See Project >
living room wall unit with bookshelves surrounding a fireplace
These built-in fireplace bookshelves are completely covered with cabinet doors. Custom lighting and glass panel inserts make the upper shelves/cabinets perfect for displaying artwork, memorabilia, or even fine china. The lower cabinets use solid doors to hide the items stored within. From the portfolio of Gerry Ayala >
Custom electric fireplace with entertainment center
Custom electric fireplace surround with entertainment center and light bridge creates a focal point for this family room. See Project >
Traditional bookshelf cabinets surrounding a fireplace
These traditional bookshelf cabinets provide attractive storage for this family room. See Project >

Make 2022 an organized year

About Closet Works

Closet Works is a proud member of The Container Store family of companies. Since 1987, we have been helping homeowners in the Chicago area by creating closets, pantries, office/guest rooms, wall units and more that help create a better, less stressful lifestyle. Great ideas to "Organize Your Life" and examples of our organized bedrooms, closets and other custom organization systems can be found throughout our website. For more information on Closet Works call toll-free at 800-425-6738.
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