This Pinterest Trend Wants You To Turn Your Fireplace Into A Bookshelf, But Should You?

Fireplaces, whether real or faux, can be one of the most dynamic architectural elements in your home. Not only do they invoke a feeling of coziness no matter the season, but they also provide a focal point to any room they occupy. A real fireplace can help keep you warm during colder months, while a faux fireplace can be a stylish addition whether you leave it empty, add candles or decor items, or use it for extra storage and display. A recent design trend is using the space in, around, and on top of the fireplace to store books. It's a solution that is perfect for the book lover and collector who might be looking for some extra space to stash parts of their collection. It's also a great approach if you have a non-working or faux fireplace that needs a bit more styling to reach its full potential. 

There are a few things to keep in mind, however, if you plan to use your fireplace as a spot for books, as well as different ways to go about it. Adding books to a fireplace is a great way to add even more texture to a room, as well as a fun way to display your reading interest and personality. Really beautiful books can even function as art themselves. However, not all fireplace setups are right for books.

Why you may not want books in your fireplace

If your fireplace is real but you only use it in the cold-weather months, you may be looking for something to do with that space the rest of the year. You may have a fireplace that once was in working order but no longer functions. While you can add books to these sorts of fireplaces, provided they have been insulated since their working days, things like dust, ash, debris, and possibly even pests may surface as problems, even if the chimney is sealed. All of these potential factors can be hard on your book collection. Since most fireplaces occupy an exterior wall, you could also have problems with moisture and mold in books. More interior fireplaces may still work for book storage provided the chimneys have been completely closed off, insulated, and thoroughly cleaned. 

Fake fireplaces are a far better option for turning into bookshelves since they don't have any outdoor vents and are usually completely self-contained. You may even be able to swap out cold-weather elements like an electric flame set up or candles for summertime book storage. Keep in mind that even low heat from a fireplace insert can cause books to dry out and crumble, so it's best to keep books away from heat even if there's no fire hazard to speak of.

Using fireplaces for book storage

If you decide to use your fireplace for book storage, there are some great approaches to do so, including adding shelves with brackets along the side of the hearth. You can also use a freeform stacked approach, which allows you to position more books for a charmingly haphazard old bookstore feel. If your book storage is only during certain months and you display other things in your fireplace, you can also use a small shelf or cart that fits inside the fireplace and can be easily moved or wheeled away.

If you opt to install shelves, an assemblage of books with flameless candles can be a really cozy look that works in any season as a way to decorate your fireplace. Or you can drape your books in twinkle lights for a soft glow. Even if you do not currently have a fireplace in a room, you can also buy a lower, wide bookshelf and add trim or crown molding to make it look like a fireplace complete with a top mantle.