How to Make an Electric Fireplace Insert Look Like a Built-In Fireplace

When the temperatures get cooler, we look forward to cozy evenings indoors by the warmth of a fire. A traditional wood-burning fireplace is lovely, but it can require a lot of work and commitment to maintaining it, particularly in older homes. Regular cleaning and upkeep is necessary, especially to prevent dangerous chimney fires with creosote buildup. If you don’t already have one, installing a fireplace in your home can be an expensive and labor intensive project.

Fortunately, an indoor electric fireplace is a great alternative to the classic wood-burning fire. We’ll break down the benefits of an electric fireplace, along with some helpful tips to make it look more realistic.

Benefits of an Electric Fireplace

Electric fireplaces offer a variety of benefits compared to their traditional wood-burning counterparts.

Easy to Adjust

Many electric fireplaces include a remote control that makes it easy to adjust the settings, including color, brightness, temperature and running time (depending on the model and its features). Unlike a wood-burning fireplace, where you have to keep getting up to add firewood to keep the fire going, an electric fireplace can run continuously until you power it off or use a timed function.

Energy Efficient

Many traditional indoor fireplaces feature a chimney that is an opening from inside to outside the house. This can allow cold air to creep into the home when the fireplace is not in use. Cold drafts can be counterintuitive to the heating purpose the fireplace provides. An electric fireplace doesn’t require a chimney because it doesn’t need to divert smoke and fumes because it doesn’t burn fuel like a classic fireplace. This allows the warm air to stay in the room and not rise into the chimney or be partially diverted elsewhere. Plus, it uses less energy than most heating systems, so you can target heat in your living spaces where you need it most.

Less Maintenance

Don’t have a lot of time to clean and maintain a fireplace and chimney? An electric fireplace is a great option! A classic fireplace requires cleaning up the leftover ash from a fire once it has gone out. Plus, regular cleaning and inspection of the chimney is crucial to ensure that the wood-burning fire continues to burn safely in your home. An electric fireplace does not require any of this maintenance, as it is a display that replicates the appearance and motion of fire and heats your personal spaces in a similar manner as a space heater.

No Fumes

The smells of a wood-burning fire add to the ambiance and experience. However, it can be bothersome to those who may have breathing issues or are sensitive to certain scents. According to Full Service Chimney, gas fireplaces can produce a variety of odors that can be caused by different things. A burning plastic smell can be emitted the first time a gas fireplace has been used for awhile. This is usually caused by accumulated dust, pet dander and hair being burned off. A gas fireplace can also produce odors when it is turned on for the very first time due to the paints, lubricants and other materials used to construct the fireplace being heated up. Usually this dissipates after the first use. 

However, a continuous gas odor when the fireplace is in use or not can be of concern as it could indicate a leak or improper ventilation. Carbon monoxide can also be an issue that can go undetected as it does not produce an odor. 

An electric fireplace does not utilize gas or wood and will not produce fumes because it runs on electricity.

4 Tips to Make an Electric Insert Look More Realistic

Tip 1: Opt for a Fireplace Insert

An electric fireplace insert is one of the best options for a realistic-looking traditional fire. These are designed to be installed in a firebox, or an opening in the wall. When installing these types of electric fireplaces, it is strongly recommended to work with a certified electrician or contractor who has had previous experience setting up these types of decorative home accents.

Fireplace insert placed into a brick fireplace

Tip 2: Add a Floating Mantel

Have a wall-mounted electric fireplace? Add a floating mantel above it! This simple, yet chic, addition puts a modern twist on the traditional mantel. Check out this tutorial from Frazzled Joy to create and install your own floating mantel.

electric fireplace mounted on the wall with a wood mantel piece above it

Tip 3: Use an Existing Non-Functioning Fireplace

If you have an existing non-functioning fireplace, usually it has the chimney sealed off to prevent cold drafts. But then you’re left with the empty hearth where the pile of wood would have gone before. This space is actually perfect for a faux log heated electric fireplace insert. This will bring new life to the fireplace, but with less mess and more warmth, as there won’t be any cold air coming down from the chimney.

empty fireplace in living room

Tip 4: Utilize an Accent Wall of Brick or Stone

Installing a wall-mounted fireplace on an accent wall that is real or faux brick or stone is another great way to put a modern twist on the traditional fireplace. These replicate the appearance of a classic hearth, but doesn’t require cutting into the wall. It’s also a great option if you prefer a more sleek and minimalistic appearance.

fireplace insert in a modern-style living room

An electric fireplace is a stylish alternative to a traditional wood-burning fireplace. It has a lot of great benefits, including energy efficiency, easy installation, less maintenance, easy adjustability and fume-free heat. This handy appliance will transform your indoor gathering space into a cozy and welcoming retreat from the winter cold.

Indoor living

About the Author

Alyssa Geary
Alyssa Geary
Alyssa Geary is a product specialist who loves the cozy ambiance that the right lights can bring to indoor and outdoor spaces. In the summer months, you’ll find her relaxing under the shade of an umbrella reading a good book, or scrolling through Instagram.

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