Create a cozy living room atmosphere with fireplace built-ins. Learn how to decorate your bookshelves with classic vintage and neutral styles using thrifted finds.

Winter Collections on Bookshelves Vintage Style
Best Vintage Finds for Winter Collections

What Are Fireplace Built-Ins?

Fireplace built-ins refer to custom-made structures or cabinets designed to surround and enhance a fireplace. These built-ins are typically constructed on either side of the fireplace and can serve both functional and aesthetic purposes.

Functionally, fireplace built-ins provide additional storage space for firewood, kindling, and other fireplace accessories. They can also house media equipment such as televisions, DVD players, or sound systems, creating a convenient and organized entertainment space. Built-ins may include shelves or cabinets for displaying decorative items, books, or family photos.

Fireplace built-ins create a visually appealing and organized space, making the fireplace area a focal point for gathering and relaxation.

Fireplace Built-Ins Decorating Ideas

When it comes to decorating fireplace built-ins, there are numerous creative and stylish options to consider. Here are some design ideas to inspire your fireplace built-ins decor:

  1. Display Books and Decorative Items: Use the built-in shelves to showcase a collection of books, art pieces, vases, or sculptures. Arrange them artfully and visually pleasingly, mixing different heights, colors, and textures.
  2. Add Greenery: Incorporate plants or flowers on the built-ins to bring a touch of nature and freshness to the space. You can place potted plants directly on the shelves or use decorative planters. See more in the Best Vintage Finds for Winter Collections post.
  3. Install Accent Lighting: Consider adding LED strip lights or small accent lights within the built-ins to highlight specific items or create a warm ambiance. This can add a cozy and inviting atmosphere to the fireplace area.
  4. Include Artwork or Mirrors: Hang artwork or mirrors above the fireplace or on the back wall of the built-ins to create a focal point. This can add visual interest and depth to the space.
  5. Incorporate Personal Touches: Display family photos, sentimental objects, or meaningful heirlooms on the shelves to personalize the built-ins and make them feel more intimate and unique.
  6. Use Decorative Baskets or Boxes: Utilize decorative baskets or boxes to store and organize small items like remote controls, candles, or fire starters. This helps keep the built-ins clutter-free while adding a stylish touch.
  7. Experiment with Texture and Color: Consider using textured wallpaper or paint in the back of the built-ins to add depth and visual interest. You can also introduce pops of color through accessories or by painting the shelves themselves.
  8. Layer Art and Accessories: Create depth and dimension by layering artwork, framed photos, or decorative objects in front of each other on the shelves. This adds visual interest and creates a curated look.
  9. Incorporate Seasonal Decor: Change up the decor on your built-ins with the seasons. For example, during the holidays, you can add festive decorations, such as garlands, ornaments, or seasonal candles, to create a cozy and festive atmosphere.
  10. Consider Symmetry: If your fireplace has built-ins on both sides, consider creating a symmetrical display. Place similar items or pairs of objects on each side to create a balanced and harmonious look.
Vintage Abraham Lincoln Picture with Brass Candlesticks on Fireplace Built-ins

The key is to personalize your built-ins to reflect your style and preferences. Experiment with different arrangements, textures, and colors until you find a decor scheme that you love and that complements the overall aesthetic of your home.

How to Add Vintage Charm

Now that we have a good foundation on fireplace built-ins, here are a few ideas that I incorporated on a winter day to cozy up our pellet stone built-ins in the living room.

Vintage Wooden Train Set

I found this awesome large wooden train set while out “Thrifting with the Gals” this past summer in Maine. It was only $45, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how cute it would be at our home in Vermont this winter.

Vintage Wooden Train Set on Table

I used this 4 piece train set as the foundation for this year’s neutral built-ins, spreading it out over 4 separate fireplace built-ins shelving.

Vintage train set on white fireplace built ins.

I then styled the individual train cars with thrifted vintage books and bottles. And even a vintage kite handle.

You may also enjoy the How to Decorate Bookshelves for a Vintage Christmas post.

Thrifted Ostrich Feather Dusters

Do you remember these cute dusters I picked up last week, “Thrifting with the Gals,” in Saratoga, NY? They’re each stamped Dustall No. 4 Made of Genuine Washable Ostrich Feather.

And I have hung them both up next to our pellet stove. They’ve actually become quite functional, too!

Vintage Neutral Finds on Fireplace Built-ins

Did you see this Salvaged Windows and Brass Candlestick Project? I love the unique character it adds to our fireplace built-ins. Remember, it’s all about adding your own personal touches.

Salvaged Windows with candlesticks hanging from fireplace built ins

And in case you missed this Vintage Sewing Machine Repurposed.

Blue and White Forever

Just as much as I love a beautifully styled neutral home, I adore all things blue, too! Fortunately, blue pairs very well with a neutral palette.

Here, I added a vintage blue pitcher found last weekend while out thrifting in Saratoga, NY.

Blue and white vintage fireplace built-ins decor.

And two of these diamond-accented blue and neutral pillows from my favorite second-hand shops that unfortunately just closed for good…

Fireplace built ins decorated with vintage charm

A blue handmade quilt, made by my mother, is the perfect blue accent and comfort we need in front of fireplace built-ins. You may enjoy seeing more of these quilts in the How to Fold and Display Heirloom Quilts post.

Bernese Mountain Dog in front of Vintage and Neutral Fireplace Built-ins.

More Fireplace Built-ins Vignettes

Decorating with Winter’s Greens

During a morning hike, in the mountains, I cut a few winter greens to add to our fireplace built-ins. Fresh greenery is always a nice addition, especially on shelving.

Fireplace Built-ins Vintage and Neutral Design
Vintage finds on fireplace built-ins shelf.

Wishing you a very warm and cozy winter my friend, I hope you found a little inspiration during your visit with us today.

Bernese Mountain Dog

Whether for storage, display, or entertainment purposes, fireplace built-ins offer a practical and stylish solution for maximizing a fireplace’s potential and transforming it into a stunning feature in any home.

A Vintage Affair

If you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below. And be sure to share this blog post link with your friends who are also vintage enthusiasts.

Do you have a flair for all things vintage, too? I would love to see and feature you in our Reader’s Showcase Series. A place for you to share and be recognized for your talents and passion for all things thrifting, vintage, and antique decor-related inspired by your time here with Dabbling & Decorating. Email me at

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  1. Kathy Munday says:

    Oh my, Ann
    This is a beautiful blog. I LOVE. LOVE. LOVE the wooden train set AND the way you chose to display it!
    Blue and white is my FAVORITE color scheme and I use it a lot in my home and I WEAR it a LOT!!
    And of course, everything looks even better with Ella in it!! The head tilt……oh my heart! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    1. Thank you so much, Kathy, my fellow blue and vintage lover! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time!

  2. Love the train…which reminds me of the sweet handmade wooden train we found at a craft fair for our son when he was a baby. I loved it! When I was out of town once my husband thought it was a good thing to donate as our son was getting older. Ha! still not happy about that. At the time I was a tiny bit ballistic.😡 Always appreciate the dog photos. To paraphrase “I never met a dog I wouldn’t want to kiss.”

    1. Jillian I would have been so bummed too. Shoot. Ella always loves making appearance🐶🐶🚂

  3. Good Morning. I just have to ask if there is a reason you have some of the books upside down on your display? Having spent my high school years working in a library where my job was to straighten the books I always seem to notice unique book displays. I so enjoy many of your ideas and love peeking into your homes. I have been to Maine and Vermont once each and found them so beautiful. But then Mother Nature is amazing, isn’t she? Peace.

    1. Oh my gosh Cindi I didn’t even notice there was an upside down book😂 I see it now and will fix it. Thank you so much for joining me here❤️❤️❤️

  4. I love the beautiful styling of your shelves Ann! The train set idea and the window are wonderful inspiration to me!! Thank you!

  5. Your built-ins look so beautiful, Ann! I love the way you have used the train and I do remember when you purchased it. Have a great day!

  6. Love all your neutral vintage finds with just a few pops of blue added in! So fun!