Few things say “cozy home” like bookshelves surrounding a fireplace. Add in some paneling and a reading nook and you have a luxurious place to spend an evening. Fireplace bookshelves are classic for a living room; you can install them in bedrooms, offices, and anywhere you need a reading nook. Shiplap and related design features create ways you can integrate fireplace bookshelves into the rest of your house. Overall, it is amazing to have a fireplace flanked with bookshelves, whether it is your living room or a cozy reading nook.
In this post you will learn:
- Why fireplace bookshelves?
- What is shiplap?
- How to decorate with an electric fireplace, bookshelves, and shiplap
- Modern Farmhouse and the Athena
- Mid-Century Modern and the Churchill
- Rustic and the Artemis
- Coastal and the Morpheus
- Scandinavian and the Trinity
- Industrial and the MagikFlame 28-inch insert
- Do-it-yourself ideas
- Why now?
Why fireplace bookshelves?
Bookcases, especially built-in units, are back in style. As people spend more time at home and with family, reading, games, and other quiet hobbies rise in popularity. Books and games, all need storage. Building a set of shelves around a fireplace is timeless. Casting those shelves against a background or feature of shiplap modernizes an old room and adds the comfort of handmade materials to age a new space.
Don’t have a fireplace? MagikFlame offers premiere electric fireplaces that can fit on any wall. These infrared quartz electric fireplaces are safe. The fireplace sends infrared light around the room, heating what it touches. The heating unit itself is not hot. Kids and animals are safe around it – so are the items you choose to display.
Built-ins and fireplaces
Built-ins came into their own during the Arts and Crafts movement of the 19th century. During that time, these were a way to unify a house’s design by repeating basic motifs in wood throughout the home. Using a single wood throughout the house created more unity.
At that time, an architect or home builder often incorporated bookcases into an inglenook or chimney corner, with seating built in around a fireplace. The fireplace was of central importance in a time before central heating. On a winter evening, you wanted to sit as close as possible to the warm flames. When central heating ended the necessity of a fireplace, it was soon added back as a luxury.
If no inglenook could fit, bookshelves often framed the main fireplace. Victorian builders repeated this feature as did many architects that followed. Often, the shelves would be fronted with glass panes to keep fireplace dirt off of cherished books and valuable display items. Of course, you have no dirt to worry about with an electric fireplace.
World War I ended the age of the built-in. Housing needed to be built quickly and simply, if possible. Today, many home decorating styles are incorporating traditional features again, such as shelves around a fireplace, but in a clean and modern way.
What is shiplap?
If you haven’t been living in a cave, you probably know what shiplap is, and have an opinion about it. Shiplap has been having a cultural moment, brought on largely by Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. By now, every house in Waco, Texas will have the paneling somewhere. This craze, while changing, is not going anywhere soon.
Shiplap is wood paneling with long, wide cuts of wood running horizontally across the wall. It creates a modern strong line and clean texture with a vintage, hand-crafted feel of a bespoke object. Artisans or homeowners made the paneling by hand in older homes. Your home builder will often know places where you can source vintage supplies.
History of shiplap
Once, people used these materials for making ships and so granted the name. Shiplap moved into outbuildings and seaside cottages because they maintain their overlap even when moving from the weather. People in coastal, northern, and other areas with rough weather used it when building because of its ability to expand and contract. The ability of the wood to move in cold and wet weather is also a bonus. Shiplap also moved inside, but people tended to cover it up when used there.
In the old days, shiplap was a thing to be covered. The covering was often of muslin, cheesecloth, or wallpaper for the more well-to-do. Then plywood and drywall came into style. Many old walls of this style were drywalled over – and sometimes, you can uncover a pleasant surprise.
Old (and most new) shiplap is handcrafted. This handmade quality adds warmth to some of the colder contemporary styles. It features clean lines, which can add a contemporary update to historical or transitional design. Overall, it looks rustic, period, and modern all the same time. Shiplap has entered the top tongue-and-groove woodcuts for paneling alongside beadboard, and V-groove. Shiplap will remain, but its dominance will fade as it becomes one of a handful of popular cuts.
Shiplap is wood cut into a particular pattern. Pine, or another inexpensive species, provides most of the wood used. It is often rough-cut, but it can be milled. These boards are wide, between three and ten inches. What makes them shiplap is the rabbet. Cut the boards with an offset on each side: the top juts out over the bottom part a half inch in the front, and in the back the bottom juts out under the top a half inch.
The rabbet’s cut allows for a bit of expansion and contraction in the wood. Place the boards with a slight visual gap between them. This gap drives the shiplap look, setting a simple texture on the wall that pulls in interest while remaining understated. The gaps create the shadow line effects.
Other similar cuts of wood
Beadboard comprises slim cuts of wood with a rounded “bead” on one side and a beveled routered edge on the other. Once people made beadboard out of individual paneling, cut to fit into each other. Today, you are more likely to buy it in sections already together or MDF inscribed with bead and groove cuts. Beadboard as wainscoting is a classic look. Shiplap is wider than beadboard. A country cottage feel, warm, cozy, and old-fashioned, is what you get from beadboard. It ages a room gracefully.
V-groove is another wood paneling cut that is like shiplap. However, the sides of V-groove panels have “chamfered” edges. The result of this is a neat V-shape between the boards. This creates a more formal and finished look than shiplap, but is a relaxed alternative to beadboard. Typically, V-groove panels create powerful lines across larger areas than beadboard. In comparison, shiplap is more dynamic and modern, drawing your attention. It’s a less formal way of drawing your eye.
Strengths and weaknesses of Shiplap
The major strength of shiplap is the horizontal lines. These powerful lines can change the entire look of the room. You can run your panels vertically, or any way you want. It makes small rooms look bigger. Its lines make trompe l’oeil tricks that fool the eye into thinking the direction they run is bigger. Using cheap pine, or even recycled wood, can help keep the costs down.
The major complaint of people living with shiplap is that they must dust the thin lines between the panels. It is also more challenging to paint than a plain wall, and you have to be sure the paint does not fill in the lines between the panels. It can also be tricky to install. You need to get the first board in level, or the whole thing skews off. Be intentional in installing the boards on your wall. Keep the lines going across features in the room, such as nooks and chimneys.
How to decorate with an electric fireplace, bookshelves, and shiplap
Shiplap works best with several interior design styles that share the same qualities. These styles are Contemporary Farmhouse, Mid-Century Modern, Rustic, Coastal, Scandinavian, and Industrial. Below will define each design style. Next, we will discuss the use of shiplap alongside bookshelves and fireplaces. Finally, we will pair each style with a MagikFlame electric fireplace fitting its aesthetic. From an enormous stone fireplace to a small wall unit in an apartment, here is a set of designs that can fit any space.
Modern farmhouse and the Athena
Contemporary farmhouse style
- Fresh and contemporary
- Organic and natural materials
- Traditional flourishes
- Warmth and simplicity
- Vintage and vintage inspired
- Cozy color palette
Contemporary farmhouse style mixes traditional choices with a more minimal contemporary style. Shiplap is a natural fit with a focus on clean lines and a cozy feel. Shiplap warms and adds texture to a plain living room. Colors around the room should be simple, in a neutral palette. You can expand these neutrals to include natural colors, such as wood, terra cotta, plant green, and pond blue. Add interest with texture, instead, to keep the room looking clean and minimal.
Contemporary farmhouse design
For fireplace wall styling, a classic design idea is to set your fireplace against an all-white wall clad in shiplap. But instead of a pure white, choose an off-white in the warm spectrum. Whether white or another color, painting the paneling the same color as the walls makes it look more permanent and aged.
Against this wall, center your electric fireplace and place white symmetrical bookshelves on each side. The Athena model has appealing detail that harkens back to an older day. It provides inspiration for styling fireplace built-ins and echoes some of its lines on the shelves creating a planned and finished look.
You can leave the backs of the shelves open to view the shiplap. For the classic look, leave the area over the fireplace blank for changing seasonal decorations. Install your wall-mounted flat-screen television over the fireplace in a more modern room. Style the shelves with objects in pastel-neutral colors and old books. Add in a few pops of black (or a single darker color). Style the area in front of the fireplace for family use. Pile some games on the shelves for a family night in. Find a coffee table big enough for games and fold it away, making room for charades. An oversized sofa in a warm texture finishes the look.
In white, the Athena blends traditional design with modern simplicity. The Athena is a large electric fireplace, measuring 55 inches wide by 48 inches tall and 18 inches deep. Intricately carved appliques top its fluted side posts. The Athena nods to the traditional, highly carved fireplace. Just like a contemporary farmhouse.
The simple design frames the dancing MagikFlame flames, which look as close to real flames as you can buy. You can choose from the 30 unique flames to fit your mood including Sun Beams and Dragon’s Fury. Explore these and other flames at the flame gallery. These flames pair with a crackling log sound and an optional pine scent, bringing greater reality to the flames.
The technology is the same in every firebox MagikFlame makes and you can manage everything through a touchscreen or smartphone app. When we develop new technology, it will upload to your fireplace and its touchscreen through Bluetooth technology and your iPhone.
Mid-century modern and the Churchill
Mid-century Modern style
- Cool lines
- Space-age details
- Sophisticated materials
- Cutting-edge materials
- Interesting shapes and curves
- Functional choices
- Colorful details
Mid-century modern style centers on sleek lines, organic shapes, new materials, and interesting textures. The style can be minimalist or a celebration of the futuristic 1950s and 60s. Most of all, Mid-Century Modern is attainable. You can build a room in this style, starting with a few inexpensive pieces, like a chair and a coffee table. There is a lively market for original modern furniture. You can also buy affordable pieces inspired by Herman Miller and George Nelson.
Mid-century modern design
The floating shelf is a hallmark of this time. A set of floating bookshelves can makeover your family room. Floating shelves enhance the lines on a shiplap wall. White shelves on a white wall will highlight to the multiple sets of horizontal lines. Stack some books horizontally on the shelves, too.
You can choose several design ideas, creating a mirror image centered on a fireplace or taking the fireplace and shelves off center to draw attention to them. Put a few black items on the shelves for the black and white look. The Churchill has clean, modern lines that complement a shiplap background.
With modern floor plans open to allow for organic flow, wooden panels are a great way to tie a larger room together. It creates powerful lines that follow the walls from the living to the dining space. Another idea is to raise the paneling onto the ceiling, highlighting an often-ignored part of the room.
The Churchill is our corner-model electric fireplace with strong modern lines. A fireplace in the corner shakes things up for small rooms or large homes. It adds playfulness to the minimalist look, as mid-century modern design appreciates a wink of humor. This fireplace measures 52 inches wide by 42 inches tall by 40.5 inches deep in the corner. Its triangular fireplace mantel creates a unique display area.
The corner fireplace enhances the drama of MagikFlame’s unique holographic technique. The MagikFlame electric fireplace is an industry disruptor. It shook the home fireplace industry to its core by completely re-thinking and re-inventing the technology behind the fire with its HoloFlame technology that places the whole innovation of American cinema in your home.
MagikFlame uses multiple technologies to layer in place, creating the illusion of real flame. At the base, the log set glows. Above that, a video of an actual fire plays in HD. Layered atop that are the holograms that bring 3D to the flames. The flames look real because they are real, just not burning in your fireplace right now.
MagikFlame’s founder, Howard Birnbaum, once worked in Hollywood, designing holographic technology for films such as the Matrix, Starship Troopers, and Harry Potter. He saw an electric fireplace and remarked how a gorgeous mantel could surround such a lackluster flame. So, he designed a better flame with the best engineers in the world. They created a wall unit that looks and acts like a genuine fire because it is a blockbuster movie of a fire.
Rustic and the Artemis
- Natural shapes and lines
- Exposed beams
- Organic and raw materials
- Rough textures
- Warm and welcoming
Rustic looks are all about the rugged beauty of natural materials, summoning a feeling of warmth and comfort. This includes the cabin in the woods, the southern shabby chic, and the western-expanding handmade prairie homes. In all these cases, function dictates form. natural palettes rule, but a darker set than the modern farmhouse above. Think wood, brass, rust, and plaids as living room décor.
A good fireplace is essential to rustic design ideas. An electric fireplace surrounded by bookcases increases your safety and enjoyment. In a rustic home, you can bring out the unpainted shiplap. Rough boards may even be better. Using recycled wood coming from another old home is best. This wood has character built in and the warm woody colors relax the room. The Artemis fireplace slips easily into a rustic home. Its simple detail of inset rectangles mirrors the surrounding shapes and provides a relaxing place for you and a loved one in the evening.
Against this wood-brown wall, set your television and surround it with shelves. The shelves can be imperfect as the rustic style highlights imperfection. Perhaps add a wood-holding niche to the side of the fireplace, even if you have an electric fireplace. Place items on the shelves that invite interaction: books, games, old toys, and craft materials. Place a braided rug on the floor before it; stack pillows and warm blankets at the foot of the fire. A wall-mounted television completes the scene.
Unfinished wood has a beautiful aroma. Leave some unfinished whether in the paneling or the edges of the shelves. Use all four senses as you put your room together. MagikFlame delivers the scent, sound, and light of fire together.
The Artemis features the most basic of details, the square, and the rectangle. It has a simple curved crown molding on the mantel. The fireplace measures 52 inches wide by 43 inches tall by 15 inches deep. The Artemis is perfect for a family room or a home office. Its mantel shelf forms a useful display area.
The Artemis, and all MagikFlame’s fireplaces are efficient and environmentally sustainable. Coastal design, inspired by the love of nature, requires an amount of sustainability. Driftwood and found wood projects often highlight the room. A highly efficient electric fireplace is part of this look and philosophy.
The infrared quartz heater runs less energy and costs less than other fireplaces. It creates light that directly heats whatever it touches instead of using blowers and moving parts. It also creates no discharge or waste on site. Plus, electricity production is growing greener every day as electric producers add more solar, wind, and other sustainable projects to their generation mix.
Coastal and the Morpheus
- Beachy and breezy
- Surf, sand, and sky
- Aged in place
- Neutral and sea glass colors
- Upside-down floor plan
- Light and airy
- Relaxed fabric and textures
Today, coastal is beachy. An interior designer can bring in the soft colors and lines of sand dunes. Its textures are jute and linen while its soft colors and exposed wood ground it to the earthy comforts. A room that takes you immediately to summer needs to use maximum natural light. White walls reflect and enhance that light. Sure, coastal design can include the nautical blue and white, but in contemporary style, it is lighter and freer.
Age and soften the shiplap around your fireplace to make it coastal. You can paint the wood with whitewash or use regular paint and distress it. If the wood is light enough, it can even go unpainted.
When building these bookcases, place base cabinets underneath to hide the practical items that clutter the house. The look of built-in cabinets fits with the simplicity of the coastal style You might slip a secret drawer behind or beneath the television to hide messy cables and cords.
For a coastal look, find shelving that is minimal but still looks (or is) handmade. To age the room gracefully, subtly vary the distances between the lines of the shiplap. Carefully curate what you place on open shelves for a minimalist look. Toss a white slipcover over your sofa, and you are ready. You can even add a few seashells.
Your fireplace is a natural gathering place for family and friends, just like an open fire on the beach. The Morpheus in white adds interest to a coastal room with its simple vertical lines. Meanwhile, the flames bring a calm comfort to the room, which is the entire point of beachy coastal design. Place a vase, reeds, or a living plant to the side of the fireplace, completing the look.
The clean lines of the Morpheus make it a match for any modern room. The straightforward fluting on the side posts centers your attention on the fire. The Morpheus is MagikFlame’s smallest mantel design. It can fit into smaller spaces and smaller rooms. This size allows you to put a fireplace in the bedroom or even the kitchen and customize the built-in wall-mounted shelves around it. The Morpheus can serve as the base for a balanced fireplace TV stand.
It measures 48 inches wide by 42 inches tall by 15 inches deep. As with all MagikFlame’s models, it emits 5200 BTU (British Thermal Units) of heat, enough to warm a 1000-square-foot room. It is perfect for an open-plan design’s larger space.
MagikFlame’s heat comes from an infrared quartz heating unit. Most electric fireplaces create heat inside and then blow it out into the room. Infrared quartz works much more efficiently. It creates infrared light instead of heat, but this light warms you or any object in its path. There are no moving parts to break down and no risk of actual fire coming from the fireplace. Unlike other heaters that take a while to warm the room, a MagikFlame warms you up quickly.
Scandinavian and the Trinity
- Birch-forest natural
- Midnight sun during summer
- Minimal and pure
- Simple and reliable
- Clean and open
- Refinement and function
Scandinavian style centers on ideals of strict minimalism. Every item in the room needs to serve a purpose, or you should remove it. Scandinavian design can also be minimalist with colors, using only two: wood and white. A yellow blanket shines when it is the only color in the room.
Design is without detail, and every piece of furniture should have no extraneous elements that do not come from material or function. This design came about as a reaction to the ornate Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles that preceded it. The style also needed to distance itself from the totalitarian German Bauhaus style. Pulling in light and natural textures did the job.
White shiplap is a great way to insert lines and textures into the room. With light wood, the shiplap walls can go unpainted, heightening the organic feel. The hearth is central to the Scandinavian home, and a simply shaped fireplace provides it. While minimalist, some storage is necessary.
Simple lines, like the well-known Billy shelving units from IKEA, fit well into a room. This design allows for flexibility with stackable and adjustable bookcases. Wide, tall, or square, you can form any shape you need out of this bookcase style. Cabinet doors of wood or glass are optional. Take those simple lines as inspiration and create a simple, useful entertainment center. Aim for symmetry, but it can be off a bit. Think about closing off some bookcases to be cabinets, and for fun, put the doors on asymmetrically to humanize the strict look. The white Trinity fits well into a Scandinavian room. Its simple, blocky shapes create a muted focal point, directing attention to the fire. Balance the fire and woody textures with green plants with their bright green and sinuous form. The aim is a cozy, Danish hygge in a family room.
The Trinity’s simple fireplace design includes lightly fluted side posts and triangular corbels with a bull-nose edge. The Trinity measures 55 inches wide by 48 inches tall and 18 inches deep. A shelf lifts the fireplace insert off the floor to make the hearth look bigger. The Trinity provides a classic base for a fireplace surrounded with shelving units and a wide fireplace mantel. For a beautifully finished look, incorporate some details from Trinity into the edges or tops of the shelving unit.
As with all MagikFlame fireplaces, the Trinity is available through Amazon or directly from the maker. You can see how easy installation is with our downloadable installation guide. And you can find information about cost analyses, guides, and many other questions in the Learning Center. MagikFlame also works with architects, contractors, and interior designers. Ask us, and you can get a wiring guide, CAD drawings, and other support.
Industrial and the MagikFlame 28-inch insert
- Exposed architectural details
- Salvaged, recycled, and reclaimed
- Simple design
- Natural, bare finishes
- Squared lines and blocky shapes
- Wood and metal
- Simple, new ideas of beauty
The industrial design pulls back the curtain to show the unfinished parts that other design types hide. Designs expose pipes and vents. A glass table top illuminates how the metal legs join below. There is beauty and whimsy in the most utilitarian of objects. Restoration Hardware and its ilk are famous for lovingly highlighting the attractiveness of the everyday. The design started in a cost-saving way to convert old industrial spaces into apartments.
Shiplap walls and concrete floors stamp an industrial frame onto your home décor. Metal is also central to industrial design, so consider buying wood and metal bookcases to surround your open fireplace. These designs can be freestanding or attached to the wall. You can create a simple fireplace frame from used materials to set around the MagikFlame 28-inch insert. The insert is just the guts of the electric fireplace, and you can fit it almost anywhere to add ambiance to the room. Fill some shelves with interesting mechanical or utilitarian objects.
If your space is smaller than an old factory, you can raise the height of the room by installing the shiplap vertically. This draws the eye up and makes the room look taller. Shiplap adds an industrial texture to any wall or ceiling in your home. In a high-ceilinged room, panels shiplap up the walls to the height of a “normal” ceiling. This partial coverage brings a vast space down to the human scale. For a very high ceiling, paneling up to the top adds a certain grandeur.
If you are in a fully open space, place the fireplace and bookcases near your bed, so you can fall asleep to a roaring fire set on a timer to turn off. Using shiplap as a wall treatment in a large, multipurpose room has a unifying effect. Or only panel a single area to set it off.
The MagikFlame 28-inch Insert
The electric fireplace insert allows you to create a fireplace out of many things. You can also fit it into most existing fireplaces to update them to electric. The insert measures 28 inches wide by 32 inches tall by 12 inches deep. This makes it small enough to fit into places you didn’t think were big enough for a fireplace. The insert is easy to slip into preexisting built-in cabinets. It also works for creating built-ins with custom materials such as faux stone. It is small enough to fit under a kitchen countertop, which is especially useful in great rooms. You can make espresso over the fire and hook up your popcorn maker there, too.
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Ideas
You can add design to your home with DIY projects. If you already have created fireplace built-ins, you can still add shiplap. Apply it to the backs of the shelves and the wall around them, making it look like the shiplap wall predated the installation. Another way to add traditional elegance is to put a fireplace in the kitchen, with cookbooks on the shelves. This harkens back to the old days of the cooking hearth.
If you want to DIY your own fireplace bookshelves, you can find several straightforward tutorials. This tutorial from Instructables is great because it teaches you several ways to customize your designs. It shows you how to change the measurements, deals with unplanned events, and add and remove doors and other design features. This set of designs can be minimalist modern or add detail to the molding and capitals to the columns to give it a traditional look.
You can add your own shiplap directly around a fireplace insert for a rustic or country look. This is a DIY project you can complete without prior woodworking experience. Faux stone is another look you can create yourself.
Now is the time to make the change to a MagikFlame fireplace. Why? Our fireplaces are green and sustainable and becoming more so every day. This sustainability lowers costs, now and in the future. And our fireplaces are safe for your family, pets, and belongings.
Environmental benefits and cost savings
Shiplap and MagikFlame are an impressive pair for sustainability and environmental benefits. Shiplap encourages the use of reclaimed and imperfect wood. With it, your project sits in the middle of the recycling process. You get wood from an old house or shed, use it in your home, and later someone else can take it and use it again. Meanwhile, MagikFlame is one of the greenest electrical fireplaces on the market. It sips fuel and produces no pollutants on site. Both are sound environmental design choices.
Low fuel use saves you money. A MagikFlame electric fireplace costs less to run per unit heated than central heating. It costs pennies per hour to run, fractions of pennies if you only use the visual flame. Its infrared quartz heater is the most efficient on the market, and running a MagikFlame costs a fraction of what traditional electric fireplaces cost.
Additionally, installation and maintenance costs are next to nothing. You can install your new fireplace easily by yourself, even if you have little experience in building or electronics. The heat and fire mechanisms have no moving parts or bulbs to burn out. You do not even need to bring in a chimney sweep because you do not need a chimney.
You do not need a chimney because a MagikFlame emits no pollution on site. Your indoor air stays clean. You do not have to worry about carbon monoxide or other compounds because the MagikFlame burns nothing. You do not even have to worry about venting or opening a window because no water vapor is going to build up.
Your electric fireplace will run as clean as your current electrical supply – and that is good news. In the US, electricity is becoming cleaner every year. Dirty sources, like coal, make up less and less of the fuel mix every year. Meanwhile, we are getting more power from wind, solar, and other renewable sources. When (and it is not if, but when) your electric company delivers completely sustainable fuel to your home, your fireplace will run on completely sustainable fuel.
A MagikFlame fireplace is the safest on the market. Electric fireplaces used to have a bad reputation for releasing toxic gasses or starting fires. Today, the MagikFlame burns nothing and creates no heat at the site of the heating unit. That means your dog and child could have a wrestling match in front of the fireplace and not get burned even if they bump into the mechanism itself.
Because nothing is burning in the heating unit, it creates no gasses or pollutants – toxic or otherwise. You can even set the fireplace up in your bedroom for a safe and cozy atmosphere. You need no fans, no venting, and no extra cleaning. All you need to clean is to wipe off the log set when it gets dusty.
This makes the MagikFlame the perfect fireplace to frame with bookshelves. You do not have to worry about anything burning or the books getting smoky. Your home stays clean and safe – and green. Meanwhile, your ongoing costs remain low and you have the best fireplace made today.
Designing with a set of bookcases around your fireplace is classic. Using shiplap as a design feature is relatively new. A MagikFlame fireplace is a cutting-edge technology. Blending the timeless with the ultra-contemporary is the highlight of contemporary design – and what you will achieve by adding this design feature to your home.
This article has given you several ideas, centered around several of the top current design styles: contemporary farmhouse, mid-century modern, rustic, coastal, Scandinavian, and industrial. Take those ideas and soar. Make your home the place of comfort and style that it can become.
To learn more about the MagikFlame electric fireplaces, check out the MagikFlame Electric Fireplace Buying Guide.