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Achieve the Look: Modern Farmhouse Fireplace With Shiplap

In this post, you will learn:

  • What is shiplap?
  • Decorating ideas for a farmhouse fireplace
  • Pros of shiplap siding
  • Cons of ship lap siding
  • What are the hallmarks of a farmhouse fireplace update?
  • What is a fireplace insert?
  • The pros of wood or gas inserts
  • The cons of wood or gas inserts
  • The benefits of electric fireplace inserts
  • Combining ship lap with a farmhouse fireplace
  • Ideas for a rustic fireplace makeover
  • How to reface the farmhouse fireplace wall?
  • About the insert itself
  • Where MagikFlame meets modern design
  • If you have to have a fireplace and chimney to an electric insert
  • How MagikFlame makes farmhouse design easier

The clean lines and insulating properties of shiplap are ideal for modern farmhouse home décor. This wall-finishing material has been around since the days when ships were the main mode of overseas transport for cargo and people alike. Its unique design has endured over time, and today it’s a favorite interior design element that is popping up in farmhouse-style DIY projects everywhere.

What is Shiplap?


Shiplap is a wood siding system that features planks with a 90-degree groove along the top and bottom edges. The two opposing L-shapes fit together to their adjacent boards to form snug joints that keep rain and wind out.

Grooves form at each juncture. This gives the material its signature channeled profile. The clean, horizontal lines between boards add a neat, textured appearance that is a mainstay in farmhouse design.

Historically, shiplap has been both an exterior siding and an interior insulator. As an exterior siding, it is ubiquitous on old warehouses, farm outbuildings like barns and homes in areas where the weather can be punishing on less sturdy materials.

On interior walls, this grooved planking was originally more of a basic structural element than a decorative statement. In fact, homeowners would cover it with an inexpensive cloth like muslin to disguise its characteristic gaps. Then, they would apply wallpaper for a conventional finish.

The updated farmhouse, however, calls for the siding to be painted or stained for walls, floor, or ceilings. A modern farmhouse fireplace looks right at home on a clean, crisp planked-faced wall. If you are doing a fireplace makeover or redecorating your farmhouse living room, shiplap is an easy, comparatively inexpensive way to achieve a fresh new look.

Design Ideas for a Farmhouse Fireplace

You’d be surprised how agile this wood-plank siding can be. If you use it on one or more living room walls horizontally, it creates an illusion of space. In your mind’s eye, the horizontal lines stretch the width of the wall, making the room seem, well, roomier.

Simply flip the siding a half turn to enhance the height of your ceiling. The now-vertical gaps that define shiplap draw your eyes upward, creating an illusion of high ceilings.

In contrast, when you line the ceiling of your dining room with a shiplap, it makes the room feel cozier. Perhaps you want the feel of an intimate cottage space, or the illusion of dining in a fancy railcar from the 1800s. It will also promote a homier atmosphere in your family room.

As flooring, the snug-fitting planks look just like a newly-swept farmhouse floor. Add some brightly patterned area rugs that really show off the neat and clean quality of the material.

Pros of Ship Lap

  • An easy DIY project; just start on a level Similar in cost to metal or cement-fiber siding
  • Costs less than natural stone, stucco, or brick
  • Versatile and on-trend

Cons of Ship Lap

  • More expensive than drywall
  • Dust collects in channels
  • Moisture can cause warping or rot
  • Could become outdated

What Are the Hallmarks of Updated Farmhouse Home Decor?

Modern farmhouse interior design embraces the rustic decor tradition while incorporating current features like stainless steel, sleeker lines, and neutral colors.

As distinct from the shabby chic theme that emerged in the 1990s, updated farmhouse rooms are less cluttered. They are more contemporary than rustic farmhouse design. More white space, fewer accessories, and an infusion of sophistication are all ingredients of this contemporary home décor trend. Features common to this style include:

  • Reclaimed fireplace mantles such as a barn wood fireplace mantel
  • Trendy trades like a sliding barn door in place of a conventional door
  • Cushy, comfortable furnishings
  • Repurposed architectural salvage items
  • Rustic pine furniture
  • Wrought iron details like andirons for the fireplace
  • Plank flooring, painted or polished
  • Ship lap wainscoting or accent wall

When you are working with your interior designer on your living room or family room decor scheme, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Your goal is to achieve a welcoming space that is ultimately comfortable.
  • Touches of fun make your living room more welcoming.
  • Put away the artifacts in favor of more durable, touchable objects.
  • Make it homier with meaningful touches.
  • A neutral color palette – cream, beige, tan, grey – provides the best canvas for your new space.
  • Rich wood accents add warmth.
  • Use no more than three different metals (light fixtures, cabinet hardware, rails).
  • Incorporate natural, organic materials for a down-to-earth effect, such as sisal, willow baskets, natural stone and cotton fabrics.

What Is a Fireplace Insert?

A fireplace insert is a completely enclosed firebox that fits into your old, drafty fireplace. Typically, it is a steel square that has an insulated glass front where you can see the flames. If the insert burns wood, it has a glass door that opens so you can load your fuel.

Wood or gas fireplace inserts are self-contained combustion systems. As such, they burn more cleanly than open fire pits. None of the fire byproducts seep into your living room. Instead, they rise up the chimney and into the outdoors.

Ventless fuel-burning inserts draw oxygen for combustion from within the room. Direct vent fireplace inserts access oxygen from outdoors.

Many inserts feature electric blowers that help distribute warm air. The metal of the firebox absorbs some of the heat from the fire and releases it back into your home as the fire dies down at night.

Wood or Gas Insert Pros

  • More fuel-efficient than an open fireplace
  • Fewer toxins enter your home
  • Wood-burning inserts burn fuel more slowly, stretching your wood budget
  • Less maintenance due to the enclosed firebox

Wood or Gas Insert Cons

  • Requires both electricity for the blower and your fuel of choice
  • The mess of wood chips, bugs, and ashes from wood-burning
  • Requires a gas line for a gas insert
  • Toxic fumes harmful to the environment

The Benefits of Electric Fireplace Inserts

A third fuel option in fireplace inserts is electric. This type of insert is also an enclosed heating system. It features an insulated glass front where you can view the flames.

The advantages of an electric fireplace over wood or natural gas include:

  • No extra fuel to purchase
  • No emissions to pollute the environment
  • No mess
  • No ashes to clean up
  • No need for a fuel line


A MagikFlame electric insert is easy to install and even easier to operate. You won’t have to worry about a pilot going out. You never need to have your chimney cleaned because an electric fireplace doesn’t produce soot or creosote. You can control it with a remote or with a smartphone app.

How Do You Combine Ship Lap with a Modern Farmhouse Fireplace?

This type of siding is not perfectly at home in all settings, but it has the versatility to adapt to most. Painted grey or black, it complements a minimalist loft-style environment. Stained in a rich oak shade, it blends beautifully in a lodge-style home. Painted bright white, it adds panache to a French Provincial tableau.

Where the siding really shines, though, is in your updated farmhouse living room. The crisp channels connecting each board communicate order and repetition, just like the daily routine on a well-organized farm.

The practicality of the shiplap siding, which fits together to repel harsh weather, is also in keeping with a no-fuss approach you’d find on a working farm. The economy and versatility of this siding fit right in with the character of modern farming.

If you have an existing brick fireplace in your modern farmhouse living room, think of it as a blank canvas. The same approach works with an existing stone fireplace. Your goal is to upgrade what you’ve got to achieve a fresh look that combines rustic decor with updated farmhouse style.

Ideas for a Fireplace Makeover

One upgrade option is to cover over the old fireplace with your new plank siding. To accomplish this fun DIY project, your first step is checking fire safety codes. The National Fire Prevention Association code 211 mandates that anything combustible be at least two inches away from the opening of a fireplace.

Check your local building codes, too, before beginning your renovation project. Keep in mind that fire codes apply to fireplaces that burn wood, natural gas or liquid propane. If you opt for an electric fireplace insert, no actual combustion takes place, so fire danger is at a minimum.

After removing any non-integral fireplace surround and wood mantel materials from a masonry or stone fireplace, you need to build a wood frame for attaching your grooved board siding. You can make the frame from 2 x 4 studs or 2 x 6 boards, depending upon how far the fireplace juts from the walls around it.

Secure the frame to the existing structural studs on each side of and above the farmhouse fireplace. The frame should allow for you to nail both ends of the siding to the studs. For example, if the sides of the new surround will be 12 inches wide, you will need two vertical studs, approximately 10 inches apart, on each side.

Once you work your way up to the top of the firebox, you will only need one stud riser on either side to nail the longer horizontal boards. It’s up to you whether you want to continue your siding all the way up to the ceiling or just a few feet above the firebox. The siding will give your fireplace a built-in appearance that resonates with the traditional farmhouse theme.

A floating shelf works great as a fireplace mantel with this type of wood board surround. A fireplace mantel shelf of barn wood is ideal for modern farmhouse decor. Get more creative living room ideas and farmhouse fireplace ideas online or in home design magazines.

How to Reface a Modern Farmhouse Fireplace Wall

If you are happy with the look of your existing fireplace, you need not cover it up. Instead, add an energy-efficient insert. Then, get to work on the wall behind the fireplace.

Let’s say you already have a perfect fireplace in keeping with your new modern farmhouse design plans. Maybe it’s glossy white with custom craftsman elements like classic corbels and a nice roomy fireplace mantel for your seasonal mantel decor.

It would be a shame to cover over a fireplace surround and fireplace mantel you like that already works with your rustic design scheme, but you can certainly create a fresh, crisp shiplap wall behind it. Get some farmhouse fireplace ideas from a tutorial like this one:

As mentioned above, you can apply your choice of finishes to the grooved siding. Choose from wood stains to paint colors that coordinate with your decor ideas.

Try white-on-white if you want to make the modern farmhouse fireplace wall the room’s focal point. Then, you can use practically any colors in your mantel decor, depending on the season and your personal preferences.

What About the Insert Itself?

When working with an existing fireplace, achieving the farmhouse living room look is only part of the project. You also have a golden opportunity to turn an older, drafty wood-burning fireplace into an efficient, economical, and environmentally friendly heater.

As you likely know, a wood-burning fireplace is the least efficient type of heating for your home. When you lay a fire in an open fireplace, you can only expect to benefit from about 10 percent of the heat the fire produces. The rest goes up the chimney, along with the sparks and soot that combustion creates.

Outdoor fire pits are even less fuel-efficient. Wind and weather strongly affect efficiency. You will find you burn even more wood to get a reasonable amount of heat. You also have to dodge the smoke on windy days.

In contrast, a standard natural gas or propane-fueled fireplace insert is between 60 and 80 percent fuel-efficient, depending on the brand. Top models convert 80 percent of the gas they consume into heat for your living spaces.

It’s a far better return for your money than an open wood fire, but in both cases, you must purchase the fuel separately. This can be inconvenient, and sometimes you will run out.

An electric fireplace insert can be 100 percent efficient. Complete fuel efficiency means that an electric fireplace insert converts all the electricity it uses into home heating. None of your energy dollars are wasted.

There are several reasons it doesn’t waste fuel:

  • It requires no chimney or venting where warmth can escape.
  • No combustion takes place, so there are no byproducts or waste.
  • The patented HoloFlame technology uses LED lighting, which is fuel-efficient too.
  • It plugs directly into a wall outlet, so there’s no power loss from point A to point B.

You may wonder whether an electric fireplace, no matter how effective, can really provide that cozy comfort you would expect in a modern farmhouse-style environment. It depends upon the fireplace insert you choose.

When you are shopping for an electric insert, take note of whether the fireplace:

  • Looks realistic
  • Features glowing embers
  • Has a real-looking log set
  • Provides the crackling sounds of a wood fire
  • Heats up your living square footage effectively
  • Can operate without the heater for year-round ambiance

Only a select few on the market today check all the boxes above. Once you install a fireplace insert like MagikFlame in your existing fireplace, you’ll have the entire package: energy efficiency, realism, and ambiance.

Where MagikFlame Meets Modern Farmhouse

Even if your living room or dining room does not already have a fireplace, you can easily add one during your farmhouse makeover. A freestanding electric fireplace is every bit as efficient as an insert. It’s also quite simple to install, since all you have to do is choose a spot on any wall and plug in the unit.

A freestanding fireplace offers the added advantages of a ready-made modern farmhouse style. For instance, any MagikFlame model, from the Trinity to the Churchill, complements the crisp, clean decor scheme handsomely.

Unlike some of the built-in electric fireplaces on the market, these feature classic design details that highlight the chic design of your modern farmhouse living room. The Churchill model fits into a corner and presents a roomy place for your mantel decor too.

A hand-thrown pot in blue and white, a white berry garland, and a framed photograph make lovely mantel decor in keeping with your modern farmhouse theme. You could also go more minimalist with a single vase of garden roses. Remember, keep it clean and uncluttered to achieve the modern theme.

An electric fireplace is ideal as a modern farmhouse fireplace. It stays relatively cool, so you don’t have to worry about flammable fireplace design. The infrared heater that radiates warmth is enclosed within the firebox, so it poses no burn risk to children and pets. You can set items on the mantel or on the floor beside the firebox without worrying about fire danger.

Do You Have to Have a Fireplace and Chimney to Use an Electric Insert?

An electric fireplace like the MagikFlame 28 Insert does not need to draw oxygen. It does not produce any exhaust. Therefore, you do not need a fireplace, chimney or vent to use the MagikFlame 28 Insert.

When you think outside the firebox, you open up a world of possibilities. For example, you are not confined to installing your insert in a single designated space. You are free to create a fireplace wall anywhere in the room.

You do not have to coordinate your farmhouse decor scheme with an existing brick fireplace or a stone surround. Without these kinds of restrictions, your fireplace decor ideas take on a whole new dimension.

You can get more creative with your shiplap siding design. For example, arranged on a diagonal, the material provides a focal point while the insert adds dynamic details. Add a statement fireplace mantel shelf for a fine finish.

Another great idea for fireplace decor is to design a stacked wall with your insert below and your television up top. Both items can be recessed within the clean lines of grooved siding. Since an electric insert like MagikFlame doesn’t overheat, your electronics are safe.

IF you are building a new home, ask your architect or home builder to include your fireplace insert wall into your living room design. They will insure that the wall framework is adequate to support the weight of both items plus a fireplace mantle.

You might prefer to purchase a freestanding MagikFlame model that offers plug-and-play installation. Find out more about the options before making your purchase decision. The MagikFlame Electric Fireplace buying guide is an invaluable resource when you are weighing your choices.

Modern Farmhouse Design Made Easier

When executing your new modern farmhouse design, choose alternatives that save time and money. For example, an electric fireplace, either freestanding or an insert, represents an easy upgrade that instantly transforms your room. Over the long term, you’ll enjoy the ease of your maintenance-free, energy-efficient fireplace that delivers the ambiance you crave.

When you pair your new fireplace with another easy, economical upgrade like shiplap siding, you multiply your returns. A lovely, updated room with the latest in modern technology is sure to become your family’s favorite gathering place for years to come.

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