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Here’s Why I Prefer a Square Fireplace Insert

When it comes to fireplace inserts, I prefer a more traditional (close to a) square shape over a rectangle. Since most of us live in traditional homes and the fireplace surround is symmetrical, I think a square insert is the best look. Here’s an example from my new house.

Did you know that in 2015, I wrote a post called Seven Ways to Decorate around the TV, and it’s one of my top 10 most read posts? 

That’s because it’s a challenge for so many of us.

Case in point. Today I’m talking about fireplace inserts.

The fireplace in my upstairs entertainment room had a oversize TV built into the brick that completely dwarfed the insert below it.

It had to go. It was demolished this past weekend. And because I want a millwork mantle here, it needs to be closer to a square insert.

But since this fireplace wasn’t an extreme rectangle I didn’t really think it had to go until I really saw it when we were planning what the millwork should look like.

Why a square fireplace insert is better

I’ve talked about this before, but here’s a review:

A traditional fireplace insert is more square than rectangular. I’m talking to YOU because most us live in a traditional house. 

Here are some examples:

Architectural Digest

Michael Dines

Simon Upton

Now I realize why this kind of surround has always bothered me (below).

Because technically the insert should have been more square. And, because it wasn’t square, more tile was required along the top of the fireplace (below).

However, one way to treat a situation like this would be to KEEP IT ALL BLACK so it visually looks like a square. This fireplace would have looked a lot better without the brass surround that highlights the fact that it’s too small and modern. 

Martha Stewart Living

What about a linear fireplace?

If you have a linear fireplace, technically you shouldn’t have a traditional mantel. Don’t Install a Linear Fireplace without Reading this First


Amy Bartlam

And, I’ve noticed there are countless linear fireplaces now being installed because they balance the big black television above. I understand this is a big argument for why you should have one but if you want to stay true to the style of your house, please consider carefully.


Especially if your TV is located above it.


In my eDesign department, when you buy a renovation or kitchen package (where you can buy the fireplace add on), I always include inspiration images to help you visualize your fireplace redesign. See all my packages here.

Are you following my renovation on Instagram? You’ll see all the day-t0-day action here.

Related posts:

Don’t Install a Linear Fireplace without Reading this First

7 Best Ways to Decorate around the TV

Is the Natural Brick Fireplace Back? 

576 pins


  • Christy says:

    Can’t wait to see the room complete! What color of paint did you choose for the walls and trim?

  • Diane G says:

    SO many people are going to eventually realize the timeless elegance of the traditional features they obliterated with the black, white, gray, uninteresting, linear, institutional look they’ve embraced. Inside & out! So glad my own kids didn’t fall down that rabbit hole.

  • Linda says:

    You used lovely pictures but you never described with words why a square fireplace insert was preferred.

    • Gracemere says:

      Square = Traditional and timeless.
      Linear = Modern and trendy, unless the home has that vibe throughout.

      • Lorri says:

        I would usually agree that “linear” is modern, but my sister just moved into a new house that isn’t modern.

        The living room has a linear fireplace inset into a vertical wood feature. I think the builder was going for a “modern farmhouse” vibe.

        It was pre-set for a television to hang above the linear fireplace. Maria must be right that so many linear fireplaces are being built to accommodate TVs.

  • Bette says:

    I don’t understand this post. All the fireplaces you show are rectangles. What am I missing?

    • Christina Prior says:

      yes, i have the same question… none in the pictures are square. maybe a less elongated rectangle, but certainly not square.

    • Liz says:

      The inserts are square. That’s what she’s talking about.

    • Effective Presenter says:

      There is no such square model for a fireplace insert, we sreached and searched, they ate ALL rectangle, large, medium, small rectangle.


  • Having worked in the fireplace industry I can suggest for homeowners that have a rectangle insert with a brass surround that they can buy Tremclad Hi Temp spray paint and paint the surround black to make the brass insert “disappear” from view. Many happy clients with that suggestion until they can afford to change out the existing fireplace for one they would rather have.

  • Zurbach says:

    i think the first 3 images show square fire places however she hasn’t explained why she prefers that type .

  • Mary says:

    I looked for the answer ?! Am I missing something? I think I have a fireplace insert I think is now considered a square, judging by the pictures in the blog. Have it with nice traditional white wood, dental molding. I was also wondering about the term “ modern farmhouse “!!

  • Nancy Markon says:

    So great to have a fireplace upstairs! Don’t know if yours is gas or wood-burning. If wood-burning, consider having a professional check the design of the firebox to be sure it’s sized and shaped to draw smoke up the chimney properly. My family room fireplace and one in my mother’s former home both had problems drawing smoke up into the chimney. As it was released into the room and the odors absorbed by the fabrics there, these fireplaces got very little use.

    One of many links on firebox design/proportions. You’ll notice the opening is basically square.

    Can’t wait to see the final result.

  • Alfreda says:

    Always curious about Marie’s thoughts on those hard to style features. Our fireplace is not centered on the wall unlike most featured in the pics you posted. The TV niche is on an adjoining wall. Any thoughts as to how to make the room balanced and cozy without looking matchy-matchy.

  • Pursuit of Perfect says:

    If there is any way to avoid hanging a TV above such a large fireplace,I would do it. Functionally, a high mount is literally a pain in the neck.

  • We have two fireplaces in our current home one to-the-ceiling brick, the other was a formal white one. We replaced the formal one with a linear fireplace and said TV mounted above it. While our house is traditional, to me the white formal fireplace was too stodgy.

    • Barb says:

      That sounds sleek and practica and I’m about to do the samel. While I appreciate the rules and regs of design as a guideline, ultimately it comes down to how we live and what we like. The design police haven’t knocked on my door so I think I’m safe!

  • Alex says:

    Maria – Please show story boards of your remodel!

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