Firebacks: Not Just for the Fireplace

Back in the days before furnaces, when fireplaces were necessary to heat the whole house, the fireback was a common feature: Thick, cast-iron panels (want to know more about cast iron? See our post on the topic, right here), often crafted with intricate, decorative patterns, were placed on the back wall of the fireplace to protect the wall from too much heat, and also to absorb and radiate the heat back into the room, even when the fire was extinguished.

Here’s a classic example, from our showroom of antique architectural elements in Adams Morgan.


These days, we don’t need to rely so much on the fireback technology. But these decorative panels have all kinds of beautiful uses. A quick check on Houzz reveals many of the possibilities, most often as a stove backing, and also as wall decoration—inside or outside:

Other possibilities include using a fireback as an accent on a coffee table, perhaps underneath the surface as a bottom shelf, or as the top surface underneath glass;

You could use the panels in the center of a custom headboard;

As a feature in custom shelving;

Or, hearkening back to the old days, as a lovely summer firescreen.

Here’s a selection of what we’ve got on hand, so you can start imagining how these beautiful firebacks would look in your own home: