What is a Cardboard Fireplace?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

The corrugated cardboard fireplace is a design element that is often employed in seasonal retail displays as well as a prop in play and movie sets. While never used as a fully functional fireplace, these cardboard models do provide a visual image that can help convey the mood and feel for the display and help reinforce the scene that the designer wishes to create. Usually assembled from a kit in a matter of minutes, these disposable cardboard fireplaces can be moved into position with little effort and can be painted or covered to imitate just about any type of material from brick to stone masonry.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Perhaps the most well known use of a cardboard fireplace is connected with holiday celebrations. A cardboard Christmas fireplace is often used in retail displays that are designed with children in mind. The combination of a cardboard fireplace along with a jolly Santa and a bag of toys easily attracts the attention and delight of young customers. A corrugated cardboard fireplace display can also be designed to appeal to an older audience and perhaps create the perfect backdrop for the display of winter clothing such as ski sweaters or heavy winter coats.

A corrugated fireplace is also a handy and cost effective way to furnish a set for a community theater production. When money is tight, the cardboard fireplace can be designed using simple materials and outfitted with a simple light behind fake logs, helping to create a credible appearance of a working fireplace. This allows money in an already tight budget to be redirected to other essentials, such as costuming or the purchase of props to enhance the overall production.

Along with stage productions, movie and television sets may also make use of a cardboard fireplace when there is no need for a working fireplace. The cardboard can be dressed to mimic any look desired by using paint and other decorating techniques. As long as the fireplace is not a focal point of the scenes, there is a good chance that no one will notice that the fireplace is not constructed of some type of masonry material.

While it is not feasible to utilize a cardboard fireplace as a source of heat, this imitation device does often help to provide visual support for the type of mood or scene that the designer wishes to convey. Because the cardboard devices are easily constructed and very inexpensive, they often present the perfect alternative when the need for the look of a fireplace is only temporary.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


My dad has a pretty cheesy sense of humor and he would buy at least one cardboard fireplace every year around the holidays. Each time he would find a way to turn it into some kind of joke. We actually had a real fireplace and used it frequently but that never stopped my dad from buying fake ones.

One year he put the fake one right next to the real one. Another year he put 6 or 7 or them in the same room. Another year he put a few on our front lawn. He got such a kick out of it.


It's been so long since I thought about a cardboard fireplace, that I didn't even know they still made them.

My mom would decorate the top of ours with Christmas decorations, and found a way to hang our stockings from it.

The stockings couldn't be very heavy though, or the fireplace would tip over.

I was so excited when we finally got a gas fireplace that actually put out some heat. This was not expensive, but was a faux fireplace that worked for their budget.

It was a step up from the cardboard one, and we all thought it was great.

Today I have a real wood fireplace in my house and there is nothing like the atmosphere and heat it gives in the winter.


When I worked backstage at a local community theater we had more than one cardboard fireplace to be used for props.

Most of them had been painted more than once to match whatever production they were being used for.

They are inexpensive and don't take very long to set up. The worst part was because we had limited storage space, we always had to break them down after every production.

I am surprised that these corrugated fireplaces held up for so many years. Sometimes the cardboard seemed pretty flimsy.

If you were in the audience watching the production, they did give a realistic feel for what you were trying to achieve though.

Even though you knew it wasn't real, sometimes you could almost feel the fireplace heat from the image of the burning logs.

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