My fireplace is empty and is just a big 3 foot wide black hole in a brick surround. Any ideas on how to decorate a fireplace to make it look good?
yeah, put a wood or a pellet stove in there. You'd be surprised how great it will look afterwards. :-D
In the winter I keep firewood laid on the grate. In summer, I clean out the ashes, remove the grate and put in a large basket arranged with fake plants intertwined with a string of white Christmas lights. You could also use a decorative screen in front of the fireplace or an arrangement of fresh flowers.
You can purchase an inexpensive Candelabra that usually holds 8 or 9 of the larger size candles. This provides a nice off season opportunity for a cozy candlelight atmosphere. You can get some artificial branches or vines to go around the bottom if you wish to dress it up. I also saw one that was made out of a log. Here's a link to give you an idea as what they look like and cost.
Here is a link that might be useful: Candleabra
I knew someone who put candles in their fireplace and it looked fantastic. She burned them while we were over and it was cosy and nice to look at.
Decorating Your Fireplace in the Summer (it talks about things you can put in your firebox when it's not being used)
we did the candles for summer time too and LOVE the look - get many complements. Get the simplest holder you can and then pillar candles and you can't beat the ambiance UNLESS you decide you want a year round zen look. Then take a look at exoticflames.com - they answer your questions quickly and directly if you are intrigued on if this look will work for you.
Here is a link that might be useful: exotic flames
Would gas logs be an option for a situation like this? I have looked at gas logs in passing but don't know too much about them.
Here is a link that might be useful: Natural Gas Fireplace Logs
If you put candles in a fireplace and want to light them, do you have to open the flue? Does the number of candles make a difference? ... I've seen pictures of candles burning in a fireplace, and they're beautiful, but the practical questions always surface. I'd appreciate any insight someone might have, especially from those who have done this.