A fireplace in one of your common living areas makes a good focal point. You can dress up this part of the room by adding another special effect: recessed lighting. The addition of a muted lighting concept can enhance the room without adding too much emphasis.
A simple way to make a fireplace stand out as the focal point in a living room or family room is to keep the mantel clear, and arrange one piece of artwork above it. The width of a picture should be only as wide as the fireplace opening, according to Christine Rae and Jan Saunders Maresh in "Home Staging for Dummies." A single bulb in a recess directly over the centre of the fireplace will draw attention to the artwork but not detract from the fireplace.
Recessed Lighting in TV Area
If you're not concerned about a room's extra formal appeal for entertaining or home staging, you can make it as family friendly as you like. One way to economise space in a living room and family room combination is to add a flat screen TV in a wall recess, and cover the rest of the wall with wood panelling, which might work in the space over the fire mantel piece. But you might want the rest of the wall to be plain, such as a cream or white panel or a dark wood panel effect. Recessed lighting can provide extra light in the narrow space around the TV.
Choose the space above the fireplace to insert small recessed bulbs that resemble miniature candlesticks. This idea can work in a recess in the vertical wall above the fireplace. It can also work in recesses up under an overhead extension of the ceiling that extends out in front of the mantel.
Rustic Stained Glass
Replace a picture concept over the fireplace with a recessed decorative lamp fixture, which might be the size of the fireplace opening, or perhaps just the recessed space might be that wide. Install a decorative lamp with multiple bulbs in the recess. The decorative effect can be a stained glass cover for the light fixture. For instance, over a fireplace in a mountain lodge family room, the rustic light fixture might include a pattern of deer, moose, bear or elk.