Ideas for Updating a Fireplace
There’s nothing like the ambiance and warmth of a fireplace on a cold winter night. A fireplace not only creates a cozy and romantic atmosphere, it is also a major architectural element. However, an outdated and unattractive fireplace can kill the mood and dampen any hopes of creating a stylish living space.
Fear not. There’s hope for the eyesore that is your current fireplace. A makeover can be accomplished by seasoned do-it-yourselfers or by hiring a licensed contractor. It all depends on your budget and skill level. To get your creative juices flowing, here are a few ideas that will give your tired old fireplace a beautiful new look.
Taming a Large Fireplace
Some years ago, builders decided homeowners needed a massive floor-to-ceiling fireplace made from less than stylish materials like cinder block. Luckily that love affair didn’t last. There’s nothing that makes an average size room look smaller than a behemoth fireplace that takes up an entire wall. So, what can you do to update your oversize fireplace? Cut it down to size.
Start with a simple yet elegant design. Consider removing as much as the offensive stone as possible and framing the firebox with drywall. While you’re in a framing mood, create a integrated mantel. Reface the mantel and lower portion of the fireplace with sleek tile. Problem solved.
Creating a Stone Facade
Imagine a bright red brick fireplace that just doesn't go with anything and looks like it has seen better days. Perhaps a "natural" stone fireplace surround will give your room the warmth and charm you desire. Do some online research and find a manufactured stone veneer product that suits your room's design.
The majority of manufactured veneers are made from a mix of cement, stone aggregates and iron oxides. Aggregates make the stone veneer lighter than natural stone, thus easier to work with. Iron oxides are used to impart color variations like those found in real stone.
Dimensional stone veneer starts with a thickness of 2 inches, making it perfect to apply directly over existing brick without encroaching on interior space. A stone veneer fireplace will transform your old brick fireplace into a thing of beauty.
Fixing Odd Proportions
So you’ve inherited a fireplace that is lacking in prominence. The distance from the top of the firebox opening to the mantel is too deep and the sides are sadly lacking in width. Head to the home improvement center and purchase a fireplace surround kit or individual sections of decorative molding and wood strips to give it a sense of balance and proportion.
Adding Paneling and Built-Ins
Give your room the look of a gentleman’s study by surrounding your fireplace with sumptuous wood paneling. Not that cheesy paneling from the 1970s. Quality wood paneling stained a rich hue will take your design to the next level. Up the ante by flanking the fireplace with custom built-in bookcases
This is a project best left to professionals, unless you are a master woodworker. Sure, it will be an expensive project, but, believe me, the dramatic end result will be well worth it!
Replacing and Refacing
The 1970s weren’t known for many enduring trends in home design--lava rock fireplaces included. In most cases, lava rock is simply a facade covering a block structure. In other words, it is are relatively easy to remove.
When chipping off the offending rock take care not to damage the underlying structure. Once the rock facade has been removed you can begin the refacing phase. Install new tile or brick directly onto the block substrate. Purchase a pre-made or custom mantel to top off your new fireplace surround. Hopefully, whoever owns your house decades from now will appreciate your design aesthetic!
Important tip: Before you begin any fireplace project it is critical to understand clearances required by law in relation to the firebox. This is critical in order to maintain the proper distance between the firebox and combustible materials. Contact your local officials to find out about the latest building codes in your area.
© 2012 lindacee