A fireplace remodel is a great way to bring the spark back to your hearth and home. And we have some tips and ideas to inspire your next home improvement project.
Why a fireplace remodel?
Fireplaces serve as a focal point for the living areas of your home. The first thing that catches your eye when you enter a room, they set the tone for the style of your living room. But what can you do when your fireplace was looks tired and dated? A fireplace remodel can reinvent your living area and breathe new life into your home. Whatever the age or style of your home and fireplace, there are ways to bring the sparkle back to your fireplace.
Remodel or restore?
Historical homes with period fireplaces require more sensitivity with any remodel. Maintaining the overall look of the home with its unique character is usually desirable and good for resale value. However, making sure that the fireplace, chimney and masonry are in good working order is also important. Refreshing a historical fireplace can help highlight these great features in your home. And sometimes, remodels can actually be restorations. When elements that have been added over the years are stripped back to the original structure, you can appreciate your fireplace as originally intended.
Go big or keep it simple?
Large brick fireplaces or large, outdated stone surrounds are biggest, most impactful fireplace remodels. Some homeowners opt to completely remove and replace if they find that the hearth or surround is taking up too much space. This requires more significant demolition and can take longer. But every fireplace remodel doesn’t have to be this involved to have a strong visual impact. A less invasive approach is to sheathe the brick with drywall or wood panelling, leaving the brick underneath. You can also plaster over it, or cover it with a stone veneer. Paint is another popular way to refresh the look of brick, especially if you aren’t happy with the color of the original brick. There are a lot of paint techniques, from whitewashing to a solid high gloss coat of paint, to brighten old brick.
Maybe just the mantle?
Even simply replacing your mantle and fireplace accessories can make a great statement. Replacing colored marble or granite that no longer works with the look of your home, or updating shiny, 80’s style brass enclosures are quick and easy updates. We love 80’s sitcoms but who wants to live in an 80’s sitcom set?
While you’re at it, it’s a good time to think about adding a gas line for a log starter if you don’t have one. It’s a great shortcut to a crackling fire; in fact, some homeowners prefer to forgo wood burning fires altogether and opt for gas logs or even ethanol fires. And these aren’t your grandparents electric “log fires.” We’ve seen faux-fires that could fool the best! So if wood splitting isn’t your cup of tea but you still enjoy the ambiance of a fire, there are great options to explore.
The fireplace is going to be a feature of any room, but you can add extra impact by adding surrounding built in shelving, or by making it a “feature wall” with a distinctive paint color. An antique mantel or reclaimed wood beam add character and a one of a kind element to a fireplace
The proverbial elephant in the room, the TV
Now, let’s talk about the TV. Where you decide to place your TV is a controversial topic, no doubt. But whether you like to hang it front and center over the mantel or keep it in a more discreet spot, there are a few things to consider. For those who like to use the mantel as a fireplace tv stand, make sure the mantel height is at a height where you can comfortably watch is key. Low sofa height plus high TV height equals a sore neck! And no one needs that during a weekend of binge-watching House Hunters. Measure the height of a typical TV stand and then measure the height of your current fireplace opening and talk to your contractor about ways to streamline your updated mantelpiece to make sure you can get your TV mounted at a comfortable height.
For the more "out of sight" TV people, visual balance is helpful in taking away some of the impact of the dark TV. If you mount the TV to one side of the fireplace, hang artwork around the TV and on the other side of the fireplace to make the TV look a little less obvious. Adding built ins to the walls around your fireplace can spread out the visual interest, so the TV and fireplace aren't at odds.
When discussing TV placement with your contractor, plan for adding any needed wiring and sound system components to your project. It’s always less expensive and easier to modify wiring during a home improvement project rather than having to go back and re-do work later. And why not create an all in one fireplace TV stand and home entertainment set up?
Keeping it safe
While all remodels need to be done safely and to code, a fireplace remodel has some special safety considerations. It’s crucial to have everything inspected before starting your project. A beautiful fireplace isn’t a lot of use if you have a chimney or flue damage. And while a yearly inspection for creosote buildup is important, a more thorough look at the whole structure of the fireplace will keep you and your home safe from avoidable fires. In addition, your contractor should check the supports under the fireplace, either in a basement or crawlspace. This will determine if the weight of the fireplace has caused damage or if extra support needs to be added.