Fireplace Renovation: A Tale of Patience and Adaptation


I want some trumpets for this unveiling.....HERE IT IS! Our fireplace! What a doozy of a project. Not in that it was hard, but this was the first time we've done something without a complete 'plan'. This project involved a lot of thinking, reworking, and general ingenuity. 

Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

Ah, the day we closed. It wasn't bad in the scheme of things...but after redoing the floors and kitchen, it became the only thing in the space that wasn't touched. It's a very early 2000's style... arches, a big cutout in the back for the tube TV we'll never have. I didn't love it.

When it came to deciding what we wanted to do- we used these fireplaces as inspiration:

What did people do without Pinterest?

Everything we looked at had a couple of things in common-

  • Simple clean design
  • Mantle
  • Gray tile
  • Boxy design

For our reno, we started out wanting to have side and top boxes along the edge of the fireplace. Our existing frame was too small to successfully pull that off so, for a few days, we talked about making the fireplace frame larger. That got nixed after noticing the mantle would jut out past the window that sneaks in really closely to the existing wall.

This is Demo Day #1. The day when I figured we could redo the entire fireplace before Thanksgiving the following Thursday. hahahahahah.

It turns out that arch at the top was quite structurally sound so it took a full day to demo it to the beams. Here Phil is building back up the wall structure to support hanging a tv (real life- the TV works best hung above the fireplace....so even though Pinterest keeps TVs off of fireplaces, the Grix family is just going to own it.) 

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With the TV support beams up, Phil also installed a PVC pipe to thread all of our electronics cords through! That way, when we put in floating shelves next to the fireplace (not there yet but SOON) everything can be neat and tidied up! Pretty cool right? This is still clocking in before Thanksgiving...

Oh look! Wednesday night before Thanksgiving the drywall goes up. With it up, it actually began to look like a fireplace which was AWESOME. And also daunting! We had to start making decisions on the finishes....

We went to Floor+Decor and found our tile on Black Friday. I had wanted Carrera marble in our kitchen but after finding out how much work it took, went a different direction. While we were shopping I was PUMPED to find Carrera tiles that would work really well on the fireplace. Dreams deferred no more. Before tiling we laid out every tile to make sure together, they would align so the row along the top of the fireplace were whole squares.

You'll also notice the bullnose (tile with one edge rounded) in the background of the surround. The more we looked at it, the more we decided we needed another finish.

...see? Fine but not great. When we started tiling- it turned out to be my secret talent! The first thing in our house projects that I excelled at. YAHOO!

After tiling came the MDF, Mantle, and 1x2 frames. 

Here was another tricky problem. What could we use beneath the mantle lip so that we both liked? We played around a lot and after 4 trips to Home Depot settled on a 1x2, chair rail, and then crown moulding all stacked together. Phil takes the credit for that idea.

While Phil was building the mantle, I saw an opportunity to hide a secret message in it!

Now whoever demos this mantle (over my dead body) will find a note from its builders. :) It's a nice note- no threats or promises to haunt them for demolishing it. Instead it has our names, the date, and a little story about the weeks we built it.

With all the framing up, the last thing to do was paint! We used the same color paint as our trim (out of a can white). 

So I present to you again, the finished product!

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You are so beautifullllll.....to meeeeee.

Next up- floating shelves to the right of the fireplace to hold all of the gizmos and gadgets needed to circumnavigate cable.