Since it's officially the first day of fall, it's a great time to dream about a fireplace. If you're keen on a fireplace but don't want the hassle or expense of adding gas, electrical, etc. – here is an option to consider. In the living room ...Read More
In this living room I had no problem painting the original brick fireplace white, along with the shelves, mantel and hearth. The walls, ceiling and trim throughout also got a fresh coat of paint. The other big (but subtle) change was having the floors redone. ...Read More
It must be the time of year – some of these chilly grey November days make me feel like drinking hot chocolate in front of the fire. I've often worked in homes with traditional, classic white fireplace mantels. In some other homes, a more unique fireplace looks better with the architecture of the house. So the image above is one that shows how a simple fireplace can work in a more modern looking, open space. Here are a few other unique looking mantels that make me want to curl up in front of the fire!
A fireplace is often the focal point of a living room. I'm frequently asked about how to decorate the mantel. It usually requires one larger item, like artwork or a mirror to ground the whole area. Then from there it's all about experimenting with different heights and objects to get the right balanced look. Some mantels are more layered with items, while others are a bit more sparse. I always suggest checking some decor magazines, or looking online, for some inspiration of mantels you like and then try to recreate the look at your own house. Here is another of mine with a black mirror and some simple vases of shells and antique books.
This mantel from House Beautiful has always caught my eye, it's simple yet pretty and colourful. Also interesting to see a round mirror.
Another simple mantel from Elle Decor that looks great. This kind of looks like a chalkboard to me above the mantel but it may be art.
A more layered approach with a few pieces of art.
When I purchased my house I loved the original details – and since the house was built in 1844 there were some beautiful, old, unique features. I especially liked the fireplace in the living room and even though I was starting a renovation, I wanted to keep the fireplace intact as much as I could. Here's how it looked before:
Like any renovation, the list of things to figure out and research was extensive. I felt like I got a fireplace PhD pretty quickly! I had a few obstacles to figure out – and I really wanted to keep a wood burning fireplace. I thought about just leave the whole thing alone. But on the flip side of that, the old chimney had no liner or flue, and the firebox opening on this fireplace was huge. So basically I had a giant opening in the living room and in the winter all of the heat would go up the chimney. But the first summer and fall after the renovation I kept the original fireplace (just painted it) to make my final decision. Here is how it looked then.
By the fall when the weather was getting cold, the lack of efficiency didn't make any sense, so I started looking at wood burning inserts for the fireplace. There were a few I liked, but of course I wanted something flush that didn't look like wood stove stuck in the fireplace. This also would still mean buying wood, chopping, starting fires every day, etc.
In the end I went to a propane (or gas) insert, the biggest reason was the ease of having it. I realized I would likely have the fireplace on in the morning before work and again for a couple of hours in the evening, it didn't make sense to start up a wood fire only to have to put it out again. The convenience of propane made sense for me – although I miss the smell of a wood burning fire.
The propane insert hunt took some time, I wanted something that looked authentic and I went with one that had double doors on it which I think suited the house. I had to rebuild the hearth and surround to make the insert fit in the wide opening of the firebox and the mantel. It all took some time to figure out and calculate the right proportions (how high to raise the hearth, etc.). In the end I'm happy with the decision and with the look!