A fireplace is often the first thing that you notice when you walk into a living space. It can have a commanding presence or a subtle one, but either way it’s a focal point—as well as a feature that can alter the ambience, enjoyment, and design of the room.
It’s right about now, with fall settling in, that we’re turning our attention to all things hygge (cozy). A fantastic fireplace has the potential of being a beacon of warmth and snugness—to put you at ease after a long day, and allow you to imagine everything will be alright.
But if your fireplace isn’t usable, needs to be converted to a more environmentally-friendly option, or is making your room look really dated, it’s tough to sit with.
What are your options to update your fireplace to suit your needs and style?
We’re not going to sidestep the fact that the choices are overwhelming. So to tighten this topic up, we’ll focus on standard interior wall-mounted fireplaces and not freestanding, hanging (like the retro-cool one that we just had to show you below), or exterior ones.
Before we delve into the good stuff, let’s have a quick anatomy lesson on wall-mounted fireplaces so that we’re all on the same hearth when we talk about updating fireplace features:
Your Fireplace Update Options
Here are five ideas to update your fireplace’s look, starting with easier DIYs and moving to more complicated ones, which involve professionals:
- Paint the existing fireplace
- Update the existing fireplace with paint and wood, e.g. mantel, trim
- Restore fireplace to be usable: Keep firebox shape, possibly add electric/gas insert, update mantel and/or replace hearth
- Reface fireplace: Update entire fireplace surface but keep firebox shape and possibly add new insert
- Demolish and design the fireplace of your dreams
Another key consideration in your fireplace update is its function: Are you able to keep it as wood-burning (be sure to check new bylaws for your area), should it be converted to gas or electric, or is it going to be a decorative feature? One you determine this, it will help guide the update of the look.
OPTION 1 & 2: DIY
Paint the Fireplace
Easy to do, but takes some research on the types of paint for your fireplace material. For example, brick and mortar can act like a sponge with paint; while ceramic tile and finished wood usually requires some sanding before paint application. Either way, you can never go wrong with painting a dated fireplace in a neutral paint colour. Check out Allisa Jacobs’ tutorial on her updated fireplace below.
Paint + Add Wood Mantel and Trim
In this one-day DIY above the savvy designers added a hefty unfinished maple mantel, created a header and legs out of wood (plywood and trim), and then painted the front in the same creamy colour. Amazing!
OPTION 3: Restore the Fireplace
Although she considered tearing down the original river stone fireplace in her Mountain House, designer Emily Henderson opted to refurbish it by hiring a “plaster dude” to plaster around the rocks, smoothing out the look, and painting it a lighter colour. After adding a different wood mantel, removing the raised hearth and brassy firebox door, she has a gorgeous ‘new’ fireplace.
OPTION 4: Reface Fireplace
A cost-efficient and less messy alternative to tearing out an old fireplace, this option focuses on updating just the surface of the fireplace by changing everything except the shape of the firebox. This is a good time to transform it into a more efficient room heater with an electric or gas insert. Your material choices are numerous here: concrete, plaster, stone, tile, wood, metal, or a combination…so it could be very helpful to hire an interior designer to hone in on the right style and design for your room.
OPTION 5: Demolish + Design Your Dream Fireplace
We’ll break down our inspiration images by style. We’ve saved plenty of additional ideas on the NOVERO Pinterest page.
More Traditional Styles
Traditional fireplaces tend to have ties to historic design styles, and lean towards being formal looking. Materials are natural, such as real stone (after all, that’s how they were traditionally built) with a relatively ornate surround. The fireplace that NOVERO Homes designed and built for our client above utilizes a honed marble surround and detailed millwork.
We think this fireplace by Kara Mann is simply beautiful – it has a traditional-looking stone mantel and legs, but the white-tiled firebox and trim have a contemporary vibe.
Transitional fireplace designs strike a happy medium between traditional and modern. Sporting cleaner lines and sleeker profiles, they are still more detailed than modern styles (see further down).
Rustic Modern Styles
This style goes for texture, with an updated farmhouse vibe. Think stately stone, reclaimed wood, textured plaster, and more traditional-looking tile or brick. Rustic fireplaces are often flanked by built-ins to display books, favourite photos, and other treasures. It’s a more cozy, casual look than traditional fireplace styles.
This isn’t a wall-mounted fireplace but we couldn’t stop ourselves from showing you what the designers built after removing a monster of a fireplace from another wall. Crafted from plaster-finished stone and despite being such a simple traditional shape (see their blog post for specs), it has become a stunning two-sided masterpiece.
This industrial-inspired fireplace above features a black metal sheet surround and black brick with a honed black granite hearth, making a dramatic effect in the otherwise light-coloured room.
These styles are simplistic and – surprise – minimalistic in their approach. Without the detail work, other design elements such as the choice of material, shape, scale, and/or positioning on the wall make these fireplaces designs glow. The example above shows a ‘ribbon’ firebox.
This uncomplicated fireplace is positioned asymmetrically in the buildout near the corner of the room, as a supporting player to the entertainment centre. Our clients had originally envisioned concrete cladding with this design, but a high cost led to this drywall finish. The resulting Scandinavian look completely suits the style of their home. In the future it may be clad in tile or painted a feature colour, like the fireplace shown below.
In this modern coastal home, NOVERO’s interior designer chose a substantial three-sided design with porcelain tile slabs around the lower half of the fireplace. The upper half has custom millwork wood panels built around the TV with black reveals. The floor-to-ceiling design anchors this room, and can be viewed from across the main floor of the house.
Last but not least, we must feature a modern take on marble! It’s such an elegant and gorgeous material anywhere in the home—also there’s no need to worry about wine stains or wear-and-tear when it’s on your wall.
If you’re ready to update your fireplace, but aren’t sure where to start, contact us to chat about your project.
Feature image credit: NOVERO Homes – Hamptons Dream Home