Brighten up that old fireplace
- M, M and M
A: This is a great idea! Many people think they can't change a fireplace since they're made of such sturdy materials. But that is not the case. As long as you keep the firebox the same size, shape, and in the same location, updates can be relatively inexpensive.
Talk with a few licensed contractors and fireplace specialists. Chimney-sweeping services are sometimes masonry experts as well. They'll find out what's wrong, inside and out, and advise you about options. You may need a sweeping service and a contractor.
Consider gas inserts if you need a better heat source. Most open, wood-burning fireplaces aren't very good at that since most of the heat goes right up the flue. There is probably a nice gas unit out there that will fit your fireplace.
Reuse a vintage wooden or iron mantel over tile for a classic feel. Painted wood and brick are popular for early American styles. Carved stone or tiles look European, and you can even buy precast concrete mantels that look like carved limestone.
Cleaning, etching or painting the existing brick is an option, too. Consider adding a large timber mantel over the brick for an easy update. River rock and stone veneers installed all the way to the ceiling create a warm and rustic look.
Add a new spark screen and handsome fireplace tools, and you'll be ready for holiday gatherings. Remember to have it cleaned yearly and your whole family will enjoy the update for many years to come.
Have fun with the project and send me the before and after pictures.
Jennifer Adams is a designer, author, and TV personality. AskJennifer@JenniferAdams.com