Fireplace Makeover: Planning & Buying Materials

Having fresh paint in the kitchen has given us a chance to look at the room with, well, fresh eyes. And it has sparked our plans to take the fireplace to the proverbial next level (we mentioned building out the mantel and retiling the painted-over tile hearth a few times like here).

It has already come a long way since we moved in, thanks to removing (and craigslisting) the old stove and giving it a paint job. But with the rest of the room feeling a little more upgraded (there’s shiny penny tile all the way to the ceiling on the other side of the room), we’re itching to amp up this side too.

As for inspiration, we’ve been finding a lot of it lately. Sherry and I have had this makeover from Layla and Kevin mentally bookmarked for years now. And more recently they posted this one below, which has given us a few more ideas for some fireplace refacing – aka, building something architecturally interesting over the existing fireplace, like a more substantive mantel along with some framed out side columns.

Sherry also has gazed longingly at this page torn from Canadian House & Home way too many times this month. So it officially has us interested in bringing some tile into the picture. Especially since the other side of our kitchen has a lot of that going on, so it might balance things out and tie the room together a little more.

So with those images as our starting point, Sherry and I broke out the tape measure and started planning. And since I’m exceptionally geeky for graph paper (and because I was having trouble figuring out the scale and proportions) we actually ended up sketching a to-scale drawing of what we wanted to do. Don’t bother trying to understand it yet – just know that most of it is wood, but the slightly shaded inner frame would be a sleek tile surround for the firebox (as we actually build it and share pics, you’ll get a much clearer idea of the process).

We debated a few tile options (more penny tile, something luminescent like sea-glass-ish mosaic tile, etc) and then the stars aligned and Sherry spotted this post on Bryn Alexandra’s blog that mentioned inexpensive marble subway tiles at Home Depot. It’s a great price and a timeless tile choice (we worried that something in a bold color like green might look dated or too specific down the line). So we think it’ll be a great compliment to the gray penny tile on the other side of the kitchen without matching it exactly.

You really can’t go wrong with marble subway tile, can you? It’s classic Peg.

And while we played around with dark brown marble in our first house’s bathroom, we’ve actually never worked with the (much more traditional) white stuff. And it’s about time that changed. Since we think using classic tile in a fresh way is even more fun, we’re actually going to go for a herringbone pattern, which will look like this if all goes well. Oh yes ladies and gents, we’re about to get fancypants.

To further prove celestial alignment, thanks to a few generous relatives, we had some Christmas gift cards to Home Depot burning a hole in our pocket. So at just over $5/square foot we were sold (we only spent around $30 total on tile after gift cards).

But tile was barely scratching the surface of our materials list. It’s just a small portion of the new look (as you can tell by my incredibly accurate and remarkably discernible sketch). Most of what we need will be wood and trim.

The good news is we now have everything home: tile, boards to build the base out, 1 x 2″ pine pieces for decorative details, miscellaneous trim, backer board for the tile, and masonry screws. And we have all of our leftover tiling supplies from previous projects (so we don’t have to buy trowels and grout sponges and yada yada again). Huzzah! Of course we’ll be sharing every step of the building process as it comes together, so basically what I’m trying to say is: sorry brick fireplace, your days are numbered.

Especially since we just painted this zany smashed-tile-mosaic-looking-hearth (so that weird broken-tile texture is still going on under the white paint). But not for looooong!

If all goes well, we’ll be back on Wednesday with a finished tile update. In fact, we’re already working away…

What were you guys sketching or planning this weekend? Anyone starting a tile project, or finally spending a Christmas gift card?

Psst- There was a little Clara celebration at school, so here’s how that went down (don’t look now, but Sherry’s hair is down).


    • says

      Super gorgeous! We’re doing herringbone on the floor and straight on the surround too! Just because there’s not enough room to really do herringbone well on the surround. So glad it looks so great on yours!


  1. says

    Yay for fireplace revamp! I love the way it looks now but I can see your vision as well. I can’t wait for the reveal hopefully Wednesday because I want to see the rest of that herringbone pattern. I also can’t wait till you bust on through to the other side of that wall and double your heat capacity with a double sided fireplace. I know, I know…patience Daniel son…

    My best, Lynn
    *Oh did you catch the awesome week Justin Timberlake spent on Jimmy Fallon last week? It was epic. Hulu has every episode right now. Op! And we started ripping down kitchen wallpaper last night. Here we gooooo!!!! :)

  2. says

    Really like the layout of the subway tile. I have seen that recently used for a back splash and thought it was cool. But I wondered if I would tire of the design. Using it at the hearth would be a great way to incorporate it, however, since you wouldn’t be looking at it as often.

  3. says

    Hey there! Excited to see how the fireplace turns out.

    Would you mind posting the link to your tutorial for painting the fireplace hearth? The fiancé and I are scouting a house that, if purchased, would definitely need some hearth help, and I remembered over the weekend that y’all had painted yours.


  4. maddy says

    I’m so excited to see this!
    I thought the painted brick was really charming, but I know you guys will step it up! xo

  5. says

    Yay! Excited to see what you come up with. We are doing a fireplace makeover to except ours is a giant chunky rustic reclaimed wood beam that will eventually be floating…if we can ever figure out how to get it up! No luck so far – we need to make trip # 3 to Home Depot.

  6. cara D says

    I love graph paper! i currently have our playroom/guestroom, bathroom reno, amd laundry room redo all graph papered up. Now just need time and money to finish them. I need to do our fireplace too. I got annoyed at it and ripped the old mantel off with no plan for a new one. Now there is just drywall with a ragged edge around the gas insert! Can’t wait to see yours. $5/sq ft tile is a deal.

  7. says

    Spent the gift cards on a welder.

    I am excited to see how you get the bottom tile thingie (technical terms) out without messing up the floor. I have a builder special piece of gross beige marble-esque something, but have been afraid to pull it out due to the wood flooring surrounding it.

  8. Amanda K says

    So glad you guys are tackling this. I have a very similar project on my to-do list, so I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  9. Laurie says

    I swear I am right behind you. Nice that you work out all the details before I get there. I finished my crown molding and have taken a detour to planking my family room ceiling before tackling the fireplace. My fireplace takes up almost the whole wall with built ins on either side. I was looking at that exact tile at Home Depot too! (I spend more time there than the tile shop). Waiting on which new tool to buy after your next post. Probably a tile saw. Thanks for all the inspiration.

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