A couple of years ago my sister gave me the fun job of helping her to update an adorable Craftsman-style home she bought with her husband in an historic neighborhood of Dallas, Texas. I was really looking forward to seeing the inside of the house, since the outside was pretty perfectly preserved. But then I walked in the front door and came face to face with this. Click through to see the big reveal and learn how we dealt with this fireplace disaster!
First off, let me try to explain what the previous owners had done to it. The whole thing was covered in a textured and — as you can see — horribly colored hand-troweled plaster to mimic the 18"x18" slate tiles they had chosen for the walls of the bathroom (don't worry — we fixed that, too!). It was the single ugliest fireplace either of us had ever seen.
Luckily my sister had a contractor doing quite a few projects around the house so we didn't have to go it alone. We started by asking him to even out the plaster above the mantle and to prep it for paint. If you toggle between the two pictures you can see that we actually left the mantle alone. It was in pretty sturdy shape and we were on a budget.
To camouflage the plaster below the mantle, the contractor applied some paint-grade MDF and added a little decorative trim, leaving a 12" opening just around the firebox. (Note: local codes vary, but usually you will need at least 12" of fire-proof or fire-resistant material around your firebox. Be sure to check with a licensed contractor before doing something similar — safety first!).
We had the awful 4"x4" ceramic tile hearth pulled out and in it's place put down some simple — and inexpensive — honed marble tiles. For the firebox surround, we selected Ann Sack's Crystal Glass Stacked Mosaic Tiles in a light green and had those installed with white grout.
As you can see, these few simple changes made a world of difference! Since it is the first thing you see when you walk in the door to her home, my sister get's loads of compliments and the fireplace really sets the tone now for the rest of her beautiful house.
Images: Bethany Adams