Before & After: A Fireplace Transformation

I have done major work in my house over the past two years (floors, windows, electrical) and am now re-tracing my steps and focusing on smaller projects that have a big visual impact, like transforming this small fireplace nook.

I'll rewind and start from the beginning. The living room was reinvented by painting everything (wood paneling, ceilings, beams, wainscoting) white. I love the texture the wood adds but I don't like the down and out color or 'knotty-ness' of it. I bin sealed the walls and beams to cover the knots so they never show themselves again.

The primer was followed by two coats of Benjamin Moore Aura paint in the color cotton balls, which was spray coated by a professional painter. The 2 1/4" pre-finished natural oak floors were then installed. The floor had to be raised 5" and leveled to meet the floor in the kitchen, so it's now one uninterrupted space.

Over the course of several months, I tried three different sconces before deciding on the pair in the final image. The first set were from a consignment shop but were too old fashioned for the space. I had been in love with this second pair forever but they didn't fit the space properly either. The arms were too long and gangly.

Since I was looking to dress up this room, I went with polished brass sconces from Circa lighting in Atlanta. They have a gorgeous, high quality selection of lighting. I ordered one at a time (to avoid a restock fee if it didn't work out) and as you can see from the photo, the one on the left is a bit more patina-ed than the other since it was installed months before. I put these lights on a touch switch (which was inconsistent and didn't work) and finally on a dimmer switch which works perfectly.

The mirror is a minor decorative detail from HomeGoods. It has an Indian meets Jonathan Adler vibe that I love. I hung it before starting the mantel to help envision the final space. Van Dyke's Restorers has every last beautiful detail you could imagine for your home which is where I found the perfect corbels.

My talented carpenter, Delayne, mounted pressed board into the paneling, screwed the corbels into the board and built the mantel by layering two pieces of solid wood. He then used a router to dress up the edge a bit.

From there I primed everything, caulked the edges and seams, sanded it and painted two coats of cotton ball white. The black shelf-like elements are laminate so I roughed them up with gritty sandpaper and painted them in the same way too.

The final step in this transformation was to polish the brass door handles, scrape the white paint of the black metal face, clean the glass, and use stove and grill polish to blacken the metal doors. Using this polish was a bit tricky. I used a rag, but if I had to do it again I would use a foam brush for more control along the edges.

And there you have it, a new fireplace for the living room!

And it actually works. I forgot to mention that.

Images: Tanya Lacourse