In Honor of CHIberia: 6 Fireplace Makeovers & Tips

 
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The Big Tile Update

It’s cold as all get out here in Chicago, but so many of our clients are probably quite warm. Because of their fireplaces! We shared a bunch of inspiration and before and afters in our Instagram stories earlier today and I wanted to corral them here and fill in a few details and tips. We obviously had a major overhaul above at the Bright & Fresh First Floor - switching to a gas fireplace over the wood burning, which eliminated the need for a hearth. We dropped the firebox down to a more normal level to eliminate that sweet ledge, got rid of the fake brick and weird niches and added a new custom mantel, built-in cabinetry and some ceramic fish scale tile! (Plus new furniture, lighting, rug and accessories…and kitchen.) The biggest tile tip for fireplaces: think about scale. How much space do you really have and how much of your tile will show? Will there be a lot of cuts? Will the design be lost?

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The Storage & Stone Addition

This one is an oldie, but a favorite. Talk about a blank slate. This area was transformed with built-ins. If you are including a TV and/or if you have kids, we recommend a combination of open and closed storage. There’s always something to hide! Plus tile is great and fun, but a remnant piece from a stone yard can be a somewhat economical way to update your surround and hearth. You can see the sketch that resulted in this “after” at the Neo Trad Condo here.

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The No Limits Fireplace

Speaking of oldies, this one was so fun. The clients didn’t want to go so far as to replace the glass block, but they made it clear they weren’t a fan. (Can you blame them?) So we made the existing fireplace the focus with floor to ceiling textured limestone tile plus the longest mantel ever and shelves to tie it all in! You can see more “behind the scenes” of the Kitchen Refresh and a link to the Domino.com article here. Moral: Don’t be boxed in by “mantel height” for your surround or wall width for your mantel!

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It’s Electric

This is an electric fireplace so it provides more ambiance than major heat, but when this bathroom is behind that wall, nothing else matters. The electric solution was a great way to add a fireplace to this bedroom without having to worry about running a gas line or venting. This extra large master suite started as a blank slate bonus room and transformed into this Master Suite Retreat.

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Bye Builder-grade + Mirror

Here we ditched the early 2000’s builder grade 12x12 slate for a distressed ceramic tile, adding the clients’s favorite color green into the mix. A mirror over the fireplace is a great way to bounce light and this one is a work of art. See more of the Kitchen & Fireplace Facelift here.

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Paint It

Last, but not least, let’s talk about this painted brick! Okay first things first, you can see it was already painted when we got there - an overwhelming shade of white and greige enveloped this room. And while that is fine in some cases, it wasn’t fine here. So we went for it and painted the brick gray, but we also added that purple wall to make it all pop - the brick, the stained glass and the shelves.

A few brick painting tips/considerations:

  • Since this brick was already painted it was a no-brainer. But keep in mind that once you paint your brick, you’re not going back. It’s doesn’t mean don’t do it, but it does mean you have to be confident (or your designer has to be confident in convincing you) that you will not miss your probably crappy looking brick.

  • Consider if your fireplace is functioning or non-functioning. Wood-burning or gas. Will you need to deal with soot? It may affect your thinking around a more forgiving color or just a wash. In this situation, the fireplace was not functioning so usage wasn’t an issue.

  • Hire a pro, but if you’re going to DIY, don’t skip any steps. The man, the myth, the legend Bob Vila provides some great tips on how to clean and prep your brick (get all the dirt and efflorescence off!), what type of primer and paint to use, and the methods to paint.

See more of the Moody Decor & Details first floor here. More on their second floor total renovation coming soon! SO with that said, please never forget, sometimes all you need is paint. Stay warm, Chicago!

See more thoughts about purple paint here and here.