Ugly Fireplace Syndrome - Help!

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I have the ugliest fireplace in my den! I hate the split bricks above going up to the ceiling! And the mantle brick is crooked! I would love suggestions on what to do with it to make it take up less room, since right now it is butted up against windows/doors on both sides. I'd like to remove all of the brick at some point. I'd really like to see some wood around it (maybe some bead board above a wood mantle). I have a cottage style home.
ugly fireplace syndrome help, diy, fireplaces mantels, home decor, living room ideas, wall decor, The lower portion of my fireplace
The lower portion of my fireplace
ugly fireplace syndrome help, diy, fireplaces mantels, home decor, living room ideas, wall decor, The upper portion of my fireplace
The upper portion of my fireplace
  34 answers
  • Leslie Long Leslie Long on May 16, 2014
    I have to agree that it is ugly :) If you can just remove the bricks that make the mantle, you could then cover up the entire thing with wood (you said beadboard) and frame it out and paint it. You don't have to remove the brick for that and then you can hang a mirror or painting above with no size restrictions from the indentations. Good luck!
  • 268742 268742 on May 16, 2014
    Great idea Leslie. Thanks for the input!!
  • Becky Wood Becky Wood on May 16, 2014
    I kinda like the brick although it does look a little disportional because the top is so much taller that the bottom. You could put glass shelves in and put pretty stuff on them. If you can remove the "mantle" brick..you can then replace it with wood, if not have a mantle designed in such a way as to cover the old mantle (like the floating shelves that are actually hollow). I thing I would probably have the mantle go all they way across the brick. It would look nice with a pic or mirror above it and some sort of light fixtures or sconces hanging on the brick sides. You could also cover it with thin wood or put rock over the brick. Or you could add brick to close in all that tall openess...although you don't like the brick it would at least look more normal not having that opening, of course remove the mantel first, if they bricks are positioned just right it would almost look like it had always been that way and not added later. Then you could add your wooden mantel and hand whatever above it.
  • 268742 268742 on May 16, 2014
    Wow Becky, great suggestions! Thanks so much!
  • 268742 268742 on May 16, 2014
    Here is a fireplace that just love!
  • Starr Starr on May 18, 2014
    Take out the lower bricks and add black tiles instead then add a black wood mantle
  • Terri W Terri W on May 18, 2014
    you can also reface it with granite, marble, tile or any stone without removing the brick. Also, United House Wrecking in CT sells old mantles, I bet you can find a similar place near you....
  • Donna H Donna H on May 18, 2014
    I would remove all of the upper bricks and reface the lower portion however you like and add your mantle over the current mantle. Or you could just fill in the middle and reface over the whole thing.
  • Heddy F Heddy F on May 18, 2014
    Take a loll at the photo I've enclosed. I designed this fireplace as a focal point for my family room. Your bricks could serve as a surround for something like this. Start by adding like bricks to the top of the ceiling to create a frame. Then fill in the framed area with coordinating "stone" squares. The mantle can be made in any style you like and inserted into place. I finished mine with two stone-like "ancient" figures I found at Marshall's for $6.99 a piece! I just liquid nailed them on either side and voila! I had a Classic Stone Fireplace!
  • Carla Foldy Carla Foldy on May 18, 2014
    We had ugly fireplace too!! I hired someone to remove the brick above that went all the way to ceiling. He built a new mantle and custom book shelves on each side. He ran wiring to hang TV above. Total cost $3100 . Yours wouldn't be nearly as expensive because u don't need built in shelving. good luck!
  • Anna Erishkigal Anna Erishkigal on May 18, 2014
    I would be -very- careful about removing the lower bricks until you're certain they aren't structural. If you remove something structural, you could find yourself with cracks in your chimney, a chimney fire, and then a tens-of-thousands of dollars fireplace rebuild. Instead, why not ring the fireplace opening with some pretty tiles, and then build a new, higher mantle coming up out of the bricks and down on either sideand then much higher to make it more proportional, all the way up to the ceiling like trim.
  • Sue Cooke Sue Cooke on May 18, 2014
    What a challenge! What if you boxed in the upper portion from the outside of the brick over, don't remove the brick, then you have a wall! Also box over your "mantle" separately making more of a statement mantle, use some cornices below the mantle to "hold" it up also to anchor it! I would then paint the hearth a nice warm sand color and perhaps glaze the brick surrounding your FP
  • Cheryl Fontaine Cheryl Fontaine on May 18, 2014
    Remove all the bricks up to the ceiling, close off the flue permanently and install a gentle flow of water from top to bottom. Install muted lighting and plants up the sides and you will have the soothing sound and good feng shui of water flowing toward you at all times.
    • 268742 268742 on May 18, 2014
      @Cheryl Fontaine Oh wow! i love the sound of flowing water! thank you!
  • Cindi Cindi on May 18, 2014
    I would have a floating shelf built or purchase to cover the top of mantel. Then I would add wood on the back of the chimney. Using the same color stain for both chimney and mantel. Use a grey washed stain for both. Then I would cover the bottom of mantel with mosaic tile. Its easy to do. Just some ideas
  • Kate Colvin Kate Colvin on May 18, 2014
    I would remove the bricks or cover them with tile. Definitely remove the bricks from the "mantle" on up though. The proportion is way off with them. Then you can add your bead board or whatever, but get rid of the bricks. You can always recycle them for an outdoor project if you are worried about waste.
  • 268742 268742 on May 18, 2014
    Oh my goodness! So many awesome ideas! Thanks everyone so much for the input!!
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on May 18, 2014
    We have an awful fireplace too! I hate fireplaces in general...But once they are in, you are stuck with them! Can't just take them out....there would be a hole in the side of the house! HA! We are just going to live with ours because it is not worth thousands of dollars and no telling what problems we might face! Now days, every house comes with a fireplace!
  • Janie Luke-Smith Burks Janie Luke-Smith Burks on May 18, 2014
    Install a premade mantel & put flat screen TV above. That's what we did with our ugly fireplace.
  • Heddy F Heddy F on May 18, 2014
    Yes it's Totally faux! The material is the same stuff that is used around doors and windows in both residential and commercial structures. It's even used at Disney! It's ridiculously lightweight. Once installed, no one would ever guess. Just look into faux architectural fixtures. It really is pretty cool.
  • Jill Jill on May 18, 2014
    Depending on how solid those bricks used were, if it's just cosmetic, knock them off and either put up drywall on the outside (warning this can lead to smoky residue on the wall after burning), or another type of stone veneer. If they are solid bricks, you cannot remove them, even the lower portion. Just cover them with a layer of mortar and then put veneer on where you want stone. If you don't want stone all the way up, attach framing and cover it with what you want, such as drywall or anything else.
  • Barbara Turner Barbara Turner on May 18, 2014
    If it were me and depending on the structure issues and budget minded, I would simply find a nice 3 different either flagstone or tile pieces and design them with fireproof adhesive all over the fireplace. Get one of those tile cutters and perhaps someone who knows how to work those materials to help you with the measuring and adhesive and heat protection issues. Keep us posted. Can't wait to see how it turns out.
  • Therese C Therese C on May 18, 2014
    Just a quick..simple idea....hope it helps, but I don't believe in redoing something that just needs a push in the right direction. Best of luck!!
  • Anna Erishkigal Anna Erishkigal on May 19, 2014
    Before considering removing your fireplace, remember that a working fireplace adds around $10K to the value of your home. So you'd be throwing money away by closing it off.
  • Susan Cinelli Susan Cinelli on May 20, 2014
    Add some down lights and glass shelves
  • Suzy Suzy on May 21, 2014
    I would cover the top with wood and nice trim. Sand off the paint some to give it a distressed look and maybe add a little stain to age it. I think that would be great with cottage style. Can't wait to see what you do!!
  • Suzy Suzy on May 21, 2014
    I forgot...put a nice wood mantel on it.
  • Cindy Butler Dorthy Cindy Butler Dorthy on May 21, 2014
    To keep with the cottage style I would find an old window preferably something with some nice detail and hang it above the fireplace
  • Debbie Davis Debbie Davis on May 21, 2014
    My son did ours with tongue and groove beadboard. Stained it in a natural pine. I am doing a collage of pictures in black frames. So far haven't decided what to put on the mantel. I did have it decorated beautifully for Christmas though.
  • Jutta Melanie M. Jutta Melanie M. on May 22, 2014
    I would cover the bricks with concrete skim coat (google concrete skim coat over brick!) Adding a salvaged slab of wood as shelve would keep with the cottage style....and I like the idea from Therese C to fill the empty space with wood framed pictures. Blackened steel panels over the bricks (installed like a patch work) could look great too.
  • Lisa Schneider Lisa Schneider on May 23, 2014
    You could put a mirror in the opening and hang old shutters on both sides. A wooden mantle that spans the entire width of the brick would look fantastic.
  • Southeast Solar Co Southeast Solar Co on May 23, 2014
    See this: http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-resurface-a-fireplace-surround-with-decorative-panels/index.html HGTV and DIY net work have numerous shows which deal with this type of remodel. They always show various options which makes the fireplace stand out.
  • Sue Ryan Sue Ryan on Sep 26, 2016
    I would remove the brick from the top. Add a wooden mantel. Depending on budget you could re-tile the bottom to suite your taste.
  • I like Sue Ryans idea.. if tearing out the brick is to much cover it up ... sheetrock over it... and add a hollow mantel to set level over the brick mantel. feel free to look at our remodel on our fireplace to give you some ideas.
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