Fireplace Makeover

Sally Sullivan-Beghin
by Sally Sullivan-Beghin
1 Material
When we bought this house 22 year ago, we sort of liked the floor-to-ceiling natural brick fireplace. However, as the years went by we began to dislike the outdated look more and more so we finally decided to completely renovate the entire fireplace into a modern, yet traditional design. I hired a contractor to handle the masonry work and to install the plywood, but the rest was up to me!

The first order of business was to reshape the arched opening in order to create a more traditional square configuration.
A few of the bricks were removed and a rough square opening was created and  held together with wood forms and mortar.
I finally decided that  the best way to say "good-bye" to the bricks without tearing them out was to simply cover them up.  Rather than installing vertical studs and drywall, we completely covered the brick with 3/4 inch plywood.  This achieved 2 goals:  It would be more solid than drywall AND I wouldn't have to locate studs every time I wanted to put in a drywall screw or hang something on the wall
Next, the drywall was installed over  the plywood, (note that    the wood was kept back several inches from the opening for fire safety reasons). 
After adding cement board on the hearth, these  2 x 2 inch ceramic tiles were installed . The tiles came 12" x 12" , held together by mesh, which made it easy to cut and fit to size

The ceramic tile surround was installed and grouted and easily fit into place like assembling a jigsaw puzzle!
I added 1' x 3' pine to the front of the hearth both for looks and it covered up the rough edges of the ceramic tile. 
After painting the drywall a very light sage, the mantle was installed.  I chose a light color because the family room is painted dark sage and I didn't want to drown-out the beautiful dark oak mantle.  We will be converting the fireplace from natural to gas very soon!  It was a lot of work, but I think it was well-worth the effort!
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  • P P on Jun 17, 2017

    You had CRAFTSMANSHIP. Now you have a lovely, ordinary, cookie-cutter living room.

  • Rhino Eric Haldeman Rhino Eric Haldeman on Jun 19, 2017

    You should also note that this fireplace is no longer code-compliant for burning wood. Installing a gas fireplace as you mentioned might be an option, but please tell your readers a wood fire should absolutely NOT be burned in this fireplace after this has been done to it. For more information, contact, or a local certified chimney sweep.

  • M. M.. M. M.. on Jun 21, 2017

    How much did adding the plywood and sheetrock/cement board over the brick bulk out the original wall surface? How was the wood attached to the brick?

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  • Arleen Arleen on Jun 20, 2017

    Everyone has different taste in decorating. That being said I love the way that it look now. Great job.

  • Merrilee Morrison-Cotter Merrilee Morrison-Cotter on Jul 29, 2017

    I like both, depending on style preference. Either could be charming in the right circumstance. You did a lovely job.