Corner Fireplace Makeover

2 Materials
10 Hours

There was nothing redeeming about the house I bought when I was single, and still own today, save for the walk-in closets in the bedrooms (what shoe-loving girl wouldn't love that)! Once of the worst features was the fireplace. Don't you just hate corner fireplaces? I don't understand why builders install them. Here's how our fireplace looked before we bought the house:

One day when I was at work, hubs enlisted a friend to make it over. They started by busting out the hearth. Luckily the former owner had left a box of tiles for just such an occasion.

As you can see from the picture above, the brick is just awful; the builder used the same rough brick that was on the exterior of the house. To combat the lint trap, we refaced the brick with cement board to smooth it out.

Since the brick was so uneven, shims and cement were used to fill the gaps and provide a level surface for the cement board. The board was set into the wet cement and then screwed into the brick with masonry screws to hold it securely.

Hubs and his friend did a beautiful job of skim coating over the entire surface after the board was up but forgot about the tape. It's not necessary to skim coat the whole surface, but don't be tempted to skip the tape and mud because the seams will crack and ruin your final finish. I only discovered that little known fact about the missing tape a few weeks later when my beautifully applied venetian plaster developed cracks! I had to tape over the seams and start the whole mudding and finishing process all over again. I guess that's what happens when a women isn't there to supervise :)

Moving right along, I tackled the disgusting firebox which was covered with years of soot. I started off with soap and water, but had to resort to a chemical cleaner. It was better after scrubbing but still showed the telltale signs of neglect.

Right after that is when I applied the venetian plaster - the first time!

After a few layers, letting it dry in between, I then sanded it to a smooth lustrous finish. Now I had to tackle patching the floor tile.

Demolition is my favourite part; I smashed out areas of half tile so I could add full pieces back in.

The trick to getting a seamless tile job is to make sure you dig out some of the grout around the tile you are going to replace using a grout remover tool (this can be hand held or electric). That way, when you smash your tile, you won't accidentally break the perfectly good neighbouring tile that you want to keep! But first, before you dig out the grout, place some masking tape around the edges of the tile you're keeping to prevent damaging them in the process of removing the grout.

Once the area was cleaned of debris, I started the process of re-tiling. I built the underlay up to the same height as the rest of the floor by inserting a piece of leftover cement board over the plywood.

I installed the tile with thinset and let it dry for a day when it was complete.

You couldn't even tell the floor was repaired after it was grouted! Here's how the fireplace looked for a few years before we got tired of it and moved onto phase II of our makeover:

The room was ok for a few years, but it was repainted and redecorated to make it more bright and airy! A custom made sisal area rug was cut to the shape of the room to hide the majority of the original '80's tile floor, leaving just enough of a border around it so you can still see my tile repair work :)

The installation of a new gas fireplace is a welcome addition for the warmth (and now I don't have to look at soot residue either)! To see how it looks when the fire is lit, head over to my blog (link at the end of this post).

Looking back on pictures of how the house looked when I first bought it, it has come such a long way. I'm sure the previous owner wouldn't even recognize it now! Like so many of our other updates, cosmetic changes can have a big impact. Covering up the ugly brick took the fireplace from dated to modern and was well worth the effort!

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Crochet for a Cure

If you haven’t heard, we’ve just launched a pattern shop, where we’re donating 100% of our proceeds to Alzheimer’s. You’ll find patterns, like our signature Kayla Pillow, Air Planter Pods and Tooth Fairy Pillow (shown below), available to purchase as a donation to our Alzheimer’s fundraiser.

Come  visit us to purchase a pattern; with 100% going to charity, it's a win-win!

Suggested materials:
  • Cement   (Big box store)
  • Tile   (Had extra on hand)
Birdz of a Feather
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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