Bring Your Old Fireplace to Life With These 15 Upgrades


A proper fireplace could add a lot of charm to any room. Besides, very few things in life are better than sitting in front of a roaring fire on a chilly evening, with a big glass of tea/wine in your hands.

Without a doubt, a fireplace adds a lot of interest and charm to any given room. But there’s more than that: it becomes the centerpiece that can effortlessly bring together an entire room.

On top of that, a beautiful fireplace adds a lot of value to your property. Some experts even estimated that a working fireplace could easily push up your asking price by 5%. So, it’s worth your while. Here are some of the best ideas on how to remodel your fireplace:

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Add glass fireplace doors

Nothing compares to a cozy fire on a cold night; However, we can all agree that a wood fire left unsupervised isn’t exactly the definition of safety.

Unlike a gas fireplace, which could be easily switched off, the only sure way to leave a wood fire is if it’s closed off with a glass door. Actually, retrofitting this critical safety feature to an existing fireplace isn’t that hard. The doors can come in standard sizes, as long as they fit in any type of flat firebox opening.

Make sure your firebrick is in shape

After so many years of hot blazes, you shouldn’t be surprised if your fireplace mortar cracks, crumbles, and even falls out. Plus, gaping mortar joints aren’t only unattractive, but they also leave the bricks way more vulnerable to damage.

So before autumn begins, examine the current condition of the mortar and spend an hour or two to replace any of the pieces that have deteriorated.

Install a Mantel

Don’t let your mantel bore you completely. Sharp, detailed models might come in kits that can be locked together with just a couple of twists of the Philips-head. You can easily have a whole new look in less than one day.

Go for the Salvaged Mantel

The hearth might have endured mostly, because of the wooden mantel that frames it. A mantel doesn’t only serve as an architectural anchor in a room, but it’s also a functional shelf on which prized possessions might be displayed.

That’s one of the reasons why so many of them are still seen in dining rooms and bedrooms of old houses, even if the fireboxes were enclosed to eliminate drafts.

Add a gas fireplace

Probably the only thing that’s better than a roaring fire on a wintry night is a roaring fire that doesn’t need any tending, you have to clean it only once in a blue moon, and does a great job heating the entire home.

Well, that’s exactly what you get with a gas fireplace. We said goodbye a long time ago to those anemic blue flames and unconvincing “logs”. Nowadays, modern versions are better: they burn more realistically, with some glowing red embers and tall flames that start dancing and flickering around those ceramic-fiber logs.

Put in a fireplace insert

Fireplaces are among the top three features that are truly desired by any homebuyer. However, fireplaces also have major air gaps, as they might send up to 8 percent of valuable furnace-heated air flying right out of the chimney, which makes them fun to look at, but completely inefficient. However, there’s also good news: you could easily transform the firebox into a practical room heater, by simply adding an insert.

Tile a hearth

Mantels will always come and go. However, the hearth had always been there, between the fire and the shag rug. If you want a remodel idea, what about adding a couple of colorful new tiles? You could easily change its whole look in a matter of days.

Photo by New Africa from Shutterstock

Choose the proper tiles

Designer tile is a wonderful material for the hearth, but it’s not ALWAYS the one you should pick. Luckily, there are so many other masonry products that work just as well for fireplace decoration, from formal white marble to earthy terra-cotta, and they’re all easy to install.

The only thing that you should know from the start is that the tiles must be heat resistant, and even a dropped log once in a while.

Tile the surround

Before you get all excited about that painted brick look and white semigloss, you might want to consider something a bit more stylish. Tiling a fireplace can’t be done as fast as other remodels in the house, but it will definitely be worth your while.

Choose the proper tile for your surround

As a focal point, a fireplace might set the tone for the entire style of the living room. Rough brick could easily come with a rustic atmosphere, while smooth glass is a bit more…modern.

Consider using art tile

The magic of artisanal tiles lies in their imperfections. As each and every piece is carefully designed, molded, and even glazed by hand, there aren’t two pieces that look the same.

There are many options: you could either use them with plain subway tile or even mix a handful in with some intricate monochromatic squares that will make your fireplace truly spring to life.

For example, low-relief polychrome tiles made with a certain Spanish Cuenca process (which basically is made by repeatedly applying individually glazed poured by hand into depressions formed by lines made in the clay) are extremely interesting, and they’re inspired by some of the earliest styles of the 20th century.

Photo by New Africa from Shutterstock

Build a stone-veneer fireplace surround

If you think that using real stone is the only possible way to get those cozy nights by the blazing hearth, think again. Nowadays, cast-stone veneer is very similar to the real thing, but there are more options. Besides, if its amazingly cheap price tag also matters, the DIY-friendly installation is definitely something you need to try.

Consider getting a granite-slab surround, but also a swap out the mantel

Chipped bricks, alongside a stained hearth, and many years of soot might turn something that should be nothing but delightful into an eyesore.

Replacing the hearth and surround, with a ceramic or stone tile, for example, might matter a lot in the way the fireplace looks. You could replace an old quarry-tile hearth and simply cover a brick surround with 4 sleek granite slabs.

Add a tin-tile fireplace surround

While looking at brand new ways to remodel your fireplace, a bright idea might suddenly pop into your mind: Why not add those unique tin tiles I used for my kitchen backsplash for the surround?

Needless to say that you’ll be done with it super fast, as the project can’t possibly take more than a couple of days. But it will be worth the while, trust me!

MDF fireplace face-lift

The nonworking brick fireplace might end up being more of an eyesore than something pleasant to the eye. If yours is lacking a mantel, and you simply don’t have the capacity to hire a carpenter that will custom-build another one, worry no more.

You can use any of these off-the-shelf supplies: MDF, astragal molding, or even baseboard. See? You’ve got everything covered!

If you enjoyed reading this piece, you might also want to try: How to Maximize Your Attic Storage Space (Free Guide: 10 Tips)

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