Thursday, November 4, 2010

Frumpy Fireplaces BeGone!

Looking to update your frumpy fireplace.  Don't let an outdated fireplace or mantel discourage your decor.  Updating it can as easy as a fresh coat of paint, to retiling to perhaps a whole new look. 
Before: Bland and Bulky
This living room was stuck in the 1970s thanks to dusty whites and tired brown tones. The bulky brown-brick fireplace did little to enhance the space, as it was placed asymmetrically on a long stretch of wall.
After: Light and Lively
Painting the brick facade white started the process of bringing this fireplace back to life. A wood surround enhances the look. Classic-lined built-ins integrate the fireplace, bookshelves, and an entertainment unit. The surround, built-ins, and walls were also painted white to brighten the room and layer on the cottage charm.

Before: Cold and Cavelike
The former fireplace was part of a stacked-stone wall that left the living room feeling cold and cavelike. The homeowners wanted to update the fireplace and living room with modern, minimalist style, but still maintain a connection to the outdoors.
After: Open and Inviting
The homeowners did away with the stacked-stone fireplace and opted for one with a clean, contemporary design that complements the improved, light-filled living room. Sleek marble tiles combine with honey-color bird's-eye maple panels to create a one-of-a-kind fireplace and surround. These warm tones connect the room with nature and keep the focus on woodland views framed by a wall of windows (not shown).
Before: Muddled Media Room
With its poor design, bad acoustics, and lack of storage, this media room was more dysfunctional than family-friendly.
After: Media Room Makeover
The much-needed makeover consisted of adding a curved ceiling to balance the room and improve acoustics and relocating the fireplace to be the focal point of the room. Custom-built cabinetry flanks the fireplace, keeping media equipment organized and out of sight. Sandstone adorns the surround and blends beautifully with the built-in cabinets. The new fireplace can now be seen from the adjacent dining and living room.

Before: Ho-Hum Hearth
This basic Georgian-style white-painted wood fireplace did little to command attention and found itself dwarfed by the adjacent long, white windowless wall.
After: Refined Hearth
The new and improved fireplace showcases sophistication at its best. The new wenge-wood mantel with wainscoting runs the length of the room, commanding attention. A new broader surround is covered with an expanse of Emperador marble, which replaces the dated Georgian-style wood surround.
Before: Lowly Lower Lever
A huge, ugly brick hearth and a rarely used wood-burning stove cast a dark, dreary presence over this lower level. This unattractive area -- along with dated wood paneling and cement flooring -- restricted the basement to a storage space rather than a living space.
After: Lovely Lower Level
In order to create a better, brighter basement, the wood-burning stove gave way to an efficient gas fireplace. Plaster was applied to the brick wall and painted white. A limestone hearth and rustic wooden mantel complete the transformation. The new fireplace warms the room while providing a sweet, subtle focal point.

Before: Boring Brick
Nestled between large, long windows and lacking a mantel, this brick fireplace struggled to stand out.
After: Serene Stone
The new honed-marble fireplace provides subtle elegance to the living room. The tone and texture of marble was carefully selected to match bamboo flooring, natural stone, and maple built-ins seen throughout the home. This repetition of color and clean-lined materials gives the home a consistent, peaceful flow.

Before: Stuck in the '80s
In a home filled with vintage character, this fireplace was lost and out of place. The mirrored wall above and the brass fireplace look like they belonged in the 1980s. Also, a long oak shelf gave the area a low-slung, horizontal look.After: Vintage Appeal
The fresh fireplace area -- complete with built-in bookcases, trim, and an arched soffit -- give the room a been-there-forever look and feel to match the rest of the home. The old wood-burning fireplace was replaced with a convenient, energy-saving gas unit. Simple decorative moldings create the stately mantel and surround.

Before: Dark and Dominating
This rustic faux-stone fireplace was undoubtedly handsome. However, it was completely out of scale with the room because it towered uninterrupted from the floor to the ceiling.
After: Light and Cheerful
Instead of replacing the massive fireplace, the concrete stones were professionally cleaned and etched to lighten the color. With the lighter facade, the fireplace no longer dominates the room but instead sets the tone for a more cheerful family room. A wood mantel -- fashioned from an old decorative ceiling beam -- provides the perfect accent for the rustic surround.
Before: Much Too Busy
This fireplace didn't quite fit in with the rest of the living room. The many colors and designs of brick made the facade look busy and behind the times.
After: Simple yet Chic
The updated living room features clean, contemporary style. Because the fireplace and mantel were in good condition, all they needed was a fresh coat of white paint to blend with the style of the room. The brick on the fireplace provides subtle texture to the otherwise white room and furnishings.
Before: Full of Potential
This fireplace had only one fault: it was too plain. Luckily for the homeowners, it was in great condition and in working order so they wouldn't have to put much time or money into the makeover.
After: Focal Point-Worthy
Simple decorative moldings -- purchased from a home center -- create an elegant mantel and surround that complements the oversize, handsome brick hearth. The mantel and surround were painted white to brighten and bring the focus back to the fireplace.
Before: Dreary Facade
Dark red brick, a black-screen firebox, and flanking wood shelves gave this fireplace a dark, dated appearance.After: Fresh Facade
A fresh coat of white paint on the shelves and a coat of subtle beige for the bricks lend this facade fresh, cottage appeal. The former uninspired mantel was replaced with a shapely full-surround composed of crown molding and fluted pilasters. Crackle-finish shutters make for a charming new screen. The flanking shelves also received crown molding and new doors, and the bottom shelves were converted into charming storage benches.
Before: Uninspiring Space
This boring, brand-new family room and fireplace had no built-ins, mantels, or interesting textures to give the room character. As a result, the room felt cold and unfriendly.
After: Full of Character
A new family-friendly character was achieved with warm tones, texture, and built-ins. The Craftsman-style custom hand-fired ceramic tile and squared-off concrete slab hearth for sitting lend much-needed texture, color, and character to the fireplace. Built-in cabinetry -- also made from maple with a dark walnut stain -- flanks the fireplace, housing media equipment, games, fireplace accessories, and more.
Before: Basic, Boring Design
This square living room and uninspired fireplace lacked architectural interest and design pizzazz.
After: Charming, Classic Design
The now-striking fireplace surround boasts beautifully carved, white-painted moldings that frame the dark-painted fireplace bricks. The fireplace, perfectly proportioned crown moldings, white oak flooring, and a fresh, calming color palette fill the living room with charming, Cape Cod style.
Before: Lackluster Performance
With no mantel, texture, and too small scale, this fireplace doesn't command attention or contribute any design interest to the space.
After: Stunning in Slate
A new, taller surround made of rugged slate pairs with a white-painted wood surround that allows the texture and color of the slate to stand out. The updated fireplace also brings a warm, cozy look and feel to the soaring sitting area.

Check out this Better Homes & Garden Video for more inspiration.