Devon on January 2nd, 2009

Fireplace BeforeThe house has a working fireplace. Only problem is it is not an “appropriate” style (for us or the house) — just white painted brick/mantel. We wanted to update the fireplace look without harming the bone structure of the original design. The house was built late 1920s, so we wanted to keep with that style — yet, update it with more modern materials. We did some research online for fireplaces from the 20s and then compiled an idea for this fireplace.

Fireplace MDFThe first step was to incase the brick in MDF and to spray paint the inside of the fireplace with high-temperature resistant black enamel paint (it was originally dingy white). We made sure to leave some space in the MDF on the front of the fireplace for the green/blue/gray slate tile. The cost of redoing the fireplace was not going to cost us much. We already had extra MDF from another project. All we needed to purchase was some paint, stain, and the slate tile (which cost around $25).

Fireplace Filler After the liquid nails dried over night and the MDF was securely attached, we attached the molding. Molding adds detail and also hides small imperfections, like non-straight cuts (don’t look at me, blame the saw). Once the molding was attached, we patched all the holes and crevasses with wood filler. Adding the wood filler make the MDF look like one cohesive piece of wood, as if it was built that way.

Fireplace PaintAfter the wood filler dried and was sanded, we painted and stained. As the paint and stain was drying we tiled the front. The tile came in 12″ x 12″ attached sheets with 1/8″ grout line spacing. But became this fireplace was custom, the spacing was off. We had to cut each tile off the sheet and hand place it on the fireplace with 1/4″ grout line spacing. It took a bit of extra time, but worth the final product. Briana, one of my landscape studio peers, came over to hang out and helped us tile. It was one project that was good to have six hands. Because of the larger 1/4″ grout line spacing we needed to use a sanded grout.

Final FireplaceAfter everything was dry, we did touchups and painted above the fireplace a slight metallic gold. It was going to be a green venetian plaster, but with the dark brown fireplace mantel we thought it might look like a tree. The gold is nice because it is like the slight yellow walls, but adds an extra element of sheen and that modern material look we were going for.


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