Fireplace renovation, stage one: research and planning

Another big part of the living room renovation is the fireplace redo. Right now it is bland, boring and what a hundred other houses in this area sport – a flat face with large tile surround and a simple painted white, mantle.

Fireplace (before)

Goal: to make it a standout classic for under $1,000. This cosmetic fireplace renovation will include: new vintage wood mantle, stone facade, new floor hearth apron of stone, and new glass doors.

Before you begin any fireplace reno you need to know what kind of physical condition and type your fireplace is. Our fireplace is gas with an external control turnkey and a chimney with a vent door that can be opened/closed. It is a natural-vent fireplace, not direct-vent.  Our changes will be cosmetic in nature as the fireplace doesn’t have any repair issues to deal with.

Next, I started collecting a bunch of pins on my Pinterest board for ideas to compare looks. I love stone fireplaces that look like they belong in a cabin (like these photos taken during one of our vacation getaways)!


second stone fireplace

From this fact-finding I knew a couple of things: I wanted the stone to go from floor to ceiling, have a chunky vintage wood beam mantel, use a larger chunky stone that gave more of a cabin “real” fireplace feel to it, and have visual depth to the fireplace facade.

Some of my favorites featured a fireplace profile that had different profile depths (such as here and especially this one):



The tentative plan:


There are plenty of blog posts about how to use stone veneer to redo your fireplace (see my fireplace Pinterest board for links). I decided not to go with this specific product (Airstone) because 1.) I didn’t like the color; 2.) didn’t like the way the stone stacked; and 3.) had read that the boxes have a lot of breakage and waste in them (which I didn’t want to hassle with).

The disadvantage of stone is that it is heavy, needs specialty tools to cut and can be expensive. The cost can be comparable though as veneer is not cheap and in some areas of the U.S. stone can be cheaper. Stone also takes some knowledge of how to stack and support it when you are running your course (layers).

However, a handy-person with a bit of research should be able to do it; it’s not rocket science. We have experience laying tile on the floor and as a backsplash so this work is similar.

In the end we decided to go with a stone-like product made from concrete, combining two patterns (the Ledgestone and the Hackett) and the finish was Fireside. Be sure to take your plan into the company you will be using (if this is the option you pick) as they will need to know how many corner, wrap around stones (“edge pieces”) to make.

The concrete faux-stone cost ended up being around $380 but we had it delivered for an additional fee (another $119) as we were too busy running about this month to haul it.

We bought the mantel, an old barn beam from off a guy who buys/sells this type of lumber via Craigslist. That was another $60, which was cheaper then I was expecting!

We also needed other items for the project: such as masonry blade for our circular saw to trim the blocks, 2 bags of mortar, wire screening, some plywood and 2x4s to build out the facade, electrical boxes and two sconces ($200). We already had a circular saw, masonry trowel and a mixing bucket.

Progress photos coming next 😀