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Updating a fireplace - small opening, brick from floor to ceiling covering the wall
November 3, 2012
We are in the process of purchasing a terrific fixer-upper with some great bones. The large living room has a high ceiling with beams, a floor-to-ceiling window at one end and a fireplace at the other.

I've attached a small, poorly lit picture from the listing (sorry!) that shows the fireplace end. We like the idea of the fireplace, but want to update the look. The opening is small and round, and the brick covers most of the wall all the way to the ceiling.

We were thinking maybe enlarge the opening and make it rectangular, but we're not sure what to do with the brick. We've seen other walls like this where the brick (or stone) is a much narrower strip of the wall, which looks more clean and contemporary.

We'll be painting and replacing the carpet with hardwoods, so there will be other updates here, but we're scratching our head with the fireplace.

Any recommendations or photos of similar projects would be appreciated!
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I wonder if the fireplace situation is being made worse by the dark walls. What is your plans for them? I agree that the firebox is plenty small, but it may make a big hole in your wallet to change it. Not feeling the whimpy hearth either. Is there anything interesting under the carpet?

My to-do list: check under carpet for hardwood. Consider painting the walls a lighter color. Consider painting the ceiling rafters. Take down the mantle. Paint the brick wall. Tear out the hearth and install a piece of stone or marble flush with the floor and the width of the brick wall. Take your fire-box down to the floor level, then decide how much width it needs to balance. Not feeling that port-hole window, especially if you want to make your fire-box angular.
    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 3:21PM
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Hi Momsy. Yep we'll be painting walls, ceiling and beams. Likely something very light like a white or light gray. Floors will be hardwoods. The window will be updated at some point but probably not initially.
    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 3:28PM
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HI -- That is a great looking room . I would say that the fireplace does need an update .BUT please don't paint the beams ! Paint the walls and the ceiling the same color but leave the beams . They are the rooms character . I think if you can restyle the fireplace by elongateting the fire box and cladding it in some more modern ledge stone or tiles that would make the room more to your taste. It might be better to remove all the old panelling and then paint the walls and the ceiling all the same . I think if you did the new ledge stone on the fireplace and then maybe do the whole fireplace wall with the stone and don't have a mantel but have a small console cabinet on each side or free standing bookcases . Then have lamps and mirrors etc. for decor. Also remove that block hearth base and have nothing or have a new hearth base built right across that whole area.I prefer nothing.
    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 5:45PM
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Have you thought about white washing the brick and adding a shorter, but beefed up mantle?

Sometimes it is best to live with something for a while before you make changes. That is what I would do with the firebox. I would buy a heftier screen to hdisguise the size of the box until I had made a decision as to the best way to spend my money.

You could evenpaint a piece of plywood black and put it up to see how it would look if the firebox were larger.

You may enjoy seeing this: http://www.infarrantlycreative.net/2012/09/how-to-paint-a-brick-fireplace.html
1 Like    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 5:51PM
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I agree with painting/white washing the brick but that won't make the opening look larger. It is out of scale/proportion. I can see molding around it: either square or rectangle, or curved to match the shape of the opening but either way pretty thick to enlarge the appearance. And maybe set the molding a distance away from the opening.

If you paint the rest of the room all a light color, you could make it modern looking with chrome or steel surround instead of molding. The round window could be treated as a porthole. It would add a bit of whimsy and you wouldn't have to remove it.

Looking at the picture again, I think I'd remove the mantel and put a really big piece of art on the brick. We found vines in the woods that we wound into a huge wreath and put on the stone chimney. Some really funky art would be very edgy especially if you go modern.
    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 7:02PM
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