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Ugly fireplace - what to do??
clarissa7877
February 22, 2013 in Design Dilemma
I want to reface our "rock climbing" fireplace. Ever since we bought the house, I've wanted to reface it, but there were other projects that needed to be attended to first. So, now that I got the go ahead, I'm not quite sure what I want to do with it. It's so massive. Should we choose something more contemporary like a limestone or travertine facade, or go more classic by adding sheetrock and a travertine mantle? Ill probably update the drapery afterwards because it dates the room and us (we're a young couple who just moved to the suburbs!). The living room and dining room are one big space. Decor tips greatly appreciated as well! Thank you!!
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Engrav's Decorating
I would sheet rock over the top half of it from the upper windows to the ceiling. Definitely add a mantle and tile the lower half. Limestone or travertine will give it a more rustic look. If you would like less rustic take a look at honed marble.
February 22, 2013 at 6:39pm     
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Jayme H.
I agree with the sheetrock idea, at least on part of it..ideas are for covering ideas..
February 22, 2013 at 6:47pm   
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Keitha
Here is a Sheetrock fireplace with similar ceiling angle to yours. This is probably more traditional than you would want but hopefully it helps to get the idea. (Double click to see the ceiling)
February 22, 2013 at 6:55pm     
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groveraxle
Face it with corten steel:
Fazan Vacation Home
STonehedge Exteriors
Fireplace
Feldman Architecture

Also, if you are going to keep those white plates on the wall in the dining room, please at least group them instead of spreading them out.
February 22, 2013 at 6:57pm     
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groveraxle
February 22, 2013 at 6:59pm     
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libradesigneye
I don't think you know what you have. Bear with me - I've looked closely at your gorgeous room and think you are missing what this does for your space.

Go pin a lot of rooms with fireplaces and look at them for all the different details I reference here before you make some decisions - this is an amazingly gorgeous fireplace scaled well to the size of the room using REAL stone in proportion.

The bones of your room (ceiling angles, window profiles) are somewhat contemporary, and the stone now makes it work a with your transitional decor without your room being cold or stuffy, which is what your drywall / travertine mantle/surround option will shift it to. The lines of your furniture and the lines in your windows are not that traditional and the juxtaposition makes them pop where a travertine stone (mcmansion builders hearth) won't. Facing this with stone tiles in a contemporary pattern will work for the bones of the room, but will only make it less expensive looking and be more trendy/ out of date sooner. If you LOVED a really contemporary look, this would work - but I see your chandeliers and dining chairs and they are definitely more traditional / transitional. You can get some large horizontal stone tiles and have a stacked grid with grout lines if you decide to go that modern, but at this height, and scale, it will feel colder, since most of the stone tiles you would choose from don't have this warmth. I'm not sure you would love that either.

Real stone, like your fireplace, is rarely affordable/ used anymore. Some people buy it in veneer depths now, but never in the full depth you've got. It lasts forever, this one is at the perfect scale for the wall chimney, and has amazing neutral camels and grays that are impossible to find in the cultured fake stuff most builders use / they sell these days. Isn't this on the chimney outside your home too, so it has authenticity? I understand you looked and thought it was probably outdated, but this one really isn't - it is a classic stone profile and just gorgeous.

It is the warmth in your room! It counterpoints beautifully off the furnishings and art (wowsa - you have great things) that you have in the room. It isn't the stone that should bother you, but the insert in the chimney - you have a much taller/ more grand chimney opening that at its real scale will wow you.

Spend your money there, get that updated by a custom metalworker so you can enjoy the scale of the masonry opening that you really have - it looks like they cut it down to match a silly std door. Ask for a raw steel finish to echo your grays and later, if you still want more traditional elements, add a modern floating mantel made of wirebrushed timber finished and distressed in gray driftwood tones that complement the stone.

The scale of your stone chimney also offers the rare opportunity for a fabulous overscale modern art canvas on the upper chimney (especially without a mantle) to echo the contemporary chic you have going. Try that before you spring for a mantle - something gorgeous that you LOVE - and you'll see this backdrop differently I think as it will provide the frame for it. Maybe change the drapery to platinum banded trimmed camel velvet on grommets to layer the textural story you've begun with the shimmering chaise and celebrate the warmth of the floor and stone.

For the $ it would take to change the masonry, you can have a huge piece of new art, new draperies and a wonderful custom metalwork / glass hearth look. Those will do more for your room than any other changes, and may be bothering you more anyway.
February 22, 2013 at 7:07pm     
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CMR Interiors & Design Consultations Inc.
You can faux paint stone-we had to paint this limestone fireplace because the limestone came in an ugly color......I'd tone it down to a range of grays-more monochromatic.
February 22, 2013 at 7:08pm     
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Pamela Bateman Garden Design
OK. I am not an interior designer but this fireplace caught my eye. The first thing I thought is 'This fireplace isn't 'ugly'. I couldn't agree more with libradesigneye. I hope you change your mind and try to work with this great looking fireplace.
February 22, 2013 at 8:01pm     
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Ironwood Builders
I have to agree with libradesigneye. I'm a nuts and bolts poster...but hey, I have opinions too! Some thoughts about the firebox. It looks like a Heatilator. A gravity flow or fan forced metal firebox with vents to allow air to heat and get sent out into the room. The firebox probably wont get any bigger, but re-doing the front with groveraxle's Corten steel idea will (the vents can be eliminated). The other thing I noticed is that the mortar of your fireplace is very dark. One option to spend less and get good results is to grind out the existing mortar and go with a buff tone instead. Lightens the overall look of the stone work.

If you are dead set on covering it or tearing it out, I've seen good things done with a plywood rectilinear panel design. [houzz=Soho Loft][houzz=Cedar Park Residence 08]
February 22, 2013 at 8:24pm     
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bevballew
I like the fp also. It is gorgeous. Maybe change the grout color. It looks black and maybe a light color will soften it a bit. It is a classic. Go the ski lodges, aspen, etc., high class lodges, and I bet you will see these types of fp. If you change, you have been given contemporary ones.
February 22, 2013 at 8:46pm     
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bevballew
Drapes look nice also. Not sure about color, though.
February 22, 2013 at 8:47pm     
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hockey456
I agree with libradesigneye. Don't demo that beautiful, classic fireplace!!! Spend the money on a design consult and design a transitional room around it!!
February 22, 2013 at 9:09pm     
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hockey456
Found this lovely photo

February 22, 2013 at 9:12pm     
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kathleen MK
I think the warm earth tones from the stone needs to be pulled into the furnishing and accessories to tie the room together. Replace the formal white plates with hand thrown stoneware in a shino glaze or some raku. A large tall painting or tapistry could cover a lot of the irregular stone pattern. Your furnishing are more cool tones and formal which make the warm and free form stone stick out. subtle warmer colors instead of the greys could tie them together more. Redecorating would be easier than stone work.
February 22, 2013 at 9:29pm     
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meanders8
I love the fireplace....you could always have a wash put over it if you want to have it a little "aged" looking.
February 22, 2013 at 9:39pm     
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Mary Poulos Interior and Exterior Design
I agree with Ironwood Builders and everyone else that said they felt you need to keep this beautiful fireplace. If you grind out the grout and regrout with a buff finish, you will be imazed at the amazing fireplace you will have. Ans then as some others have said pull the warm colors into your interior. Find a rug from someplace like Pottery Barn with all these fabulous colors and then use that as your color palette. You will have something really special.

Add the mantel as in the picture by Huestis Tucker
February 22, 2013 at 10:15pm     
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libradesigneye
I do also admire the contemporary options shown here too, but I'm now intrigued by those who could see it was the dark grout that made this a bit too puzzle like. I can see how pale camel grout would let the stone shine and not emphasize the puzzle lines around the stones. Thanks for pointing that out!
February 23, 2013 at 1:51am     
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88mdovey
Your fireplace is gorgeous! As others have mentioned, it is a diamond in the rough. It certainly needs a chunky wood mantel and a large picture above it. The picture will have to be large so that it doesn't appear like a postage stamp on the fireplace. Then your eye is drawn to the mantel and objects on that, and the image above. Right now all you see is stone. Good luck!
February 23, 2013 at 5:31am     
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Jayme H.
Yes, everyone seems to like it..maybe a new surround and mantle would do the trick?
February 23, 2013 at 5:43am     
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soberg
I'd like to see limestone.
February 23, 2013 at 5:57am   
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bookwench
I think you should definitely keep the stone! When I first was exploring remodeling my house, one of the designers I interviewed said, "you're going to re-face that fireplace, right?" Wrong! I kept the stones to tie the house back to its 1960s origins. This is what it looks like now.
February 23, 2013 at 8:04am     
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Jayme H.
bookwench...Your light grout makes such a difference!
February 23, 2013 at 8:22am     
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Dar Eckert
I see your fireplace opening framed out with a wide band of metal around the opening about six inches or more. Thinking that stainless steel or copper would be lovely. Stainless steel would give a more modern feel and copper more rustic. Tie this in with the rest of the fireplace by wrapping the base of the hearth with the same material.Stainless Steel Fireplace and modularArts wall
STonehedge Exteriors
William Hefner Architecture Interiors & Landscape

Another option is the black fireplace surround that runs the width of the bottom of the fireplace. Probably remove the stone hearth in this case.
Private Residence 2
February 23, 2013 at 8:32am   
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clarissa7877
Bookwench, did you change the grout or add a faux finish to the stone? I think a lot of the recommendations are true. I don't think I'd hate it as much if there was less contrast between stone and grout.

Also I think adding warmer toned accessories would help as well. Thank you all for all the suggestions!
February 24, 2013 at 5:49am     
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bdennison
I agree...love the stone, change the grout, maybe add a mantle. This is our fireplace. It goes all the way to the ceiling, that is a beam in the picture. The mason used a matching grout and we love it. What a fantastic room you have
February 24, 2013 at 6:25am     
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lisacabinetree
I know it's all personal but I love this fireplace! What a statement. Possibly it's the room color that's the problem.

A much darker neutral paint color on the walls ( pull one out of the stone itself ) will create a more uniform space! On that vaulted ceiling too!
February 24, 2013 at 8:10am     
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Maryl Hershelman
When one has a beautiful painting; one decorates around the art...not the other way around. Why would you buy a house with such an obvious centerpiece if you hated it? Were the furnishing bought for a Manhattan penthouse? The painting is great with the room...rethink the rest.
February 24, 2013 at 8:28am     
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poorgirl
I love your fireplace, I would suggest before you do anything with the grout, clean it. If the stone was never sealed it probably needs a good cleaning. I know it will take elbow work but wash the stone and take a wire brush to the grout, it may lighten up for you without having to regrout. There are plenty of restoration companies that sell high strenght stone cleaners if you don't want to hire them to do the job.
Unfortunately I don't think you can test a spot with out it being noticed.
I also think a large unique mantel would do the trick.
February 24, 2013 at 9:16am     
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smalley
Hello, we have the exact same fireplace, so I'm loving this discussion!

When we first bought our 1981 house 3 yrs ago I was certain I would replace the stone; however, I've grown to really like it. I don't love it yet, but hopefully I can be convinced. I do love the rustic texture it brings to the room. I never thought about changing the grout color, but I will now. I also like the idea of adding a timber mantle and raw steel fireplace insert.

I have been searching for ideas using the terms "lava rock," but I just recently discovered our fireplace is covered with California Drift Stone. Knowing it's NOT technically lava rock has already increased its appeal for me.

I do love the height of your fireplace and can't wait to see what you decide. As you can see, mine isn't as tall as yours but it wraps itself around the sunken room. I plan on starting my own discussion thread to ask for help with paint colors and window coverings. The room is currently Dunn Edwards Najavo White, which was painted by the previous owner.

Cheers!
February 25, 2013 at 3:11pm     
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Louis Pardoe
Add a mantle, Reface the bottom section and drywall the top
February 25, 2013 at 3:33pm     
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Louis Pardoe
$ 1350 in labor, materials extra... (416) 825-8510
February 25, 2013 at 3:38pm   
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Oak-Land Custom Fireplaces, Inc.
I would suggest taking down the rock, make wall flat and flush with the rest of the room and do a simple natural tile and mantel cap, this is usual-day-at-the-office stuff for us. Just make sure whoever does the work KNOWS fireplaces...lots of tile guys do fireplaces, but don't know what they are doing....when you take off the rock, your smoke shelf will have to be poured back.
February 25, 2013 at 3:51pm   
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cindz123
I love this fireplace...it's the rest of the room that doesn't work...and i would take out the front cover and leave only stone. Hope you don't cover it up. Beautiful.
February 25, 2013 at 4:21pm     
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Jim Thompson
The fireplace reminds me of the Edris house in Palm Springs For less money and more impact you could redesign the room around the fireplace. Perhaps some dark wood smooth paneling? Keep the fireplace maybe change out the heating unit. It's a potential 20th century classic.
February 27, 2013 at 6:29am     
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House of Rocks
I'd have to agree. I thought the fireplace was very nice looking. With all of the fake stone out there these days, you really have something real and very unique that will add value to your home in the future. I'd think very long and hard before changing something so natural and unique.
Like others posted, you would have to change the furniture to fit the fireplace which you may not like. Darker furniture blended with light wood furniture would really give it a lodge feel. I can't tell if it has been done but there are also various sealers you can put on the stone to bring out the colors and give it that "wet" look which may help as well.
February 27, 2013 at 11:48am     
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clarissa7877
Thank you for all the feedback! I think I've been persuaded to keep the fireplace with some updates -new mortar, add chunky mantle, new firebox. (And maybe new paint!)

Also, I know the furniture doesn't mesh well with the rustic stone. I think I had 2 thoughts when originally decorating - 1) fireplace was going to eventually be updated 2) having grown up suburban/country furniture (which ended up being too formal, traditional and stodgy...basically a hot mess!).

So, I know the room needs to be edited and warmer tones added back to the room with maybe a few mid century pieces or worn leather. A mix of old and new. I'll be sure to post updates, and maybe get feedback as I edit the furniture in the room.
February 27, 2013 at 1:49pm     
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clarissa7877
One more question- I am really inspired by the photo hockey456 attached. Do you think beadboard or paneled ceilings would work in the room?
February 27, 2013 at 1:58pm     
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ashtonchic
We had a fireplace wall like yours that totally dominated our living room. We ripped it out (it was faux stone) and replaced it with a granite front that was appropriately sized to the firebox and sheet rocked the rest. We had a wood surround about 4 inches wide made to go up the sides and tie in to a mantle. We designed it ourselves and it fits perfectly. Lots of work, but well worth it.
February 27, 2013 at 2:05pm   
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Greg Drabik
a large peice of art on it
February 27, 2013 at 2:10pm   
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libradesigneye
They actually make a product for the ceiling to resemble wood plank - bigger than beadboard scale / ceiling scale. That would be amazing on your ceiling in white or warm wood running with the rake / slope. One note for you and smalley - there are different profiles of grout too - overgrouting brings the grout out to the face of the stone and is what the good regrouted mantle above has. Smalley might like her stone more if she had more grout depth too.
February 27, 2013 at 2:14pm   
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Jim Thompson
Awesome idea to keep it. More sustainable. Drywall or gyproc is toxic in the waste stream. A solid stone fireplace like that today would cost 10's of thousands 0f $s. likely it will be all the rage in a few years.
February 27, 2013 at 2:17pm     
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patinthehat
Just my humble opinion, but I really love your FPL ! It has so much style, almost like an original piece of art. My grandfather was a stone mason, so maybe i inherited his love of stone. Our homes are such intimate personal spaces, though..... YOU need to love it. If you DO decide to make it go away, perhaps find a place that takes or buys Salvaged materials from homes, and see if someone else might want it?? Best of luck in whatever you decide - life is too short to hate what you see daily. :)
February 27, 2013 at 2:18pm     
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bevballew
If you decide you really don't want it I would do something to cover it so the next homeowner may want it and all that would be needed is to remove what you use to cover it.
February 27, 2013 at 6:09pm   
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bookwench
We didn't do anything to our rocks except give it a good scrubbing. However, we did cover up the rough hearth with a concrete-like plaster skim. I really like the "unfinished" quality of the plaster. Also, we took out the ugly mesh screen. Inside the firebox, we had a plumber run a perforated pipe and filled the bottom with fireplace glass. It's now just flames coming out of black glass--very neat looking.
February 27, 2013 at 9:30pm     
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HERE Design and Architecture
It is a very large fireplace with some nice stone - maybe a little large for the room - but I think that if you simplify it just a little you might be happier with it. I would replace the tiles that are immediately above and below the firebox with a dark grey matte finish material - could be stucco or stone - and then replace the hearth surface with a similar dark grey matte finish. I used 2x2 concrete pavers for a hearth and it worked well. Then I would hang a large painting there - like a Franz Klein - to break the scale down a little and relate it back to your highly finished furnishings.
February 27, 2013 at 10:04pm   
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bevballew
I say put artwork and maybe a mantle, at least for now. You may end up loving it and not regret changing. It is too beautiful to just discard. Go thru houzz and see the beautiful rooms with your style of,fp. Stunning!
February 28, 2013 at 5:53am     
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Brown Bros. Masonry
Tall, beautiful fireplaces can add so much depth and character to a room. Perhaps a mantle might be what's lacking...but a change in the stone color may help you love your fireplace even more. I definitely feel you need a mantle, possibly a wide beam style. And maybe a softer color of stone or a smoother finish. There is such a variety, especially with natural stone.
March 1, 2013 at 2:25pm   
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Brown Bros. Masonry
one more with grey colored stone...look beyond the ugly, red plastic flooring protector.
March 1, 2013 at 2:27pm   
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Connie
I think that the windows either side at ground level, should be closed in/ made smaller. they are competing too much, and makes it busy. I can imagine it with walls either side, and bookshelves or couch pulled up in the front. It needs a solid wall around it to "ground" it into the room, if that makes sense - sort of looks like its floating, or about to topple over, because its so big/beautiful. But you porobably have a great view? Definately a big chunky mantle, and a picture or mirror (not the moose head, please)
March 1, 2013 at 2:49pm   
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Emerson Brothers, LLC. Home Remodeling
I agree with the Sheetrock idea. I would add glass mosaics on the lower half under a large modern style mantle.
March 1, 2013 at 4:51pm   
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janowins
Don't you dare cover that up!! Look at what it adds to the space. It's beautiful. Give it a gorgeous mantle and put shutters on your windows instead of the drapes and I think you'll be off to a great start!
March 1, 2013 at 6:21pm     
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fbal
Go for earthy paint scheme, I'd even go as far as add to the "stone" look of the room by getting some of these amazing pebble cushions, I they even exist in super oversized version for a greater visual impact
March 1, 2013 at 9:25pm     
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Matt Patterson Custom Homes
I skin fireplaces I dislike with slab granite or marble, slate, limestone or travertine.
March 1, 2013 at 10:08pm   
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That Creative Feeling by Dina
Wow I think you have an awesome stone fireplace you just need to link it to the rest of the room. Your daybed looks great too. Maybe consider a mantel and large mirror to break the stone up a bit. And then pick a rich dark tone from the stone and paint the dining room wall so the room balances.
March 1, 2013 at 10:19pm     
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Caitlin Crosse
Personally, I would install a larger fireplace and that's it.
March 1, 2013 at 11:37pm   
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sgurfein
Or you can try framing the bottom and keeping the upper part of the fireplace open....
March 2, 2013 at 5:56pm   
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Hayley French
I love it ... It is beautiful . Do a bit of research around the mantle but don't get rid of the rock. I agree with others change the rest of the room. Keep us posted as to it's fate
March 2, 2013 at 6:12pm   
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Creative decor
I like the fireplace, just need to update it with a sleek mantle and I agree with a lighter grout color.
I would lose the curtains and the black screen, possibly change heating unit and maybe resurface
the hearth with a smooth solid stone. I like the photo hockey456 sent to you that look would look very nice with your furniture as well.
March 2, 2013 at 6:48pm     
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chrisclay
The craftsmanship is excellent, but the grout color is distracting. Not a fun job to grind out and replace mortar but worthwhile. A mantle or work of art to break up the expanse might also work. Check out work by one of the absolute masters of the trade, Lew French, for ideas.
March 2, 2013 at 6:51pm   
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bbw678
I am so glad I read this post Now I am going to keep my stone fireplace..the front is in the den the back in the dining room...Love the idea of changing the grout.. I am in the beginning stages of Remodeling the room ....I will use natural colors I even have it on my front door
March 2, 2013 at 8:18pm     
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bevballew
Glad to hear!
March 3, 2013 at 7:28am   
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mariaguas
I have the same lava fireplace. I painted it and now love my kitchen.
July 7, 2014 at 10:37am     
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smalley
Mariaguas, what an improvement! I think opting to paint it really works for the size of your fireplace. What kind of paint did you use? Did you paint the grout lines a different color? Thanks
July 7, 2014 at 12:30pm     
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diyher
smalley, there was no after photo posted, just a before
July 7, 2014 at 1:00pm   
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partim
My 1974 fireplace was large granite stones. Took them all out and used them to build a small but beautiful low rock wall in our sloping back yard. What was dated in our family room is gorgeous in the backyard.

I don't think that just because it's a natural item (stone, wood etc.) that it is beautiful in all uses.
July 7, 2014 at 1:12pm     
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mariaguas
Smalley, thank you very much for your comment. It took bravery to paint rock because you know you cannot go back. I used a white wash first to see if I liked it and to help seal the stone, then went back over it after the first coat dried (next day). Paint is satin not gloss and there was no grout. The fireplace still shows texture and is a neutral color for whenever I might decide to redecorate my kitchen. Love Houzz.
July 7, 2014 at 2:57pm     
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partim
Just came across this interesting photo which has an orange-toned stone. Still I think yours is even more orange than this. The photos that were posted above mostly have much more neutral stone.

Before making the decision to work around the stone, find some pictures that use stone this color, to see if you like the end result. You may end up spending dollars and effort but still not end up liking it. Replacing the grout has to be pricey.
Interiors
Betsy
July 7, 2014 at 6:36pm   
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homedepotgirl
Did you ever do anything with your fireplace? I have the same ugly fireplace, and I started working on it yesterday. I realize some people love rock fireplaces, but I think a lot depends on the rock itself and the room itself. Some of the fireplaces look great because the rock is a little more organized, better patterned, and the room is rustic or light and airy. For my home, the fireplace just seems overbearing and outdated, so I've begun covering it.
last Friday at 10:56am   
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clarissa7877
We actually had it taken down. I had a couple of masons take a look at the fireplace and they told me it was faux stone which made me feel less guilty of getting rid of it. I used this image for inspiration. http://thelittlecorner.tumblr.com/post/30095757254
last Friday at 4:35pm     
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homedepotgirl
Wow...great job! I think our fireplace is fake stone as well. I took a hammer to a few pieces that jutted out a little, making it difficult to cover with wood and they seemed to be made of concrete, not stone.
last Friday at 8:11pm   
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homedepotgirl
What kind of stone did you use for the hearth?
last Friday at 8:13pm   
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clarissa7877
The hearth is limestone. Good luck with your project!
last Saturday at 4:51am     
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cthoyt
Love the stone and would not put a hearth for a contemporary look. Instead get a large piece of art and decorate in tones matching the fireplace. If you wanted to mute the colors of the stone you could glaze it with an oil glaze but proceed carefully. Would also darken the walls.
last Saturday at 6:48am   
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