Four Ways to Transform an Old Fireplace

By Liza Riguerra

When it comes to old or unused fireplaces, there are a variety of options that will transform the space from an eyesore to a treasured focal point.

In this traditional Noe Valley home in San Francisco, we transformed the living room by dressing the inside of the fireplace with birch logs and replacing the mantel with a more distinctive one. This low-profile fireplace now makes a statement as a beautiful central feature of the room. More photos of this timeless and elegant home can be found on www.riguerradesign.com.

From the easiest to the most labor intensive, here are four ways you can give your fireplace, and thus the entire room, a brand new look.

  1. Dress the inside. The easiest way to give your fireplace a facelift is to simply liven-up the empty inside space. If you don’t use your fireplace for heating or ambiance, adding a pile of logs, a plant, or a piece of art such as a sculpture can immediately make the space look more finished.
  2. Paint it. It sounds so simple, yet the effects can be astonishing. A coat of paint can freshen up the whole area, breathing new life into a room. Whether you choose a subtle, neutral tone or a vibrant hue to make the area stand out, this effective method will immediately make the fireplace come to life.
  3. Replace the mantel and/or the surrounding tile. While adding an inside feature or a coat of paint may be the easiest methods of updating an old fireplace, replacing the mantel or tile are two of the most effective ways to create a standout look. John Hammerschmidt agrees that re-facing a tired fireplace can make the whole room feel fresh and current. “Try a new mantle, a tile surround or even tile all the way to the ceiling,” he says. Look for a ready-made mantel or have one custom made to suit your unique taste. Either way, a new mantel or tile surround can create a dramatic, lasting change.
  4. Remodel. Maybe you bought a house with a fireplace in the corner, but would prefer to have your entertainment center occupy that space. Or, perhaps you didn’t want a fireplace at all. If this is the case, you can move the fireplace to another area in the room or another room in the house, or remove the fireplace entirely. According to John, “Some people remove the existing wood-burning fireplace altogether because they want to reclaim the space that a brick and mortar fireplace takes up, or they want features that a standard fireplace can’t provide; energy efficiency, lower maintenance, air cleanliness, linearity, remote control, or a see-through option that shares the fireplace between two rooms. While removing a fireplace can be a big job and one that requires the services of a professional, it may be worth the investment to create the look you want for your home.”

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Riguerra Design is an innovative, award-winning design firm that has helped many clients create their dream homes. If you have questions about interior design, our services, or our process, please give us a call at 415.662.8882 or email us at info@riguerradesign.com.

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