Get your hearth looking like new before the chill sets in for the winter.
A cozy fire on a cold night is a delight. Nights by that old fireplace practically scream for a glass of Cabernet and your favorite iTunes collection. Or you’re more about dinner parties and family holidays in front of the hearth. But before you go at old bricks with a paint roller and some white semi-gloss, consider a few of these options.
Glass doors: Unlike a gas fireplace, which can be switched off, the only way to leave a wood fire is closed off with glass doors. Retrofitting this safety feature to an existing fireplace isn’t difficult. The doors come in standard sizes that fit in any flat firebox opening.
Mortar in the Firebox: After years of searing-hot blazes, fireplace mortar can crack, crumble, and fall out. Gaping mortar joints are not only unattractive, they leave the bricks more vulnerable to damage. So before wood-burning season starts, examine the condition of the mortar in the firebox and take an hour or two and replace any that has deteriorated.
Mantel rejuvenation: The stockings are hung by the chimney, but who cares? That mantel they’re strung from is tired and unattractive. Its boring profile may have looked pretty festive for holidays past, but we all know that sagging shelf’s barely fit to foot a mug of eggnog. The chimney is permanent, but the mantel’s just a front. A new mantel design will renew the look of your fireplace as well as spiff up your living room.
New tile or stone: Installing new tile or stone around your fireplace surrounding isn’t a quickie makeover. But it’s well worth the effort. As a focal point, a fireplace can set the tone for the whole style of a room. Rough brick can pull a rustic space together, while smooth glass can be used to set a modern tone.
Below is one of our before and after designs—sure to create an eye-catching centerpiece in any environment.
Chipped bricks, a stained hearth, and years of accumulated soot can turn what should be the focal point of a living room into an eyesore. Replacing a hearth and surround—either with seamless tone slabs or with ceramic or stone tiles—makes a big difference in the way a fireplace looks.
There’s only one thing better than a roaring fire on a wintry night: a roaring fire that needs no tending, requires minimal cleanup, and doesn’t leave the rest of the house freezing cold. That’s what you get with today’s gas fireplaces.
Long gone are the anemic blue flames and unconvincing “logs.” Modern versions burn much more clean and realistically, with glowing red embers and tall orange-yellow flames that dance and flicker around ceramic-fiber logs molded from the real thing.
Fireplaces rank among the top three features desired by new homebuyers.
Unfortunately, fireplaces are also major air gaps—they can send up to 8 percent of valuable furnace-heated air flying out the chimney, making them really fun to look at but inefficient as heating sources.
Here’s the good news: You can transform your firebox into an efficient room heater by adding an insert.
A fireplace should steal the show in a living room, not drag it down.