Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kitchen & Family Room Redesign - Fireplace

This project, the redesign of the fireplace wall in the family room, highlights the importance of approaching a design project with a well thought out plan. Plans can keep you on track, especially if the work is to be done in phases, as you are able, and will keep you on course when surprises occur along the way. There are usually at least a few!

What went wrong here, causing the fireplace mantel and built-ins to have different architectural styles, stain colors and to not even fit together well (leaving an exposed thin strip of drywall between the two), is that the builder did not have a plan. After the home had sat on the market for a few months the builder returned to add additional features in an effort to entice a buyer, including these built-ins. Unfortunately, the result looks like the afterthought it was and actually ended up highlighting the fact that the mantel style did not work with the kitchen cabinetry, a design misstep from the start.

So...all in all a perfect house for me!

The mantel is being replaced with the goal of correcting the issues discussed above and to bring a stronger, more cohesive design to this feature wall. I decided removing the mantel was a job I could take on myself, to help keep the project on budget! It was a bit of work but I got it done without completely destroying the wall behind it...at least nothing a little drywall tape and joint compound couldn't fix.

The surprise, however, was that the tile surround extended less than an inch beyond the interior edge of the mantel, preventing the widening of the mantel using the existing tile. So off came the tile as well...can't say I was too upset. I had wanted to replace this tile from the start (same tile as the original backsplash) but convinced myself to live with it for the sake of the budget. In it's place I have chosen a beautiful dark porcelain tile from Pental, Corten in Black Silver. It is black with brown tones and a silver glaze. It can be found at www.pentalonline.com. Using a dark tile around a dark firebox creates a clean dramatic look. This will help achieve one of the goals for this project which is to add simplicity. Also, in a room which will have light cabinetry and mill work, this dark element will add weight to the space.

Next time...tile installation, a new mantel and the preparation for painting should have begun.


  1. The best thing about this little project was that when my son Max came home from school and saw I'd put a big hole in the wall he cried out...
    From a four year old's perspective he was probably thinking, "if I ever tried something like that..."

  2. It will be gorgeous, I can tell. Great focal point for the room. You're a brave soul!
    peace, cindy

  3. I can't wait to see the reveal. It's going to be beautiful.


  4. I love this post! In a few short words, you've said what I've been trying to say. I can't wait to show my husband. I wish I'd seen this post earlier...it would have saved me time and money.
    We just re-tiled our FP. A week later, I tore out the NEW tile. It was too traditional for my taste. I want something more contemporary/modern to contrast the traditional fireplace mantle. Hubby keeps saying black granite, but I don't want anything with a sheen.
    I'd love if you stopped and give me your opinion! I would GREATLY appreciate it! Lisa



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