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How to modernize your old fireplace

A fireplace can make or break a room. Often old fashioned stone, brick, wood panelled or even new, but inexpensively built fireplaces can be an eyesore, but with just a few decorative changes the fireplace can become the standout feature in the space.

bedroom with fireplace

Warm and cozy

“Most people want to update, adorn and make their fireplace a focal point. The key is picking a style you like that reflects your furniture, whether you want to go traditional, contemporary, classic, Southwest… this will determine how you treat the fireplace,” states interior designer Tracy Kundell of Thornhill, Ontario-based, Avalon Interiors and HGTV and The Food Network’s Restaurant Makeover.

“A quick fix for your fireplace is to paint the mantle and the surround which is easy and inexpensive or you can replace a flimsy brick or wood mantle by covering it with a chunkier wood mantle and adding moulding underneath. If the fireplace has a raised ledge, remove it and resurface the area. There are ready-made wood fireplaces that you can do custom wood work above — then stain both the fireplace and the panel all in the same tone,” explains the interior designer.

To update a floor to ceiling brick fireplace, Kundell suggests mortaring cultured man-made stones right onto the old brick around the fireplace and apply drywall and then paint or add tiles above the mantle. She cautions to keep the drywall away from the hearth opening, using non-combustible materials instead, such as a slab of marble, ceramic tile or slate.

An old wood burning fireplace can be transformed into a gas fireplace easily with an insert or more economically, with gas logs that offer the room ambience without giving off too much heat, perfect for a bedroom or dining room.

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