March 25, 2020

Style Solutions: Awkward & Outdated Fireplaces

A new Style Solutions post for you today! Perhaps staying home is making you notice some little things that drive you crazy about your house? If so, email your problem to to be considered for the next installment! Today we’re talking about outdated, awkward fireplace mantels. It’s amazing how wrong these can go, and hard to imagine just WHAT builders were thinking sometimes!  There were a bunch different ones, so I chose a few examples to discuss!

These two fireplaces are almost identical in their bizarre separation of trim around the fireplace and floating mantel! To fix something like this, you could try to add some millwork in between to connect the two pieces and paint it to match, or you could take everything off and order a new wood mantel and surround, which aren’t very expensive.

Here are two great looking ones- you’ll just need to measure your firebox and brick/stone surround to get the right size.  I like getting unfinished ones so that you can paint to exactly match your trim.

This floating mantel below is TOTALLY the wrong style and material for this application on a pretty, rustic stone wall.

I’d want it to be more of a reclaimed, rough hewn raw wood mantel, ideally with corbels underneath to balance it: more like this one below by W Design.

You can find makers of mantels like these on Etsy! Two options I found below (click images for links):

I’d also add a pair of baskets flanking either side of the fireplace:

This one is tough to fix… it’s just an unattractive cast mantel. There isn’t much you can do to fix this without getting rid of it. That said, I do have suggestions for replacement options for something like this…

You’d want to get a cast stone mantel that would sit on top of the already raised hearth. In an ideal world, I’d make this raised hearth deeper (it looks a little oddly shallow here).  Here are two great example of more classic looking styles.

Lastly, this one is more about dealing with an entire dated fireplace wall. To update this space I’d replace the fireplace surround with a remnant of honed marble (Carrara, Danby or similar). You could either leave the fireplace doors, replace them with new custom doors or a freestanding screen with a more modern look.

To avoid redoing the cabinetry I’d remove this center rolling panel on this section shown here, and paint all the cabinetry white to match the trim. Since the cabinets sit on top of the counter, the easiest remedy would be to replace the tile instead of trying to put in a new countertop. A patterned porcelain “cement look” would look interesting and be durable. Then I’d do the backsplash in a separate tile and replace the knobs with some classic matte brass pulls.

Here’s a roundup of materials:

backsplash // counter tile // screen // knobs

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