Heartwarming hearth reno
This family room had an enviable shell: peaked 12-foot-high ceilings and an open-plan layout adjoining the kitchen. The mantel anchored the room, providing eye-pleasing symmetry – if you could get past the dated decor, that is. “Our goal was to bring the space up to date and create a comfortable area where the family could spend time together,” says Eileen Marshall, colour and design consultant with Home Colours & Decor in Oakville, Ont. With two teenagers in the house, some of that time consists of watching television.
To keep the room clean-lined and fresh, the boys’ prized flat-screen TV is now in a central spot over the floating mantel. Even if one or both parents are in the kitchen while the boys watch a show, there’s still a feeling of family togetherness.
Minimalist mantel “My client hated the existing brick-and-wood mantel,” says Eileen. After drywalling over the brick, a floating mantel was fabricated from MDF. “The moulding used replicates the bookcase trim, tying the wall elements together,” she says.
Improved lighting Besides being outdated, the old lighting drew the eye away from the mantel. Pot lights on dimmers illuminate better, and allow the fireplace to be the star of the show.
Palette pick Para Paints’ Country Home P846-2 emphasizes the feature-wall aspect of the hearth, while Benjamin Moore’s Marble White OC-34 covers the walls, ceiling, built-ins and moulding. The same colours were used in the kitchen, helping to create a seamless bridge between the spaces.
Updated built-ins The bookcases got a makeover with fresh paint, modern satin-nickel hardware and glass shelves. Choose tempered glass for safety, says colour and design consultant Eileen Marshall of Home Colours & Decor in Oakville, Ont.
Healthier home Swapping the old, dust-trapping carpet for elegant hardwood provided a literal breath of fresh air, as did replacing a wood-burning fireplace with a new natural gas model.
Storage Don’t let home electronics detract from the focal point of the room: the mantel. Covered cabinetry hides stereo equipment, an old VCR and assorted chargers behind closed doors.
Fabric People love to gather by the fire. So when choosing an upholstery fabric for sofas and chairs, look for a high durability rating, advises Eileen, which indicates how well it will stand up to everyday wear. “Fifteen thousand double rubs [double rubs being the industry standard rating] would be a good starting point,” she says.
Shelf life Collections displayed on the twin built-ins are kept simple and streamlined. When styling a pair of bookcases on either side of a mantel, step back every so often to survey your progress and ensure your arrangement has balance.
6 options for a hearth you can warm up to
One of these makeover ideas may give your tired fireplace the spark it needs. In all cases, be sure your work is done to code, says Eileen.
1 Paint over existing brick.
2 Cover brick with drywall, then paint.
3 Cover with wood or MDF panelling, then stain.
4 Ditch the mantel altogether and build a cantilevered hearth that doubles as seating.
5 Think tile: oversize, glass, tumbled stone or even metal.
6 Clad the fireplace in natural stone, provided it will be able to support the weight.