By Kathryn Weber

Faced with stone, a simple mantle and contrasting paint makes this fireplace a beautiful focal point in the room

Faced with stone, a simple mantle and contrasting paint makes this fireplace a beautiful focal point in the room.

A coat of paint and new furniture can give your living room some much-needed freshness. But if the fireplace is stuck in a time warp, it can leave the whole room feeling dated. That's because a fireplace is designed to be a focal point, and when it's not up to snuff it can be a real design detractor. If you have some simple DIY skills, however, you can revamp the look of your fireplace and thereby upgrade the whole living room.

Below are three common fireplace problems and some solutions to lift your fireplace out its design rut.

The dreaded brick and brass

Problem: A wall of brick with a brass insert. Thirty or forty years ago, fireplaces were little more than a hole in a solid wall of brick. These fireplaces often appear lost in all that brick and they lack prominence in the room. The fireplace is undefined and the brass insert adds to the dated look.

Solution: Put the fireplace in its rightful position as the focal point in the room. Start by removing the fireplace insert. Next, outline the fireplace architecturally. This can be done by adding a mantle and surround to break up the wall of brick, making it the clear and defined focal point in the room.

Teeny-tiny mantle

Problem: A mantle that's too small and doesn't command attention. Many times a fireplace looks dated because the mantle or fireplace surround trim is undersized. A fireplace is always going to be the focal point, but when that focal point is undersized, it seems insignificant and can make the rest of the room feel out of balance.

Solution: Take down the small trim or dinky mantle and replace with larger materials. One option is to create a fireplace accent wall. This wall is a little wider than the width of the fireplace and can go up to the ceiling, and it looks great covered with tile or stone facing. Using mosaic tile sheets is fast and easy and looks current. One more option is to frame up a box on the fireplace wall to pull the fireplace out into the room. This can also be covered with tile or stone and topped with a mantle or run up to the ceiling. Using a contrasting color of paint next to the wall will make it look even more prominent.

No mantle at all

Problem: No mantle over the fireplace. Without a mantle, the fireplace looks lost and unfinished. A mantle highlights a fireplace, much like a frame makes a painting look complete when it's hung on a wall, and makes the room look balanced.

Solution: Try a ready-made shelf from a decorating store as a mantle if the wall and fireplace are both small. A prefabricated shelf is inexpensive and gives you a spot for artwork and accessories and calls attention to the fireplace. Another option is to purchase a fireplace mantle and surround at a DIY center or make it from stock materials and mouldings for a custom look.

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Copyright © Kathryn Weber, Living Space. All rights reserved.





Home & Garden - Makeover Solutions for Problem Fireplaces