The Tale of the Double-Sided Fireplace

8:30 AM


I love our house (if you haven't already picked up on that from other posts), but the one thing I am not enamored of is our fireplace surround and mantle.

The fireplace, hearth, and surroud follow an L shape which allows the fireplace to be open to both the living and dining room. The layout is fantastic and has a modern vibe, but also a bit of a mid-century throwback element. 

Early in the demolition process

My enemy...the hearth, which sits 2 inches above the regular floor, takes up a large amount of walking space and due to the random mini-step makes that area unusable. The fact that anytime a family member comes over they always trip/I freak about someone breaking a bone or a hip was fuel to the "rip that thing out" fire. Even our dog has tripped on it. 

With the holidays and lots of family time approaching we decided to move this 2 inch random hearth and make it flush with the floor. 

The hearth and surround were also this incredible dark green/black granite which made the space feel really heavy and caused the fireplace to drown into the background. So for this change, we decided to go light and bright in our stone choice to help brighten the space and make the fireplace a unique feature. I have always loved carrera marble and after much debate about the size of the tile we went with 1x2 inch subway tiles (they came on sheets). There was a lot of deliberation on this front. I costed out doing a solid slab, but we wouldn't have been able to buy the right depth and it was 2x the cost.




We did the demo ourselves to try to save money, but the mini-step was one solid slab of concrete so we ended up needing some help from a handyman to get it out of the house.






We hired someone to tile the mantle and it took FOREVER! They had to cut the wood flooring in a straight line so that the tile and floor would be flush. Then the small squares meant lots of tiny cuts. I love how it turned out but if I had it to do over there are a few changes I would have made:

  • I would have probably picked a slightly larger subway tile. I thought the smaller tiles would be easier to work with (originally we planned to do this ourselves), but as it turned out they were actually more difficult. 
  • Buy edging pieces (bullnose) for the marble. Trust me it makes a huge difference and it is worth it. We did it on the outside edge, but I wish we had done it on the inside edge as well. 
  • Take the amount of time you think this will take and double it. Even the work we did ourselves like adding the wood trim back in on the sides took forever. 
Anyone else redone a hearth or surround?

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