With this fireplace makeover, we turned our formal living room into a softer and more inviting space by replacing the dark green granite with brick.
Do you remember our fireplace from our empty house home tour post?
Yeah, I guess it looks pretty good at first glance, but Handan had it out for that green gas-burner since day one.
Maybe it was the boxiness of the hearth that turned her off.
Perhaps it was the green stone that ground her gears.
Whatever it was, she wasn’t going to live with that fireplace for a day longer than she needed to.
I don’t know – I didn’t really see the issue. I thought it looked kinda classy. A little odd around the hearth, maybe, but overall, not too bad!
Of course, that was back when I thought the future fireplace makeover would fall squarely and entirely on my shoulders.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Well, to me, that fireplace was the very definition of “ain’t broke.”
But my babes gets what my babes wants. She always does.
The problem though was that I just couldn’t get on board with her plan once she told me.
Oh, I didn’t tell her that! I may be dumb, madam, but I’m not stupid!
Besides, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that my babes is really good at planning/designing these sorts of things. After all, she designed the new deck at our old house and my Super-Fabulous Kitchen in this house.
It’s just that she wanted to use brick.
I guess I’m just not a brick guy.
(Yet here we are living in a brick-faced house, and I love it.)
Anyway, I swallowed my doubts and put on a good face. Handan’s track record is nearly1 spotless, so she earned the benefit of the doubt.
1Yes, nearly. Back in the early days of the old house, I let her choose the color for the staircase and upstairs hallway. We were both on a color kick, because our entire now home was painted in golds and yellows, and we were desperate for color. Pretty much every room turned out to be a mistake, but Handan’s upstairs hallway pick takes the cake. I don’t know exactly what it was, but mauve comes closest to describing it. I knew it was a mistake in Home Depot, but I held my tongue. I had chosen most of the other colors, and I didn’t want her to feel like she had no say in the matter.
To her credit, she realized her error not long after painting. That staircase and hallway were the first to be repainted gray.
But the aftermath of “The Mauvening” is that I have the final say on color.
Hey, we all have our strengths and weaknesses.
Handan and I are such a good team because ours rarely overlap.
Okay, so the plan was to demolish the green granite, buy a whitish marble hearth and then lay brick tiles around the rest of the area.
And then the best part of the plan: instead of Yours Cluelessly here bashing his way around this project with high hopes and a hammer, Handan wanted to hire Tony’s crew (Carlos and Manuel – the same guys who tiled our kitchen backsplash) to do the brickwork.
I was warming up to the project now!
They arrived to start the job, and I took one last look at our old fireplace. The living room had been in such a state of disarray since moving in that I felt I never really got to know it, and here we were about to destroy it.
But yeah – that boxy hearth! Yeesh, I was starting to see what was bothering my babes so much!
I was surprised to learn that the old hearth wasn’t glued down, so the guys were able to slide it right out. It now sits in the basement awaiting its transformation into an outdoor table!
That top piece of granite hung or the firebox gave them some trouble, but nothing a few good whacks with a hammer couldn’t solve.
Handan thought it was a big improvement already.
(Note to self: never buy Handan anything made of green granite.)
Tony then covered the exposed wood with cement board.
After this, Handan and I went out to find a suitable chunk of marble for the hearth. We searched a couple of stoneyards until we found in interesting slab of marble that fit the bill. I gave them the measurements, and two days later, the guys delivered and installed the hearth for our fireplace makeover.
Unlike the old hearth, this one is glued. It’s a good thing we love it, because there’s no moving it now!
With the marble hearth in place, it was time for Carlos and Manuel to apply the brick facade. Carlos laid out the bricks to get the spacing right.
Handan was over the moon at this point, but I was still on the fence. I just couldn’t see the end result, so I had my doubts.
Just be patient, I told myself. You’re babes knows what she’s doing.
The guys had to rebuild the trim around the bricks with some 1 x 3 boards. Hiding that work would be my job when they finished, as would painting the fireplace.
The next day, they grouted the bricks, and our fireplace makeover was starting to shape up.
The grout was another aspect of this project that cause me more grief than necessary. When Handan ordered the bricks and mortar from Home Depot, she didn’t realize that, like tile, we needed a separate grout. So when the guys came to install the bricks, they asked where the grout was.
I asked Handan.
She looked up her online order, and lo and behold – no grout!
I grabbed my keys, hopped in my sleigh and hightailed it to Home Depot where I was confronted with a dizzying array of grout colors.
I spent at least 15 minutes walking up and down the aisle of sanded grout.
Jeezum Crow, this is too much grout! Too many damn colors!
Delorean Gray? Chateau? Oyster Gray? Rolling Fog? Mushroom? Summer Wheat? Surf Green? Truffle? Urban Putty???
I hemmed and hawed and over-stressed. Who the hell needs 43 colors of grout?? It’s grout for cripe’s sake!
Undecided after 10 round trips up and down the aisle, I grabbed two likely candidates – Snow White and Rolling Fog – and hoped my eye was true.
When I got home, Handan and I agreed the Rolling Fog would be the better choice.
Two days after they guys finished their brick work, I filled all the gaps in the new trim with Bondo wood filler and then sanded it down with a detail sander. I did this on a Sunday morning while Handan slept.
A fresh coat of white paint was the finishing touch to our fireplace makeover.
Finally, I saw what Handan saw so many months ago.
She could see it in her mind, while I, the Doubting Thomas, needed proof.
But all’s well that ends well – we both love how our fireplace makeover turned out!
And Handan finally has a fireplace with a mantle big enough to decorate properly. She can’t wait for Christmas!
And I have to admit, I love the brick!
The marble we chose looks fantastic.
A closer look reveals its fractured-glass structure.
If you like that mirror, you can see how I made it here: DIY French Country Style Mirror.