Fireplace Makeover -

Fireplace Makeover


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.

Fireplace Makeover -

Do you remember our fireplace from our empty house home tour post?

formal fireplace in empty living room

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…

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.

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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.

green granite fireplace

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!

removing granite from a fireplace

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.)

fireplace makeover underway

Tony then covered the exposed wood with cement board.

fireplace makeover underway

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!

adding a marble hearth to a fireplace makeover

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.

adding brick to a fireplace makeover
adding brick to a fireplace makeover

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. Your babes knows what she’s doing.

(I hoped)

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.

fireplace makeover in progress

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.

fireplace makeover in progress

A fresh coat of white paint was the finishing touch to our fireplace makeover.

painting 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!

Fireplace Makeover -
Fireplace Makeover -
Fireplace Makeover -

And Handan finally has a fireplace with a mantle big enough to decorate properly. She can’t wait for Christmas!

Fireplace Makeover -

And I have to admit, I love the brick!

Fireplace Makeover -

The marble we chose looks fantastic.

Fireplace Makeover -

A closer look reveals its fractured-glass structure.

Fireplace Makeover -
Fireplace Makeover -

If you like that mirror, you can see how I made it here: DIY French Country Style Mirror.

Fireplace Makeover -
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  1. When you said brick I wasn’t sure either. I currently have a monstrous orange/yellow brick natural fireplace my family room. I hate it and can’t wait to paint it! (I prefer to rip it out but that was nixed!) I do however like yours. I think it is because it isn’t very much brick whereas mine goes up 3/4 of the way on the wall and is the entire width of the room with a 12” ledge on the bottom. The mantle is just brick as is the hearth. So much brick! I can’t wait to cover the top and possibly tile the hearth. Hopefully, within the next year! I guess it pays to have faith in out partners sometimes!

    1. It sure does, Giselle! Hey, have you considered just whitewashing the brick? We did it in our old house with the gray stone fireplace, and it made such a dramatic improvement! You could always paint first (quick, easy and cheap), and then work on your bigger makeover plans on a longer timeline.

      1. I saw a video where the person used white as the base and three or four shades of grey that she kind of pounced on the brick and it turned out awesome. I like that it wasn’t so flat looking with just one colour so I think I am going to do that. The brick is so orange it clashes with everything! I will look up lime washing and check it out first! Thanks for the idea!

    2. Ooh look up lime washing! Makes for a really pretty gray color!

      I’m jealous of you guys. Lol. The house I’m in is the first one in 15 years without a fireplace. I miss the warmth and the decorating possibilities.

  2. Yep, looks so much better! That green granite would have been demolished if it were my fireplace too. Ugh. The green was cold and imposing. The brick makes it warm and inviting. I had a brick surround on my circa 1953 colonial fireplace but I covered it with a stacked stone when I got tired of it after 20 years. Hubs was worried about what I was going to do to it too, but once he saw the completed fireplace, he liked it better.

    And hey. we all make a mistake or two with paint color. I went to paint our dining room (after taking down hideous peacock wallpaper) what I thought from the sample chip was a light sage green. It came out more minty pistachio. (Never trust store lighting when picking out paint) As soon as I got this first swipe of paint on the wall, I saw my mistake and was back to my paint store. But before I did, hubs painted my big toe nail with the paint (I was painting while barefoot). It looked even worse as nail polish.

    1. Oh my god, pistachio! It would almost be worth it to paint the whole room just for a memento picture, lol! Come to think of it, we had a few rooms sorta like that back in the old house. Not pistachio bad, mind you, but bad enough that when we finished, we took a long look at the room and drove right back to Home Depot for a different color. Nothing more fun than painting the same wall 4 times in a day! 😀

  3. Really lovely! I have to say that I cringed when you said the green granite was going. I loved the formality of it. But I really do love the end result with the brick. Great choice.
    Love the blog 🙂 ( I am new to it)

  4. If Handan has a vision, just go with it. I agree the green granite was not only dated but it was a bad shade of green. The fireplace is absolutely beautiful. It makes a statement where the original was something you definitely would not want to bring attention to.

  5. The fireplace is beautiful…just the right amount of brick! Thank you for all your emails and posts. I look forward to getting them each week. Your stories are very entertaining and relatable:)

  6. Handan for the WIN
    Greg for the best husband of all time !! ?

    It is beautiful and that mirror…dude…outstanding!!

  7. Hi..well I was torn because I loved the color in the before..but this is warm and cozy and more what you would expect a fireplace to look like. I guess it is a gas fireplace? Yes? Hubs wants a gas fireplace in our itty bitty house,it would drive us out of the living-kitchen area. And we have no wall really to put it on. Ha..
    Nicely done!?

  8. I love the new fireplace surround. It makes the whole fireplace much homier (is that the right spelling?) and not so stilted. I love your posts! ! Big Bad Mama Kelly

  9. Beautiful transformation! Yeah, the green marble was not attractive at all. We have a monster brick fireplace, floor to ceiling. It was a nasty 80’s brown brick color that didn’t go with the gray painted walls and it stuck out like a sore thumb! We painted the brick and tiled the hearth and it made a huge difference. The paint now tames the brick monster and makes it recede back into the wall.

    1. Isn’t it amazing what a little paint can do, no matter what the surface? (I know exactly the brown you’re talking about, and yes, it would definitely need to be painted!)

  10. Definitely an improvement! I liked the green marble, but it was very formal, and your lifestyle doesn’t seem formal — it seems warmer and friendlier. But I also hate to see anything go to waste, so I’m very glad to hear that you’re repurposing the hearth for an outdoor table… Were you able to salvage enough of the green marble surround (especially after having to hammer the top into pieces) to use on the fourth side of the “new” table?

    1. Thank you, Cynthia! Unfortunately, the only piece that didn’t get the hammer was the top of the hearth – a piece about 2cm thick. Those front and side pieces had to be broken off. It’s okay though – it’s more than enough for a solid and weatherproof table!

  11. Wow — such an awesome improvement.

    I was wondering where the basket (that’s on the hearth) came from. It’s a great piece!

  12. The fireplace went from coldly formal to warm and welcoming! Handan had another great way to make your house a home and she was smart to go with Carlos and Manuel, leaving you to supervise and do other projects!! It has been fun, in the past, to watch you experiment your way to success, this is definitely not a project you want to experiment on…takes up way too much time and money that way. Love the marble…interesting how it is a solid piece with all those fractures!!

    1. I agree, Susan. There’s a time and a place for experimentation and learning, but this fireplace wasn’t it! I’m still busy trying to get all the walls and trim painted – this would have probably taken a week of my time if I tried to go it alone!

  13. Love the softer look of the new fireplace, but I really liked the formality of the old one, too! Is this a woodburning fireplace or just the gas logs? In Maine, we usually use a lot more stone/brick/ cement board around a fireplace/woodstove than that much wood. Just wondering. Can’t wait to see it all done up for Christmas!

    1. Hi Kathy, it’s a gas fireplace, so I guess that’s why they built the hearth from wood. At least it’s now covered in cement board!

  14. Carlos and Manuel are keepers! Wow very impressive professionals in this day and age! Love the brick and that woven basket is a real gem. Thanks for sharing your home update♥

  15. Hi Greg and Handan! What a perfectly timely post for me! We recently bought a new house (closing in January) and we have the same type of fireplace, except instead of ugly green granite, ours is a hideous dark brown. If you were able to add a picture here I’d show you. I told my husband that we just have to replace this eyesore with brick. Looks like you’ve done EXACTLY what I want and I have the pleasure of seeing the finished product! It looks phenomenal and I love the gray marble base. Now all we’ll have to do is show the workers your post and they’ll know exactly what to do :). Thank you so much for sharing Xoxo

  16. It looks much better. I love the mirror. I guess I won’t be doing as much decorating on my mantel now since my son-in-law had it wired for a TV. I have an in-law suite in the new house which should be finished by the end of the month. Sooo, when I die it will be just the way he wanted it. And, this is why I drink……Martinis, of course. 🙂

  17. I was unsure about the marble with the brick but it looks great! Always, always listen to your wife. Handan has great style sense.
    Have fun making your radon ornaments. Lol.

  18. Hi,
    absolutely love this makeover! May I ask, do you remember what the brick was you bought and used from Home Depot? I re-read your post but I dont think I saw it listed.
    Thank you!