A fireplace often serves as the focal point of the room, giving it the power to make it or break it.
A bad fireplace can overshadow the loveliest furniture or coolest colour scheme, while a good one can ramp up the style points, adding character and grandeur to an otherwise unremarkable room. Still, if you’ve moved into a new place and found your perfect fireplace you’re either easy to please or unbelievably lucky 🙂 But unfortunately most of us have to work with what we are given.
I bought my flat despite hating the fireplace. The original Edwardian oak surround had been stained with shiny dark mahogany varnish and, although the inset art deco-style tiles were lovely, the whole thing jarred, detracting from the look of the sitting room. Yet ripping out a character feature like that felt way too daunting. It was years before I bit the bullet and swapped it for a surround that didn’t actually make me want to hurl.
Thankfully that one simple change improved the room no end. Life’s too short if you don’t truly love something! So if you hate your fireplace and want to bung on a better one, I’d be the first to cheer you on. Alternatively you can turn to the paint can… painting your fireplace to match the walls or the rest of the woodwork is a quick and easy way to update your living room.
Of course not all fireplaces have a wooden surround, many being made entirely of tile, brick or stone. Yet there’s hope even then!
If brick doesn’t scream ‘you!’ yet you don’t want the expense of ripping it out, there’s still plenty you can do to personalise it. You can paint it of course, or tile over it. If your fireplace is already made of tiles, you can paint them, regrout them or stencil over them. You can even tile straight on top of tile.
Fortunately most wall tiles are suitable for use around the fireplace these days, with splashbacks made to withstand high temperatures near stoves and cookers. Why not try mixing your favourite individual tiles up to create your own unique pattern. Alternatively there’s a huge range of specialist fireplace tiles out there – both reproduction and antique (see my curated selection in the Best Boho Buys section). You’re bound to find something you love…
Or you could try slate or metal tile panels, as I’ve done. They’re certainly easy to fit (click on the gallery below to see my quick transformation). It took me barely an hour to knock out and scrape off my old fireplace tiles with a hammer and chisel before applying tile adhesive to the surface of the surround, then pushing the panels into place. No grout required!
There are so many lovely tiles out there, so many lovely shades of paint! Don’t settle for a fireplace you don’t love. Get creative and do your own thing!