In this Ask A Designer column, Gillian Atkins’ shares advice for updating an existing fireplace.
Question: Our fireplace has a dark stone front that we’d like to get rid of. We could have the stones removed and the fireplace clad in drywall and painted the same color as the walls. What would you suggest? — A.B., Toronto
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Before you take a sledgehammer to your fieldstone fireplace, consider reigniting it with a facelift! I always favor real stone over drywall; it adds texture and warmth to your living room. The height of your gas insert is unusual: most traditional-looking inserts sit directly on the floor or over a raised hearth. Consider cutting out a 14-inch section of the hardwood floor in front of the fireplace and dropping in a black slate or honed granite slab to create a hearth.
Keep the fieldstone and give it an old world refresh with overgrout and a limestone wash. It’s the recessed mortar between the stones that makes the fireplace feel dated. Fill in the deep gaps with warm-toned grey grout, and be sure to softly grout over the edges of each stone.
When you’re satisfied with the results, thinly coat the surface in a limewash paint. Limewash is the new thing in paint, but it’s actually an old European tradition dating back centuries, and the matte effect is both classic and on trend. The wash will knock back the dark tones but still allow some of the color to come through. See the inspiration photo above for an example; it may take a little trial and error to get the right look.
Interior-exterior Limewash Classico paint in Nube Grey by Romabio, $99/21⁄2 litres.
Primetime Paint & Paper.
Your mantel is too skimpy! Remove and replace it with a reclaimed rough timber beam (try
Unfinished Distressed Pine Wood mantel shelf in Natural by Pearl Mantels, $779.
If rustic isn’t your style, choose a mantel with a chunkier profile and paint it a deep charcoal, like Benjamin Moore’s appropriately named Soot.
Soot (2129-20) Paint Color,
To complete the look, flank the fireplace with cabinets.
Trent cabinet in Oak, $6,259
Fill them with books, photos and artisanal
Arq 006 vase by Canoa, $435.
Consider a vintage-inspired vase in a darker finish.
Lekytho Antracita vase by Canoa, $435.
For an earthy look, place a ceramic vase on the mantel or shelves.
Arq 003 vase by Canoa, $435.
Gillian Atkins is a senior designer at Lynda Reeves Design Studio.
Photographer: Alex Lukey