I love listening to the stories behind people’s renovations; sometimes you learn that the most beautiful renovations occur when homeowners uncover a gem that has been hidden beneath layers of previous work. Such is the case with this fireplace renovation from Heather. It’s projects like this that inspire me to delve beneath an interior and discover its bones before attempting to cover things up. Beautiful work, Heather! — Kate
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Time: Two weekends
Basic Steps: Our house was built in 1909, and we knew the scary green faux marble wasn’t original, so we took a chance that whatever was underneath had to be better than what we were looking at. And we knew our house had good bones! At best, we hoped it was brick that we could paint or resurface or otherwise work with. We started removing the tiles one by one with a small chisel and rubber mallet and were completely surprised to find the tile underneath. Up close, the tile kind of looks like bad 70s linoleum. My best friend thinks the pattern also looks like an apple-patterned print.
Getting all of the tile off was a huge mess, but we were careful and were able to get most of the remaining thin-set off with a simple water and vinegar mixture (you can still see some stuck to the grout lines). The rest is simply what was underneath. We did have a gap between the tiles and the drywall in the space where the faux marble was removed, so we used caulk and corner round molding that we painted the same color as our walls to seal things up. We rather like that there’s no “mantel” per se, since we just painted (with our normal wall paint) the exposed cement top.
Don’t be afraid to “undo” what someone else has done before, especially if you know or don’t think it’s consistent with the period of your home. Sometimes just removing bad molding, paneling, tile, wallpaper, etc. and letting a space breathe is really what it needs. Our fireplace is a testament to that! — Heather