Debbie Travis: Update your fireplace by refacing the surround

The fireplace is a symbol for so many warm feelings and thoughts. It’s the place where we gather to reminisce, share information, make plans.

The heat from the flames soothes us and the flickers mesmerize. In our homes, such a central element is a natural focal point. Today, the style of fire boxes and choice of fuels is vast and allows us to choose the best way to create the fireplace space to suit our personal style.

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If you have an existing fireplace, you might be interested in updating the overall design. Perhaps you have renovated from a traditional setting and are pursuing a more modern approach to your living aesthetic.

Refacing the surround is the easiest way to maximize a new design. First, check out your local building codes regarding the refacing material you are using and the distance any combustible material, such as wood, must be from the firebox. Use one of these versatile building materials to build a new look.

Tile is a favourite choice, either on its own or combined and framed with other materials, including concrete and wood. Check out what’s on trend and use your imagination to brighten your room.

How about rows of mother-of-pearl glass tiles that sparkle day and night? Or an intricate pattern of mosaics that weave colour magic around the fire.

Pebble tiles offer an added layer of texture and would suit a beach-style room. You can go all out with real stone. Slate, marble and quartz, at a higher price point, always add a luxe look that works in traditional as well as modern spaces.

There are lots of choices in masonry materials. Thin veneers of brick or stone look like the real thing, but are much lighter and less costly. These can be framed, as with tiles.

Concrete and stucco can be applied over an existing surface for a compelling transformation. Either applied sleek and smooth or sculpted and layered into steps or shelves, it’s a winning combination. The concrete can be coloured or painted to intensify the design, or left in its natural state, popular in industrial design.

Wood boards and panels can be used to build the simplest of facings. Seal or stain the wood to bring out its natural beauty and markings. For more detail, build a geometric design by alternating thin and thick boards. Add decorative motifs and blend with a paint finish.

A mantel is the finishing touch. A floating mantel draws attention to whatever you have chosen to highlight. Live-edge wood planks have stunning lines and colouration. An old wood beam or a new beam that you have weathered tells its own tale placed over a brick fireplace. Note: Mantels are heavy and must be affixed properly and safely to the wall

Refacing a fireplace is a job best left to the pros, unless you are familiar with working with building materials that need to be safely and securely fixed to the wall. Whether you are covering up an old surround or building from scratch, the proper backing and bolts will ensure a longlasting finish.

Written by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email decorating questions to house2home@debbietravis.com. Follow Debbie at instagram.com/debbie_travis, facebook.com/thedebbietravis, debbietravis.com

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