Monday, November 4, 2013

Fireplace Reno - Step by Step

oooh baby....gonna get to you GURRLLLLLL!

All right. Now that the big reveal happened (not that I kept it a surprise or anything), I wanted to show you guys how the whole thing went down.

So here, in a semblance of an order, are the things that happened over the course of our almost 7 month fireplace reno.


From A Beautiful Mess App

1. Get a little bored on a Saturday when you are home alone and grab a chisel and a hammer and start demo-ing the tile from the existing fireplace. How messy can it get?


(sure, I didn't bother taking out the candles. I did cover the floor though!!)

2. Realize that the original plan to just tile over the newly-uncovered brick isn't going to work because (of course) the brick was barely attached to the wall and it would have taken only a slight breeze to make it fall over. Pull down the bricks. Think of a new plan.


3.Convince your husband to cut and install cement board using masonry screws and our neighbour's drill (corded, which is WAY more powerful than our crappy cordless drill!! Thanks Joe!).


4. Ask your husband to move the mantel in place for the hundredth time to see how it will look:


5. Get your husband to use some kind of compound and drywall tape to fill the spots where the pieces of cement board meet.

5 1/2. Sit back and appreciate how your innocent demo-ing of the tile has resulted in your husband doing most of the work so far.

6. Tiling. Figure out what the 'smart' way of tiling a vertical surface using the well known "worst tile to lay**" (aka herringbone mosaic) is (aka starting on the bottom so the weight of the tile would be supported by the bottom layer so the heavy tile wouldn't be slipping and sliding down the wall). Ignore that way.

Be a fussy princess who insists the pattern to be centred on top. Right in the middle. Which means that starting on the bottom was almost impossible without mad math and organizational skills. Realize you have neither of those.

Install a support beam right across the top of the fireplace opening to hold the tile up as it dries.


Realize the two bags of spacers you bought in two different size You will notice that there are very few spacers in there. That is because both sizes of spacer were not quite right. Too big. Too small. It is the goldilocks of mosaic tile.

A day later, takedown the support beam and start tiling the sides. This is where things will probably start going downhill. Quickly. No additional detail is necessary here, I think (as we've discussed it ad nauseum). Basically, the tile on top will for some very annoying reason look very different than the tile you just installed on the sides. I recommend crying, swearing, falling to your knees yelling "WHHHYYYYYYYYYY??!!!!"


7. Wait for ugly tile to dry.

8. Wait some more.

9. Get the tile store to put aside some tile from the same batch just in case.

10. When the tile is finally dry enough that you don't want to rip it down (well, if you could get someone else to do it, maybe, but there is no way you want to take the project on yourself), ask every person who enters your house if they see anything 'funny' about the tile. Track the votes. Deduct two points every time someone says "is it crooked?".

11. Sigh of relief.

12. The mantle. This is the point where you have to convince your husband that it is worth the his time and effort to add an extra 2 inches to the bottom of the mantle so that more of that glorious tile will show.


(You can see here that the bottom decorative pieces were pulled off and we added the extra height using mdf.)

Add other trim pieces to fill in any areas where the mantel doesn't but up against the tile thanks to the decidedly un-square nature of old houses.


13. Prime and paint. If the mantel is super old and grimy like ours was, it is probably best to use primer first to seal off any old oils and stains.

In an attempt to avoid buying more paint, go to your disorganized utility room and find any can of white paint that doesn't have globs of hard goopy stuff in it. Paint the mantle and stand back, ready to be wowed.

Realize the random can of white is VERY white and makes your Cloud White baseboards look like baby pee.


Suck it up and go to the paint store and purchase a can of Cloud White to match the trim. Repaint. Annoying? Yes. Worth it? Yes. 

14. While you are at the paint store, give in to your desire to buy a small can of almost black paint to use on the wall above the fireplace. That's right. Laugh in the face of accent-wall-nay-sayers. Stomp on the fear of looking like you are stuck in the nineties of decorating styles. If you have a feeling...just go with it!

15. Take all the credit even though photographic evidence shows your husband doing a lot of the grunt work. I mean hey - it was your idea, right?! :-)

Anyhoo - that was it!! If it weren't for the tile issues, I think it could have been a quick and (relatively) straightforward project. Unfortunately, it didn't work out like that for us, but the end result is pretty awesome (can I say that?). So definitely worth it!




Allie_Marie said...

Phooey on "accent-wall-nay-sayers". Looks great! Awesome work to you both, cause it would be mean to just congratulate your demolition and inspiration.

Allie_Marie said...

Phooey on "accent-wall-nay-sayers"! I love how it turned out, it worked out beautifully.

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

It looks great! worth every ounce of pain (except I have a feeling you wish you had experienced a few less ounces)

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

I love everything about that fireplace! It almost makes me want to move up the priority on re-doing ours!

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

I LOVE the black accent wall! Great choice!

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

I absolutely adore what you've done with the fireplace. It's so stylish - I could totally imagine seeing this in a British decorating magazine like 'Living Etc'

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

Gorgeous! Such a nice job! Did you pickup the fence at the same time you found the insert? I love it!

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

Oh man that is how our projects go to - but we usually mix in numerous trips to the hardware store and some bad words. I love your fireplace - especially the herringbone tile.

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

I'm DYING....over your gorgeous new fireplace & your recap. Has it really been 7 months?!?! Worth it though. I'm very much of the same mindframe when it comes to projects. Jump in w/ both feet before there's an actual plan--make it up as I go. In your case it turned AMAZING. Give me summa that success dust will you?!?

And that accent wall POPS. Love love love. Take that '90's!!

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

Oh my word, this is GORGEOUS!! I'd kill for this! Love love love. Hilarious recap too.

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

Thanks!!! Yep - time flies, eh? I can't believe it has been 7 months either!

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

Thanks Sara! Hope you are doing well :-)

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

Haha we definitely had a few bad words and a number of trips to Home Depot. Such is the life of a relatively untalented DIYer!

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

I don't think so, actually. The insert was purchased probably a month before the fender. I didn't go looking for the fender - she kind of found me!

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

Thanks Charlotte :-) That is so sweet to say. There are many parts of my house that are not magazine worthy, so it is cool you think that one is!!

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

Thanks Brianna!!

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

Spectacular. The before and after transformation is unreal. Also, I love the Angus Beef poster. May I ask where you got it?

LifeBegins@Thirty said...

Absolutely gorgeous, as with everything in your place!