Now that the bulk of demo (and even some of the framing!) is complete, it was time to turn to the super-retro and just-plain-not-our-style mantle, stone fireplace surround, and wood-burning stove insert. As a reminder, here’s how the hearth looked when we first acquired the house a few months ago:
Jeez. If it weren’t for the photos, I seriously doubt I would even remember how funky that living room looked!
And here’s a shot from just a few days ago:
Although we’ve stripped the living room of nearly everything else it used to have, including the wood paneling, hardwood floors, and even the ceiling, we’ve been putting off the fireplace demo because, in all honesty, we just weren’t sure what to do with it.
We thought about painting the stone surround to lighten things up a little, but the big, bulky stones didn’t seem to fit with our vision of a cleaner, more contemporary living space. And there was really no way around how dark (and a little intimidating looking) that wood-burning stove seemed. I’m sure it’d be great for some spaces and the folksy style would strike the right chord with other people, but as is, the fireplace still felt so “them,” and not very “us.” So we decided to strip it down to its most basic, and let inspiration strike where it may.
We said goodbye to the old mantle first — we could’ve worked around the outdated color of the stain, but the shape was just too chunky and homemade to fit with the rest of the living room design. Then, we chiseled away the stone surround and the brick hearth. Finally, after lugging away the (incredibly heavy) wood-burning stove, with the help of a hand truck, dolly, and all of the strength Mr. Crafty and I could muster, this is what we are left with:
The cinder blocks aren’t exactly glamorous, but I love the shape of the much taller fireplace. It makes the area feel so much more grand, you know?
I’m just now noticing the photobomb by a rogue wood slice from our wedding decor. Once of the benefits of the house being in the beginning stages of rebuilding a month before the wedding is that I get to use the living room as a crafting/painting/shellacking zone, with no risk of messing anything up. This week, my focus was on finishing the wood slices for our centerpieces!
I’m envisioning a light color palette to coordinate with the pair of big white built-ins we’re planning for either side of the fireplace. Maybe a light grey tile or airstone would work well. We’ll probably mount a flat screen above the mantle, and we’ll be shooting for an informal/ gathering spot vibe for this living room. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) we still have a long way to go before we can finalize the finish details, so there’s plenty of time to come up with some concrete design ideas. That said, getting rid of the old trimmings is like a breath of fresh air, and it’s always fun uncovering the bones of this house, and coming up with new ideas for how to turn it into a home!