Fireplace Disaster!
Michelle Miltner
July 29, 2014 in Design Dilemma
Hi everyone! I am a second year law student with a passion for interior design living in a rental in Albany, NY. When I first came to look at the apartment, I loved it and thought it was great. Now, after moving all of my things in... I literally can not get over how UGLY the fireplace is. Because it is a rental, I can't do anything permanent to it...but am looking for suggestions on any ways to cover up that vomit-colored tile. Thus far i've tried wood and paper, but neither looked right or stayed in place. While many will say "just live with it," my design OCD will not let me enjoy sitting in that room with the fireplace looking the way it does. It's awful no matter what I try! Help!
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If the firepace isn't functioning, what about thermoplastic stick and peel?
2 Likes   Thanked by Michelle Miltner    July 29, 2014 at 10:21PM
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Peel and stick tile that looks "vintage" but neutral..

1 Like   Thanked by Michelle Miltner    July 29, 2014 at 10:33PM
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Try copper sheeting. It can be purchased at high end arts and craft stores. Make a template of the area you want to cover..or .you could do it in three and sides with 45 degree angles in the corners. Get some light 3 ply wood sheeting and cut to fit the tiled area then use plaster or other building 'spacle' and make a hard textured surface on the 3 ply with that and allow to dry. Then rub and press the copper over the textured 3 ply and finally glue the copper sheeting on the three ply. Don't know what kind of stick and remove stuffs you have where you live but here in AUS we have a thing called "Blue Tac" used to fix pictures on walls in temporary situations so I believe it would hold the copper-covered ply to the tiles around the fire place.
The resu;t would be in style with the wooden fire place surround.
Other than could use the same idea of the ply covering and glue little tiles or other decoratives to that...then fix the whole ply "veneer to cover the tiles. It works. I have done a hearth with copper sheet texturing the concrete with plaster, glueing the rubbed copper to these...looks good.
Clean the copper with Coca Cola! Good Luck.
0 Likes   Thanked by Michelle Miltner    July 29, 2014 at 11:09PM
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Hi Michelle,

Great Question! I would be happy to help you in any way I can as I understand the importance of comprising both functionality and beauty into a space. To find the best solution to enjoying your space, I am curious to know what attracted you to rent the property and or what you envisioned for your space.


April A.
1 Like   Thanked by Michelle Miltner    July 30, 2014 at 11:55AM
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If you can place a big piece of art (a canvas or something like that) and cover the upper side of the fireplace (the mirror and above it), I think it won't look so ugly anymore. For example, if you look at the photo I am posting, I think they are trying to hide the brick over the fireplace with art. And it's working!

0 Likes   July 30, 2014 at 12:17PM
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Look up the nesting place blog. She did a really cool contact paper cover up on her rental fireplace
0 Likes   July 30, 2014 at 1:13PM
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Unpack and get all of your furniture and stuff arranged before concentrating on the fireplace. Go ahead and do what you'd like as far as decorating the mantel and surrounding area. Then take another look at the tiles.

Right now you're seeing a room full of boxes and junk so of course the fireplace isn't going to look good. You said yourself that you didn't notice the fireplace when you originally toured the apartment.
1 Like   Thanked by Michelle Miltner    July 30, 2014 at 1:58PM
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If it still bothers you get a piece of plywood cut exactly the shape of the tiled area. Now you can cover it with better tiles or wrap it in thin copper like someone suggested or just paint it charcoal gray or white like the other trim in the room. It'll be purely cosmetic since you probably shouldn't have a fire with plywood or particle board so close.
1 Like   Thanked by Michelle Miltner    July 30, 2014 at 2:00PM
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Nothing like passing around ideas on these blogs...and reading the re-vamped version that is misleading.
I see I inspired leelee...but since the idea did not originate there it is not getting across as I intended...its difficult to describe things like this without PICS and I haven't any of the successful use of copper near a fire that I've achieved in my home.

Yes, I suggested 3 ply( as the cheaper choice) covered with copper sheet or little tiles that are more pleasing and then fixing it to the tiles around the fire place with a temporary fixing agent.
I intended this suggestion to be understood as a practical, temporary/ removeable solution not just a camoflage or a cosmetic patch-up. for when the fire is not in use.

.Copper, as well as being heat and fire proof also looks good when combined with vintage or anrique timberwork.
That's a lovely fire place surround that needs accentuating rather than camoflaging.

As busy student you don't need to be wasting time fussing with patched up solutions that need taking down and putting back.
Aternatively you could substitute the ply with a cut out of thin fireproof cement panel...that is used for walls...(.a little more expensive and you'd need to get it professionally cut to shape) Using fireproof glue, attach either the copper as described above or thin veneers of stone or tiles you like and then fix the whole "veneer" temporarily around the fire place to cover those yellow tiles you hate. You wouldn't need to remove it at all unless you were vacating the apartment.
I've done a whole fireplace wall with this idea. See PIC below.
Hope this clarifies a bit better and inspires you.
My house is a 1924 vintage and the copper and stone combined with all the natural timber looks really good. Good Luck!
0 Likes   Thanked by Michelle Miltner    July 30, 2014 at 5:14PM
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@ studio 1001.... Is that "thermoplastic stick and peel" fireproof please? Does it come in other designs and what is it generally used for? I am intrigued. Who makes it and where can I see more? Hope you can help.
0 Likes   Thanked by Michelle Miltner    July 30, 2014 at 5:27PM
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Are you going to burn in the fireplace? Not many options available if you are actually going to burn. If not going to burn maybe the peel and stick tile posted above would work? That thermoplastic stuff is available at Lowe's- home Depot in the kitchen department. I think it is ugly as heck and would not use is commonly used as a backsplash in the kitchen.
0 Likes   Thanked by Michelle Miltner    July 30, 2014 at 5:37PM
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@ cabingirl13...thanks...might have some other use as well, I'm all for finding a product and a use for it other than the purpose for which it was originally marketed.
0 Likes   Thanked by Michelle Miltner    July 30, 2014 at 5:44PM
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Michelle Miltner
@cabingirl13 I am not going to burn!
1 Like   July 30, 2014 at 5:52PM
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Michelle Miltner
Thank you everyone for your ideas. The picture that I uploaded when I posted this last night was the only one that I had on my phone (it was from June when I first moved in). I have since unpacked and set up my living room the way that I want it. I've attached two photos to this post to show my living room set up so that you get a better idea of what may look best!!! (Please ignore my boyfriend on the couch and my lovely beagle on the chair :))
0 Likes   July 30, 2014 at 5:59PM
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Michelle Miltner
Also - The only problem that I have with getting ply wood or that very thin wood (forgetting the wood for it) cut to fit the exact shape, is that the fireplace has a lot of little divots that I worry will show or look bad if little pieces of green show. Also, the green tile is on the floor too which is just awful! I have a green accent wall where the bay window is which really clashes with the awful puke tile. I thought about painting the accent wall a different color maybe to not clash so much with the fireplace tile, but I kind of like the green wall! I dont know!
0 Likes   July 30, 2014 at 6:05PM
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Honestly, with the two cabinets flanking the fireplace and your furniture and rug in place, I don't even notice the tile surround.
2 Likes   Thanked by Michelle Miltner    July 30, 2014 at 6:12PM
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Michelle Miltner
Do any of you have suggestions of what I can put in the two cabinets that flank the fireplace? Right now I just have baskets (I have been meaning to do something about them), but I don't want that wall to look OVER bearing
0 Likes   July 30, 2014 at 6:20PM
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Styling the bookshelves with depth, texture and color will further distract from the fireplace surround. Of course use attractive books lined up vertically and stacked. Use objects you have collected and love. Also, I always like to add small paintings or prints to add color.
2 Likes   July 30, 2014 at 6:42PM
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( ladyrob, thermoplastic is a fire retardant pressed elastomer compound, and comes in a variety of patterns and colours, some of which can be found at the big box stores, as cabin noted. It is suggested for use at a 3" distance from direct flame, comes in more modern patterns than the one I chose, as well as a paintable version, cuts easily and is sold in both sheets and tiles with trim options, making it a material with multiple uses. Hope that helps.)

Michelle, I think sacrificing the teal wall in favour of organic accent colours could help,too.
0 Likes   July 30, 2014 at 8:11PM
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@Michelle Miltner...' OK......Here goes...
(disregard the boyfriend and maybe drool over the Beagle a bit)

# The.problem fire place with the pukey tiles is a fixture
# You are not going to burn in this fire place.
# be aware that unused fire places draw warmth out of the house and up the chimney.
# I had to cover over my unused fire place for this reason and so might you.

# I got a piece of stiff heavy cardboard the same size as the whole area of the stone tiles and the fire eplace hole combined.
# I covered the cardboard with some nice rich fabric and wedged this against the fire place opening behind a shallow cabinet and put the TV on the cabinet. The cabinet was just deep enough to cover the concrete hearth on the floor...equal to your green tiles on the floor..... and house my DVDs.

You could probably do the same with the cabinet idea...your TV is well positioned.

1 Measure the whole space made up of the tile surround and the fire place opening.
2. Cover over the whole area with a piece of hard cardboard cut to measure and covered with a rich-looking piece of upholstering fabric...that you will buy. You could even put padding under the fabric for more effect and in keeping with the style of the vintage woodwork surround of the fire place
3. Get a shallow cabinet that could house your DVDs and other items of about the same size, and place it in front of the fire place over the top of the tiles on the floor.... make them disappear. Make sure it is wedged tight against the fabric/cardboard fire place cover.
4. Maybe you could get enough of the fabric you choose for the fire place cover to make matching window drapes or cushion covers...just to tie it all in together.

I think this might solve your problem of having to look at those YUK tiles.

Most interesting is that you are already using the top part of the fire place surround for your why not use what you create at the bottom (to hide the tiles) as storage for your TV bits and pieces and DVDs?,,,

SIDE CABINETS...maybe you could carry the theme of the fabric covered-up fire place (and maybe matching cushions and/or drapes) through to these cabinets by making a long scarf for each one, just as deep as the cabinets to drape over the top of each cabinet that will fall down each side to the floor.
You would have a sort of decorative ensemble comprised of side cabinets and fire place/TV/storage unit
I can see it vividly in my mind.

I could draw it for you if you wished and send you a scanned picture here on houzz.

As for what to put in the cabinets... bunnylig suggests books and keepsakes....I agree...books with nice spines and even a few that look like really classic old books that are just covered to appear that way....if you haven't got enough real fancy books.

Hope this helps.
0 Likes   July 30, 2014 at 8:25PM
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@ studio10001...Thanks for this info on the the idea of the one you can paint on! Is there a website or an online store? I live in Australia.
0 Likes   July 30, 2014 at 8:28PM
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ladyrob, ACP is the only manufacturer I know of here in N. America , but their retail outlets have restricted shipping. There may be other manufacturers out there - try a product search on your end?
1 Like   July 30, 2014 at 9:03PM
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Michelle Miltner
@ladyrob - thank you so much! that was so helpful. I would love to see a sketch if you have any time, but please don't feel obligated. Your description was very useful and I am excited to get working on my living space!
2 Likes   July 31, 2014 at 9:02PM
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Michelle Miltner
Hi everyone! UPDATE: I did a temporary re-tile :) !
8 Likes   August 4, 2014 at 11:32AM
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Well done,you!!
2 Likes   August 4, 2014 at 11:54AM
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Heidi Timmons_Owens
Your place is absolutely adorable. Don't change a thing.
3 Likes   August 4, 2014 at 12:25PM
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Hi Michelle...your temporary re-tile looks as if it has always been there. It was a simple thing anyway...just needed a bit of brainstorming to then strip away the unnecessary. Sometimes ita a question of not being able to see the easy way because of the emotional involvement. You must have really hated those tiles! ...Look what you've done!
Love the neutral colour. You'd never know it wasn't the original facia. Good on you for persevering! Looks great! Its amazing how one simple thing brings about all sorts of transformation. Love your Olde Worlde Charm atmosphere!
I'm with Heidi. ...don't change a thing and all kudos to you!
If ever you leave there I don't think the landlord would mind if you left that classy tiling !
1 Like   Thanked by Michelle Miltner    August 4, 2014 at 4:50PM
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The only thing I'd fix is the cords on the right hanging off the fireplace. Get a LONG dark brown or black extension cord & take the big end where everything plugs in & stuff the whole bundle up on the mantle behind the picture frame or even behind tv. Tape it down & then you will have just one, thin cord coming down the side.

I have an issue with outlets at my place too. Issues with what to do with cords. I use stuff called Gaffers Tape. It's a special tape that Audio/Video techs use to tape cords & wiring to floors. It's available online & what's good is that it leaves no nasty residue & you can lift it & reposition it often. Good stuff. Something like that could keep your cord "attached" to the side of your surround, as well as the floor. I just put a rug over it if it has to cross a threshold.

Forgot to comes in any color you can think of...
0 Likes   Thanked by Michelle Miltner    August 4, 2014 at 5:57PM
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