Unusual stone fireplace surround w/ sloped wall above

sessalyJune 12, 2013
We just bought a house and I am NOT a fan of the stone on the fireplace (see photo). To me it looks incredibly dated, and not in a charming/antique kind of way. I would love to get rid of it completely but a friend said I should keep it and just cover it so a future buyer could revert to it if they wanted (though I can't imagine why!). The husband doesn't think it's bad, either. Am I crazy? Is there a relatively easy/inexpensive way to cover it without ruining what's there?
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pattiegoode
Consider painting the rest of the FP a darker color from the stone first. The current paint makes the stone stand out, but a deeper color will make it blend in. This would cheap & easy to try, before you start removing or covering the stone. What is the exterior style of the house? What is your decorating style? I like the FP & love those floors! Nice room with all that natural light, too!
3 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 12:46AM
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pattiegoode
Stone 2112-40 Paint · More Info
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Woodcliff Lake 980 by Benjamin Moore · More Info

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Golden Straw 2152-50 Paint · More Info

Persimmon Paint · More Info


Any of these colors might work (impossible for me to tell). You might also be able to rag to finish for texture if that is to your style. I'd be interested in seeing 3 different colors used too: bottom, top, mantle & back wall of the niche. Can't wait to see what you do!
3 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 1:04AM
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Mark
What draws my attention to this fireplace is not so much the stone, it's the little niche above it. I would drywall/plaster over that. That little feature is dating the fireplace more then the stone is. If you don't want to permanently cover it then lean a piece of artwork or possibly a mirror over the niche. I know the wall above is sloped but it will still be fine to lean artwork.
2 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 2:57AM
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PRO
COASTROAD Hearth & Patio
Hmmm. This looks like a near miss to me. Fireplaces like this were common in what I've called "Fairy Tale" houses in the twenties and thirties, and the other architectural features included arched-top entry doors, wrought iron hardware and steep catslide roofs.

If this is the period of your home, glancing about the rest of the room tells me that the home has been updated and this is the last vestige of the style.

If the fireplace is all that is left and you are not planning to return to the romantic original style of the house, I'd agree that it is time for an update.

It wouldn't be difficult to reface, and I think I'd consider an efficient gas insert over the original masonry wood burner. If you are considering that possibility, let the design of your new insert be the jumping off point for the rest of the re-face.
    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 4:29AM
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PRO
Hudson Home
It would be a shame to destroy this fireplace. It has great character and is likely original to the house. It is rare to find interesting stonework these days that isn't a veneer or faux. If you are trying to update the house I would consider addressing the kitchen cabinets, which were likely added in the eighties/nineties. I would consider painting the cabinets in a color that is slightly darker than the walls of the living room. Because these room are adjoining it would also unify the space. I like the idea of leaning a piece of artwork on the mantle if you do not like the niche. If you are dead set on covering the fireplace I would frame out a wall and cover it so future owners may re-expose.
3 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 6:25AM
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carolins
I'm with Mark on this. I don't mind the stone, but I think that the niche and the tapered (is that the word?) top make it look dated.
3 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 6:36AM
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kimdee24
Just to give you an idea what some color can do to change things. I just did the bottom part, but you could paint the top part out as well and leave the 'mantle' as is.
4 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 6:41AM
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handymam
I agree with pattie, that the problem is the high contrast of color between the stone and the rest of the fireplace. I would try painting the rest before anything else. It would look better not being the same color as the wall color. That is what is making the fiiireplace stand out oddly, or rather the stones, which are not dated. Stone is very in at the moment, not that anyone should care...
2 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 6:44AM
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regina5697
I think the configuration of the stone is what's making it dated. I agree to attempt painting first, but consider stoning the entire bottom under the mantle shelf.
    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 6:45AM
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handymam
I think a lighter version of the bryant gold above would look nice, but painted all the way up on the top part too. The color should be picked from the stone if you want to minimize the impact of the stone.
1 Like    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 6:45AM
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marthafish
I like the funky stone. I agree that the problem is the niche above it. I would paint the whole fireplace something that blends better with the stone and cover the niche.
2 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 6:51AM
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handymam
(Why does everyone dislike the niche so much?) Just wondering.
5 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 6:53AM
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mefor
This is an original fireplace from the late 1800's, but you could build out around yours to cover most of the stone and the niche, you don't have to have board and batten look, I'm just talking about shape, this was a construction picture, forgive the mess :)
7 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 6:54AM
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mefor
( I think they don't like it, handymam, shhhhhh ) lol :)))
    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 6:55AM
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handymam
mforr, it that YOUR fireplace? Beautiful!
2 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 6:58AM
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carolins
Let me explain why I don't like the niche: I don't like the shape and if you leave it empty it looks like a gaping hole. And if you put something in it (what?) it will still look like a useless gaping hole that you've put something in to prevent it from looking like a gaping hole.

Meanwhile, mforr, that fireplace is fabulous. I do like the board and batten look. Nice detailing under the mantle. Luvly!
3 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 7:00AM
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mefor
Thanks handymam, just finished that whole renovation last October. Right before Sandy. Luckily everything was fine, whew!! That house was the darkest place in the world. Now it's white, bright and so happy!!
2 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 7:00AM
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0825sam
I like the fireplace. If anything, I would prop a piece of art or a fab mirror on the mantle. I don't agree with painting the surround a different color. I would either keep everything the same as the wall or do the entire fireplace a very slight contrast from the wall. I am not sure what the architectural detail above the fireplace is called, but in most photos I am seeing, the entire area is the same color and I personally prefer that look.
This is the closest I could find to your fireplace, and unfortunately it is covered with some interesting holiday decorations :)
I love contemporary style in an old house, but the things I am big on salvaging are fireplaces and moldings.
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3 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 7:02AM
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mefor
Thanks carolins. I agree that the niche is a bit silly. Don't really like it when there's something in it just sort of floating there in the middle of the chimney breast. :)
2 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 7:02AM
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0825sam
mforr - I'm coming to live with you. And can I have your daughter's bathroom?
1 Like    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 7:03AM
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mefor
Sam0705, that's a great fix for niche. A nice piece of artwork would work beautifully and it's a heck of a lot cheaper than building!! :)
    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 7:04AM
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handymam
Thanks for the explanation carolins, was just wondering why people disliked it. What you said makes perfect sense. :)
2 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 7:04AM
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mefor
You bet you can, it's just our favorite kind of tile ;)
1 Like    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 7:05AM
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carolins
handymam, phew! Me making sense only happens once or twice a year :-)
2 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 7:09AM
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handymam
Okay, you can relax then, you have reached your quota!
2 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 7:11AM
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mefor
Like benjamin Moore Nantucket gray, it's on this fireplace, but it doesn't go with the stones they have, they are very yellow toned, might be better with yours.
    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 7:14AM
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sessaly
Thanks, everyone, for the great comments and suggestions! Here's a photo of the exterior and more angles of the fireplace. I'm not very knowledgeable about architecture (grew up in Texas 'burbs with zero interesting architecture and this is our first house), but from what I can gather it's a Pueblo Revival Style Bungalow. Almost everything else has been updated and the fireplace seems noticeably out of place (in my mind). I wouldn't mind so much if the entire bottom portion were stone, but the odd pattern bothers me the most - reminds me of one of those southwestern-style lizard paintings with the legs sticking out to the sides -- they are beautiful but I don't want my fireplace in the shape of one!
2 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 9:28AM
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carolins
I'm wondering if one could remove those lizard legs? Thinking saw, but haven't a clue if that would be an option.
Lovely light room!
1 Like    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 9:38AM
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oct1976
It looks a little like the stone work wasn't finished. It doesn't quite look like real stone. Is it a veneer? If it is, it may not be too hard to find the exact stone veneer and finish it up to the mantel. It's not hard to do, you could do it on a Saturday. Also, it's not that expensive. If that's not possible, I think I would paint that area up to the mantel with a color very close to the stone color. Then it wouldn't stand out so starkly.
1 Like    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 10:12AM
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sessaly
oct1976: I don't know realistic stone veneer can be, but it definitely seems real to me (it's hefty).

I really like the idea of building out the sloped wall so it's straight all the way up and covering the niche while we're at it. I read somewhere that pueblo architecture in general "makes good use of wall space" with these niches (there's another one in the hallway). We will likely try to do something less drastic with paint around the stone and leave it intact (even if it's not visible).

Thanks again, everyone!
2 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 1:24PM
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pattiegoode
Please post pix when you are done! We are all room voyeurs on Houzz, you know. :)
2 Likes    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 10:19PM
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LB Interiors
It looks like it could easily be replicated. There doesn't seem to be any unusual fabrication or material used. If you don't like it, I'd remove.
    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 10:23PM
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PRO
COASTROAD Hearth & Patio
- Great house! We had a large number of homes in this style where I grew up in California, and there are a few nearby in Wilmington, NC. I'd love to see you bring the details back to its former glory, but the windows, garage door, front steps and entry have already been "updated", so it would be quite a project to put it back.

If you plan to change it, please don't just lop off the "lizard legs". Even thought those pieces are apparently just stuck on the front (judging from the photos from the side), the staggered joint is meant to look like structural masonry.

To summarize, the least expensive way to make it look like you did it on purpose is to paint the whole fireplace bump-in (mantel shelf and all) a step or two lighter than the stone and hang a picture over the niche.

If you would like to make the fireplace more useful, you could add a gas insert for efficiency, realism, and comfort. I'd let the style of the insert dictate what you do with the wall, which seems to be leaning toward furring it out floor to ceiling to give you a "blank slate" to work with. Guessing at the width of the existing wall, it doesn't look like you have a lot of room to work with between the sconces, but you might be able to get about 5'-6" there.

Something compact but more Edwardian might work, like so (both sketches show gas inserts designed for smaller fireplaces):
2 Likes    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 6:35AM
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parisgirl1970
To me, there' no 'punch' or 'wow' factor to your fire place. I would bring a staggered stone, or marble, or granite (or what ever you like) material all the way up to the ceiling--why stop where the f.p doors are? It looks unfinished. Materials are affordable when it's only a fireplace--not a kitchen floor. Rock that thing. I would cover the niche if it bothered me. You can also 'match' what you choose to your existing stone that's already there. Your floors are so light and pretty! Your home is beautiful too.
1 Like    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 12:45AM
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redteamstrategies
I love the fireplace and would focus on bring the level of design of the rest of the room up to par. The fireplace is the only thing in the room with character. The rest of the room is plain vanilla and builder boring.
Consider changing the sconces, which are from the eighties to fixtures with more detail, maybe with black iron.
Adding wainscoting would also bring back some of the character. Make sure it's high - not a chair rail, and has some heft to it. Stucco would be an appropriate wall finish.
Before you destroy it, spend some time looking at the interior architecture of that period. An eclectic mix of the details of that period with modern furniture could make for a stunning room!
If you don't to bring the room up to the level of interest that the fireplace has, a good drywaller can frame out the angles of the chimney with cover over the niche. The stone can be removed and the surround reframed. Not a DYI project.
1 Like    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 7:17AM
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LB Interiors
Some ideas. I would leave the top a-shape structure, but maybe enclose the niche
If you reconstruct the the upper structure, you would have to change the crown molding in the entire room. Maybe could find a molding match.
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1 Like    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 8:57AM
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yoboseiyo
you could build out a frame around the masonary, to square it off, then make a bigger mantle. similar to this :: http://www.younghouselove.com/2013/03/fireplace-makeover-stick-a-fork-in-it/ just keep the original stone in place to save time and money.
1 Like    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 11:59AM
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parisgirl1970
LB interiors has some Beautiful photos of fire places here-- but you don't have these high ceilings that are shown. Maybe some type of smaller ceiling beams or faux coffered ceilings to give the room some drama? Love drama.
    Bookmark   June 16, 2013 at 5:44PM
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