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Light a match to this fireplace wall?

Kris Bruesehoff
May 16, 2018

Looking for suggestions on fixing this Fireplace wall in the home we just moved into, preferably without having to tear out the flooring.

My biggest challenge is the angled walls on either side. The one side is quite deep, originally for a tv, and the angles are not the same. I want to get rid of this marble, the cream shelves and this mantle; and was considering doing a floor to ceiling stacked stone with a wood mantle and wood shelves. The insert doors will be changed, as will the wall color of the room. The walls are a textured finish and are difficult to recreate so I’ve been encouraged not to change them.

The dilemma is the stacked stone with the angle, I think just doing the center portion would be too narrow, and the switches are not in a good location for a clean look, and am hearing it might be difficult to relocate them. ( anyone know if this is true?) Help, any and all ideas appreciated!


Trying to show the difference between the two sides.. one is deep with rectangular shelves, the other has shelves that follow the angle of the wall...so triangle shelves.

This photo shows how the two wall angles are very different.

Comments (87)

  • Kris Bruesehoff

    Still considering putting a cabinet front on the bottom with three shelves above.

  • jbtanyderi
    Put a larger rug between the sofas (front legs should be at least 6”-8” onto the rug). The style of your furniture doesn’t work well with the informality of stacked stone.
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    Jbtanyderi- Thank you but not really doing anything decor wise till I determine what I am doing with the wall (since it is kind of the focal point) . Pretty much everything in the room is temporary until I figure out how to address the fireplace wall. Stack stone won’t work anyway due to the constraints of the wall.

  • Kris Bruesehoff thanked groveraxle
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    Thank you so much for the photo!

  • qam999

    Since the left hand niche was obviously built for a massive CRT TV, which is now obsolete, I would do whatever I could to demolish both niches and push all the drywall back as far as possible. Best case, you have a symmetrical layout with the same depth (back to front) on either side. Another issue to address is the fact that the fireplace is flush with its surrounding walls. It really should be proud of (i.e. stand out from) its surrounding walls at least 8-10 inches. You can fix this when you redo the masonry. Good luck!

    Kris Bruesehoff thanked qam999
  • PRO
    Scott Haig, CKD

    Excellent point, qam999: I agree that making the fireplace "proud" of the walls gives it more presence in the room, no matter what the facing material is. If you can recess the existing niches floor to ceiling, then you have more "side" space to define just the fireplace, with recessed niches holding open, thick wood shelving. Excellent work groveraxle with the visualizations and ideas, too.

    Kris Bruesehoff thanked Scott Haig, CKD
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    I would love to demo the entire wall!, unfortunately the wall is a textured finish and so we would need to redo the rest of the walls, redo all the floors, and ceiling for the entire floor ( living, dining, kitchen, two hallways, library, entry as it is open concept. .... I know this is ugly and I know we need to spend money to make it right. I was kind of hoping there was a under $20,000 fix. But I know deep down you are right. Even with full demo the two walls won't be symmetrical unless we dummy wall on one side and just lose the space ( which is ok) . I would seriously love to ask whoever designed this what he/ she was thinking...

    I suppose bringing someone in to see where the main support beam is makes sense to see what options are?

  • PRO
    Scott Haig, CKD

    I think bringing someone in to check the structure might be a good strategy if you want to rework the wall. We use local Structural Engineers for questions like these in our projects. Hope it turns out beautifully, Kris!

    Kris Bruesehoff thanked Scott Haig, CKD
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    We currently have a raised hearth...any thoughts on if you would do a lower hearth, keep it or get rid of it?

  • shirlpp

    For sure a lower hearth.

    Kris Bruesehoff thanked shirlpp
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    revisiting this thread .... as I still don't have a good plan.

    Several people have said they dont hate the marble.

    A less expensive option would be to just replace the shelves and mantle, adding shelves where the tv niche is & embrace the uniqueness of the angled shelves.

    any opinions on that?

  • groveraxle

    A modern walnut mantel with no corbels, matching shelves. Pay particular attention to what goes on the shelves. They would be perfect for your collection of Ming vases or multicolored art glass.



    Kris Bruesehoff thanked groveraxle
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    Love it Grover. Thank you.

    Since I don’t have Ming vases will my antique bowls work? I have quite a collection and would love to display them. Keeping shelves as is is quite a challenge for display with depth ranging from 5 inches to over 2.5 feet!

  • renmck
    Ignore the extras my Mom is moving into
    Her new home. Corner fireplaces are so difficult. Love the corner fireplace that looks like intentional furniture rather than stone front that can be trendy depending upon what you select.
    Kris Bruesehoff thanked renmck
  • groveraxle

    Your antique bowls will work, but I would suggest you hunt for some larger ones so you can have fewer shelves with some larger objects. They don't even all have to be bowls. Then it will be more focal and less cluttered.

    Kris Bruesehoff thanked groveraxle
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    I do have larger ones ... they aren’t in the picture because they don’t fit on the small angled shelf, but they will fit on the other side when I put shelves there.

    If I do less shelves I hope I can do bigger visual impact items.


  • Kris Bruesehoff

    Beverly, I appreciate your input on decorating the shelves but before I can add the "jewelry" I need to fix the dilemma with the actual shelves And fireplace. If you read the above post it is a very unusual set up. The angle and depth of the mismatched shelves needs to be addressed don't you think?

    i do love decorating with books and am working on collecting more as this room has an adjacent library. Unfortunately give the current dimensions of the shelves only very tiny books would fit.

  • Kris Bruesehoff

    I wished we lived in a town where it was easier to have designers to help!

  • Kris Bruesehoff

    I gave this a rest to live with it and now revisiting over and over, and still haven’t found a solution that I love so...I’m wondering if it makes sense to replace tiles with better color, then do a painted wood surround ( more traditional style) that extends to the ceiling? And replace curved edge shelves with wooden ones Painted same color

    Something like this? @ouldma good carpenter be able to work around the odd angles?

    Groveraxel... I truly value your input and amazing abilities!! if you want to play with this again I’d be forever grateful.

  • groveraxle

    Hi, Kris. I think I gave this my best shot last time, so let me just opine a bit. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. I find the most disturbing thing about the wall is the narrow, evenly spaced, white shelves. I would replace all of them with thick walnut to match an even thicker walnut mantel. This could be done without touching the texture and shouldn't be hard for a decent woodworker.


    Then I would carefully curate my display items, try to keep them to a theme, and make them great examples of the genre. Could be art glass, antique objects, aboriginal artifacts, sculpture...large and not too many, so it looks like a museum display.

    And since the niches are different sizes, I wouldn't even attempt symmetry. Aim for balance instead.

    Kris Bruesehoff thanked groveraxle
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    Thank you for the quick reply. I totally agree with you re the shelves and accessories. And do like the look you have posted for them. It is by far the easiest fix and will help tremendously.

    I am just so frustrated to be stuck with the fireplace as I hate the color and look of the tiles and was so hoping for more height and focus to the fireplace itself. I know I will like it better... but I wanted to LOVE it.

    Again I am a huge fan of all you do on Houzz.

  • groveraxle

    Inspiration:



    Kris Bruesehoff thanked groveraxle
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    Thank you... I suppose if I can make the shelves awesome I won’t notice the ugly fireplace?


  • Weathy

    You said "Because the two different angles of the wall that start at the edge of the firebox. In order to have the stone be straight it would need to be built out. It’s my major issue with this wall and not sure how to make it work. See the rough sketch above."


    I think I'm missing your point about the angles of the existing walls (Left of FP wall, FP wall and right of FP wall) and how they transition into the fireplace wall. Why couldn't a stone never or slate come together at an angle?


    You say you're not opposed to losing the shelving. To me that's a plus. Add drywall, make a sold wall on both sides of FP and cover with your veneer stone/slate so the three wall sections read as one. Add the mantel you want. Bring the switch box out to be flush with the stone (or relocate).


    If you only put the stone on the center section, and you drywall over the existing shelving and add matching texture, you're not dealing with old wall surface and new wall surface on the same plane. Left of FP wall ends at an exterior corner; right of FP wall ends at an interior corner. Like trying to match paint on two walls that come together at the corner of the room, any small difference is barely noticeable where the transition is on a different plane.


    Two considerations if you went this route would be removing the part of the hearth that projects into the room. You said you don't want to mess with the floor. Are you willing to do it if it means getting a fireplace you love? Is that a red oak floor? Or another easy to find wood? If so, filling in to match the existing flooring would be relatively easy fix. A good flooring person would know how to make that unnoticeable.







    Kris Bruesehoff thanked Weathy
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    Thank you for your response and new ideas for the fireplace Weathy. I’m open to exploring suggestions!

    i showed the original stacked stone idea to an installer who came out and he said it couldn’t be done with the cut angles because it would be too difficult to cut the stones to a clean line and if they were it would be very distinct line where the angles meet And would look awkward to have so many breaks in such a small area. His suggested was to keep material no thicker than tile.

    If we pulled out the center wall to have a flat surface for stone, slate or other material the fireplace box would be recessed in about 4-5 inches.

    i do appreciate what you are saying with the texture not being as obvious when there is a natural break. That makes total sense and makes me feel a bit better.

    im not sure I would like just the center section being covered... would it look odd to not have anything immediately next to the fireplace box, and just to have it be on top and bottom? I do like that it would add height.

    I think we have enough left over flooring to fix If we removed the hearth... just not enough to remove the niches and push back those walls.

  • jbtanyderi
    The rug is much too small. Drapes going to the ceiling would help the proportioning. The green is rather heav. Some of the shelves could come out to facilitate art placement.
    Kris Bruesehoff thanked jbtanyderi
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    jbtanyderi. All so very true. I have replaced the rug already and will paint as soon as I figure out what to do with the fireplace ( as I want it all to look right together) . I like Groveraxles suggestions for the shelves so will hopefully doing something like that.

    i haven’t decided on adding drapes... love the views in the house and hate to cover up any of the window ( which ends exactly at the corner)

  • Brown Dog
    If this were my house, I would blow up that entire wall and get it straight. The angles would drive me bonkers. Then I would do the floor to ceiling stone fireplace with a big chunky wood mantle. On each side I would put built in cabinetry to cover the unfinished floor where the angles were. Maybe cabinets with doors at the bottom and open shelving at top, and no arches! The built ins on either side should cover the whole straight wall on either side of fireplace so that matching the wall texture to the rest of the room will not be an issue. The whole wall will read as a single built in unit and doesn't need to match rest of room. Also, the existing space where the angled walls are is really deep. You may have to build the cabinets out a bit so that the cabinets and shelving are not so deep. Good luck!
    Kris Bruesehoff thanked Brown Dog
  • jpp221
    I’d blast ‘em. There are so many irregularities—they are of unequal width, the angles differ, one runs deep while the other us of varying depth. And you want to be done with the fireplace itself (good call, that), which is the most expensive part, so why not do the rest anyway?
    Kris Bruesehoff thanked jpp221
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    Brown Dog. So are you suggesting Cabinets that come forward from the straight wall? Something like this?


  • Brown Dog
    Hi Kris. That's exactly what I was thinking. I see by your diagram that there is a space on the floor on the left that would have unfinished floor exposed. If you can't bring the cabinetry forward enough to cover it, that's a problem. I have a few suggestions. You could install a stone hearth in front of the fireplace with a stone that would compliment the stone of the fireplace. The existing flooring you lift for the stone hearth can be used to patch that spot on the left. Any good flooring installer will be able to do this. Or, install a stone hearth across the whole width of the wall the same depth as the bare spot. Or, incorporate a built in bench into the cabinetry (with upholstered cushions) that would come out further into the room to cover the spot. So that would be a built in bench on both sides of fireplace and full width of wall. Seats could lift up for storage and would be extra seating when entertaining. Good luck!
    Kris Bruesehoff thanked Brown Dog
  • Brown Dog
    Hi again Kris. Just had another look at your pictures. I see that your existing hearth is raised. That's a good thing! To cover the bare flooring spot on the left, continue that raised hearth across the full width of wall and have built in cabinetry behind. Have the top surface of the extended hearth/bench a single piece of chunky granite or a concrete surface depending on your style. Whatever stone you choose for fireplace and hearth/bench, I'd paint the cabinetry in a colour close to the stone colour. Not white. That way the whole wall will read as a single unit and not an awkward patch job. And, a small detail, have the stone top surface of the hearth/bench come out a little further so that there is a bit of an overhang lip to avoid it looking boxy. Good luck!
    Kris Bruesehoff thanked Brown Dog
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    Thinking about the extended hearth concept Thanks for the new option Brown Dog!

    We do have some extra flooring so I think that would cover the bare spot on the left, so no worries there.

    The raised hearth would be 2 ft by 14+ Ft. I think I’ll tape that off and see how much it would impact the room. Do you think that would be overwhelming for the size of the actual fireplace opening?

    Shelves or cabinets behind would only be on the left side of the fireplace then, so would need to think about ways to balance this out.

  • felizlady
    The mantel is rather puny for the area. I would install something larger but not rustic.
    Yes, change the marble. Stacked stone may look better on the fireplace portion alone. Paint the walls to blend with the stacked stone or get a mix of stacked stone which blends with the walls. The color of the three sections can unify them.
    Rearrange all of your displayed items: they are too regimented and even. Use a mix of books (vertical or horizontal), decorative pieces of several types, several colors, a few natural “found” objects, some photos, and small art pieces. Variety is much more interesting.
    Kris Bruesehoff thanked felizlady
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    Felizlady... please read the comments above addressing all of this. I truly appreciate the accessory advice but need to fix the dilemma first.

  • Kris Bruesehoff

    very rough sketch. I like that I would be rid of the weird angles...but would this seem very unbalanced?


  • Brown Dog
    Hi Kris. If this were my house, I would demo that whole wall then build it back again including built ins on BOTH sides, you have the space. At the same time rework any existing electrical if you need to and add lighting to the cabinetry and perhaps cable etc for tv above fireplace. If you have extra flooring then you have more flexibility.
    Kris Bruesehoff thanked Brown Dog
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    We do have a bit of extra flooring, yes that certainly helps.

    To find space for a built in on the right side we would impact the master bedroom. There is currently a ”bar” with sink and mini fridge on the back side. We actually use it frequently for tea and coffee , I’m not sure how hubby would feel about giving that up.


  • groveraxle

    As I recall, part of the problem with modifying that wall was that it was impossible to match the texture. If you're going to demo the wall, then you'll need an alternative surface so it won't look out of place.


    I suggest you browse asymmetrical fireplaces for ideas on balancing that wall.



  • Kris Bruesehoff

    Yes Groveraxle that is still a concern. Brown dog suggested that if entire Surface was done that it would not be as noticable than doing a part of a wall, like they did in the kitchen.

    I’ve noticed alot of the asymmetrical ones I’ve seen are a more modern style, but I think a fabulous large piece of art might be the answer. I’m off to browse more of the inspirations you sent. Thank you!

  • Amanda Smith

    I agree with groveraxle’s above comment. Your dilemma may be more of a decorating dilemma rather than a demo project...You will never achieve symmetry on this wall so don’t aim for it. How about in right built-in put a large interesting basket to hold firewood? Also, paint or replace brass fireplace screen which looks dated. And definitely a larger mantel.

    Kris Bruesehoff thanked Amanda Smith
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    Amanda, I truly appreciate the comment, and totally get that this wall will always hold a challenge, I’m ok with asymmetrical if it has balance and looks great.

    I have learned in other projects though that sometimes challenges push us to think outside the box and we can end up with something truly spectacular. Right now I see the reworked shelves and mantle as a much better look, but not the height or wow we were looking for. Perhaps I should be happy with good enough...I haven’t adjusted to that expectation just yet. i see some amazing projects come together here, and this is so central to our home I feel like it’s worth trying to find a great fix.

  • groveraxle

    I used black slate because, frankly, it was way easier than stacked stone. You may have a problem with a built in on the right. If it sits back flush with the new flat fireplace wall, I believe you will have a drywall patch to make on the window wall which runs into that texture problem again. You could pull the built in forward to meet where the old wall was. That might look funky and cause some difficulties with the hearth (which I ran all the way across in the rendering below).


    Kris Bruesehoff thanked groveraxle
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    Shoot you are right... that corner would need to be patched and I agree the built in sticking out kind of creates a problem all around...with fireplace becoming even less of a focus.

    i do like what you did with the mantle to help balance!

  • groveraxle

    How it might look with the built in pulled forward:


    Kris Bruesehoff thanked groveraxle
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    Thanks for the visual, I don’t think I like the cabinet pulled forward.

    ‘While searching inspiration pics I came across the original builder/ designer with this pic of the room when first built.

    https://www.houzz.com/photos/park-ridge-traditional-dining-room-phvw-vp~26450297

  • groveraxle

    Interesting. It looks exactly the same as when it was built. Probably no one else could figure out what to do with the wall either. ;-)

    Kris Bruesehoff thanked groveraxle
  • Kris Bruesehoff

    I think you are right...I'm sure in the day it was Exactly what the home owners wanted.

    I do hope the original designer/builder contacts me. I think it would be interesting for them to remake it.

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