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Time for a fireplace facelift?

Time for a fireplace facelift? A friendly focal point is what a fireplace should be. But an outdated-looking hole in the wall is what it too often is. Sitting in a prominent position in a living room or den, this boxy but eye-catching object is often a good candidate for a facelift.

Though fireboxes and chimneys are not easily altered, a fireplace's hearth, surround, and mantel can be updated with relatively simple cosmetic changes. All the fireplaces shown on these four pages started with similar brick surrounds. In each case, as our photographs document, the brick disappeared beneath a new cloak of marble, slate, granite, plaster, wood, even--as in the example just below--multicolored troweled stucco. None of these make-overs introduces flammable materials too close to the firebox.

Unlike most remodeling projects, networking the facade of a fireplace doesn't have to involve major structural changes. The three remodels shown on these two pages changed nothing of the original fireplaces; they simply covered them up, except for the firebox openings. The three examples on the next two pages gained sculptural form by adding wooden frames, metal lath, and plaster in front of or above the original.

A facelift can, for a relatively modest investment, enhance an entire room. It can also add practical function to the wall that surrounds the opening.

Most of the new framework can be installed by a carpenter or an experienced do-it-yourself craftsman. Adding ceramic tiles or facing with a natural surface such as slate or granite requires a base of concrete or concrete "backer board," and might require the services of a mason.

The bookcases that wrap around the fireplace on page 56 add valuable storage space to what had been a blank wall. The flanking benches and sculptural niches of the Southwestern-style fireplaces on this page contribute both seating and display space. And the wedge-shaped pedestal at the side of the fireplace at right makes a dramatic platform for a plant or art object, its angular form projecting from the smooth white plaster wall.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jan 1, 1990
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