A fireplace, unlike any other addition, adds a unique touch to your home,. It brings with it an air of elegance, history, and can completely transform any room. Unfortunately, such elegance can quickly turn into an overaged household item when left unattended over the years. You may have inherited the house from your parents or perhaps you’ve been living in it for long enough to desire a makeover. Looking for ways to upgrade your fireplace can give you the change you’re looking for in all cases. If this is what you’re looking for, then you’re right where you’re supposed to be. Here are 7 tips to enhance the look of your fireplace.
1. Clean Your Fireplace
Even the most sophisticated household items will fail to showcase their beauty if left to accumulate dirt and dust. That gets even worse with the fireplace where the burnt ashes and soot accelerate the accumulation of dirt. You’ll need to do regular maintenance on your fireplace after every use, where you collect any scattered ash and clean the surrounding area. In case the wood has been completely used up, you’ll want to remove it as well, keeping in mind to leave it until it cools down completely.
Over the years, you’ll find your fireplace turning blacker with every use. You shouldn’t leave it until it reaches that level, with a deep cleansing every few months being sufficiently effective. You can still start now if you haven’t cleaned it for years, but it’s going to take some more effort on your part to achieve the feat.
To perform a deep cleansing routine, you’ll need to be prepared for a messy session of cleaning. Make sure to wear old clothes, sturdy gloves, and a face mask. Don’t forget to cover the surrounding floor as well, so it doesn’t get damaged.
You’ll start with preparing the cleaning agent, which can either be store-bought or a homemade recipe. A good DIY cleaning agent can be made from cream of tartar, mixing vinegar and water, or adding dish-soap to water. You’ll also need cleaning tools like a brush, a piece of microfiber cloth, and a duster or sweeper.
Once that’s ready, you’ll start the cleaning process. Make sure to leave the fireplace to cool down for at least 12 hours before starting. Remove the burnt ashes and used up firewood with the sweeper, sweep the inside of the fireplace from upwards to downwards, and use the vacuum cleaner to remove the fine particles. Dip the brush into the cleaning agent and brush the insides of the fireplace until it’s completely wet, and leave it to soak for 15 to 30 minutes. Afterward, use a dry piece of microfiber cloth to wipe the insides. After cleaning the insides, you’ll need to clean the microfiber cloth and use it to clean the glass, if you have any.
To clean the glass, you’ll dip the cloth in water and then dip in the ashes you’ve collected from the fireplace. Although it may sound counterintuitive, you’ll be amazed at how quickly that will remove the soot attached to the insides of the glass. Before discarding the ashes, consider scattering them in the yard to repel insects and snails. These ashes can also be used to fertilize the garden, thanks to their high mineral content.
2. Use the Right Kind of Wood
Using the right kind of wood will lift a great weight off your shoulders when it comes to maintaining the cleanliness of your fireplace. You’ll have one of two options when it comes to wood, either kiln-dried or seasoned wood. As the experts at Buyfirewooddirect.co.uk explain, there are so many advantages to using kiln-dried wood over the traditional seasoned firewood. It all comes back to the amount of moisture in the wood, and how that affects its burning rate and exhaust produced.
To understand the difference between both, it’s worthwhile to point out how firewood works. If you’re camping in the wilderness, your options will be limited to fresh or green wood from your surroundings. Any camper knows how difficult it is to light up that wood, much less keep the fire going on nothing but the greenwood. That’s because it has a high content of moisture that prevents the fire from lasting long.
To make the wood more efficient for household use in ovens and chimneys and for outdoor camping, the wood is dried using one of two methods: a kiln or air-drying. Kiln-dried wood reaches a much lower moisture content, making it much more efficient in burning and heating. Wood dried by air is known as the traditional seasoned wood; it contains more moisture, burns less efficiently than kiln-dried wood, and produces less heat. Moreover, kiln-dried wood burns more cleanly as it produces less soot, in addition to being free from insects, fungi, and mold.
3. Change the Mantel
If you’re looking for a way to completely transform the fireplace, then you’ll want to consider changing the mantel. Whether it’s changing the whole mantel or adding one where there was none, this change will definitely work in your favor. You’ll be able to turn an old fireplace into a modern one by changing the material of the mantel. For instance, consider switching the old and cracked hardwood for simple marble slaps. Alternatively, you can take your contemporary fireplace back in time by installing a vintage wooden mantel that’s rich in classic drawings or designs. On the other hand, you can call upon your creative and artistic skills and design a custom mantel to match the decor of the room.
The most important thing to keep in mind when changing or installing a mantel is to follow the parameters of code requirements. These requirements dictate the size of the mantel, the distance between the combustible material and the sides of the firebox, and the length of the horizontal piece. You can do it yourself if you’re skilled enough in this area, but you may need the help of a professional to ensure that proper safety measures are in place.
4. Upgrade its Surroundings
Although they can be decorated to give a modern air, mantels will always be a traditional fireplace item. If you’re looking for a more contemporary look, you’ll find that your options are unlimited. Once you decide to upgrade the surroundings of the fireplace, you must first identify your budget, the effort you’re willing to exert, and the time it will take you to complete the project. Depending on the previous factors, you’ll be able to narrow down your brainstorming session to a few achievable looks.
For instance, if the budget and effort taken don’t pose any issues for you, then you can consider transforming the whole wall. That may even be necessary in case the wall holding the fireplace has been severely damaged or requires a lot of attention. Instead of attending to individual items in the wall, it may be worthwhile to transform it into a minimalistic yet modern look. You can achieve that by building a new wall with another layer of drywall in front of it, and then design the exterior according to the decoration of the room. You can even get more creative with the second wall layer and create nooks on the sides of the fireplace.
On the other hand, you can work around the fireplace you already have in place. For instance, you can install tiles around the fireplace, and that will give you a myriad of design options to choose from. You can go for mosaic tiles, neutral tones, or colored tiles to match the color of the wall. Otherwise, you can go for a stone or brick setting to deliver a classic look. For a more natural look, you can opt for concrete or natural stone instead.
5. Give it a Paint-Over
A simple way to upgrade your fireplace and mantel without going overboard is to simply paint it.
When looking to paint a traditional fireplace, you’ll want to keep the classic elements intact while breathing life into them with a fresh layer of paint. The color of the paint you use needs to be chosen well, serving to accentuate the fireplace as a focal point while fitting in with the surrounding walls.
In case you have wooden surroundings, the repaint process may require a little more effort on your part. You’ll need to strip and sand the wood first, after which you’ll clean the area and apply a primer. Once it dries out, you’ll paint the wood with two layers of coatings, leaving the first one to dry properly before reapplying the paint. You can finish it with semi-gloss acrylic paint to give it a fresh and elegant look. As for the tiles, there’s nothing easier than giving them paint over after cleaning the tiles and using the right paint. Don’t forget to seal off the edges using a painter’s seal to avoid ruining the surrounding walls.
Speaking of paint, you’ll have to make sure that the material withstands heat. That becomes even more important in the case of painting the insert. After applying the first layer, wait and check if it sticks to the surface well, since not all materials can be painted.
In the case of brick surroundings, you should totally consider whitewashing them. Brick is not exactly the best, or easiest, material to paint over, so whitewashing them using a mixture of white latex paint and water can do you wonders. You’ll first spray the brick with water, dip a rag in the mixture, then use it to apply the paint over large areas. To reach finer areas, you can use a dry brush. You may need a second coating to get the bright tone you’re looking for.
6. Change the Type of Fireplace
If you’re looking for a total upgrade for a number of reasons, then changing the type of your current fireplace may be what you’re looking for. Other options can be more practical, energy-efficient, and easier to maintain. Here are the four main types of fireplaces, so take your pick.
These are the most traditional fireplaces. They give the full experience of living in a vintage house, but they have many downsides, one of which is the need for firewood and cleaning the mess that comes with it. You can settle for an open-hearth fireplace, which is certainly the most romantic of all, but it’s also the least efficient when it comes to heating and maintenance. Many people opt for enclosed fireplaces or fireplace inserts instead.
Gas fireplaces take away some of the hassles that come with wood-burning fireplaces, delivering a cleaner and more efficient experience. They fall short on delivering the air of the first one, though. You can go for a direct-vented built-in gas fireplace if you want to get yellow flames like you’d get with a traditional fireplace, or spice up your living room with a blue flame by installing a ventless built-in one.
Alternatively, an electric fireplace can be installed without any chimneys or gas lines. This low-maintenance alternative can be a great option for practicality, but the fire you get will only be simulated by the heated coils. You can play around with its built, choosing a mantel electric fireplace or settling for an electric fireplace TV stand.
If you’re looking to completely embrace the modern look, then an ethanol fireplace is your best choice. In addition to the practicality and safety, you’ll have a myriad of design options to choose from. You can go wall-mounted or portable ones and then choose the size, shape, and flame color you like. Much like ethanol fireplaces, alcohol gel fireplaces deliver the same advantages.
7. Get Creative in the Off-Seasons
Finally, you can’t afford to neglect your fireplace in the off-seasons. Just because you’re not using it to light a fire doesn’t mean you can find more creative uses for it. You’ll definitely remove most of the decor surrounding the fireplace when you’re using it anyway, so the off-seasons are a great time to redecorate your room with all the items you’ve moved to storage. Additionally, you can decorate the inside of your fireplace using wood stacks, books, or toys. You can also keep the light going by placing a few candles and lighting them to set the mood.
Your fireplace has been majestic in all its glory when it was first installed. However, now that time has left its print over this piece of art, it’s time to create your own art. Depending on the state of your fireplace, there are a lot of enhancements you can make. You can always start with cleaning it, then you can move on to decorating, upgrading, or doing a makeover.