If you know my husband and I, you know that we tend to move fast on projects around the house.
So, before we had even moved to our new house, we started scoping out ideas for a blank wall in our new living room. The house was built in 1935 and its somewhat surprising that the living area didn’t have a fireplace.
We looked at this blank canvas when we took our pre-move visits and decided to deck the space out with an aftermarket mantle and some decorative tile. As with all of our reno projects, we try our best to stay true to the character of the home and the era in which it was built.
I scoured kijiji for a mantle and was surprised by the abundance on offer. We located one close by and arranged to pop by to check it out and pick it up. (Quick kijiji tip: if the ad says “OBO” make sure you haggle.) We picked it up a handcrafted white understated ornamental mantle for $150. The mantle was built out about 8 inches from the wall and was open around the hearth area, so we knew we needed to get creative with it.
Installation was pretty quick and simple, requiring cutting off a section of baseboard (did I mention they are original 10 inch solid oak baseboards!) and fashioning it to the wall…and floor. (Quick old-home restoration tip: save everything that’s original. You never know when you’ll need to replace a 1.5 ft length of baseboard or 7 inches of window trim.) Removing the baseboard actually revealed a 4ft section of wall behind the casing and a few floor boards which covered up what looks to be a former fireplace.
With the mantle attached and the remaining baseboards put back in place, the next challenge was to fill the 3’x4′ gaping centrepiece inside the fireplace frame. We initially tossed around the idea of reclaimed wood and faux brick, but as I noted previously, in the era of supreme craftsmanship, there wasn’t faux anything. Reclaimed wood, we decided, was probably confusing for a fireplace….you know, because it’s flammable…
We landed on a 3×6 inch smoky grey subway tile from Lowes. Each piece was .56 cents, total cost came in at just shy of $50. We chose a stark white grout to bring out the smokiness of the tile. One night to tile, one night to grout and three days to wipe away the grout haze and we’re in the homestretch. To close off the space between the front of the mantle and the tile backsplash, we used 1×4.5 inch casings from Lowes.
For about $200 and 2.5 hours, we have a completely transformed living space with a defined focal point that is, in our opinion, true to the home.
Now we just need to do something about those TV wires and accessories…!