Updated Fireplaces Take Center Stage

November 2009: Does your fireplace say "1975" or "Builders' Special"? If so, it's time for a fabulous focal point.

It’s that time of the year, where fireplaces have a starring role in your family gathering. If your fireplace says “1975” or “builder’s special”, it might be time to upgrade it.

Many of today’s homes have grand family rooms with high ceilings, but the fireplace doesn’t live up to the space in the proper proportion. Surrounds of painted moldings with undersized mantels are usually dwarfed by the rest of the room’s architecture. What should be a focal point is now an element which throws off the balance of the space.

Older homes often have fireplaces with brick surrounds and oak mantels. Because the brick color and pattern of the grout lines and oak grain can be a distraction in the room, the fireplace may also become an eyesore, to be ignored or disguised.

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Before you decide to hide your fireplace behind your sofa, here are a few ideas.

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A larger mantel can be the first step to a grander fireplace. Paneling or a shadowbox added above the mantel can provide much needed scale to the wall and make a statement. Painted mantels can receive custom finish treatments to simulate wood, stone, or other materials.
A brick fireplace can have its brick glazed and colored for greater richness. Or, sheetrock over the brick, install a new mantel, paint or put a decorative plaster on the wall, and you will have an amazing transformation.

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