There are several things you can do when decorating your fireplace, which can have a dramatic effect on the look of the room while enhancing the value of your home. Let’s explore various ways to bring your fireplace to life.
The first thing that should be done is to clean the years of soot and grime build-up off the brick. Once you clear the cavity of grates, andirons, etc., the bricks should be scrubbed with a heavy-bristled brush and a scouring powder with bleach. The position is awkward and you won’t be able to stay in a good working position for very long. Take breaks if you start to feel achy.
The smoke and soot should come off fairly easily, but if stains persist, try adding vinegar. A stronger solution can be made by adding muriatic acid. This is dissolved in water – 10 parts water to 1 part acid. There is a ready-mixed solution called Brick-Anew. You should be able to find this product at your local hardware store.
Once the bricks are cleaned, you might consider painting the bricks. This is a very inexpensive fireplace decorating solution. Any reputable paint store will be able to help you select a color.
When buying your paint, be sure to choose an interior latex primer for the base coat and a 100% acrylic latex paint for the topcoat. Satin, flat, or semi-gloss will all work – your preference. Latex is good for painting brick because it allows the porous brick surface to breathe. This will minimize future fireplace decorating problems.
Turning to the outside of the fireplace, there are several things you can do which will make a radical change to the appearance of your fireplace. Once again, painting (or staining) of the outer bricks and wood components is the least expensive thing to do.
Since these outer surfaces are so much more visible than the fireplace cavity, you have to choose colors that will complement the rest of the room. If you decide to use two colors, the item with the lighter color will be highlighted and seem more prominent.
When decorating the “fireplace,” consider the area above the mantel as well as below it. Hanging a tapestry or some impressive artwork will be very effective in making the fireplace the focal point of the room. Since the advent of thin screen TVs, many people hang them over the fireplace. This solves the problem of having 2 focal points and not having a clear direction for the seating in the room.
In a traditional setting, a wood back panel will accent a painting mounted upon it. Direct lighting onto the painting is very important. Pay attention to paintings with lighting shining directly onto them, and notice the difference to paintings without the lighting. The lighting makes a BIG difference. If you choose to box out the area above the fireplace, you could add a crown molding at the ceiling as well.
One of the more costly fireplace decorating options, but one of the most rewarding, is the total replacement of the fireplace mantle. Adding a new wood mantle to match the decor of your room can do wonders to change the room’s atmosphere.
If you have access to natural gas or propane gas, you could opt to buy the gas log components. If you’re tired of buying wood and dealing with the mess, this is your answer. These gas sets can include a venting system which will blow hot air into the room, making these units much more efficient than traditional fireplaces.
Fireplace screens come in a variety of looks and finishes. But I recommend buying a pair of fireplace doors instead. These come with inner screens for safety, look much neater, and keep the cold air away from the warm air.
The initial cost of the fireplace doors is higher, and the glass will need occasional cleaning. But the doors give you a better look and greater insulating efficiency. Whatever you decide, have fun doing it.