A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Fireplace Before & After!

I went through ALL of my house photos, and this is the absolute “best” photo of the BEFORE fireplace, i.e. working within the constraints of the PO’s “vision” for the fireplace he installed (which is SO not original to the house), and how I tried to make it work for us, at least temporarily.

And here below, finally, after 9 loooonnnng years, is the AFTER fireplace, matching the original view as closely as possible for an apples-to-apples comparison.

It’s hard for me to believe that this is the same firebox; it almost looks bigger in the “after” photo, but we actually minimized it and tiled over the metal box as close as possible to the opening and vents. We also painted the brass accents with heat-resistant black paint which makes it look less dated.

The drum table/tall coffee table in the “before” photo has been moved to a dead corner in the living room near the foyer and behind the rocking chair (which is in the lower left corner of the photo). It’s been kind of an awkward piece of furniture but it came from my maternal grandparents’ house and I’m sentimental about it. The low, round mid-century coffee table in the “after” photo came from Pete’s family cottage. No one else wanted it, and I didn’t want to see it go to Goodwill so we took it. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, and it was a little too blonde for my tastes, so I had a piece of tinted glass cut for it and I think it works really well here with our curved sofa.

Another thing that was an unintentional “bonus”: we had the wing chairs, which originally belonged to Pete’s grandparents, reupholstered in the sage green fabric, which I absolutely LOVE, when we still lived in the old house. But I wasn’t 100% happy with them next to the wall color I chose for the living room, until we tiled the fireplace. The greens, grays and golds in the slate tile surround really seemed to bring it all together.


The black radiator screening allows heat to escape and we can easily remove it to access the radiator, which was impossible to do before. The screening also ties in with the firebox and helps “ground” it a little more. The tall, shallow shelf (shown here) where we had to accommodate the air intake vent for the fireplace worked out fine. Most books fit without overhanging, and since the chair is in front of it, it’s not noticeable.

To conclude our little before-after tour, another cottage “throw-away” is the little side table (one of the legs is shown in the photo above). It was a beat-up thing that my sister-in-law didn’t want up there, so once again I took it home. I bought a small sample jar of paint at our local Ace Hardware for about 5 bucks in a Pomegranate color which matches the little “cherry” in our living room art glass windows. It’s a great punch of color and can easily be moved around wherever it’s needed.


  1. Sharon@LaurelhurstCraftsman on August 28, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Looks great! The before wasn’t bad, but you definitely made it better.

  2. Jan Hunyady on August 31, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Love the bookcases. Are you planning on categorizing them? I’m considering some sort of order so I can find a book when I want it without having to look and look. I have to believe there is software somewhere to do that.

    The fireplace looks very cozy and was a perfect solution for the fireplace without removing the fireplace. Nice work.

    • denise on September 4, 2016 at 10:26 am

      I did some loose categorizing, e.g. art books together, home reference, etc. so I think it’ll be fairly easy to find what I need. I have an app called Delicious Library which catalogs everything pretty easily. I haven’t done it, but I’m sure you can add details like which shelf the book is on.

  3. Morgan Culture on September 1, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    SO BEAUTIFUL!! What a joy to finish a project this long in the making. Very impressive, and what a lovely re-use of existing materials. Nice work!

    • denise on September 4, 2016 at 10:21 am

      Thanks Morgan! It is definitely satisfying!

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