Renovation Catch Up: Fireplace Transformation
Trying to renovate a house on a super-small budget, whilst your still trying to actually live in the place is pretty heavy going. I know I can’t be the only girl to have ever said that.
It’s a lot of work. A lot of stopping and starting and fitting in around work, friends, family and home life. Recently the big plans seem to have taken a bit of a backseat. And, now, almost feel like they’ve been forgotten as we’ve been so busy with so many other things. Suddenly, we feel as though we’ve got a huge mountain to climb and that we really need to get ourselves back on track.
We’re making lists, working through our ideas, checking (and rechecking!) our budget and looking for ways to get this show back on the road.
It’s hard not to feel really overwhelmed with the all that we still want to do – and how will we ever find the time, money and inspiration inside this millennium to finish this project? To lift my spirits, I decided to have a look over some of our Before & After photos from some of our completed renovations projects – way to go with the mood boosting! It amazed me how quickly I had forgotten how much we have already achieved.
Once of my very favourite things in our home is our fireplace. But, that wasn’t always the case. The fireplace that was here when we moved in was a truly unholy brand of ugly. It was a painted black concrete hole surrounded by yellowish grey bricks, not even Wizard of Oz yellow brick road style bricks, more like a rather shabby 1970s version.
Needless to say, this was earmarked as one of the first Uglies in our home to be ripped out. True to our words, this bad boy was attacked with a sledgehammer the week we picked up the keys! A lot of hard graft followed and our fireplace is now a real thing of beauty. And, with Autumn just around the corner, I’m already thinking about calling in a chimney sweep, stacking up logs, and drinking hot tea on the toasty hearth.
So, I thought I’d share some snaps of this fireplace transformation.
Before – can you even begin to believe the UGLY happening right here?Then came the sledgehammer – I think you’ll agree that even this is a huge improvement!
Here’s when things started to look like they weren’t going to have a serious case of the UGLIES forever! When we moved in my bro-in-law, gave us what is probably one of the most awesome gifts in the history of forever, a reclaimed Victorian fireplace. Sweet. Best part was that it only needed a small amount of work, a little bit of sanding back and a bit of painting up.
Clearly, this was not done by me.
If you have a husband with mean spray can skills, it seems silly to get involved in any way other than making tea and snapping pictures!
Besides, he does things like this…
Yup. That happened. It’s pretty soppy and under every replaced floorboard, behind ever re-tiled wall and scribbled on the plaster before painting is this exact same lovenote.
The fireplace was fitted – after much shouting and swearing at our wonky walls – with an amazing cast iron fire surround.
Ok – this way more grand than the fireplace and surround that would have been installed in our home originally. But, you know what, I love it and that’s all that matters to me! The surround was a £10 bargain from eBay – which did need a lot of love. And, by love I mean heaps of Nitromors, sanding, filling and sanding and, finally, painting. It weighs ton, literally, but man does it look awesome!
And, then comes the hearth. I’m pretty certain that the previous hearth consisted of three garden patio slabs painted black – don’t even get me started on that. Ugly and heavy. A huge box of granite tiles, bought for at rock bottom prices from a hoarder with a lock up in a field somewhere in the Essex wilderness, is the finishing touch for this fireplace.
Even at this not-quite-there-yet-stage, this transformation completely blew my mind! That grey ‘smudge’ is actually where the cast iron cracked completely in two pieces! This accident had me descend into floods of tears – how can you repair something so old, so well crafted that has literally cleaved into two pieces? The answer, apparently, is a husband with bolts, brackets, filler, sand a paper and paint. Ok, so this added a whole heap of time to the project, but rubbing your hand over it you’d never know that there was even a blemish there, let alone an almighty crack!
Here’s to a husband with a Degree in Model Making- that’s basically a license to make, fix or create anything using anything!
The void where the original Victorian tiles would have sat between the fire place and the surround was quickly filled with a wooden frame and glossy black tiles were cut to size and fixed in place. Suddenly, the whole thing has come together, it looks like something that has always been there, not a few different parts, carefully picked out and crafted and fused together. Now for something I did help with. Painting, painting, painting! I didn’t just paint the firebreast, I painted the whole entire room – but, that’s a different story!
So much love, so much work went into this fireplace. There was good times – finding the perfect cast iron surround for less than a round in the local pub- there was had times – cracking said surround clean in two pieces while fitting it. There were long days of stripping and sanding and filling and sanding and sanding and, did I mention there was sanding? Until, finally we have a fireplace that is totally breathtaking.
So, while I’m sad that summer is starting to dwindle into autumn, I have to confess the prospect of having more cosy nights in front of a real fire make me really look forward to the cooler season.
Sharing these pictures gives me a case of the warm and fuzzies. It also give me that much needed inspiration and motivation to get stuck into the next big project. So, what’s next? We have garden wall building and storm porch tiling in our (very) near future and I can’t wait to get stuck in and create some more renovation transformations!