t_graylish

Changing the fireplace in the 'library' - how?

6 years ago
last modified: 6 years ago

Dear fellow Houzzers

Having never done anything like this before, I would be very grateful for some thoughts, views, advice, dos/don'ts etc.

We have this fireplace in the 3rd reception room we call the library.





We think it is a mish-mash of late 40/early 50s style and the house is (very) late Victorian/early Edwardian. The fireplace is not attractive and does not go with the period of the house at all. So it has to go.



We have seen this fireplace which I think is really pretty and is more 'edwardian' in style (at least that is what my research has led me to believe!)



(the OH apologises for the bad photoshop job!)

Edited to add: The OH has also found this one which does rather go with the overall ridiculousness of the room! FYI we call it the room of ridiculousness as we are going for an over the top Victorian study/gentlemans club style. Full of artefacts, curiosities, and silliness really. :D



Now for the problems/questions/general cry for help.

1. I don't know if I want to burn stuff to get heat or have gas piped through.

2. To burn stuff I would have to get the chimney lined

3. To get the chimney lined I would need scaffolding as the chimneys are really high - access and cost issues

4. I don't know if I need the chimneys lining if I have a gas fire insert

5. I don't know if I can get a 'burning stuff device' to fit in a fireplace that looked like the one I want.

6. I am in a smokeless zone city so need a flue insert as the smokeless fuel can degrade the mortar in the chimney apparently(?)

7. I don't know if I can get a gas fire put in to that fireplace and what the costs would be.

8. I don't have an endless budget (who does :()

9. I don't know what order to do stuff in.

10. I don't know if I can get the fireplace put in and leave the decision on the heat method to afterward when I have saved up a bit.

11. I don't know what to search for on Google to help with answers.

12. I don't know what is under those horrible dirty beige tiles

Our gut is to go with getting the fireplace changed and leave the heating method. This will allow us to decorate the room and save up. We need the outside of the house painting anyway which needs scaffolding to do, so doing that and a flue at the same time would seem sensible.

Any help/advice etc most gratefully received!

Comments (33)

  • 6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I don't know how to respond to your list of 'don't knows' but I do know I prefer the current fireplace to your two suggestions in the photos. :)

    Your room looks great and I love your (walnut?) grand piano. Who's the maker?

    T Gray thanked E D
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  • 6 years ago

    Hi Emily and E D, thank you both for your posts. We took the mirror off and took the top panel off the fireplace to see what was behind. Turns out new plaster has been skimmed on the walls while the mirror was up so there will be a mirror shaped shallow hole to fill. :( Also bricks have been used to build out a bit from the original space and the tiles are fixed to a plate of concrete so looks like I can't just chip them off either. Bit of a mess/ bodge really. So put it all back together and wondering if I could get away with just painting the tiles, cleaning out the grate, ballooning the chimney and sticking an electric fire in when it gets cold..

    By the way ED the piano is a 1930s walnut veneer baby grand by a London firm called Monington and Weston. We got it from Ebay. :D.



  • 6 years ago
    Personally, I’d do as you say and paint the tiles. Their colour is really the only offensive thing about that fireplace. However, if the mirror is not actually part of the fireplace (and from what you’ve said it doesn’t sound as if it’s physically attached) I’d get rid of that and replace it with a single larger mirror. For my eye, I visually ‘trip’ over the difference in height between the pictures to the left and right of the fireplace, and the much lower mirror. It interrupts your perception of the fireplace area being a focal point. There’s a few things you could do:

    - replace the mirror altogether with one that’s the same width of the fireplace and comes up to the same height as the top of the pictures to the left and right. That may need something bespoke, but getting mirror cut to a specific size and framing it should not be difficult or expensive—or not in comparison to ripping out and replacing the entire fire!

    Or

    - replace the mirror as above, but with an standard one that you can buy easily. Rearrange your pictures accordingly so that the top of the mirror and picture is the same, or the mirror is slightly taller.

    Or

    - keep the fire exactly as it is, get more frames and continue your gallery in the space over the top of the mirror. It’s looking a bit empty at the moment in comparison to everything else. By far the cheapest solution!

    Lovely room, I love how eclectic it is, and do completely understand your frustration with the fire. My house is c1920 and the original fireplaces were ripped out wholesale at one point. I’ve an idea what it looked like too as a house up the road was up for sale before I was ready to buy and they were gorgeous. Reinstating the living room fireplace would be require ripping out the weird brick thing there now, so I’ve had to find a way to make it work. However, I hope to eventually put in a period-sympathetic fireplace into the drawing room/bedroom upstairs; I’ve found the original hearth tiles so I know there was a fire there, even though it’s now boarded/bricked up.
    T Gray thanked cavgirl
  • 6 years ago
    No harm in trying painting tiles and it probably will do the job. And just wondered if you could turn the mirror upside down? It’s often the arch that irritates me and if you turned it then the squared off bottom would be at the top. Just thinking it would fit in the plastered gap that’s all ??
    T Gray thanked Emily
  • 6 years ago

    I would try to find tiles that fit and retile the existing fireplace. I like the surround.

    T Gray thanked Juliet Docherty
  • 6 years ago

    Really appreciate everyone'e responses, Thank you all. FYI Colourhappy, the tiles are bonded to some kind of concrete plate. They are not coming off, Removal of the plate would mean ripping the whole thing out too. I bought a pale ivory tile paint today with a decent bristle brush, so will see how that goes. Need to get the scrubbing brush out first!

    Emily, good idea on the mirror, unfortunately the screws that hold it to the wall are hidden in the carving at the curves, the bottom just sits on the mantle.

  • 6 years ago

    Couldn't you just tile over them? Stick the new ones on with CT1?

    T Gray thanked Juliet Docherty
  • 6 years ago

    Unfortunately not CH, around the edges of the actual fire bit they are curved. :(

  • 6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Isn't ivory very close to the current tiles' colour?

    Have you considered other colours? A dark green maybe?

    I'm no colour expert but perhaps colourhappy has some good suggestions.

    T Gray thanked E D
  • 6 years ago

    So thanks again for all the input. We have decided to take it out. I got a recommendation from a colleague for a fireplace place. We will be fitting a gas fire in there (but in stages). Going for taking the existing thing out (anyone want to call dibs on the surround, feel free!) and putting in a fairly sympathetic repro with a walnut mantle surround bit. Going to be at end of May so will clear the room paint the ceiling, get the fire done, wallpaper, put the room back together, then treat myself to a record player and enjoy with a glass of something. :)


    Will submit photos of progress if anyone interested. :D

  • 6 years ago

    Hi, I have 2 questions that are completely unrelated to your fireplace...

    - Where did you get that amazing chaise longue?

    - Would you consider changing your bookcase? To me, it seems a little too square and linear, and a bit out of place in your wonderful gentlemen's club.

    Have a nice day,

    Mehdia

    T Gray thanked mehdiadeco
  • 6 years ago
    Yes remember to post pics when you’ve done :)
    And regarding the last comment about the bookcase I think you could paint the wall above the bookcase the same as the other walls. You could even paint the bookcase the same. I think I would.
    T Gray thanked Emily
  • 6 years ago

    I agree with some comments about your bookcase.

    Imho it doesn't seem to have the quality feel of your other furniture pieces.

    Particularly since you are calling this room your library (nice!), I think your books deserve better :)

    T Gray thanked E D
  • 6 years ago

    Cheers for the book case suggestions folks, completely agree they need changing in this room. They are Ikea Billy and I have 8 dotted around the house full of books! Ideally something lovely in oak is my preference. That will need saving up for though.

    I got the chaise from an antiques centre in Derbyshire. A lady was downsizing her big house and selling off her larger bits of furniture so she rented space in the centre. As soon as we saw it we knew it was the right level of ridiculousness for the room. :D The other chair is called a Sherlock chair so couldn't say no to that either. :D

    The room will be wallpapered not painted to give a more sumptuous feel. Ivory ruched silk for 3 walls and a damask for the chimney wall. Already got the wallpaper in the sales!

  • 6 years ago

    Ha, yes I thought it might be an Ikea piece, the one we all have because it's convenient and cheap (guilty too)

    If you're looking for a piece of furniture that's special and not expensive, do have a look at charity shops. I've seen so many beauties that I've always wished I had a castle to decorate from charity shops! You'd be surprised at the quality of some pieces. Just don't forget to bring your measurer along.

    Great find, that chaise! And perfect colour for your room and the overall mood. The Sherlock chair has such an appropriate name for your space, maybe keep The Hound of the Baskervilles on the side table with an old pipe, as a nod to it...

    Looking forward to seeing the finished space!

    And thanks for answering, too :-)

    Mehdia

    T Gray thanked mehdiadeco
  • 6 years ago

    Re the charity shops Mehdia, totally with you! The big display cabinet is carved oak from the British Heart foundation charity shop. £150. Also got a walnut bookshelf behind the Sherlock chair in the alcove from there too. The little round table with the big lamp on was rescued from my neighbours bin and I glued it back together. :D The piano is a 1930s walnut veneer from ebay, the curtains are real silk blanket lined (ebay), the ceiling light was a cast off of my sisters when she redecorated her house, the rug was £80 in a sale, the pictures are a set of David Roberts prints (£5 each) and the little square table was my other half's bedside table from when they were a baby.

    I like giving stuff new life and hate chucking perfectly good things. :)

    The fireplace is using the same ethos, as the walnut surround/mantle we are getting has been in the showroom so ex display and the cast iron bit has been lurking in their store for 3 years. As a result we are getting it done for a very good price.

  • 6 years ago

    Preaching to the choir! Wish more people understood the beauty of having a piece with a history, proper style, and usually a better built than what you'd get new for the same price... And look at the mood it gave your room to have all this come together!

    Next step then is to change the Billy ;-)

    T Gray thanked mehdiadeco
  • 6 years ago
    Oooh, I love this room. Going for something similar in our dining room only with a slightly more rustic/industrial look. I too am guilty of the billy bookcases, they are useful tho. Totally agree with changing the fireplace. The one you have is nice but I don’t think it agrees with your styling. I’m hoping to change our seventies monstrosity (in a Victorian house) to a full on cast iron jobby :) Do keep us updated as you’re giving me loads of ideas. Don’t forget the aspidistra!
    T Gray thanked rachelmidlands
  • 5 years ago

    And so it begins! Is it weird to be super excited about building work? :) Some photos of the progress so far.

    As you can see we have cleared the room, which meant removing the mirror. The people who did the plastering thought it was a great idea to leave the mirror in place and plaster up to it, so we have to get a plasterer in to fill the gap. They also thought it was a fabulous idea to leave the alarm PIR in place and plaster around that too!


    The plaster coving was glossed and had yellowed really badly as you may be able to see in the pic below so had to sand and give it 2 coats of decent brilliant white emulsion. First coat on the ceiling done too.


  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    The workmen arrived the next day to remove the fireplace.

    Here you can see the old back boiler in all its glory. Bit of a mess as the whole thing was filled with dust and rubble from when they built it. An earlier bodge!

    Once that lot was cleared out a beautiful chimney opening was revealed!

    At this point we wavered on what we were going to do. Wouldn't that make a lovely spot for a wood burner? Well, yes, but we are in a city centre, we have paid for the gas to be done and it would not fit with the room really. Oh well, we know it it there and we can always dig it out again.

    Bye, bye


  • 5 years ago

    All finished and we are just waiting for the plasterer to come around later today to fix where the mirror was.

    Once that is done, we will have this put in place

    With these tiles (the green matches the emerald of the chaise)

    and a lovely walnut surround.

    It is a modern repro, but it is sympathetic to the room and the house and enables us to get one room how we want it. We have been here a year now and are starting to get a sense of what we want to do with each room. As per all the advice on here it is a pretty good idea to live in a place as it is before embarking on major changes. Though I will have to give the OH some breathing space before the next one (really dislikes the disruption and DIY!) ;-)

    More photos soon!

  • PRO
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    have juts picked up on this discussion, I am so pleased that you have gone with this look, in keeping with late Victorian, I also love the Black marble surrounds gives that real traditional look. I would have an Open fire. if that's possible. Good luck.

    T Gray thanked Atom Interior Styling
  • 5 years ago
    Looking forward to seeing the revamped room! :)
    T Gray thanked Emily
  • 5 years ago

    Been a bit busy over the last couple of weeks with work and doing a bit of wallpapering every night (who knew wallpapering an 11 foot drop was torture on an amateurs arms and shoulders!) we have finally got it done. Been doing some research too and apparently the house is Edwardian not Victorian, though lots of Victorian styles came through into the period. Edwardian is apparently 1890 to 1914 (even though Queen Victoria was still on the throne). Every day is a schoolday!

    Anyway, the look we have gone for is very old fashioned, opulent yet comfortable and cosy. It is not quite finished as I am going to investigate some oak mouldings to get the bookcases looking less Ikea and more country house library. It really won't be to everyone's taste and is quite different to most of the styles you see on here but we like it. :)

    The other bit of completely awesome news is that we won the recent Houzz/ Schneider light switches competition and a lovely lady from Schneider has come to visit to show us the switches we could have. Having not won anything like this before I am incredibly excited! They are not fitted yet but we will be sharing photos of the typical bodge we have found in the house that this will fix.

    In addition to how the room looked before we moved in, here is a photo of the room when we first decided to buy.



    And now... from the door


    And from the patio door


    And the other corner


    The picture on the mantel will be replaced by a big ornate gold framed mirror. We grabbed the pic from an antiques place but it turns out to be a print - darn it, Antiques Roadshow hopes dashed! lol!

    So, onward and upwards, the study is probably next, I am feeling the possibility of a 60s mustard and grey vibe in there!

  • 5 years ago

    Can I come and live in that lovely room? *stars in my eyes*

    Also, thanks for giving us the details as you go, appreciate! Would love to see the study too (the whole house!)

    Best

    T Gray thanked mehdiadeco
  • 5 years ago

    Fascinating reading the development of this room, T Gray.... your ideas, the problems and solutions. I do like the new fireplace; most fitting but those Billy bookcases still need sorting. They kinda let this 'library' down!

    T Gray thanked cassandrascott24
  • 5 years ago

    Totally agreed on the Billy Bookcases. I may have a solution though. Will post when I have thought it through a bit more.

  • 5 years ago

    T Gray, was it a big job, opening the chimney? And dusty?

  • 5 years ago

    Hi E D yes,very! The builders were great though. Took it all away and cleaned up after themselves. 12 buckets of rubble came out of that small space!

  • 5 years ago

    Thanks T.

    How long did it take?

  • 5 years ago
    Beautiful library, love the new fireplace surround and your baby grand piano!
    T Gray thanked nmlondon
  • 5 years ago

    Hi E D, it took two of them a day to take it all out and put the blocks in to build up the fireplace area. That was Tuesday. The plasterer took about 3 hours to do the finish (Wednesday afternoon) and then the guys came back on the Friday morning to fit the hearth and surround. That took them until 1pm.

    Thanks for the nice comment nmlondon. The ridiculous thing is that neither of us can play. We do have a vague notion of lessons at some point. :D

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