Our post-war fireplace gets a makeover

August 15, 2015



When we bought our 1940s post-war house – one of many originally built to accommodate returned servicemen and their families – we inherited an unsightly fireplace, complete with a retro-tiled hearth and bricked-up firebox. After coming across this fireplace makeover on Young House Love, we were inspired to remodel ours too, but being relative novices at the renovation game, we did minimal planning (okay, we did none).

Our fireplace makeover evolved more organically (i.e. we winged it)

To begin with, James jackhammered the bricks and tiles away. My favourite part of the jackhammering process (aside from the noise), was the red dust that settled everywhere. On every single inch of the living room. This is what the fireplace looked like post-apocalypse:


Even at this early stage, it gave the small living room an extra dimension. After we cleaned up the mess, James concreted the areas where he had gotten a little carried away with the jackhammer and painted the firebox with White Knight Pot Belly Black*, a heat resistant paint.

Then it was time to go marble shopping!

We arranged for a slab of Carrara marble to be cut to size and polished by Ron Bennett Marble Works*. James levelled the hearth with Dunlop Floor Leveller* and we lowered the marble into the space.


Already so much better! Next James cut, routed and stained a piece of Tasmanian Oak timber to serve as beading around the hearth. Onto the mantle, and across town to pick up a Victorian replica that had been ripped out of an inner-city terrace and listed on Gumtree. The mantle was too narrow for our fireplace, so James dismembered it until we were left with only the columns.


When we propped the columns in place, we realised they were too deep for the existing mantle top. Time to get out the circular saw!


James sawed the existing mantle in half and added a new piece of timber using dowels and liquid nails. This is the extended mantle before we levelled it with Turbo Builders Bog*:


James added three new pieces of timber to the mantel, marrying the columns together. Doesn’t it look like the mantel has always been there?

Finally, we bit the bullet and bought a Rinnai Sapphire Gas Log Flame Fire*. We figured, if we’re going to be broke, we may as well be warm and broke. Once the gas fire was installed, the whole family stopped watching T.V. and started watching the flames curl around the ceramic logs instead. We were mesmerised!


The final step was tiling the fireplace surround (we should have done this before the gas unit went in, as pulling the unit apart to tile behind it was a headache. Next time, we’re going to plan, plan, plan… probably). After discussing tiling options with Tracy, we decided to go with Carrara herringbone marble mosaics. Makeover complete!



Now, excuse me while I go warm my hands by the fire. Bliss!


*this is not a sponsored post, we were just satisfied with the product and/or service.

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  • Reply Lynn October 3, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    You guys did such a fantastic job- that’s a lot of hard work! It really does look beautiful, and I’m enjoying reading about all your creative adventures x

  • Reply Raquel October 4, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Thanks, Lynn. It was a labour of love! x

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