Fireplace Inspiration

This is our fireplace. I stare at it every night from the comfort of the sofa and think damn, those tiles are ugly. When we first viewed the house, I got all excited about the original working Victorian fireplace in the living room - and then we moved in and I realised that a) it's actually a dodgy old gas fire and b) we're not allowed to burn wood logs in any case because the whole of Manchester's been a smoke-free zone since 1985, or something. Bummer.

So, as part of the forthcoming living room renovation we need to do something about it. Hmm, what though? Replace it? Stain it? Oil it? Paint it a crazy colour?

(And yes: obviously moving the furry dog basket - and the speaker collection - and the trailing surround sound wire - and the random collection of ornaments that have been sitting in those exact positions since I unpacked them a year ago and tossed them onto the shelves and mantelpiece 'just for now' - will be a good start.)

The rule these days is of course that when in doubt, turn to Pinterest, so that's exactly what I did. Here are a selection of pictures from my carefully curated Fireplaces board:

Note a common theme emerging? Go on, do you?

With the exception of one gloriously yellow wild card, apparently I have a thing for white fireplaces. So the plan at the moment is to paint the wooden mantelpiece and surround white (yes! I'm painting wood! And I'm OK with it*), change the tiles to something in a pale colour, and then either spray the fireplace silver or leave it dark grey. I'm also mildly hoping that if we take up the dark floor tiles we'll discover the original slate hearth. And then ultimately the plan is to take the whole thing out back to the original brick, and install a woodburner (the special smoke-reducing kind).

All this is clearly a twinkle in my eye, however, because we still. haven't. finished. Natalia's. room. We're on the home stretch though! The floor has been sanded, the walls have been plastered, and I spent a horrible morning up a ladder manually sanding the cornice to rid it off a load of vile bubbly old glossy paint. Note - if you're ever in two minds as to whether the cornice should be painted gloss like the rest of the woodwork, or matte like the ceiling - the answer (always) is matte. Gloss paint on the cornice for some reason looks utterly wrong. Shudder.

*Unless, of course, someone tells me that the current wooden mantelpiece is, in fact, Victorian. In which case it shall be lovingly oiled and returned to its former glory.