The 70’s Called, They Want Their Fireplace Back

A Fireplace Makeover

The 1970's

were famous for bell bottoms, 8 track cassettes and hideous fireplaces. Watch us give an especially ugly fireplace a makeover. 

The Fireplace

Today, the fireplace is no longer needed to heat our homes, but it still serves as the focal point of most well-appointed family rooms. The fireplace is usually at the center of family gatherings and hearkens back to the times when chilly winter evenings were spent in front of a roaring fire. The clients called after purchasing this house, built in 1979, with a short wish list and a limited budget. Item number one was to do something with this ugly fireplace. They wanted something more up to date, and with the flat screen TV mounted above a simple mantle.     

What we Started With

I’m not sure about you, but I have a hard time imagining a world where someone thought this was a good looking fireplace. Vintage 1979, but it looks like maybe Fred Flintstone built it.

 

The Stone Has To Go

First things first, the hideous stone has to go. We started with a rotary hammer to drill holes in the mortar between the stones.

 

The Wrecking Bar

A wrecking bar and some elbow grease to dislodge the stones.

 

No More Stone

The stone is all gone. You can see the vintage metal fireplace insert. This was a wood burning unit that was retrofitted with a gas log set some time ago.

 

A Pile of Rubble

Not Barney Rubble, but a mess nonetheless.

 

New Framing

New framing to give the new fireplace some depth.

 

Laser Level

A laser level makes it easy to make sure everything is plumb.

 

New Platform

We built a platform to elevate the fireplace off the floor. We were limited by the ceiling height of only eight feet, so it couldn’t be too far off the floor.

 

The Fireplace

A platform for the hearth and the electrician ran power for the TV and fireplace blower, as well as data and cable lines.The gas fireplace unit installed, direct vent out the back.

 

The Mantel

For the simple mantel, we decided on a leftover glulam beam from another job. The price was right and all it took was some sanding and finish and it’s ready to go.

 

The Hearth

Whenever I stop by this place, it reminds me of the Island of Misfit Toys. All the unloved or unwanted pieces of granite and quartz, some with corners broken off, just waiting for someone to take them home. But seriously, it’s easy to find a great deal on a remnant here.

 

Dywall, Mantel and Hearth

Drywall, mantel and hearth installed. Click here for how to cut and polish the quartz for the hearth. We also painted the area black where the TV mount will go.

 

New Cultured Stone

The client selected a great looking cultured stone by Boral.

 

New Cultured Stone

New stone work in progress.

 

New Cultured Stone

New stone work in progress.

 

Almost Done!

Ready for the flat screen TV.

 

Time for the Television

Installing the bracket for the flat screen TV. A cordless impact driver makes quick work of driving the lag screws. 

 

All Done!

Flat screen and soundbar all hooked up and ready for the big game.

 

A Note About Safety

Safety is important. I can’t say it any better than my all-time favorite woodworker/ TV host, Norm Abram, so I’ll just leave you with his famous quote:

“Be sure to read, understand, and follow all the safety rules that come with your power tools. Knowing how to use your power tools properly will greatly reduce the risk of personal injury. And remember this: there is no more important safety rule than to wear these (Norm points to his glasses) — safety glasses.” 

-Norm Abram, New Yankee Workshop

 

Steve Wright

Steve Wright is a general contractor who over the last 30 plus years has built hundreds of new homes, ranging from first time affordable homes to multi-million dollar custom homes and everything in between.

This Post Has 36 Comments

  1. All I can say Steve is Wow 🙂 You make it look very easy. I do dabble a bit in DIY and I found your guide extremely helpful. I got quoted a pretty crazy amount from a local contractor to do a similar job in my house, I am going to tackle it myself now. Thanks again. Great tutorial.

    1. Thanks Martin!

  2. Amazing Job Steve! I love the idea of using leftover beams for the mantel. It flows well with the new stone work.

    1. Thank you Kc!

  3. My gosh, I’m a child of the 70’s but you make this look easy…I wonder if I try it will I still have a house left? Been looking for 70’s home remodeling ideas and I came across your site. If you live near Houston, TX, perhaps you could do it for me!

    1. Thanks for the kind words Carl. Luckily for me, I live nowhere near Houston 🙂

  4. Love your site Steve – I’m really a DIY wannabe ! I love looking at the ideas and how it all comes together and you do a great job of showing your projects step by step. Thanks for all the info.

    1. Thanks Sue!

  5. I wished I’d found your site before I did renovate my fireplace. I could have used some your techniques.
    I have one question though, how confident would you be with this type of wooden frame to be built around a traditional fire place (not a gas one)? Would the drywall and the cultured stones be enough for a thermal isolator?

    1. Hi Bob, I wouldn’t recommend using wood frame construction around a traditional fireplace. Better and safer to go with masonry. Cheers

  6. What’s so wrong with the 70’s?? No, really, great job on the updating. Really does class up the look! And thanks for the step-by-step photos. Makes the process very clear. Is there any detail you would recommend for an outdoor kitchen refurb or install?

    1. Thanks Willow, Lots of details to consider in an outdoor kitchen. I’ve been thinking of doing just such an article 🙂

  7. RE: Putting wood framing around a traditional fireplace – The last house I built, we caught my GC using wood framing on the hearth of our traditional (with gas assist) fireplace before he bricked it and we made him pour it in concrete instead. He said “I’ve been a builder for 25 years and I’ve never seen a problem with this.” My dad then said, “I’ve been a fireman for 35 years and I’ve seen a lot of problems with this!”

  8. This is beautiful! You did an amazing job with this! It’s so modern looking and adds some class 🙂 Wish I could hire you to help us out!

  9. This is great! The house we’re at right now has a SUPER dated fireplace that I do want to update eventually, so this is a great inspiration to read through!

  10. This is beautiful! I wish I could have a fireplace like that in my house, except I live in Thailand. 😁😁

  11. Impressive makeover! It’s soooo much better looking than before. Nice job!

  12. It looks sooooo much better now! Great job!

  13. I absolutely love the end result….the 70’s weren’t that bad (he he ).

  14. Excellent makeover. I love the new gas fireplace inserts. They are so efficient compared to the old ones. That stone facing is classic with a modern feel but not too dated.

  15. I love the transformation! What a difference! The step by step photos and descriptions are so helpful. I always enjoy looking at this site and the how-to posts. You do great work! 🙂

  16. hey steve!

    that looked like a lot of work but it must have been worth it in the end – the fireplace looks brilliant! and the flat screen above it – just genius!

  17. Your contractor-pro articles are the most fun to read!!! I love how you’ve transformed this fireplace, but your write-up of the process is so entertainingly written (starting with the post title), I literally forced several family members to read it! (They agree, you are as gifted a writer as you are a contractor!) Superb job and LOVE your detailed step-by-step!

  18. The new version looks great, what an excellent makeover.

  19. What a wonderful transformation. Great job!

  20. The original was super ugly. I love the new version.

  21. That is an awesome makeover!

  22. I love the TV above the new fireplace. It looks fantastic!

  23. I kinda liked the old one…Not!!! 🙂

  24. I can honestly say I have never seen an Uglier fireplace anywhere!! I Love what you’ve done with it!! Great job!

  25. What a transformation!! You certainly did go from ugly to gorgeous. Well worth all the effort. It looks awesome!!

  26. I really like this and love the stone, such a simple but effective design for a small space.

  27. Go Hawks!!!

  28. Excellent job. I’d like to redo my fireplace in a similar way. Thanks for the great ideas!!

  29. What a great project, nice work. GO HAWKS!!! 🙂

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