Hot New Looks for Old Fireplaces

Even though we Portlanders aren’t buried in snow, it IS still winter in the Pacific Northwest, and we are using our fireplace a lot.  A few years ago I got really tired of the original red brick surrounding the firebox of my 1930’s Colonial home fireplace.  I searched for a long time before I found the exact color and size tile for this makeover–a large format (18″ x 18″) porcelain tile that looks like stone. I found it at Portland Direct Tile & Marble, and it was installed by my favorite tile craftsman, John Dirk, at Old World Stone.  After the taupe tile was installed over the old brick, Emery &  Associates starting receiving a number  of requests to re-do fireplaces.



Eastmoreland Fireplace Makeover


Here is one of the more dramatic changes we designed, which was featured in the Homes & Gardens section of The Oregonian on November 25, 2010. The homeowner wanted a makeover for her tired, old fireplace with its cracked front. Her home is very traditional, with many Asian accents and pieces of art. She wanted the fireplace and hearth to be unique, and yet work with the art and furnishings. We found the beautiful bronze bamboo tile mural and its coordinating border of decorative tiles at Pratt & Larson–they are truly like jewelry for the home. The large (13″) porcelain field tiles are from Portland Direct Tile and Marble. The new fireplace screen is from Gordon’s Fireplace Shop.


Grant Park Fireplace Makeover

Since we specialize in historic restoration, it’s no surprise that one of our fireplace re-designs featured Batchelder tile for a fireplace makeover in the Grant Park area of the Irvington neighborhood.  The homeowners found me through the Architectural Heritage Center (AHC), and were adamant about wanting to restore the fireplace that a previous owner had “modernized.” (see “BEFORE”, below)


The clients were quite sure that they wanted to re-do the fireplace in the American Arts & Crafts style, which is common in this neighborhood.  But because they liked formal styling, I wanted to give them another option for this charming English cottage style home, and suggested that they may want to consider doing a Sheraton-style wood mantel with a simple tile surround rather than using the Batchelder tile (see my drawing, below), along with more formal window treatments and furnishings.

Kathia's drawing of English cottage fireplace wall

Batchelder Tile Detail

Alas, this idea was not what they had in mind, and the Batchelder tiles won out–not too surprising, considering how charming they are (see detail, above).  The only issue then became which tiles to select, in which colors, and how to arrange them, so I did another sketch to detail the fireplace surround and hearth, and the finished work was done by Arciform LLC, a design-build company specializing in the restoration and remodel of historic and vintage structures.  Here’s a photo of the restored fireplace:

AFTER: Restored fireplace surround and mantel

Since the fireplace is usually the focal point of any room, a fireplace makeover is a relatively simple way to make a major impact in your home.   If yours needs a face-lift, give Emery & Associates a call.

There are 5 Comments to "Hot New Looks for Old Fireplaces"

  • I think your blog is not only lovely to look at visually, but also packed full of informative design information & pix that truly underscore just how knowledgeable a designer you are Keep up the great work.

  • Your Blog is very informational,thanks for sharing,and yes…i am 12hrs away from portland see you soon~Deepali

  • Corliss & Ron Rogers says:

    Our favorite fireplace restoration is the one in your own home. What a stunning change and so very lovely to look at! As in many of your designs, there is great style combined with a calming, restful factor that is very appealing to us.

  • […] A few years back we had the opportunity to restore a custom tile fireplace in Eastmoreland for the clients of one of our design colleagues, Kathia Emery of Emery & Associates. […]

    • We have recently started our new waterproofing service company and came across this article.
      Really appreciate you taking the time to educate us on this. A fireplace can make your home so much more inviting and you did an excellent job of keeping it this article informing and entertaining. Thanks a ton.

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