A Fireplace Transformation: From An Awkward Fireplace to a Modern Elegant Fireplace

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A new modern fireplace in a Victorian period property
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Before – A pinkish fully tiled bulky fireplace

A fireplace transformation sounds sooo more complicated than it actually is. At least if you live in London, because you simply cannot have a traditional wood fire anymore. It is an offense to use a traditional chiminea in “Smoke Control Areas” and you could be fined up to GBP1000 if one gets caught. erm, no thanks.

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Our cat, Leopold, in front of the new fireplace

Therefore anything you would do to your traditional fireplace will be a change of aesthetic and that sounds much more easy to do.

When I first started to look at what we could do with the fireplace, it was a bit of a jungle to understand between the products in the market: Gas fireplace, Electric fireplace, Bio-Ethanol Fireplace, Wood stoves, etc… and one that would match our design preference.

But yes so the law made it easier for us, and because we didn’t want anything complicated (we are millennials, after all, we have blogs to write and Netflix to watch)… I can see your eyes rolling… so rude; I decided to settle on a small Bio-Ethanol firepit.

Benefits of Ethanol is as follows :

  • no chiminea to clean/ no maintenance, it burns a specific BioEthanol, once it has burned all the fuel, that is it, you don’t need to clean anything (unless you managed to spill some).
  • Relatively safe, there is no smoke, but always keep an adult in the room and have a CO2 Fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Easy rules on how to use it. Fill the Bio-ethanol container tank when it is cold, never hot. (refer to the documentation that comes with the insert)

Downside :

You need to buy fuel, and it is not always easy to find any. Click here to find out where we get ours.

For the surround, a simple mantel design which will be a quiet reminder of the dado rail and (upcoming) wood panels, and a black insert that can fit the small Ethanol firepit.

How we transformed it – A visual story – click on links for more info

A Before Video :

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We removed all the tiles, hoping to find an ancient Victorian fireplace but hey no
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I designed roughly the idea of living room/ fireplace i had with SketchUp
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The fireplace chiminea was already closed, so we had the fireplace plastered as a box and any gap was filled with expanding foam. The tiles are 60x30cm and we used them as Hearth. A tile cutter was used to cut it to the dimension leaving 0.3mm as grout gap.  We used PTB Fibre from BAL to level the floor and as adhesive to the tiles.
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once the new tiles were installed (not grouted yet here), we had the plasterer skim the walls
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Nicely skimmed here and drying (took 3 days)
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The insert was painted Dulux Rich Blackin Matt finish. The 44inch fireplace surround was sourced on a UK webshop, and it fitted perfectly.
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I grouted the files (must have said it to everyone i saw that week) with BAL micromax 2 Ebony. The Bio-Ethanol basket insert comes from biofire.com

Thank you for reading!

Hope you enjoyed this transformation,

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Good luck with your project!

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