This was a project of firsts. My first project for the downstairs of our home. My first trip to a reclamation yard. My first experience of tiling. My first fireplace. I think it went pretty well!
The original Victorian fireplace had long been forgotten in our living room. I will try to get a ‘before’ photo on here at some point (off my old broken camera – boo!) but for now, I will describe it. What existed was not pretty. It was a layer of brickwork, the entire width of the chimney breast and about 1 metre high. It had a ply board panel in the middle, where the fire would have been, and a plank of wood along the top acting as a mantle. It was all painted a depressing blue/grey.
While this room was being treated for rising damp, we decided to rip the monster off the wall and see what was behind it. It exposed a small and crooked space which looked like the perfect home for a multitude of spiders, so we asked the builders to neaten it up and make it suitable to be used as a decorative fireplace for now, but with the potential to fit a log burner style fire in at some point should we wish. I decided I would tile the inside of the recess they created so it would look nice and neat, but a bit unusual too, and quickly chose a lovely Moroccan-inspired shaped ceramic tile from Mandarin Stone, a nice easy choice for a first time tiler! A scale template on the floor and a crap load of spacers later, it looked pretty reasonable!
When it came to the fireplace itself, I had heard really good things about a reclamation yard just outside Bridgend, called Theodore Sons & Daughters Reclamation, so I gave them a call to check what they had in stock, to ensure the hour round trip would be worth it. The guy on the phone (who I believe was one of said ‘Sons’) was really helpful and said he’d keep an eye out for me to make sure I saw everything they had on offer. With £100 in my pocket, and an order not to get anything “too manky”, I was out the door.
After a lovely walk around the indoor showroom part, I had mentally picked about 4 different offerings which were all way over budget, so I approached said Son and asked if they had anything smaller, or less nice! I explained was willing to do some work, so he took me outside and showed me a charming little rusty old thing which was very cute and just the ticket. I then noticed a stack of slate slabs, perfect for the hearth. I imagine his patience was wearing thin by the time I had made him go through the whole stack to find the one I liked the most, but he still smiled and even fork-lifted it into my boot! What a gent! What topped off a lovely experience for a first-time-reclamation-yard-er, was, after hearing my plans, he disappeared off into the depths of the warehouse and came back with a couple of solid wood corbels for the surround, and said I could have them for free! Lovely!
Husband was happy with my choices when I got home, so, wire brush drill attachment in hand, I set to work. I’m going to blow my own trumpet here, but the transformation, was pretty impressive!
Once I had got the rust off, I used a product called Fortress Anti Rust Primer, which provided a rust-resistant base coat. I then used 2 coats of Craig & Rose Precious Metals paint in Grate Black, which gives a lovely off-black finish with a cast iron style sheen, which I think shows off the detail much better than a matte black finish would.
Next, it was time to turn our hand to carpentry, as we found most ready-made fire surrounds to be crazy overpriced for what they were, and none were quite the style we fancied – they were either too basic or too fancy and we wanted a more ‘built in’ feel. Lots of sketches, trips to B&Q and journeys home with lengths of wood sticking out the window of our poor car, followed. Some sawing and lots of glue and pins later, accompanied by my free corbels and a tonne of gloss paint, we have a super focal point to our little sitting room, and one we are very proud of!
Mr Goose was a present from Husband, who also made the clock with a leftover slice of wood from our wedding reception decorations – what a clever man I have landed! I’ll talk about the design of the living room at another time, but the colour on the walls is Dulux Pebble Shore. The candlesticks were from a charity shop on Bath Road in Cheltenham and the candles were from B&Q (my favourite shop haha!) The earthenware pot, affectionately known as ‘piss pot’ due to its unfortunate resemblance to a bed pan, is from a gorgeous shop called Emporium, again, on Bath Road in Cheltenham, and was a present from a wonderful friend.
UPDATE! I have found an extremely fuzzy picture of the fireplace from when we moved in! Enjoy!