McClurg's Home Remodeling Blog

Project of the Month: How a Fireplace Update Transformed a Living Room

Posted by Jamie Sprague on Tue, May 3, 2016

Small changes to our homes can make a major impact in a room and the way we use it. The owners of this Jamesville, NY home, built in 2003, decided to change the look and function of their living room by updating a fireplace with built-in cabinets, display shelves, a flat screen television placed over the mantel, a new stone veneer fireplace surround and a stone tile hearth.

The fireplace is the focal point in the living room and the update provides a transitional look that is popular in today’s homes. The project took two weeks to complete.

How a Fireplace Update Transformed a Living Room

Updating a fireplace surround and hearth and adding built-in cabinets and shelves transformed this living room.

Homeowners’ Objectives

The homeowners wanted to create a warmer, more inviting living room with storage space and a television above the fireplace. 

1.  Update the look of the existing fireplace.

The formal look of the fireplace surround had become outdated and there were some cracks. The homeowners wanted to keep the features of the fireplace as part of the update including the mantel, screen and gas log insert.

2.  Install a flat screen TV over the fireplace.

To get more use from the living room, the homeowners wanted to add a flat screen television placed above the fireplace.

3.  Add storage.

The room had two movable open bookshelves on each side of the fireplace that did not match the mantel. The homeowners wanted to upgrade the shelving with built-in cabinets.

4.  Rework the heat vent.

A floor heat vent on the side of the fireplace would need to be rerouted to allow for the installation of built-in cabinets.

5.  Blend the changes into the room.

It would be important to match cabinets with the mantel and the hearth with the existing wood flooring.

BEFORE: Fireplace Update

The living room’s original design did not meet the homeowners’ needs. Many homes today have flat screen televisions over fireplaces placed at a height for viewing that make the room a spot where people can relax or a gathering place for family.

McClurg’s Solutions

1.  Update the look of the fireplace.

The fireplace update was designed to change the appearance of the room into the more casual living space that the homeowners desired. The fireplace surround was replaced without removing the existing mantel or the gas fireplace. The original tile was carefully removed and a drystack stone veneer surround was installed.

Fireplace Update

The drystack stone veneer adds color, form and texture to the fireplace and architectural interest to the room.

2.  Install a recessed box to house the cable and an electrical outlet for the television.

We cut into the drywall above the fireplace to install a receptacle for the cable wire and outlets. All of the cords were put into the conduit, which runs into the wall from behind the cabinet to the back of the television. The installation was done in a way to make it easy to fish new wires for future expansion of the media equipment or to change the television.

Wall Mounted Television

The receptacle for the cable connection and outlet for the television is recessed into the wall to hide unsightly wires and provide easy access if the cable or television should need to be serviced or changed.

3.  Install storage cabinets and wall shelves.

The cabinets selected by the homeowners are from Bishop Cabinets and provide closed storage for the room. Two mounted display shelves were added.

Bishop Cabinet in Living Room

The built-in cabinets have adjustable shelves that will keep items such as scrapbooks and DVDs dust free and organized.

4.  Reroute the heat vents.

The existing heat vent in the floor was rerouted to a toe kick at the base of a cabinet to allow for airflow. 

Heat Vent Under Cabinet

The floor vent was reworked through a toe kick beneath the base cabinet and is camouflaged in the room.

5.  Blend the changes in the room.

The mantel and shelving were painted to match the trim and colors of the home. The hearth was installed to be flush with the wood flooring. Walls were also repainted.

Living Room with Fireplace Makeover

A full view of the living room shows how updates blend with the existing elements.

Fireplace Hearth Tile

New hearth tiles were installed to meld with the oak hardwood flooring.

Storage Design Ideas Guide

Topics: Projects of the Month, Fireplaces