How to Update a Fireplace

As most of you know, our new to us place was built in 1980, and we are finishing up a major remodeling project that has taken eight months already. We have taken this throw back to the 80’s and brought it back to life.  As I look back on the photos that were on the real estate listing, I feel sorry for how unloved it looked.  We are told that nothing had been done to it for at least 19 years.  The fireplace in the original living room, which will now be a dining room/library combo, had a huge flat panel that was lovely but needed more.  It didn’t have a shelf, and it lacked detail and interest.  I knew immediately that it would get a face lift, so to speak.  Since we had the world’s greatest carpenters, I knew they could make anything.  We had a little conversation about my thoughts, and they put those thoughts to paper.  Based on what we did, I thought it would be fun to share my suggestions on how to update a fireplace.

Townhouse before living room


Here’s a look at the before version of the fireplace.  In addition to upgrading it, we also removed the chair rail, the shutters, and the dental molding.  Our new moldings have an updated and sleeker look.

Townhouse Update - The 2 Seasons

We did four major things to change the look.  Even doing just one of those four things would have helped.  They are all easy steps that you can take if you would like to update your fireplace.  We had our subcontractors do the work as part of our remodel, but each of these steps is a fairly easy DIY project.


Add a shelf and molding to the fireplace.

Townhouse fireplace - The 2 Seasons

We all love to decorate our fireplaces.  Right?  The flat panel that was there before didn’t give me any place to decorate for the seasons.  With the addition of a shelf/mantel and some molding, the fireplace is prettier and fancier, and now I can add seasonal touches.  We just looked at photos on Pinterest to get ideas on how to proceed with our molding and shelf changes.

Paint the inside of the fireplace.

Townhouse - The 2 Seasons

This photo shows the inside of the fireplace before we painted it.  You can see all of the house construction dust here, too.  I sure don’t miss that.

Townhouse Update - The 2 Seasons

  We had our painters apply heat proof flat black paint to the bricks.  The black paint updates the look and ties in with other black touches around the house.

Add marble or tile to the fireplace.

Townhouse fireplace - The 2 Seasons

We had our tile guy add marble tiles over the brick.  That one step made a huge difference.  I am told that this would be an easy DIY weekend project.  If we didn’t want to add tile, we could have just painted the brick either black or white.  Jordan painted the fireplace brick white when she lived in her Syracuse house, and that made a huge difference.  It only took a few hours.

Townhouse fireplace - The 2 Seasons

Since we covered the brick with marble tile, that made the space higher than the floor.  To offset that, our carpenters added some molding, and then we stained it to match the floor.  We could have removed the brick so that the marble would have been even with the floor, but we just didn’t want to add that to our to-do list.

Paint the fireplace.

How to update a fireplace - The 2 Seasons

The last step is the easiest, actually.  If you want to know how to update a fireplace, just paint the mantel and surrounding wood.  That will give it an instant face lift for very little time or money.


These four steps on how to update a fireplace are easy for any homeowner to do.  Do you have a fireplace you want to update?  If so, now is the perfect time to get it done before you start using it this fall.

Take care.


  1. Beth says

    I love how beautiful and classic your fireplace update has evolved. Your home had wonderful bones, but what you are doing will freshen and make your family home a gathering place for years to come.