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An Easy Gas Fireplace Design Upgrade

A dingy hearth wall gets a new look with fresh finishes and light, bright storage

Living room with a fireplace Erin Tassone

Dated finishes can really bring down a room. At Erin and Kurt Tassone's 1980s ranch house, in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, the gas fireplace in the family room was such an eyesore that the couple and their three kids couldn't bear to spend time in the space and gathered in the basement instead.

Finally, after eight years, Erin decided enough was enough. So she and Kurt yanked out the faux stone and dark hearth tile, replacing them with new drywall above stacked-stone veneer and large slabs of pale gray stone on the raised hearth. Rather than replace the brass doors on the opening, Erin spray-painted the trim black to make them disappear. Kurt installed secondhand cabinets on both sides of the fireplace to house puzzles and games; open shelves above leave room for the family TV, photos, and artwork.

The mantel shelf came from Erin's woodworker brother-in-law, who knocked off a pricey version she had seen—for a fraction of the cost. The finishing touch: a flea market divided-light window-turned frame to hold portraits of the kids. "Before, I would look at that fireplace thinking, I can't wait to redo this," Erin says. "Now we love to hang out here as a family."

The Project Tally

  • Tore out the old faux-stone veneer and hearth tile: $0
  • Installed new drywall, stone veneer, and stone slabs: $500
  • Painted the room a soft green: $30
  • Made over the brass fireplace doors with heat-resistant spray paint: $5
  • Built in secondhand cabinets capped with an old oak desktop: $0
  • Added open shelves and crown molding: $200
  • Replicated a designer mantel using stock lumber and molding; hung a flea market window frame for family photos: $60

Total $795