As the focal point of a room, the fireplace shows off every penny of a makeover fund. Here, we replaced a drab slate surround with richly veined marble and enclosed the prefab, zero-clearance firebox with glass doors set within a polished-brass frame.
To keep costs down on the surround, we hit the remnants section of our local stoneyard and had a slab cut into three ¾-inch-thick pieces for the top and two side legs. Prices start at $195 for the stone and fabrication. We paid $450 for our rare Portoro marble (Bridgewater Marble & Granite Works), bringing the total outlay to about $875, including about $425 for the Thermo-Rite doors.
By leaving the wood mantel in place and removing only the trim that overlapped the surround, we minimized the work—and the mess.
Budget: $650 to $1,000
Key players: Marble surround, brass-framed fireplace doors
DIY savings: Up to $800 to hire a fireplace pro
TOH Tip: To hide scuff marks on an old slate hearthstone and add a soft sheen, rub on a thin layer of boiled linseed oil, then wipe off the excess with a rag.
Take Off the Molding
Take off the molding along the mantel's inner edge. Start by scoring the painted seam with a utility knife. Then slide a putty knife into the seam and rock it back and forth to pry the finishing nails loose. Remove the side strips before moving on to the top one.
Remove the Existing Surround
Remove the existing surround using a pry bar wedged between the stone and the wall. Start at the top end of a side leg, levering the bar to break the adhesive bond between the stone and the wall. Slide the bar down the leg, gently prying as you go until the piece releases. Repeat for the remaining leg and top piece. Then scrape away any leftover adhesive on the wall.
Affix the New Surround
Affix the new surround with a construction adhesive for stone, such as one by Liquid Nails. Squeeze two beads onto the back of the first leg, and press the stone into place. Repeat the process with the second leg. For the wider top piece, apply an extra bead of caulk down the center. Replace the mantel molding.
Install the Fireplace Doors
Start by fitting the doors' frame into the firebox opening. Use a drill/driver to bore pilot holes in the sides of the frame, making sure to penetrate the side walls of the firebox. Secure the frame with the screws provided. Then slide the doors onto the frame rails, and level them by adjusting the pivot screws at the top and bottom of each door.