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Behind the Scenes: Newton Fireback

This kitchen backsplash has hidden talents: It warms the room up, too

<p>The antique fireback in place as a kitchen backsplash set among white subway tile, secured temporarily with shims.</p>

The antique fireback in place as a kitchen backsplash set among white subway tile, secured temporarily with shims.

Newton homeowners Liz and Joe Delfino were looking for something more interesting than tile for the kitchen-range backsplash area when they discovered antique firebacks.

These cast-iron objects, often embellished with mythical figures or coats of arms, have been used for centuries to protect the back wall of a firebox and radiate heat. Admirers of antiques for their history and decorative appeal, Liz and Joe chose an antique fireback adorned with a figure of Fortuna, the goddess of fortune. Says Liz: “Fortuna has meaning for us because we feel we have been blessed with good fortune. We’ve had a lot of stars line up in our life.”

When Tom and Charlie Silva installed the 50-pound fireback, they applied construction adhesive to the back, pressed the fireback into place in a recess designed for it amid the kitchen’s backsplash of white tile, and secured it temporarily with shims. The final step was adding caulking around the perimeter, a more secure option than grout.

For more on the restoration of this 1879 New England home, check out the Newton Generation NEXT House.