fireplace remodel

Fireplace Remodel – Remove, Replace, or Renovate?

A fireplace remodel can change the entire look of a room.  However, it may not be as simple as it sounds. The fireplace is often a dominant feature in any home. What’s more, there’s more to a fireplace than just aesthetics. Often, especially in older homes, the fireplace is built into the structure of the home and may include an outdated or dangerous fuel source.

Why Undergo a Fireplace Remodel?

There are many reasons a homeowner may want to change out a fireplace. It could be that the fireplace is not functioning, is in the way, or simply that the facade needs to be updated.

Fireplace Remodel for Decorative Reasons

Perhaps the look of the fireplace is dated, or not cohesive with the design of the home. Updating a fireplace facade on a functional fireplace may be the simplest fireplace update. There are many ways to change a fireplace facade to give your space a warm, inviting, updated look.  Or, you may want to replace the entire fireplace in order to upgrade the fuel systems, in addition to the fireplace design. 

small fireplace remodel

Fireplace Remodel for Functional Reasons

A non functioning fireplace does not serve a purpose in the home. If the goal is to make the fireplace operational again, remodeling considerations will be very different. You will need to consider the fuel source, and potential safety and environmental issues. 

Removing a Fireplace

Sometimes, the best option is to remove a fireplace altogether. It may divide the room poorly, or the chimney structure may compromise the flow of the home. With a gas fireplace, fuel lines may get in the way of a home remodel or renovation.

Design Considerations for a Fireplace Remodel

To change the aesthetic of a fireplace, there are about as many options as your imagination will allow. Here are a few of the most popular materials and design concepts for a fireplace remodel.

Fireplace Remodel Materials

decorative fireplace remodel

Highly decorative, or patterned tiles are trending across homes in bathrooms, kitchens, floors, and even fireplaces. Art deco, graphic patterns, and terrazzo inspired designs are very popular, and will give your fireplace that “wow” factor. Don’t just use tile for the surround, but consider a tiled hearth, as well. 

Stone, or stone veneer creates a beautiful, natural look for a fireplace surround and hearth. A stone or granite veneer is a great, lightweight, budget friendly choice that will have the same look as natural stone or granite. 

Brick is a classic choice for a fireplace. Unfortunately, over time, the heat from a fireplace can cause mortar to crack and fall out. If your fireplace brick and mortar need a facelift, the mortar can be replaced, and the brick restored. New brick, or painted bricks are also an option.

While upgrading your fireplace, don’t neglect the mantel. There are as many options for a mantel as there are for the surround and hearth. For an eco-friendly, rustic mantel, consider repurposed wood. An existing mantel can be built out and covered with a new material. Stone or granite are also classic, natural choices to give a fireplace a unique look. 

Fireplace Remodel Design

Consider your fireplace from all angles. Make sure your vision for a new fireplace is cohesive with the rest of your home. Take a tour of your home. Where is the fireplace visible? An updated fireplace will make the rest of the home look dated if it is not part of an overall remodel project.

Think of the fireplace as a piece of art that will dominate the space. What is the look you desire? Evaluate your style to determine if you want your fireplace to deliver a modern spin, a classic look, or a statement.

Functional Considerations for a Fireplace Remodel

A beautiful fireplace is only useful if it is in working order. Evaluate fuel sources to make your fireplace eye-catching and functional. 

small fireplace remodel

Fuel Source - Natural Gas Fireplace

Gas fireplaces have come a long way. The flames and wood are much more realistic today. A gas fireplace allows for a cozy fire, without all the mess or the environmental hazards of a wood fire. This fuel efficient choice allows you to get back 75-99 percent of your fuel as heat

Fuel Source - Electric Fireplace

Electric fireplaces are a low-maintenance option that still allow for the warm, cozy look of a traditional fire. This is an environmentally friendly way to enjoy a fireplace without chopping wood, or using natural gas. Make sure you choose an energy-efficient option, and that your home has the electrical structure in place to support this option. 

stylish fireplace remodel

Fuel Source - Wood Burning Fireplace

The Bay Area has placed a ban on wood burning appliances in any new home construction. If you have an existing, functional wood burning fireplace, you may continue to use it. The reason behind the wood burning appliance ordinance is the health risks associated with wood smoke inhalation. 

Wood burning fireplaces are often not equipped with the proper pollution controls to keep fine particles out of the air. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), wood smoke can cause lung irritation, overall inflammation, and immune system issues. Check your county’s permit processes and environmental review specifications for more information. Here are some links to information for Alameda County and Contra Costa County.

Fireplace Inserts

A fireplace insert is a metal box that contains either gas or electric fireplace components, and is placed inside an existing fireplace. Then, holes are drilled into the fireplace for either electric or gas to reach the insert. Fireplace inserts are a simple way to update the fuel source for a wood burning fireplace. 

Drafting Cafe Architects has helped homeowners just like you design and create the living spaces of their dreams. Contact us now to learn more about how a home remodel can not only make your fireplace more beautiful, but also more functional. We can help guide you through the process of making important decisions regarding your home renovation so you can find the perfect balance between utility and aesthetics. 


Get in touch with us. We would love to help you get your project off the ground