Just Finished

The Hall Fireplace

The Hall

This was just a small project really, but there was quite a process involved. What I describe as our hall, is currently a playroom for our children. The stairs are currently closed in on both sides and a room had been created within the hall area with glass partitioning. We think it may have been someone’s ‘man cave’ at some point as there was a bar in this room when we moved in. Here it is with the glass partitioning in place.

We took the glass partitioning down back in 2018, as we were terrified one of the children would run into it. You can see pictures below showing the room after the glass partitioning was removed.

So, for now, its a playroom but we plan to install a new staircase (hopefully as soon as all the upstairs renovations are done) and demolish the stud work wall on one side of the stairs (the wall with the children’s school artwork on) and open the staircase into this room. The area is central to all rooms and just inside the front door, where you can see the light shining in from, below.

The front door is where you can see the light coming from in the right of this picture.

The Fireplace

So, now you’ve got a bit of background on the room I shall continue…

I did my usual thing and got carried away one morning. I hadn’t planned to do this fireplace so soon. There is a chimney breast in the hall and we always knew we wanted an open fire in the hall (it conjures up images of Christmas with a roaring fire and drinking mulled wine with friends and family). Anyway, there was just a hole in the wall at the bottom of the chimney breast when we first moved in, so we put a board over the hole (as we were going to use this hall room as a playroom to start with) and knew that one day we would remove the board and create a fireplace ‘as and when’. Well, with those images of a roaring fire and Christmas, ‘when’ became one Saturday morning at the beginning of December with Christmas on the horizon and the playroom being cleared to make way for new toys. My husband appeared at the bottom of the ‘soon to be replaced’ stairs from working on the current bedroom/en-suite project, with his hammer in hand. So I smiled sweetly at him and voiced my thoughts…..

“Do you fancy whipping that board off the chimney breast for me darling?”

In my excitement of starting this mini-project, I forgot to take a totally untouched before picture, but you can see it in this picture below the mirror, white board in place behind the toys, hole not yet exposed.

So, we removed the board to find a small opening and what I believe is called a fire back or cheek at the back of the opening, a concrete bulge, I think they were put in to allow the fire to sit further forward in the opening to propel more heat forward into the room rather than just up the chimney, and also to help the draw or pull on the fire? Don’t quote me on that, but hopefully you can picture what I’m describing.

We decided the opening was too low to look right for a fireplace so looked into raising the opening. I would’ve ideally liked to widen the opening too but due to the construction of the chimney breast, this was too big a job for the small gain it would’ve given, so we decided to stick with the original width. There was no hearth for the opening, so we made a hearth by creating a wooden frame for the hearth area and filling the wooden frame with wood. I decided on the depth of the hearth by choosing the tiles I was going to use on the hearth in advance and making the hearth to the same depth as the tile to save extra cutting when tiling. So this is where we’re now at…..

This is the chimney breast after we had raised the height of the opening and laid the hearth.
Notice the patched up area on the right – this is where our son stood on the hearth when it wasn’t fully dry!
The red outline around the opening is the original wall colour under the peeled back wallpaper, you’ll see more of that red later.

The opening is there, I have the tiles to lay on the hearth and the same tiles to go on the wall around the opening that is not covered by the fire surround. The tiles are black slate tiles that I got from Original Style. They were available in 2 sizes 60x40cm and 60x30cm. As mentioned earlier, the hearth was made to be 40cm deep to accommodate the 60x40cm tiles and to avoid waste after cutting, I used the 60×30 tiles on the wall. I am the tiler in our house, the tiles on the front doorstep on the About Me page were laid by me, in fact all the tiling in this house is done by me. And although I hate tiling, I do quite enjoy the quantity surveying process for tiling. I think I must’ve enjoyed jigsaws as a child as I love working out how many tiles I need for a job and hate having leftover tiles (unless it’s for a bathroom where you may need to replace tiles in the future, in which case it makes sense to have a couple leftover), anyway, I digress. So, I tiled the hearth….

I always lay the first tile in the middle of whatever I’m tiling to make a symmetrical finish. You can see the offcuts from the left and right tiles leaned inside the fire opening, they were then used on the walls around the opening.

After laying the hearth tiles I stood the fire surround in place to be able to mark out exactly where the wall tiles needed to go and after working our my planned pattern of tiling I cut the tiles and then fixed them to the wall. We always use Mapei adhesives and grouts, it was recommended to us years ago by a bathroom fitter and it has never let us down.

I used offcuts of tiles to tile the base of the fireplace hole, the fire basket will be standing in the hole so it won’t be seen.

More to come…..