The first thing I wanted to change in our Mild Mild West home was the fireplace/TV alcove situation in our living room... I mean...
How silly does this look? HA!
First of all, our TV didn't even fit in the alcove. And if our TV didn't fit, that meant future home owners would likely run into the same issue.
Second, there's 2 competing focal points (or eye sores haha). Your eye doesn't know where to look; the TV or the fireplace? It makes for a busy space.
Third, because the 2 focal points are side-by-side they compete for the perfect sweet spot in the exact middle of the 2. This caused the TV to be about 3 feet too far to the left to accommodate the natural seating arrangement of the room. If you were sitting on the fireplace side of the room, you would end up tilting your head to catch a better viewing angle of the TV. Less than ideal.
Forth, this may not even need to be said, but these large alcoves are outdated (used back in early 2000's for those giant box TV's that sat on the floor) and so is the tile around the fireplace and gold trim on the fireplace.
My layout options to solve the spacial issue were to:
Get rid of the fireplace and make one large alcove leaving plenty of room for a TV set-up and possible built in shelving
Get rid of the fireplace and fill in the alcove to make one continuous flat wall
Center the fireplace and put the TV above it
In pricing out our options, getting rid of the fireplace was definitely the cheapest (and more obvious) way to go. And during this planning (and execution) process, I got this one question more than any other: "Do you actually use your fireplace?" For some people, a fireplace is just an unnecessary appliance that costs money every time you use it. Which is a very practical perspective! And if you're a more practical person - then, yes, it wouldn't be worth the extra money to keep the fireplace!
I, however, am not the most practical person! Ha! I LOVE FIREPLACES. Even if I only turn on our fireplace 5 times a year, it is worth it to me to spend a little more and keep the fireplace. They are more than just an appliance to me. They are nostalgic, they can be a stunning focal point of a room, they invoke a warm and inviting feeling, and they are SO FUN to highlight during the holidays. Every time I see a beautifully highlighted fireplace I feel like the room is telling me, "Come! Sit! Grab a blanket, get cozy, and enjoy the company." I still have a fond childhood memory of snuggling up with my dad next to the warm fire in our our brick, wood-burning fireplace eating Rolos during the holidays. The Christmas lights on the mantle and Christmas tree emitted the perfect amount of light creating the coziest of feelings. I honestly don't know if that memory with my dad was a one-time thing or a frequent activity, but the memory left such an impact on me that it feels as though it took place every Sunday during the holiday season. I want to create similar memories and loving feelings for my children and anyone that comes to our home (even potential buyers down the road).
Though getting rid of the fireplace was the cheapest option (probably in the 2k range to cap off the gas line, move the electrical, framing, drywall, etc.), I was determined to figure out a way to keep it, make 1 beautiful focal point (fireplace & TV), and keep the project under 5k.
I knew that if I could keep the budget under 5k it would contribute to the ROI on our home; weather that be raising the price of our home and/or just helping it to sell better/faster! Anything higher than that would probably be a financial loss.
From a design stand point, I had a lot of options for the finish of the fireplace surround that could work with the overall design of the home. I call this home the Mild Mild West for a reason - I want to match the beautiful desert we are surrounded by, highlight a little mid-western/Spanish to blend with the integrity of the home by using colors and textures, while incorporating modern and trendy upgrades.
My first must-have that I kept coming back to was a wood beam mantle! A perfect natural texture to bring to the space. Next, I thought I would do a fun tile on the surround, but that just seemed too busy and committal. Considering we want this design to be more universal and like-able by all potential buyers, I don't want to pidgin hole the next owners to a specific pattern. Next, I considered a sone tile finish - but that can be very pricy. I could have done a shiplap - but I just felt that was too overdone, not quite the look I was going for, and I really wanted to make a statement. So, I landed on a concrete or stucco finish! I found some inspiration on Pinterest and never looked back! I did some digging on the DIY process, and learned that there are some VERY affordable ways to achieve a VERY pricy look.
To highlight our 9 foot ceilings and achieve a modern, trendy look, I decided we would have the fireplace surround go floor to ceiling and protrude about 6 inches.
Our gas fireplace was pretty outdated with the gold trim and gold/wood hardware. But, a new (more updated) gas fireplace could easily cost 3k! Keeping our current fireplace became a must in order to stay under budget. I learned that the hardware could easily be removed and I could spray paint the gold strips black all for under $10! Easy solution.
As for the dimensions... this was tricky. I initially thought that we would have to get a smaller TV to avoid creating a top-heavy design with a giant 65" TV on top of a 32" wide fireplace. But, for Tyson's sake (who didn't want a smaller TV), I did my due diligence to see if I could create a proportional design and keep our TV. I also needed to make sure that the width of the fireplace would be big enough for future owner's TV's. I reached out to my father-in-law who has a "TV guy" and asked a lot of questions. I learned that for our living room size, a 65-70" TV is ideal and the middle of the TV should be 69" from the ground. After much sketching and measuring I came up with this:
I taped the mock-up on a blank wall to make sure it looked ok! I always recommend this. When it came time to communicating with the contractors, this taped mock-up with the exact measurements proved to be extremely helpful for the both of us!
Now that I pinned down my design, it was time to start getting it all priced out. I always like to get a quote for outsource the entire project - because... why not! If I can pay someone else to do the project AND keep it in budget then why break a sweat? Well, my first quote came back at 10k - so it looked like we would be needing to break a lot more than a sweat! I made a list of every task that we felt comfortable doing ourselves and a list of tasks that we did not feel comfortable taking on. I budgeted out the materials on our end and determined how much of the budget was left for contract work. The budget and final quote went as follows:
$0 - Demo
$100 - Drywall, tape, mud, sand
$100 - Texture the fireplace surround with stucco
$10 - Spray paint the the gold strips on the fireplace black
$100 - Texture the walls to match current wall texture - the wall texture in our home is VERY unique and we would actually have to hire someone to come do it for us
$300 - Wood beam mantle
Move the gas line, vents, and fireplace 3 feet to the left
Frame out the fireplace
Move the electrical for the TV hook up and Fireplace
That adds up to a grand total of $3,860. Considering I always round up, I would guess that this project would cost us 4k give or take, and I felt very confident that after all was said and done there was no way it would go over 5k. GOAL MET! Which meant go time!
Stay tuned for my next blog post where I will walk you through the HOW of this project step by step!
PS - I promised I would report back on whether we would go with a wood burning fireplace or keep the gas fireplace! Turns out, wood burning fireplaces aren't even allowed where we live. So, that option was caboshed very quickly haha. I did, however, post a survey on a community Facebook page to see if people in our area preferred an electric or gas fireplace and the results were an astounding gas! That made me feel more confident in keeping our gas fireplace.