Removing a Stone Fireplace

Do you recognize what is in the photo below?

Stone surround around fireplace being removed

Yep! It is or was the stone fireplace surround and mantel in my living room that we are currently dismantling.

You may be thinking… Why are they removing it?

Why We Are Removing the Stone Fireplace Surround

When I got home from Los Angeles over the weekend, Ed told me that the chimney guy had come to clean and inspect the fireplace.

We have done that in the past and the inspector has always told us he wasn’t so sure about how we built out the fireplace. But this time he told Ed the fireplace itself, the firebox and chimney were in great shape. Even the AirStone we used was fine and a great fire-rated product.

Stone surround around fireplace being removed

What he told Ed was the problem was that the framework we created to attach the AirStone was not up to code and is a fire hazard. He told Ed a few horror stories and that was all Ed needed to hear to know we had to remove it.

Furniture repurposed into a fireplace mantel

The problem was the space between the actual fireplace and the framework on which the AirStone was mounted. We didn’t leave a 2″ gap all around and didn’t add a vent. If we were to sell the house, it would never pass inspection and we would have to rip it out then.

We have no plans to move, but we don’t want a fire hazard in the house, so when I got home and Ed told me, I said – “well let’s do it and get it done”

He was expecting me to be upset. I am not at all upset. It is just decor and a few hours’ work. The fireplace will function the same and I know I can come up with a new and safe decorative look for the fireplace and wall.

Building The Stone Fireplace 6 Years Ago

I built the stone surround when we first moved into the house, which was 6 years ago. The project was for a sponsored post/fireplace makeover challenge I did for the site Angie’s List.

Brick wall with wood book shelves

This is what the fireplace wall looked like when we first moved into the house.

All the bloggers in the challenge were given a few weeks to makeover a fireplace. I didn’t have to pay for any of the materials and supplies, but had to document and post about what I did.

AirStone Fireplace Makeover. If you haven't used AirStone to transform a room or space in your home you are missing out on one great and easy product to work with. It can even be used on exteriors.

If you are a long time reader you may remember it. I didn’t win, but I was quite happy with how the fireplace came out.

hutch top turned into mantel

I really liked that we created the mantel using the top molding of a dining room hutch from our previous house that didn’t fit in the new house.

I used AirStone on the fireplace in our previous house in Pennsylvania and liked it, so I decided that is what I would use for the makeover challenge.

I watched a few YouTube videos on how to build a framework around a fireplace and got to work.

What Am I Planning to Do For the Fireplace Now?

It has been six years since I made over the fireplace. Now it is time for a new fireplace makeover challenge for me, but this time I plan to take my time and ask the right questions before proceeding.

Since it has only been a few days since we started to remove the mantel and the stone, I am not sure how I want the fireplace and wall to look.

I do know I want something clean lined – maybe not even use a mantel. I know – sounds crazy, but I find that this is the room in which we truly live. I want it to feel comfy, cozy for relaxing, but with clean lines so the space feels serene and peaceful – less stuff in the way of decor.

I think I am craving this look and feel after living through the last two years being at home and wanting to feel safe. I also know that when you are faced with a loved one that is seriously sick, you realize what is important in life. The other stuff – just falls away.

I know these are the reasons why when Ed told me we would have to remove the fireplace surround, I wasn’t at all upset.

Sure it will be a pain to remove – AirStone is a great product and the mastic used to adhere the stones does its job well. But nothing a crow bar, chisel and a hammer can’t handle. The wood frame wood is screwed into the brick wall and so far has been easy to remove with a power screwdriver.

A lit Pine Mountain Firelog in fire

I am taking this deconstruction task as something positive – no need to waste time worrying about something that is just decorative. The fireplace will still work.

Once the stone and wood frame are removed, I will keep looking at the wall until I decide what it needs and feels right for the space and my aesthetic.

The firebox is very large, which is nice, but we have never been able to find a screen large enough to cover the entire opening.

Finding one is going to be my first priority or have one custom-made. Then seeing how that looks, I will proceed with ideas for the rest of the brick wall.

Lessons Learned From This DIY

With all the DIY’s I have done through 5 homes – I have had only one other big project that became a problem. It was the product itself that was the fail, not user error. :-). It was the deck stain I used to stain the deck in our previous house.

What I learned from that was never use a brand new product on a large project. Test it out on something small first or wait for reviews to come out about it, instead of being the first one to find out how good/bad a product is.

For the fireplace – even if you saw a DIY done on You Tube or an HGTV show- doesn’t mean it is the right or the only way to do it.

First run your DIY plan by your township inspector or a pro who knows your town’s codes. Then proceed DIY’ing it to complete the project and have each step documented and approved.

Life can give you lemons… but I am going to make some new sweet lemonade for this one.

So what’s new and happening in your life this week? :-)

If you have any fireplace makeover ideas… I would love to hear them.

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  1. We also have a large firebox. I used to joke that we could camp out in there when we first moved here. I don’t know what they were thinking, it was a huge gaping ugly hole.
    We ended up having custom doors and screen made. The cost was as huge as the firebox,lol. But it was well worth it, it changed the whole look of the room. We had no mantel, the fireplace is gray stone over 10 feet wide. A year ago my son started milling his own wood in the process of doing a cabin in New Hampshire and I fell in love with the live edge look of the freshly cut trees. So for Christmas he made us a 8+ foot mantel. It is very different but fits the room very well, just rustic enough for our house on the lake.
    I’m sure you’ll come up with a great idea, Diane, you’ll know it when you see it.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Margo – Your fireplace sounds beautiful and the live edge mantel your son made makes it special. :-) I like the idea of custom doors and screen. Adding that to my ideas list.

  2. Diane,
    I am sure that whatever you come up with, it will be fabulous. It is just “stuff” and your family is what matters most! Plus, you will get a new look out of it! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!!

  3. Great attitude👍 It’s a bummer but….now you can re think and decide in time what you would like to see everyday.
    So lucky that it didn’t catch fire!! It was pretty though 😊
    Can’t wait to follow along for the new and improved fireplace!!!

  4. You are amazing Diane! Bravo for taking the fireplace issue in stride. I’m looking forward to seeing your next masterpiece.

  5. Six years!?! I am shocked it has been that long. Also really impressed with how easily you are taking on an unexpected challenge. Not surprised, just impressed. Look forward to seeing what you come up with.

  6. Donna Marie says:

    Well, I am glad you are making sweet lemonade out of this and giving other DYIer’s warning about checking for codes before proceeding on projects!!!

  7. With your taste, style and DIY skills you will knock this fireplace out in no time. Being laid
    back in attitude will help you also take your time and do a good job. It is much harder to get big projects done with a special needs child living in the home. Good luck on a beautiful project.

  8. Lisa Smith says:

    Great attitude Diane! I’m shocked to realize that it has been 6 years since you moved into this house …. shows me that I’ve been following your blog for a few years longer than that! I know you will come up with the perfect solution. I love the look of the airstone you used and how it looks with the white wood.

  9. You know what? You gotta do what you gotta do…it’s all about the SAFETY! Better be safe then have your house burn down!! It’ll still be beautiful when it’s all been done as it should. 💕

  10. Check out cestesdesign on Instagram .. I LOVE modern streamlined fireplace and it’s exactly what I was wanting for mine

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Barbara – Thanks for taking the time to tell me to check out cestesdesign on Instagram. I love that look. :-)

  11. What about a smooth cement look? Not sure what that is called? Plaster maybe? Like the English style fireplaces I see on Instagram. Thank goodness the change is only decorative & everything is in good working order!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Holly – Yes – I would like the smooth cement look. I will have to look into it. Knowing that we didn’t damage the actual wall and fireplace except for some screw holes was one of the reasons why I wasn’t upset about having to remove the stone. Ed just finished removing everything and is cleaning up. The room looks so much larger now. :-)

  12. We are doing a home remodel which involves a new fireplace and surround. We’ve decided to forego stone and brick. We’re doing a cast stone surround, clean lines, no mantle with an insert of soapstone around fireplace box and flat hearth.

    Take your time. You’ll land on what is right for you.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Heidi – What you are doing sounds beautiful – just right. I am in no rush to get it done since we can still use the fireplace. Seeing it being used with nothing around it may even give me a few ideas. Enjoy your remodeled rooms.