My Little Cottage Fireplace – Back to the Stone Age

If you follow my blog, you know that my Little Cottage in the City built in 1956 came with no discerning character, lacked any charm and was at the time, your basic tract ranch style home meant for simple living. At a whopping 876 square feet, this little place proudly boasted 2 bedrooms, 1 tiny bathroom, a utilitarian kitchen, eating spot, living room and carport. Back then, open floor plans didn’t exist, and people mostly mingled in the living room area. Modest kitchens were meant for food preparation and basic eating.

But as I have shared in previous posts, our vision of renovating our Little Cottage was to dismiss these compartmental areas, thereby enjoying the open plan lifestyle most of us share today. (Look for a future post about our recently completed open floor plan kitchen renovation).

Once we opened up the Little Cottage living room area to the kitchen which opens to the dining room which opens to the porch (yes, you can see straight through the Cottage) we realized our cute fireplace, once the focal point of the Cottage, was underwhelming.  It was being swallowed up by the open floor plan and although cute in charm and details, it just wasn’t what we really wanted.  So what did we do?

The walled-in living room and fireplace wall when we first purchased the Cottage (and our favorite pet).

The fireplace – first renovation after adding mirror and trim – cute and charming, but small. Notice television in bottom

First, we decided that we wanted our television to hide out of sight when not in use, but in its current place inside the bottom of the fireplace, we couldn’t add doors nor any other “cover”,  so we knew it had to be moved.  Second, both Mr. Mobile Cottage and I have always adored the charm of an old stone fireplace. There is just something so endearing about stone coupled with crisp white wood in a cottage.  So there it was….we had a basic plan.

Starting with the beloved fireplace mantel that has traveled with us from place to place, we knew we wanted to incorporate it into the new design. We also knew we wanted the new fireplace to hold its own, thus it had to be bigger and have a space for the television too.  So we stated to build a basic design from floor to ceiling. First we ensured there was a cubby for the television and components and doors to close when not in use.

The building begins!

Another view!

Second, (here’s the part that took some time) we wanted stone somewhere. At first, the design was to encase the entire fireplace in stone. But after looking its placement in the rest of the cottage, all stone was going to overpower the small space. So after scouring magazines and online photos, we decided to simply do the fireplace “box” area in stone. Not wanting it to look too “boxy” we decided to do a simple arch in the fireplace box (thus giving it a nod to an original cottage fireplace) and once done, also decided to do another arch below where for now I have stowed an old basket just to provide more cottage charm.

The firebox is established and arched

The stone is added – cute basket underneath too!

The television now housed behind doors.

With the addition of our signature trim and crown molding at the top of the fireplace, arched bead board doors encapsulating the television, and adding other trim pieces, our fireplace now fits perfectly in our Little Cottage and provides a unique focal point as well as performing the utilitarian job of housing today’s electronics we all enjoy.   With the addition of real wood in the hearth and a couple other decorative items (not captured in photos) the fireplace now emboldens the cottage charm we desired.

In addition, the cost for renovation of the fireplace was minimal as we used plywood already on hand and recycled wood for the trim pieces.  The “hearth” is simply wood with trim painted  gray and distressed with black paint.  We also dry-brushed black paint around the firebox and on the stones to give it a more “used” fireplace look.  The stones were found on clearance at our local home improvement store and were actually made for backsplash usage, but for us became the perfect accompaniment for the fireplace.


The finished fireplace now is the focal point of the cottage and instills the cottage charm and details we love

As I have mentioned several times, our Little Cottage keeps evolving as we live in the space and as we renovate adjoining spaces. What might have worked when we first moved in, simply may need to be updated or “re-renovated” to fit in now. Such was the case of our fireplace which we now love and reflects our love of all things cottage and what could be better than that?

Stay tuned….our kitchen renovation of the renovation (I’ve actually lost count) is coming soon!


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