A chimney and a fireplace is a signature staple in any home. Often associated with being the heart of the home, it is pictured and idolised as being a quaint hearth for children and families to gather around in winter. Now that the grips of cold weather has hopefully passed, it is the perfect time to invest and make sure your chimney is in tip-top shape by next Christmas.
In order to restore your chimney, you should always enlist the help of a professional stone mason.
If you have a fireplace that you just don’t like, take this as an opportunity to revamp your whole living area. A dominant feature in a sitting room or snug, you will want your guests and family to admire its signature status.
Before any major construction project, you need to have an end design in mind. Below, we have put together a guide giving you the best tips and tricks in stone chimney restoration, design ideas and when and where a professional stone mason will be needed to help you out. This guide will also help you in all of the finer details of decorating your fireplace so its beauty shines through.
To undergo extensive house renovations, it is surprising that most of the time you won’t need planning permission. But, if you live in a grade listed property, you will most likely need to get some form of planning permission to go ahead, and enlist the help of a specialist.
Clean your stone chimney of any soot, debris and birds nests
First things first, before any repairs you need to make sure that your stone chimney is rid of any soot, debris and birds nests. Especially important if your chimney has not been used for a long time!
The cleaning of your chimney can be performed by yourself, and you can mostly use regular cleaning products that you would have lying around your house. But at some point, you should purchase specialist chimney sweep products. Regular cleaning will also prevent dangerous creasote fires – so it’s important that you get to grips with the process.
To clean your creosote build up and the rest of your chimney, you will need to make sure that you have easy access to the chimney crown, which most likely will be through your roof. You will also need to buy products such as a bendable ‘noodle brush’ to clean soot off the sides of the firebox, and specialist products for the smoke chamber areas. To clean the chimney, ram the cleaning brush up and down several times into the flute (you will need to be on the roof to do this!), then go inside your home and use a long-handled brush to clean the smoke chamber, and the noodle brush to clean the firebox.
Make sure that you cover your living area with plastic covers before you start cleaning. It is most likely that the debris will fall out into your living room and you really don’t want stained carpets, furniture and walls- you’ll feel like a modern Cinderella!
Ideally, you need to sweep your chimney annually, so after winter would be a great time to get it done.
Yet, if this sounds like a daunting task, and you want to avoid looking like a chimney sweeper from Mary Poppins, then perhaps you should enlist a professional.
Open up your stone chimney with the help of a stone mason
Whether you feel confident yourself in opening up the stone chimney (you may already have fledgeling skills in the art of masonry), you most likely will need the help of a trained stonemason.
Most 19th century and 20th-century homes will have fireplaces that have a load bearing brick arch across the opening, which is supported on a curved steel former. If you want to change the size of the opening a concrete lintel will need to be inserted and then plastered over.
Then, you will need to upgrade the hearth. Building regulations say that this needs to be raised from the floor. The fire surround will then stand on top of the hearth. The style of the hearth is completely up to you.
If you want to completely revamp your fireplace, you will also need to take into consideration whether there will be a proficient amount of oxygen for the combustion of fires. If there isn’t another space, vents will need to be added close to the fireplace. The vents can be added in the floorboards or on the outside walls.
To also avoid damp and condensation, you will need to install a suitable flue liner. The nature of this contraption may lead to water build up from rainwater so you should also invest in a variety of caps, cowls and hoods. Flue liners will prevent poisonous fumes like carbon monoxide leaking into your home from the fireplace. To make sure that your flue liner remains intact and airtight, you can test it with smoke pellets.
To ensure a successful fireplace that is beautiful and poses no health and safety risks, you need to make sure there is a contingent flow of air down the chimney flue.
Choose a style of fireplace to go with stone chimney and that suits the home
Now that the practical bit is out of the way, here is the fun part: choosing a style of fireplace that goes with your home.
As mentioned before, fireplaces and chimneys are the heart of the home and a central focal feature of your living area. Plus, as with any home improvements, you will want to choose a style that stands the test of time, one that you will love and admire for years to come.
Rustic stone fireplaces with exposed brickwork has always been a fashionable choice as it channels heartwarming character and practically invites you and your family to sit around it, transforming your living area into a warm and inviting space to entertain and relax. Why not have wooden beam as a fire surround? A popular design choice is creating stone fireplaces using your counties regional stone. Such as, fireplaces constructed from original Cotswold, Bath or Derbyshire stone. You could surround your fireplace with stone flooring for a seamless finish.
Another popular fireplace design is ornate Victorian fireplaces. People have always been enchanted by relics and styles of the past, so this could be a beautiful way to fuse modern mechanics with timeless design. The ornate molding and signature large fire surround will create the perfect atmosphere when lit. Plus, this will also look great if you paint the fireplace. Choose from matte colours like black, charcoal grey and navy blue.
Why not get creative and go for a personalised modern design? Choose patterned multicoloured tiles to surround the fireplace, perfect for bringing a pop of colour into your living room. Or, have a statement marble fireplace surround, ideal for homeowners who love the luxe look. Glass and metal fireplaces are also a popular contemporary choice; fitting for modern homes, they bring a chic industrial vibe to the living area.
If you would like to see more designs, why not seek out inspiration from Better Home and Gardens?
Design and organise the space around the fireplace and stone chimney
Now that you have restored your chimney and fireplace, the next step is filling the space around and above the fireplace. This will create the final finished look.
If you would like your decoration to emphasise why the fireplace is a focal point of the room, why not paint the wall or add a patterned wallpaper to the wall surrounding the fireplace? This will literally make the fireplace ‘stand out’ more. Also, give your fireplace notable presence by choosing a large work of art to grace itself above.
To make your living area personal and inviting, place armchairs, plants and rugs around the fireplace so yourself and your guests can relax in front of it. Then, add photos of your family and loved ones to make it feel like they are at the heart of the home too. Simple decorative items like vases, memorabilia, and sculptures will also add that touch of je ne sais quoi.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post on how to restore your chimney and giving you extra tips in the execution of decorating and designing your fireplace. If you would like to enlist the professional stone masons of Wrights of Campden to help restore your chimney and build your dream fireplace, contact us here.