Fireplace Transformation

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One of the main elements of our new living room is the fireplace and built-in housing for the television. This multi-faceted project took a long time to complete, and ended up including some DIY work on our parts that we weren’t initially planning for.

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The original fireplace was very bare, and lacked presence. The brick face was broken in a few spots, and the remnants of carpeting were stuck to the bottom edge. Overall it was unappealing and needed a change.

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We knew that we wanted to be able to cover up our television when it was not in use, as well as house all of our electronic devices inside of a media cabinet. Once we determined the color of the tile and how the doors would open, we started designing the entire piece. James created this concept art, and we worked with Martin Cabinet Designs to figure out the specifics of mounting the television and running the cables. They then had the difficult task of building the cabinetry over the existing broken fireplace.

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The level of detail they added was exactly what we were looking for, and it came out perfectly in both design and function. It instantly became a part of the room, enabling us to easily forget that it ever wasn’t there at all.

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With the carpentry done, we thought that we would be hiring contractors to tile over the brick, but because it was such a small job, we decided to do the tiling ourselves.

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This was our first time ever using mortar, but it was easy enough to apply to the brick. First we had to smooth out the surface, which was especially difficult around the pieces of carpet that were stuck to the bottom.

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For the tile itself we went with 3 inch square tiles from Fireclay Tile in Kelp, which has a lovely variety in shading, and a subtle shattered look. We used 1/4 inch spacers, which gave us plenty of leeway if our tile placement wasn’t entirely even.

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Having to use a wet saw was one of my biggest hesitations, as they can certainly be intimidating, and proper safety precautions are very important. Once I got the hang of it, it cut very cleanly and made the whole project go smoothly.

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After setting all of the tiles and allowing the mortar to dry it was time for the grout. We picked a white grout to let the green of the tile really stand out.

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We were relieved to get a clean edge around the bottom, and the bullnose tiles around the rim of the hearth give it a softer look in comparison to the sharp brick edge that was there before.

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Once it was all dry and finished, we placed a new fireplace screen that better matched the iron detailing in our living and dining rooms, and added a couple of plants to the hearth. Another home design project successfully checked off our list.

 

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Play Time with Legos

James and I both absolutely love playing with Legos. We have a few bins full of Lego sets in our closet, including some from James’ childhood. We even have a few models on display throughout our apartment, such as The Millennium Falcon, the Back to the Future DeLorean, and several minifigs. A couple of months ago, we decided to splurge on the Lego Architecture Studio set to add to our ever growing collection. We knew that this was something we could have a lot of fun with, and that it would continuously challenge our creativity. Here are some of the models we have created so far:

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The scale of this one was determined by the steps. In theory this is only the front of the building as creating the entire structure would have taken a lot more pieces. This is perhaps the largest one that we have made so far.

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In contrast, this model is one of the smaller ones we have created. The idea here is to show three skyscrapers in microscale.

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This model can represent a hotel or apartment building. If you look closely there are about four stories with a little balcony for each unit.

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These three were some of the very first structures we made. They were mostly arbitrary as we had fun learning how all the different types of pieces worked together.

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This piece is directly modeled after a tile from the Ennis House. James used an intricate series of small plates to create the shapes inside the square. We did not have enough pieces to make a larger fully detailed version, but it came out very well nonetheless.