My fireplace looks bad :(

cottonpennyAugust 9, 2012

I like the look from the front but the side just looks silly.

Is there anything that can be done about this? I'm not sure it's possible to wrap the stone around now that the built ins are installed. I don't think just painting it darker will really help. I paid to upgrade to the stone so now I'm really disappointed :(

Any suggestions?

Front view

Side view

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Have you gotten a cost on removing the built ins on the 2 sides to face the stone? If not possible I don't think painting the sides to blend is a bad option. I assume you're also going to paint the built ins so right now, it looks worse than it will when things are "finished".

Sorry you are disappointed. It's so hard when the result doesn't match up with expectation. :(

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 8:54AM
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The fireplace looks beautiful.

I think it looks "bad" to you right now because (a) there's nothing on your shelves yet and (b) the bright/dark contrast between the stone and the white drywall is very stark. Your eyes go there because there's nothing else to look at.

If it were me, I would first put the shelves in, put some stuff (books!) on the shelves, and then find a blue/grey matte paint and paint that return-wall.

It will blend....

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 9:04AM
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laura mcleod

It is really pretty! I totally agree that once everything is painted and finished off you will not see that hard division between the stone and the wall - hang in there, it is going to look great.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 9:07AM
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It's not really possible to remove the built ins...they would have to be rebuilt since the stone facing is 2" thick. Anything is possible technically, I guess, but it doesn't seem feasible at this stage.

The built ins will be stained a darker walnut-ish color. I guess I can paint the return after I move in.

I wish I had thought of this earlier though...lesson learned for the next house ;-)

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 9:14AM
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Oh, I think if you paint the returns in the darkest gray in your gray stones, it will simply disappear into the shadows, and you'll be happy. Anything lighter than the darkest color will work less well to make the return recede.

And as mclarke pointed out, once the bookshelves are stained and it's all furnished and part of the room, it will be just fine.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 9:18AM
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I think painting the returns will certainly make it just "go away".

I must tell you that it looks nice. You cannot imagine how really bad my fireplace is. We wanted a very angular rock, similar to yours. We were told that they could do it. It is horrible, plus the craftmanship that went into putting up the stone is shoddy. Full size stones on the left, and as they got to the right side, small pieces, some vertical, giant areas filled with mortar, and it doesn't touch the ceiling. During our walk through I asked them to just remove it. We would do our own thing later. Needless to say, the ball has been dropped, and we will have to remove it ourselves, unless I keep pushing. I have a lot of the hideousness hidden with a very large painting and some vases. Otherwise, everyone (I"m not kidding) who sees it just says "that's horrible".

Anyway....I think yours will work out just fine. And don't you love that we are actually making lists for "next time"? Yikes.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 9:26AM
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Is there any way you can cover the sheet rock return with wood paneling and stain the same as the built ins ? I think that would tie it all together and look great.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 9:27AM
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Well -- I think it will look wonderful when the bookcases (and the bit of wall around the windows and the window trim) are painted the deep gray of the stones AND a bit of trim is added to the return to finish up thos sides.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 9:46AM
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I think the fireplace is fabulous, do just what Bronwynsmom says and it will look wonderful. You made a good choice in the stone, now to complete the job. Dark gray on the returns and all will be well.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 9:47AM
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Thanks, guys, you made me feel better this morning! I admit I had feared a little being chastised for not putting in a real stone wood burning fireplace with real stone chimney, etc., but we are so not those people. I'll have to stop and get some paint samples this weekend.

BKW - That sucks they did a bad job on the fireplace. FWIW, Owens corning cultured stone in Echo Ridge is pretty similar to what we got. I was going to go with the Owens corning from the granite yard, but the brick masons would have had to install it, and my builder wasn't sure about their ability. So my builder found a local company that only does stone veneer and has their own product and installers who do only stone veneer installation. "Great Lakes ledgestone" was their closest product, and I do like the stone! Just not the ugly contrasty drywall return.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 10:23AM
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If you have access to Farrow & Ball, Plummett or Downpipe might work - Downpipe might be too dark, but worth a look.

Benjamin Moore has some nice ones, but watch for green or purple undertones, as many of their grays have noticeable ones.
You might consider Templeton Gray, Gray Pinstripe, Smokestack, Trout Gray, or Rock Gray - they are pretty neutral.

And I would use a flat finish, which looks deeper, and recedes and disappears better than eggshell.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 10:38AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I agree with everyone else that painting it dark will be fine.

If that doesn't do it for you, you can always stone the sides with the cabinetry in place (need extremely neat masons and protect the wood well) but you would probably need to run a strip of wood corner molding on each corner to hide the fact that the stones don't turn the corner...but it can be done.

Certainly decide that later though.

Or you could always get a faux painting artist to paint in the stone look. I have a grate on the stonework by my wood stove that I need to do... I'll give it a try as a winter project.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 11:06AM
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Beautiful fireplace! I love the stone. I agree with everyone else, dark gray on the returns, and once the rest of the room is finished it will look great.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 11:17AM
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I'd have the cabinet guys install wood veneer in the same species as the built ins on the return, and then a bit of scribe molding against the stone. After everything is stained the same color, it will all disappear.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 12:20PM
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And also look at adding a mantle to tie the two sides to each other across the stone. That will make the look even more built in and have greater continuity.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 12:23PM
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Another vote for painting the returns in the deep gray, matte. It will look great once your room is furnished!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 12:36PM
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Painting the returns will only partly hide the mistake.

What it needs is the stone to wrap around so that the front does not look like a facade. It needs to look like a stone fireplace. Wrap the stone around and it will look fabulous!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 12:50PM
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I agree that wrapping the stone is ideal.

But if you choose another solution, I would vote against wood in any case.

The reason is that things should look like what they do, and chimney breasts are rarely made of wood. They can be clad in wood or wallboard, but with yours, which looks to be built of stone, wood sides don't make sense.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 12:58PM
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Do you think that it would be possible to remove a few inches of the drywall on each side and then set a row of the stone on the side. It would give the stone more "weight".

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 2:04PM
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I love terriks' idea! Perhaps take it to the face frame of the bookshelf.
That photoshopped photo looks amazing already!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 2:42PM
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You can still wrap the stone with the built ins. My husband laid the stone on ours, and our cabinet was there.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 2:51PM
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Oh, I agree that photoshop looks better.

I wonder what the feasibility of going back and laying the stone would be afterwards. I think the corner pieces would have to be pulled off in order to pull it off. It would have to be just the top half because my builder says the stone is too thick and will interfere with the doors opening on the bottom.

I have to admit I lack energy to fight the good fight at this stage of the game. I may just paint it and see if it bothers me...and I can always go back to the stone people if it drives me nuts afterwards, right?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 5:01PM
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Press on, and decide whether or not the more complicated solution is worth it to you after you're in.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 5:28PM
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I would paint it now and see if that solves the problem. You can always have stone added to the sides later if you choose to.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 9:50PM
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If you decide to add the stone later, make sure you buy the stone now and store it.
It is quite likely that your supplier will not have the same stone in the future and even if they have it, natural stone is hard to match unless it comes from the same lot/quarry.

Just a friendly warning :) Stone is cheap, labor is not.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 10:17PM
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I think I'd buy the stone now, just in case the mix changes or ?? It would be sad if you decided to wrap it and couldn't find a good match.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 10:18PM
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I have to ask why you are the one that's compromising there to try to find a fix. The stone people should have done the facade correctly in the first place and the cabinet people should have taken into account that thickness when they did the cabinets. Your GC is failing you if he isn't stomping someone's head to make this right.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 12:10AM
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I think it's beautiful, but it does need a mantel. Unless you're going for a modern feel to the room, a mantel would look lovely and not leave the fireplace so naked.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 7:03AM
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I have to disagree about the mantel. A mantel would make the fireplace look more "traditional", but that's not the goal here. Plus, a mantel would make the drywall returns more pronounced. There will be plenty of visual horizontals when the shelves are installed, and this will balance the unbroken vertical of the fireplace front.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 9:25AM
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Of course the photoshopped version of wrapping the stone is appealing. But let's look at the actual construction requirements of such a project.

If the stone has a 2" dimension, and you have typical frame and drywall construction on the side walls, the framing for those walls will be only 5/8" under the drywall surface.

In addition, the framing is probably located at the front of that corner, right behind the stone. If you try to cut the drywall back far enough to fit in the stone, you won't have a framing member behind the new drywall edge, which you can't do.

So you would have to go into the wall and reframe the corner (yow!), which presents the problem of supporting the existing edge of whatever the stones are attached to. Then unless you did some fancy reframing deeper inside the corners, the stones on the sides would present their edges to the front of the room all the way down.

And unless you reframed the corners at depth, you'd either have to stop the stone where your current cabinetry dies into the original face of the stone, which means the stone facade would be narrower on both sides from that point down, or you'd have to tear out and completely replace your cabinetry, because the dimensions of the doors would have to be changed to make them equal across the face.

I fear you'd lose more in looks than you'd gain, and at great expense.

That gray paint is starting to sound better and better, isn't it...?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 10:17AM
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I don't think I want a mantel, I do want it to look modern.

Bronwynmom, I agree that your fix sounds unreasonably complicated. However, I wonder if the stones could just be applied to the upper part. I don't think it shows in the photo, but the doors are essentially flush with the corner of the fireplace. A little dark grey paint on that would be adequate. I'm worried more about the upper part as in the photo.

Could stones be applied there around the built in, do you think? Or would that look odd?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 11:19AM
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Your fireplace is beautiful. If you want to see an awful fireplace you should see a photo of the lava rock monstrosity in the house I just bought. ;)

I agree that painting the sides a dark gray will really be an improvement, especially after the bookcases are stained and filled.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 11:47AM
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I agree with greendesigns that the contractor really should make this right, but if he won't...

My idea of cutting the drywall back would be not to completely recess it, but to keep it from sticking out quite as much. I think that if you just did the top portion it would look fine. And they would definitely need to remove the stones along each edge so that the front stones would cover the edges of the ones that wrap around the sides.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 1:19PM
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Honestly, I think painting the side is going to take care of the situation. If I were you I wouldn't even think about anything more complicated.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 1:29PM
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I'd paint the side the darkest gray in the stone. I think once it's finished, it will look really nice.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 1:48PM
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