A few good (non-working) fireplaces

So, we have a fireplace we can’t use.

nonworking fireplace

Gigi and I are both super upset about it.

I kind of want to paint it white, but Eric says NO WAY! Which I get. It does make me cringe to paint over the 1930’s original brick. But then again the brick looks all dirty and crap from ill attempts at fire starting by previous tenants.

The main problem with filling a fireplace with decorative stuff is Ginger Jane, and soon, my lil man. Kids are the worst! I JOKE.

We did try this one time…

Screen shot 2013-04-16 at 2.27.35 AM
Image via Pink, Green & Zebra

But the magnetic paint wasn’t REALLY magnetic, and like most chalkboard paint, the chalk doesn’t REALLY erase. It ended up looking kind of junky, and not nearly as rad as the one above.

Screen shot 2013-04-16 at 2.34.18 AM
Image via Style by Emily Henderson

I love the idea of filling it full of logs, maybe if I packed them tight enough the kids couldn’t pull them out?

Screen shot 2013-04-16 at 2.19.48 AM
Image via Kelli Murray

I absolutely LOVE this idea and the uniformity of the all white books! But I see Gigi going nuts on them…

Screen shot 2013-04-16 at 2.29.01 AM
Image via Design Sponge

I’ve loved this faux log tutorial for years! But again I hate to think of taking the time and money to make them and then watching Gigi wreck them!

Screen shot 2013-04-16 at 2.43.32 AM
Image via Brooklyn Bride

And how amazing is this pop of yellow?!

But even though these are all AMAZING, I still don’t really have a solution for MY fireplace. Gosh, it IS The ALISON Show right? HAHA. No but really, do you guys have any other fun solutions?




  1. mel

    …ah yes, the ever lasting debate of how to ‘deal’ with such a space..!! lol
    If it helps.. our ‘solution’ has been a hit with the kids here for the past couple years now:
    good luck – I know you’ll come up with some sassy crafty goodness!
    needle and nest design

  2. I always love wood in there, and also books.

  3. Oh I say paint it, even though that’s not really what you’re asking! It would be gorgeous with a pop of color or a clean white.
    Make it kid friendly by putting kid stuff in it. Cool basket full of softies, stacks of kids books, stacks of floor pillows, a bowling set (this would be great for the nerves, I guess they could be soft sewn bowling pins though) a set of sewn soft logs for pretend fires….

  4. Sarah M

    Well, I get the dilemma of to paint/not to paint. But if you feel it is somewhat of an eyesore and not ADDING to the overall aesthetic and feeling of your home, why not?
    And I don’t know how you current set up is with kids toys, etc? But if you feel like they are going to move whatever is there, why not put a collection of fun maybe vintage or handmade etc toys in there? Instead of fighting the kids messing it up make it a fun and functional and cool little play space that hopefully is easily straightened up when not in use. But I like seeing homes that kids “use”.

    Otherwise, I really like it stuffed full of logs or just a stark white or solid color.

  5. we have no fireplace in our house (dang Hawaii!) and I’ve been plotting the building of a mantle simply to decorate it- so I’ve been gathering ideas for what to put inside of said mantle. You covered most of my favorites- but I also really like this one: http://www.designsponge.com/2011/06/before-after-mantle-bookshelf.html it could be a box bookshelf that you build, painted some awesome bright color, and filled with baby-proof cool things.
    Also- happy baby thoughts this week to you!!!

  6. I recently remodeled my fireplace (ugly and not used). The fireplace is in the family/playroom, so we have a door over the front to keep any kiddos out of the fireplace. The doors are super hard to open, I can barely open them myself. I also painted it Commodore Blue. My husband was reluctant to paint it, but we had ugly orange adobe brick that had smoke stains that could not be cleaned. The transformation is documented here: http://likefireworks.blogspot.com/2013/03/fireplace-makeover.html

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do. It makes a world of a difference in my life now that I’m not hating on my fireplace every time I see it.

  7. courtni hawkes

    i put a clear plastic/acrylic sheet over ours and then used the mirrored tint paper from home depot and we had a non-breakable mirror. it was awesome. and babies LOVE mirrors. and it didn’t dirty nearly as horribly as an actual mirror would have. XO (a handyman secured our plastic sheet…we’re NOT handy)

  8. What about stuffed logs? Not that you’ll have time to do this, haha, but you could sew some logs out of wood grain fabric or pretty brown felt with cream colored felt on the ends with brown stitches making the rings inside. I’m liking this idea Alison–get to it!

  9. Hey! I think you need to give that first one another shot with sheet metal cut to size, nailed to your plywood (or whatever you had fit inside the fireplace before), and THEN painted over with magnet paint. Kind of like Jordan’s project suited to your needs: http://ohhappyday.com/2012/08/magnet-wall-diy/

    This way you get the look of the dull black/chalkboard you like but with magnets that will actually stick because of the sheet metal. Gigi would be entertained for – literally – minutes 😉

  10. Michael Robertson

    I don’t have any ideas of how to decorate it, but you can use muratic acid to clean off the smoke stains – http://www.brick-anew.com/info/cleaning-brick-fireplaces.html

    I am sure your handy husband would be happy to do this for you.

  11. Rebecca

    I like the stuffed logs idea. I have a just barely two year old and a three month old so I feel ya! Books are her fave and she would pull them all out all day long! Would Gigi be able to move a nice big fire screen? They make pretty ones and then you could do whatever behind it if she couldn’t get at it….? The outside bricks look good from what I can see, could you just paint the inside black? Congrats on your new addition! I just discovered you about a week ago and I’m loving your blog!

  12. Chelsea

    First of all I think you are absolutely amazing! Second, have you ever considered soda blasting it to get it clean? You can look up a local company called Stewart Specialty Services- they are a really nice family run business and do excellent work!

    May 2, 2013   |   Reply

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