Reader question: What shall I do with my fireplace?



I happened onto your website today while trying to figure out what to do with the my non functioning fireplace in my new London flat which i moved into last week. I am totally overwhelmed by what to do. I guess at best you could call the fireplace ‘Grandmother Chic’. When I moved in the tiles on the fireplace were painted and curiosity got the best of me and i stripped the paint. Now I don’t know what to do!

I’m going to paint the walls but havent’ decided which colour. The carpeting will be replaced with sand coloured sisal. There is a smallish round black dining table with a deco feel to it going in the bay window and the couch is anthracite. I am very confused. Should i paint the fireplace all one colour (wood and tiles?) Should i try something a bit daring? ie crackle glaze? Should I bash it down and put in something modern?

Question by Nicole, London

I’ve had a look through your pictures and you have a good size flat with lots of potential. The living room looks like a good size with lots of natural daylight which is a great.

With regards to the fireplace, can I ask first if this is a working fire and if so, are you planning to use it? I am assuming you want to go for quite a contemporary look?

Wooden surrounds can work within a modern interior although it is better if the wood is a light colour, i.e. light oak rather than cherry or mahogany. Looking at your fireplace, it looks as if the wood has an orange stain to it. For this reason, unless you are prepared to remove the wood stain by sandblasting or stripping it down, I would advice you to paint it with a soft muted tone (try Kelly Hoppen paints or Farrow and ball). The wooden surround looks like it has some interesting carved detailing which will be accentuated when painted. I have an example of a painted fireplace on the blog.

The tiles that you have striped back on your fireplace look like 70’s colours and unless you want to go for a retro look; I’m not sure they’ll work in the room. There are several options here. You could either paint them white again, or, cover it them with a stainless steel plate. If you’re felling a little more creative, you could re-tile the area? Maybe opt for some copper metallic mosaic tiles? If you need help sourcing any product or advice with the rest of the flat then let me know.

Good luck!

Pippa Jameson


Meet Pippa

Pippa Jameson is an author, tv designer and interiors expert. The previous interior editor on several leading UK titles, Pippa has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Throughout her 25-year career, Pippa’s unique and creative approach has won her commissions for large retail brands and celebrities to deliver exciting and engaging projects. 

She’s written the curriculum for the British College of Interior Design, produced and styled shoots for well-known brands including John Lewis, H&M & Team GB/DFS, worked as an International Stylist for leading paint brands in Asia, consulted on the launch and creative direction of major retail names including George Home and Wren, and most recently, published her first book, The Sensory Home. Pippa possesses expertise unmatched in the interior industry.