How To Update a 1970s Stone Fireplace - 25 Ideas

How To Update a 1970s Stone Fireplace: 25 Ideas

The 1970s was a distinctive era for home design, marked by bold styles and an emphasis on natural, earthy elements. Among these trends, the stone fireplace stood out as a quintessential feature in many homes. These fireplaces, often characterized by their robust construction and unique stone patterns, were not just central heating sources but also focal points of living spaces.

However, while these fireplaces carry a certain nostalgic charm, they often pose challenges for contemporary homeowners. The dark, heavy appearance of 1970s stone can clash with modern decor, making spaces feel dated and less inviting. Furthermore, the functionality of these older fireplaces may not align with today’s standards for energy efficiency and ease of use.

Updating a 1970s stone fireplace, therefore, becomes not just a cosmetic preference but a practical necessity. A well-thought-out update can transform a room, turning a once-dated feature into a modern, efficient, and visually appealing centerpiece. Whether it’s through a simple paint job, adding a sleek mantel, or a more extensive renovation, the goal is to harmonize the old with the new. This fusion not only respects the original character of the fireplace but also breathes new life into it, ensuring it meets current aesthetic and functional demands.

As we discover the 25 ways to update a 1970s stone fireplace, we’ll explore a range of options, from quick DIY fixes to more elaborate remodels. Each proposed update aims to enhance both the beauty and utility of these classic fireplaces, ensuring they remain cherished parts of our homes while aligning seamlessly with modern living standards.

1. Modernizing with Painting the Stone

Painting 70s Stone Fireplace

One of the simplest yet most transformative ways to update a 1970s stone fireplace is by painting it. This approach can instantly lighten the room, making the fireplace blend more seamlessly with contemporary decor.

When choosing paint, opt for high-temperature-resistant varieties that are specifically designed for use on fireplaces. These paints not only adhere well to the stone surface but also withstand the heat generated by the fireplace.

Before painting, it’s crucial to clean the stone thoroughly to ensure the paint adheres properly. Use a wire brush and a stone cleaner to remove any soot, dust, and grime. Apply a primer suitable for stone surfaces, which helps in achieving an even finish.

When it comes to color, the options are limitless. A classic white can give a clean, modern look, while a soft gray or beige can add subtle warmth. For those feeling adventurous, a bold color can turn the fireplace into a striking statement piece.

Whitewash Technique

For those who prefer a more subdued update, the whitewash technique is an excellent choice. This method involves diluting paint with water to create a thin, translucent coating that allows the natural texture and color variations of the stone to show through. The result is a lighter, more rustic look that retains the fireplace’s original character.

The process of whitewashing is relatively straightforward. Mix a part of water with a part of white latex paint to create a thin mixture. Test the mixture on a small, inconspicuous area of the fireplace to ensure you’re happy with the appearance.

Apply the whitewash with a brush, working in small sections, and wipe away excess paint with a rag for a more distressed look. This technique is particularly appealing for those who want to maintain the natural charm of the stone while giving it a fresh, updated feel.

Both painting and whitewashing are cost-effective, DIY-friendly methods that can significantly impact the overall look of your 70s stone fireplace. With a little time and effort, these painting techniques can effortlessly bridge the gap between vintage charm and modern elegance.

2. Adding a Wood Mantel and Hearth Enhancements

Adding a Wood Mantel

A wooden mantel can add warmth and character to a 1970s stone fireplace, creating a striking contrast between the rugged stone and the smooth wood. When choosing a mantel, consider the style of your room. A chunky, rustic wood mantel fits well in a country-style home, while a sleek, contemporary design complements a modern interior.

Installation varies depending on the mantel and fireplace design. For a secure fit, ensure the mantel is properly anchored to the wall or fireplace structure. Staining or painting the wood allows for customization to match your room’s decor, making the fireplace a cohesive element of your space.

Installing a Floating Mantel

For a more modern and minimalistic look, a floating mantel is an ideal choice. This style gives the illusion that the mantel is suspended in air, offering a clean and streamlined appearance. Floating mantels work exceptionally well in contemporary settings, emphasizing clean lines and uncluttered design.

Installing a floating mantel involves securing a bracket or ledger board to the wall, onto which the mantel is mounted. It’s important to locate studs in the wall for a stable installation. Like traditional mantels, floating mantels can be painted or stained to match the surrounding decor.

Incorporating a Tile Hearth

Updating the hearth of your fireplace can also make a significant impact. Replacing an outdated hearth with modern tiles can instantly refresh the look of your fireplace. Tiles come in various materials, colors, and designs, allowing for extensive customization. From sleek ceramics to intricate mosaics, the options are endless.

When selecting tiles, consider heat resistance and durability. Installation typically involves removing the old hearth material, preparing the surface, and laying the tiles using an adhesive suitable for high temperatures. Grouting and sealing the tiles ensures a clean and durable finish.

These mantel and hearth enhancements are more than just decorative updates; they redefine the fireplace as a central, unifying element of your living space. Whether you opt for the natural warmth of wood or the sleek sophistication of tile, these changes can have a profound effect on the overall ambiance of the room.

3. How to Update a Stone Fireplace with Lighting & Visual Enhancements

Fitting Glass Fireplace Doors

Glass fireplace doors are a functional and stylish addition that can modernize the appearance of your 1970s fireplace. Not only do they enhance safety by containing sparks and embers, but they also improve efficiency by reducing heat loss. When choosing glass doors, consider the style and size that best fits your fireplace. Options range from sleek, frameless models to more traditional designs with decorative frames.

Installation typically involves attaching a frame to the front of the fireplace and then installing the glass doors onto the frame. Ensure the doors are designed for high heat exposure and are fitted correctly to prevent any gaps.

Incorporating LED Lighting

Adding LED lighting to your fireplace can create ambiance and highlight the stone’s texture and color. LED lights are energy-efficient and can be installed in various ways, such as strip lighting along the mantel or spotlights directed at the fireplace.

When installing LED lighting, consider the color temperature of the lights. Warmer tones can create a cozy atmosphere, while cooler tones are better for a brighter, more modern look. Ensure the electrical components are safely installed and away from high heat areas.

Creating a Focal Wall

Transform your fireplace into a stunning focal point by creating a focal wall. This can be achieved by painting the wall around the fireplace in a contrasting color, using decorative wallpaper, or adding textured panels. The idea is to draw attention to the fireplace and make it stand out as the centerpiece of the room.

When designing your focal wall, consider the overall aesthetic of your space. The wall should complement both the fireplace and the room’s decor, creating a harmonious and visually appealing look.

4. Upgrading the Material

Applying Stone Veneer to Update stone fireplace

Stone veneer offers a way to refresh your old fireplace without completely removing the existing stone. Veneers come in various styles and colors, allowing you to choose a look that fits your desired aesthetic. They can provide a more modern or different natural stone appearance while retaining the texture and character of a stone fireplace.

Installing stone veneer involves preparing the existing surface, applying an adhesive, and then setting the veneer in place. It’s a project that can dramatically change the appearance of your fireplace with relatively minimal structural alterations.

Using Concrete for a Modern Look

For a sleek, contemporary update, consider applying a concrete finish to your stone fireplace. Concrete offers a minimalist, industrial look and can be applied to create a smooth, uniform surface. This material is particularly suitable for modern or Scandinavian-style interiors.

The process of applying a concrete finish involves preparing the existing stone surface, applying a concrete overlay, and then finishing it for a polished look. This option is ideal for those seeking a radical change from the traditional stone appearance.

Adding a Stucco Finish

Stucco is another excellent material for updating a 70s fireplace. It provides a smooth, clean finish that can be painted in any color. This finish is versatile and can be tailored to suit a variety of interior styles, from Mediterranean to modern.

Applying stucco involves preparing the stone surface, applying layers of stucco mix, and then finishing it to the desired texture. It’s a great way to completely transform the look of your fireplace with a relatively straightforward renovation.

These lighting and material upgrades not only enhance the visual appeal of your stone fireplace but also allow you to customize its look to better fit your personal style and the design of your home.

5. Upgrading the Interior Firebox To Update a stone fireplace

Upgrading the firebox, the interior part where the fire burns, is a key step in a 70s stone fireplace makeover. Over time, fireboxes can become worn and inefficient. Replacing or refurbishing the firebox can improve the fireplace’s efficiency, safety, and overall appearance.

When upgrading, consider materials like firebrick or refractory panels, which are designed to withstand high temperatures and retain heat. This upgrade might also involve improving the damper system for better heat control and ventilation. Additionally, for those looking to switch from wood to gas, installing a gas insert in the firebox is an excellent way to modernize and simplify the use of the fireplace.

Introducing a Herringbone Firebox Interior

Adding a herringbone pattern inside the firebox offers a stylish and contemporary look. This pattern, created using firebricks or refractory panels arranged in a zigzag formation, not only enhances the fireplace’s aesthetic appeal but also adds an artistic element to the overall design.

Installing a herringbone pattern requires precision and careful planning to ensure the bricks or panels are correctly aligned and securely fitted. It’s an update that, while primarily aesthetic, can have a significant impact on the fireplace’s visual appeal, turning the interior of the firebox into a statement piece.

Both upgrading the firebox and introducing a herringbone interior are effective ways to breathe new life into an old fireplace. These updates not only enhance the fireplace’s functionality and efficiency but also contribute significantly to the overall ambiance and style of the room.

6. Addition of Some Decorative

Adding Built-in Shelving

Integrating built-in shelving around your 1970s stone fireplace can dramatically change the entire look and functionality of the space. Shelves offer practical storage solutions and provide an opportunity to display decorative items, books, or family photos. The design of the shelving can range from contemporary floating shelves to traditional cabinetry, depending on the desired aesthetic.

When adding built-in shelving, consider the balance and symmetry around the fireplace. The materials and finish of the shelves should complement both the fireplace and the room’s overall design. This addition not only enhances the visual appeal but also increases the practical use of the living space.

Incorporating Decorative Tiles

Using decorative tiles is an excellent way to add a unique touch to your fireplace. Tiles can be used to create a new surround or update an existing one, offering a chance to introduce new colors, patterns, and textures. From hand-painted ceramics to modern geometric patterns, the choices are vast and can cater to any style preference.

When selecting tiles, consider the scale and proportion in relation to the fireplace and the room. Installation typically involves removing any old material, preparing the surface, and then carefully placing and grouting the tiles. This update can serve as a stunning visual centerpiece and significantly elevate the fireplace’s aesthetic.

Decorative additions like built-in shelving and tiles not only serve a functional purpose but also offer an opportunity to inject personal style and creativity into your space. These updates can turn an old fireplace into a stunning feature, making it an integral part of your home’s design and decor.

7. Give It Artistic and Unique Touches

Installing Overmantel Mirrors

Adding an overmantel mirror is a classic way to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your fireplace. Mirrors not only make the space feel larger and brighter by reflecting light but also add an element of sophistication and elegance. When choosing a mirror, consider the size and style, a large, ornate mirror can serve as a grand focal point. This is how to update a stone fireplace using a simpler design to better suit a minimalist decor.

Installation should be done with care to ensure the mirror is securely anchored, especially in the case of larger pieces. The placement of the mirror also matters; it should be positioned to reflect a pleasing view or angle of the room.

Incorporating a Mosaic Design

A mosaic design can transform your fireplace into a piece of art. Mosaics allow for immense creativity and personal expression through various colors, patterns, and materials like glass, ceramic, or stone. This addition can be applied to the surround, hearth, or even the overmantel area.

Creating a mosaic design can be a detailed and intricate process, so careful planning and execution are essential. The design should complement the overall style of the room and can range from subtle and understated to bold and statement-making.

Adding a Mantel Clock or Artwork

Placing a mantel clock or artwork above your fireplace is a simple yet effective way to add character. A mantel clock can bring a touch of traditional elegance or modern style, depending on its design. Similarly, artwork can express personal taste and add color, texture, and visual interest to the space.

When selecting these decorative items, consider the scale and how they harmonize with the rest of the room’s decor. The placement should be balanced and proportional to the fireplace and mantel, creating a cohesive and visually appealing arrangement.

Artistic and unique touches like overmantel mirrors, mosaic designs, and decorative items on the mantel contribute significantly to the fireplace’s aesthetic value. They allow for personal expression and creativity, turning your fireplace into a captivating and unique feature of your home.

8. Functional and Safety Upgrades

Changing to a Gas Insert

Converting your 1970’s stone fireplace to a gas insert can significantly enhance both functionality and safety. Gas inserts are efficient, easy to use, and require less maintenance than traditional wood-burning fireplaces. They also provide consistent heat and can be a cleaner option, reducing indoor air pollution.

When considering a gas insert, it’s essential to choose the right size and style for your existing fireplace. Professional installation is recommended to ensure proper ventilation and gas line connections, adhering to safety standards and local building codes.

Updating Old Fireplace Tools and Accessories

Upgrading your fireplace tools and accessories is a practical way to enhance safety and convenience. New tools, such as pokers, tongs, and brushes, not only function better but can also contribute to the overall look of your fireplace. Similarly, updating accessories like screens and grates can improve safety by better containing embers and enhancing air flow for more efficient burning.

When selecting new tools and accessories, consider materials and designs that complement the style of your fireplace and room. This is an opportunity to add both aesthetic appeal and practical function to your fireplace setting.

Installing a Rustic Wood Beam

While primarily decorative, installing a rustic wood beam as a mantel or decorative element can also contribute to the overall safety and structural integrity of your fireplace. A solid wood beam, properly installed, can provide additional support to the fireplace structure.

Choosing a reclaimed or distressed wood beam can add character and a touch of rustic charm to your space. Ensure the beam is treated for fire resistance and securely mounted. This upgrade blends functionality with aesthetic appeal, adding a warm and natural element to your stone fireplace.

Functional and safety upgrades like a gas insert, new tools and accessories, and a rustic wood beam are vital for modernizing a 1970s stone fireplace. These improvements not only enhance the fireplace’s usability and safety but also contribute to its overall visual appeal, making it a more enjoyable and integral part of your home.

9. Integrating Modern Technology

Bringing your 1970s stone fireplace into the 21st century can be as simple as integrating smart home technology. This modern update not only enhances convenience but also adds a layer of sophistication to your fireplace.

Integrating Smart Home Features

You can do so by integrating smart home features such as a smart thermostat or fireplace control. This technology allows you to adjust the heat settings and even turn the fireplace on or off remotely using a smartphone app. It’s particularly useful for gas or electric fireplaces, enabling you to control the ambiance and temperature of your room with ease.

Additionally, you can install smart sensors and monitors that alert you about the fireplace’s status and maintenance needs. These devices can monitor for issues such as a gas leak or poor ventilation, adding an extra layer of safety.

For those who have converted their fireplaces to electric models, LED lighting with smart color-changing capabilities can create various moods and atmospheres. You can choose different colors and brightness levels to match the occasion, controlled via your smartphone or voice commands through devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

Integrating your fireplace with your home’s overall smart system can also involve automating other elements like nearby window blinds or lighting, synchronizing them with the fireplace’s operations for a seamless experience.

Incorporating smart home features into your 1970’s old stone fireplace not only modernizes it but also brings a level of convenience and safety that enhances your overall living experience. This integration allows you to enjoy the charm of your vintage fireplace with the benefits and comforts of modern technology.

10. Adding Life & Warmth To 70s Stone Fireplace Makeover

Incorporating Plants or Greenery

Adding plants or greenery around your 1970s stone fireplace can instantly breathe life into the space. Plants not only add a splash of color and texture but also improve air quality, bringing a sense of freshness and vibrancy. When selecting plants, consider varieties that thrive indoors and require light conditions compatible with your space.

You can place potted plants on the mantel, hang them from the ceiling, or position larger plants on the floor beside the fireplace. Be mindful of keeping them at a safe distance to avoid any fire hazards. Choosing planters and pots that complement your decor can further enhance the aesthetic appeal.

Creating a Seating Nook

Transforming the area around your fireplace into a cozy seating nook adds both functionality and charm. A comfortable seating area invites people to gather, relax, and enjoy the warmth of the fire. This can be as simple as adding a couple of armchairs and a small table or as elaborate as a built-in bench with cushions and throw pillows.

When designing your seating nook, consider the overall layout of the room and the view of the old fireplace. Use colors and materials that harmonize with the existing decor to create a cohesive and inviting space.

Installing a Fireplace Screen

In addition to safety, a well-designed fireplace screen can add a decorative touch and a sense of warmth to your fireplace. Screens come in a variety of styles, from traditional wrought iron to contemporary glass, allowing you to choose one that complements the style of your fireplace and room. A beautiful screen can serve as a piece of art, enhancing the visual appeal when the fireplace is not in use.

Adding elements like plants, a seating nook, and a decorative fireplace screen can significantly increase the warmth and appeal of your 1970s stone fireplace. These additions create a welcoming atmosphere, making your fireplace a delightful and cherished part of your home.

Our Last Words

The journey of updating a 1970s stone fireplace is filled with transformative potential, offering a blend of aesthetic enhancements and functional improvements. As we’ve explored through various updates, from modernizing with paint and lighting enhancements to integrating smart home technology, each modification holds the power to revitalize this classic feature of your home. These changes not only refresh the look and feel of your fireplace but also align it with contemporary living standards, ensuring it remains a functional and enjoyable part of your daily life.

When deciding on which updates to implement, it’s crucial to consider your personal style and the specific functional needs of your space. Whether your preference leans towards a minimalist approach with a sleek concrete finish and smart controls or a more traditional ambiance with rustic wood elements and cozy seating nooks, each choice should reflect the character of your home and your lifestyle.

Moreover, these updates are not just about the aesthetic appeal; they also encompass safety, efficiency, and comfort. From ensuring efficient heating with a gas insert to enhancing safety with a new firebox or fireplace screen, each upgrade contributes to a safer and more enjoyable living environment.

In essence, revitalizing your 1970s stone fireplace is an opportunity to create a harmonious blend of the past and the present, where the timeless charm of stone meets the conveniences and styles of modern living. By carefully selecting updates that resonate with your personal taste and home’s needs, you can transform your old fireplace into a stunning, functional centerpiece that will be cherished for years to come.

FAQs How To Modernize Your 1970s Stone Fireplace?

Q: Can I paint over natural stone?

Yes, you can paint natural stone, but it’s crucial to clean the surface thoroughly first. Use high-temperature-resistant paint designed for fireplaces to ensure durability and safety.

Q: How much does it cost to replace a hearth?

The cost to replace a hearth varies depending on the materials chosen and labor costs. Budget-friendly options like tile can offer an affordable yet stylish upgrade.

Q: Is it possible to install a wood mantel by myself?

Installing a wood mantel is doable with some DIY skills and the right tools. For more complex installations, consider hiring a professional to ensure it’s securely attached.

Q: How do I care for a whitewashed stone fireplace?

Maintain a whitewashed fireplace by regular dusting and performing occasional touch-ups with whitewash to keep it looking pristine.

Q: Are glass fireplace doors a safe addition?

Yes, glass fireplace doors are designed to withstand high temperatures and add a layer of protection, making them a safe addition to any fireplace.

Q: Can I safely mount a TV above my fireplace?

Yes, but ensure there’s adequate heat insulation and maintain the proper distance to prevent damage to the TV from the heat.

Q: Should converting to a gas insert be a DIY project?

Converting to a gas insert involves safety risks and should ideally be performed by a professional to ensure proper installation and venting.

Q: What steps can I take to make my fireplace more energy-efficient?

Enhancing energy efficiency can be achieved by installing glass doors and upgrading the firebox. These improvements help retain heat and reduce energy costs.

Q: What type of LED lights should I use around my fireplace?

Opt for heat-resistant LED lights designed for high temperatures, ensuring they’re suitable for use near fireplaces.

Q: Is adding a rustic wood beam something I can do on my own?

With basic carpentry skills, you can install a rustic wood beam. Make sure it’s properly treated for fire safety and securely mounted.

Q: What is a 70s fireplace typically called?

While there’s no specific name for a 70s fireplace, they’re known for their rustic, natural stone or brick design, reflecting the home decor trends of the era.

Q: Between brick and stone, which fireplace option is more economical?

Brick fireplaces generally cost less than stone due to lower material and installation expenses. However, the choice between brick and stone depends on your budget and design preference.

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