A Mantel Makeover for Angie’s List

I love a good mantel. I love a good challenge. I love crazy old tiles. What do all of these things have in common? It’s this fireplace! Boom:


Sometimes I get asked to do bloggy things that aren’t for my own site, which is typically not my jam because I’m usually stupid busy and not paying enough attention to my own site to worry about someone else’s, but I made an exception when Angie’s List came at me with a mantel makeover challenge. I didn’t have a mantel that was a good candidate for the project, but I knew somebody who did, and this seemed like the perfect excuse to get my grubby hands on it.


This mantel belongs to John, who just bought this incredible circa-1900 house in Kingston. I helped him find the house! I told him to buy it! He bought it! He moved from New Jersey! This poor house has undergone some serious wreck-ovation over the years, but it has amazing potential and John is totally committed to restoring it, so of course I am all over this. He doesn’t really need a full-on designer and he doesn’t really need a turnkey project manager, so I’m stepping into sort of a consultant role as he moves through this renovation”¦helping him design and plan and coordinate and execute and make this house the showpiece it’s supposed to be.

ANYWAY. This was exciting because there wasn’t anything technically wrong with this mantel or this room”¦ya know, it could have been fine but ugly for a few years and everyone would have lived. Often with old houses there’s a pretty big gap between the fun and pretty and the finance-draining and decidedly unsexy, and the latter is what has to take precedence. So it was nice to have a great excuse to bump this wayyyyy up the list (like, literally before “unpack your boxes”) because the “before” made me so sad. Somebody painted the original tiles with either a textured paint or some kind of plaster overlay stuff, and those 1973 built-ins—replete with fluorescent lighting, crappy wood, gold-crackled mirrored tiles, and an enormous soffit overhead connecting the two sides—had no business in this magnificent living room.


First order of business was demo-ing the built-in stuff and starting the longggg and arduous stripping process. Between John and I, it probably took about 30 hours of scraping and scrubbing and picking and cursing and beer-drinking to get down to the bare tile. We stripped the fireplace in two parts because I actually lacked confidence that the paint stripper would be able to penetrate whatever was causing the texture, so I didn’t want to waste and make a huge mess only to figure out that we had to come up with a plan B.


We did not have to come up with a plan B, though, because the paint stripper worked SO well. When the room was almost done, I had John go back to the little nooks and crannies with one of those 15 minute jelly-like strippers and a bunch of tiny tools like dental picks to really get everything off.

Now, I love that tile. I’m guessing a lot of people won’t love that tile, but I don’t care! John had a mini freak-out when we first started really exposing it, but I didn’t care then either. I think it’s glazed terra cotta, with a burnt-orangey-red and green color combo that is admittedly extremely hard to work with. I kind of can’t blame whoever painted it because with the wrong wall color and stuff in the room, I can see it looking pretty awful. John even asked whether we’d be better off painting it again, but I veto’d that plan because I’m super bossy and unpleasant generally, and you just don’t paint old tile. You just don’t. Don’t do it. But really, this is a pretty awesome original detail in a house that is missing a fair amount of original detail, so in my mind it wasn’t even a choice.

By the way, that pile of wood in the foreground is all the lumber that comprised the old built-ins. I’m a crazy person, but hear me out. My basic rule with lumber is that if it’s over about 6″ long, it gets kept. This is why my garage looks like a disorderly lumber yard, but it’s also why I barely ever have to buy wood anymore! It’s environmentally responsible and economical—you don’t necessarily think of 1x6s or something being a large expense in a project, but wood is pricey! And it’s not as nice as it used to be, anyway! Even though these built-ins were only from the 1970s, it was pretty interesting to compare the totally standard 1-by lumber to what’s commonly available today—the not-even-that-old stuff we tore out is so much denser and heavier and contains fewer knots. Even the furring strips were pretty nice! All of it got de-nailed and set aside and treated like gold.


After the major mantel-stripping was over, I applied the Peel Away to the surrounding wall, too. The texture was carried up this part of the wall, and it seemed potentially easier and better to try to get down to the bare plaster before repairing and skim-coating the wall than just covering it with a skim-coat. The Peel Away worked really well for this, too, and didn’t damage the plaster at all (it’s commonly used for this, but I’m not sure how other types of strippers would react). Then it was just a matter of doing a nice skim-coating job and light sanding and we were good to go!


Dudes, I’m a woodworker now. Basically. Or something. If you want to become a crazy salvage wood person like myself, invest in a decent table saw—I have no idea what I’d do without mine! This way you can rip your recycled boards into your own dimensions precisely and easily, and for some reason I find that VERY fun. I have a Porter Cable table saw which has been going strong for a few years and works great.


I used a combination of salvaged and some new wood to make some new built-ins, the basis of which is basically a plywood box on a 2×6 base. Someday I’ll learn some fancy joining techniques, but on this day I went with what I read on some weird message board a long time ago about building cabinet boxes—that a combo of plywood, wood glue, drywall screws, and finish nails is actually pretty comparable to nice rabbeted joint, except significantly simpler and faster. Then it was just a matter of putting them in place, furring out the sides and top to make them appear super beefy, and throwing a lot of salvaged (and some new) trim and stuff to make it look all classy and finished.


Not too shabby, right? I feel pretty proud of how these wood storage cubbies turned out, especially because of how little new material went into them. It was a lot of fun! We plan to add shallower bookshelves going up to the ceiling on top, but there wasn’t enough time to do that and get the post to Angie’s List in time, so I’ll post an update when that happens.

Let’s see that before photo again, just for funsies:




I love that wall color for the tile! It’s kind of a charcoal-y navy with some green undertone, and I think it works super well. John originally wanted light grey walls in here, but I’m glad he let me talk him into going super dark after we both saw the fireplace tile and felt like our light grey samples weren’t doing it any favors.


That egg-and-dart detail is just so amazing. I love that every one of these tiles is completely unique, a little irregular, and just so perfectly-imperfect. So worth the ridiculous time commitment and blisters.


SO! Turns out I was not the only blogger that signed up for this, and Angie’s List made it a CONTEST. WITH A CASH PRIZE. WHICH I WOULD VERY MUCH ENJOY HAVING.

I wrote a whole other blog post for Angie’s List with different pictures and text and more detail about the process and products, which you should go check out here! And then you should go vote for my project here! I guess you can vote once every 24 hours, and voting is open for a few more weeks, so go to town! BRING HOME THE BACON, FOLKS!

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 4.25.16
    Holland VanDieren said:

    Daniel, that’s beyond stunning! Will vote for you everyday in the Angie’s List contest as you deserve the win. Hope your readers will become your super delegates and carry you to victory!

    • 4.26.16
      Daniel said:

      Thank you, Holland! :)

  2. 4.25.16
    Dani said:

    I like the red/green original tile! I can definitely see it taking a moment to get used to, though. The dark paint does help – it looks dramatic and earthy!

  3. 4.25.16
    Meg H said:

    Gorgeous! The dark paint is perfect. I’d love to see a vintage vegetable-dye oriental rug on the floor.

    • 4.25.16
      Daniel said:

      me too! it felt a little funny styling and shooting just this wall without anything else in the room, but hey! the guy closed on the house a month ago, I GUESS I can be patient :)

  4. 4.25.16
    Ross said:

    I began reading this post with DREAD!

    PLEASE, I thought, do not tear out the original mantel!

    Because this is what most people would have done. I see this way way way too often.

    By the time I finished the post I was purring with delight.

    • 4.25.16
      Daniel said:

      C’mon now, Ross, does that sound like me??! :)

  5. 4.25.16
    Danielle said:

    Woah, that tile is amazing! What a transformation – you’ve got my vote!

  6. 4.25.16
    Sterling said:

    I’ve never seen egg-and-dart in tile before, that’s really neat. Also I’m jealous of your table saw, I’m still in an apartment, so I’m working with a seriously sketch truck bed and circle saw arrangement. I don’t know if you have a radial arm saw set up at the house yet, but if you do get one, doing rabbets and dadoes is super easy, it’s how I built all my bookshelves (not my saw, obviously). You can do it with a table saw too, I just prefer moving the saw across the stock rather than the opposite.

    • 4.26.16
      Daniel said:

      I don’t have that, but I’d love to! I want a router table first, I think. Always have a wishlist of tools bigger than my budget :)

    • 4.27.16
      Sterling said:

      Tools are a business expense for your presumably incorporated design firm, hint hint. I hear you on the budget, though. Unrelated, I reprised your car::tree performance yesterday, with my car as the tree and the woman behind me as…you? Not sure where I was going with that one, other than to say Enterprise probably won’t be happy if I start sizing lumber in their Hyundai Sonata.

  7. 4.25.16
    Heidi said:

    You got this. Some of those other mantels will be crying to be restored in a few years.

  8. 4.25.16
    Charlotte said:

    You’re gonna win this contest for sure; your before looks like some of the other afters… just sayin’. I have been following you, Daniel, since you made that little desk that got posted on Apartment Therapy. What a delight it is every time a new post appears from you. Not many people can wield a saw and a pen with equal aplomb. Keep at it. Looking forward to your continued generosity in sharing your life with all us readers!

  9. 4.25.16

    Your paint stripping is like… wow. I just day dream of us stripping paint together. Renovation buddies? LOL.

    • 4.26.16
      Daniel said:

      Sign me up! I still am dying to see your house!!

  10. 4.25.16
    Karen said:

    I voted! I voted!!! What a transformation! Love, love, love the tile! And please…what paint did you you on the wall? It’s gorgeous!

  11. 4.25.16
    Karen said:

    Oops! Just saw it…Flint by BM.

  12. 4.25.16
    Staci said:

    Thank you for saving the old tile! This looks cool. Love! Voting for you to get dat bacon.

    • 4.25.16
      Staci said:

      Came back to add that almost EVERY other mantle makeover made me frown. You’ve got this on lockdown.

    • 4.27.16
      Tisha said:

      No kidding. A lot of the others are, as Heidi put it, “going to be crying to be restored in a few years.”

  13. 4.25.16
    Meg said:

    Amazing transformation! The mantel before reminded me way too much of hard boiled eggs!

    I love the color chosen for the walls. We’re about to go navy in our living room, so I get seriously excited when I see others embracing dark colors! It looks amazing in this room.

  14. 4.25.16
    Sara L. said:

    Well, if I didn’t live in Canada, I would vote for you! Lovely transformation, and miles beyond the other ones. I do have a question, though. Would you consider painting the baseboards the same color as the walls and built-ins? I was trying to think of why the proportions of the built-ins bugged me in the third to last picture, but not the last picture, and I think it is that little peak of white to either side of the fireplace. Other than that, swoon! That blue-grey is just perfect with the tile.

    • 4.26.16
      Danielle said:

      I agree with this. There is something slightly off about the built-ins. I actually think they should be more centered on the gaps. But perhaps they are not due to some damage from the original built-ins? In that case I would support the trim painting. The picture from the side angle where you can’t see the white convinces me this would be a good idea!

    • 4.26.16
      Daniel said:

      I tend to agree, but the homeowner rejected that idea! Not my house! I do think it will look better when we build the bookshelves, so I’m reserving judgement. It’s only 13″ of baseboard—not a big deal to change. :)

    • 4.27.16
      Leila said:

      I thought that too – there’s something odd about the proportions. I wondered if making them the full width between the fireplace and the walls would help – with seats on top like window seats, with tweed-covered cushions. Though I have faith that when you’re done they will look perfect!
      I can’t vote for you as I live in the UK, but your makeover is the only one that doesn’t make me cringe. I hope you win! The rest are grim!

    • 4.27.16
      NestFan said:

      Yeah, the proportion of the cubbies seems off to me, too. Rather than center them on the wall, I’d have made them go all the way to the fireplace. The shelves above would be a bit narrower, cut in on the fireplace side to allow enough room for the mantle top where it juts out not to seem crowded by the shelves. But I’m sue it will look a lot better when the shelves are added above to the ceiling, whether they are the same width as the cubbies or a bit less wide on the fireplace side. And yes, that scrap of white baseboard on either side needs to be painted.

      I agree it is very hard to find the right wall color to go with these tiles (I also don’t believe in painting original tiles), and that likely a dark is needed. While this gray is a step in finding the right color, I’m sure this is not the very best color for the job. Perhaps the right color will reveal itself to you and the owner as time passes, before the entire room gets painted this color, or decorated around it. Sometimes the right paint color takes a few tries.

    • 4.26.16
      Danielle said:

      But also LOVE the restoration and the color combo!

  15. 4.25.16

    Just voted for you. Good luck! Hope you get that prize

  16. 4.26.16
    Cathy F said:

    LOVE that tile! The paint on the walls really show that tile off. Voted for you, I hope you win!

  17. 4.26.16
    Junedotbe said:

    Damn… they’re blocking international voters !
    Well, I’m keeping my fingers crossed fro you. These sweet old tiles deserve an award :-)

  18. 4.26.16

    Fantastic job! The dark gray really makes the most of the tile color. And your new built-ins are not just gorgeous but worthy of the Earth Day award.
    I had some really basic Ikea Hejne shelves from the early ’90s. We moved and put them in the basement and decided to add a couple. The new ones were far flimsier. Now, I don’t want to knock Ikea because they are heroes for keeping prices down–I probably paid the same price as 20 years earlier. Just agreeing with your comment that cheap wood from a couple of decades ago is not the same as cheap wood today.
    BTW another international vote for you.

  19. 4.26.16
    nadine said:

    Voted. Yours was the only restoration. I can’t believe you convinced your friend to do this before unpacking! You crack me up

  20. 4.26.16
    Ashli said:

    Wow, beautiful. I have to say in the beginning I was concerned andsl siding with John, but you really brought out the beauty of that fireplace.

    I looked over the other contestants, and well your project is the best of them. I’m glad you stuck with your gut, because it’s paid huge dividends. I the first picture I thought it looked fairly good, but that wall is so beautiful now.

  21. 4.26.16
    Bonnie said:


  22. 4.26.16
    Carol said:

    Hands down or thumbs up – yours is by far the best make-over. Smell the bacon sizzling now!!!

  23. 4.26.16
    Diane said:

    Absolutely gorgeous…and you were so right to NOT PAINT those tiles….

  24. 4.26.16
    Rachel said:

    I’m gonna be honest, the tile was scaring me at first too but by the time I made it through the whole post it had really grown on me. It looks great with that wall color!!

  25. 4.26.16
    susan said:

    Well, of course I voted for you. I knew, before even checking out the others, that your’s would be the only one that didn’t look like everyone else’s out there which all look alike. I love that tile and it works beautifully with the dark wall. Great job.

  26. 4.26.16
    debbie in toronto said:

    Hi Daniel…when you had time for this I don’t know..and wish I could vote for you but they are blocking us . Anyway…not crazy about the tiles but I’m sure they look better in person…it’s just a bit dark and broody for me..kinda 70’s in an odd way. I do love the wall colour. Fingers crossed you win!

    • 4.26.16
      Daniel said:

      I didn’t have time for this, haha! This all took place over the course of 12 days and it was insane and exhausting. Stripping paint at 2 AM!

  27. 4.26.16
    Adrien said:

    The mantel really pops against the dark backdrop and balances out the wild colour combination!

    I especially love the empty beer bottle on the mantel in pic #3!

    • 4.26.16
      Daniel said:

      This project is in partnership with Stella Artois, except they didn’t know it or ask for it or give us anything ;)

    • 4.26.16
      Adrien said:

      My beer of choice!

  28. 4.26.16
    Alma said:

    I could not believe they painted the egg and dart white and yellow! EWWWW! I love dark, and the color looks like the color of my living room. Question: Shouldn’t the baseboards next to the built ins be painted the wall color just for cohesion? Just a thought. Off to vote!

  29. 4.26.16
    Alma said:

    Just saw the name of your wall color! It’s Flint by Benjamin Moore, my living room color. No wonder they looked so much alike. :D

  30. 4.26.16
    Linda said:


  31. 4.26.16
    gretaclark said:

    Such an unusual fireplace. Color, tile, trim. Wouldn’t it be neat to know the basic who, what, where and why? These old houses really make you think.

    • 4.26.16
      Daniel said:

      It really is! I don’t even know what to call it style-wise, honestly. We know a fair amount about the history of this house, though, which is really refreshing! I’ll talk more about it as we move onto other projects, but basically it was built in 1900 as a pretty modest Victorian farmhouse, and then basically doubled in size in the 1920s, and it appears that they blew out most of the walls in the original house which is how this HUGE room came to be. I’m guessing this mantel is from the 1920s renovation, but we don’t really know. John has been in touch with a relative of that original family who has provided some valuable information and a few pictures, and I’ve helped him find a few others, which is so great to have! The oldest picture I’ve found of my house is 1950s—I’d kill for some older ones!

    • 4.27.16
      bean said:

      Looks a little Craftsman / Arts & Crafts / Frank Lloyd Wright to me. The “before” reminds me of a ghastly re-do I once saw on Apartment Therapy and wept over. I love the original look and am sorry that the homeowner didn’t (initially) care for it and hope that he is happy now.

      I think dark grey was a good idea–though there’s a little too much of a blue cast to this particular dark grey for me–well, to work with the red/green tiles. But, that’s just me–and I still liked it better than the others and voted accordingly.

  32. 4.26.16
    AL said:

    Great job, looks amazing! When I bought my house five years ago it had those exact mirror tiles EVERYWHERE. So many that a single 60-watt lamp in the living room would brightly light up the entire main floor. I still have some in a pile in the basement because you never know, right? Maybe I’ll want to give them a second chance? ;) (More likely I’m just lazy and the basement needs to be cleaned…)

    • 4.26.16
      Daniel said:

      Ha! We set these ones aside too, and I actually know somebody who has dibs! One man’s trash…

  33. 4.26.16
    Robin said:

    I LOVE the tiles – one should never ever paint tile!! They have great patina, color, and style!! Beautiful work.

  34. 4.26.16
    Sara said:

    Man, I’m really in the minority here but I just can’t get behind that tile. It’s just so ugly to me. Maybe it looks better in person? I’m a huge fan of restoration but I would have been tempted to utilize my sledgehammer on this one.

    Love the moody paint color though Daniel.

    • 4.26.16
      Daniel said:

      Ha! I’m actually shocked that more people aren’t having the same reaction! It’s certainly not going to appeal to everyone, but hey…who’d want that?! :)

    • 4.29.16
      Kala said:

      Sara, I completely agree! I saw it in Daniel’s insta post and hoped he had mixed up the before and after shots….. ha ha. But the rest of the room is lovely!

    • 5.10.16
      Haley said:

      I was thinking the same thing… I just don’t like the color combo of the orange and green. I’d probably live with it for a while, but I think I’d end up having to do something if this was my forever home. It definitely looks better than the before and I can appreciate the restoration.

  35. 4.26.16
    Ashli said:

    P.S. I’m always afraid of that much dark paint, but that Flint looks so elegant and the room has great balance. It’s simply amazing. Are there a pair of huge windows in that room for light, or is this paint just that versatile?

    Thanks :)

    P.P.S. I noticed the little cutouts you made at the base of the built ins to fit around the foot-boards, nice touch, you really are a carpenter now!

    • 4.26.16
      Daniel said:

      I’ve only ever used this color in this room, so I don’t know! The room does get great light—there are six windows total!—but I tend to think dark colors can work very well in darker spaces, too…kind of an embrace it rather than fight it mentality. Sometimes it’s surprising!

  36. 4.26.16
    Ulrika said:

    They didn’t accept any Scandinavian votes! I love your style and your way of restoring with a modern twist. Did you find the original wallpaper/wall color during your work? It would be interesting to see how they matched the tile whith the rest of the decor when the house was new.

    • 4.26.16
      Daniel said:

      We actually did, yes! Underneath a baseboard, there was a little strip of what appeared to be original wallpaper—cool to see but honestly kind of uninspiring! White with a brownish floral kind of pattern, nothing super amazing. It also looks like there may have been some kind of chair rail or something at some point, which we discussed possibly putting back with a paneled treatment below, but maybe that’ll be added down the line. Or not! Who knows! This was less than 2 weeks of work, so I’m sure this room will continue to evolve as time goes on. :)

  37. 4.26.16
    Mike E. Perez said:

    OMG!!! Thank you so much for doing this. Our “new” house has a mantel in exactly the same predicament. I have been worrying so much about what the tile looks like underneath the paint (I think it is similar to this one), and my husband was wondering if the cost, time and effort are justifiable if it’s just going to look ugly. Now I can show him this post. Hopefully it convinces him that even these weird old tile colors can look fantastic.

    • 4.26.16
      Daniel said:

      Oh, just do it anyway! He’ll thank you later. :)

  38. 4.26.16
    Suzy from CA said:

    Question: Must you be registered with Angie’s List in order to vote? I THINK I voted for you, but I’m not quite sure since there wasn’t any sort of confirmation response. Have other blog fans gotten any sort of “Thanks for voting” screen?

    • 4.26.16
      Daniel said:

      As far as I understand, no! I think it just registers the vote with one click on the “vote” button that shows up on the picture when you hover over it, and it displays a check mark next to “vote” after you’ve done it! I think that’s it!

  39. 4.26.16

    This is amazing! I also had some reservations when I saw that tile at first, but you pulled it together in a stunning way! Way to push through to the grand finale!

    • 4.26.16
      Daniel said:

      Thank you!

  40. 4.26.16
    Andrea said:

    Oh gosh, I think I’m the only one, but when I saw that yellow wall and dark wood I was like, “oh wow, how original!” And was about to pin it, and then I scrolled down and saw that it was the before!

    I love what you did, the little “eggs” that were a bit cheesy and are now shining in their detail, and the way you reworked the tile is absolutely amazing. And stunning, you’re a genius.

    But I miss the color. Don’t hate me internet, but I love a bright wall and I might still be pinning the before…

    • 5.3.16
      Daniel said:

      Hey, different strokes! :)

  41. 4.26.16
    Andrea said:

    Also, you’ve got my vote but being a Canadian, it won’t do much.

  42. 4.26.16
    DH said:

    I have to say…I thought maybe perhaps people were exaggerating or just being snide when commenting on the other entries, so I popped on over to take a look. No, no they weren’t. The other entries are as utterly atrocious as yours is lovely.

    Have to say though, that with baseboard and gap *is* a bit unsettling though. However, my opinion does not matter as a) it is not my house and b) I am not without my own sins….

  43. 4.27.16
    Luna said:

    AAAwWWWWWW they don’t want French votes either >:( . I would have voted every day for you Dear Daniel without even checking out the other entries, just cos I’m loyal that way.
    I must admit I was very sceptical when I saw the colour of the tiles post-stripping. I should have had more faith because you added class to them with the dark wall covering. Tell John the itty bitty bits of white baseboard have to go. Boss him if you have to…

    • 5.3.16
      Daniel said:

      Ha! Comes with the territory of working on other people’s houses…it’s never everything you want, but all that really matters is that he’s happy with it. :)

  44. 4.27.16
    M said:

    Well done on holding your nerve on the tile – the wall paint definitely brings it back from the brink! It looks like it’s meant to emulate copper/partially verdigris’d copper, which was popular in the Arts & Crafts movement?

    • 4.27.16
      SueM said:

      Wow you nailed it! What an insightful comment.

    • 5.3.16
      Daniel said:

      Thank you for this comment, M! I think you’re spot-on. This house has a lot of different style influences based on, I assume, what was trendy at the time that various renovations were done, and I think this is a good example. Not really what you expect to see in a victorian, but I love it all the same! It’s part of what makes the house unique.

  45. 4.27.16
    t said:

    Amazing! That tile and fireplace are gorgeous! Your friend is lucky to have you. Voted…yours is the best makeover by far.

  46. 4.27.16
    Mike E. Perez said:

    About the voting thing… Apparently you can vote more than once (three times, I think) per day. After the button turns gray, it says you have reached your limit for the day and to come back and vote tomorrow! So, if we want Daniel to win, we can’t forget to do it daily.

  47. 4.27.16
    Tisha said:

    Daniel, thank you for being honest about saving every reasonably sized scrap, including the mirror tiles. I do the same thing and get a lot of teasing for it! I think the best thing I’ve uncovered (and kept, of course) so far are the 2x4s that were used to frame soffits in my kitchen (80s update to a 50s house). They are stamped along the narrow side with “All-American studs” along the entire length, along with some stars. So awesome!

  48. 4.27.16
    AnnInSF said:

    ” …. Then it was just a matter of doing a nice skim-coating job and light sanding and we were good to go!” Am I the only one who feared that this would be followed by a great, big BUT? Literally held my breath until reassured no calamity was coming down the pike. Whew!

    Just voted, and was only allowed two votes. Will keep coming back with more. Funny how one After photo looked a lot like your Before photo.

    • 5.3.16
      Daniel said:

      Ha! That would be my standard narrative, hahaha! Luckily this one went pretty smoothly, which was good because there was no time for big screw-ups!

  49. 4.27.16
    Jo said:

    I actually hate the tile. But I think you are a genius for putting it with that paint color, and in this context I think it’s amazing.
    Sigh. I wish I had some of that talent.

    • 5.3.16
      Daniel said:

      Thanks, Jo! :)

  50. 4.27.16
    Diane Myers said:

    I swooned over the tile.

  51. 4.28.16
    Thel said:

    Hmm. That fireplace is a bit of a brute . . . but as usual, Daniel saves the day with that paint colour on the walls.

    Only criticism: instead of that print, would love to see a big mirror above the mantle, stretching from one side to the other (of the mantle, not wall). Perhaps you could rustle up a custom-made something or other?

    I hope you get to do other renovations in this house Daniel (as if you didn’t have enough on your plate already . . .) !!

    • 4.28.16
      Thel said:

      So I just clicked over to vote for you Daniel, but Europeans don’t seem to count. Damn cheek! I’m sure enough of you across the pond will click though. Now that I see the ceiling in this room isn’t so high, it could look good having a mirror all the way from mantle to ceiling. Look forward to seeing the bookcases – looks like that little dog has already found his reading spot!

    • 5.3.16
      Daniel said:

      Sorry about the european voter issue! I didn’t know when I posted. BTW, everything in the photos belongs to the homeowner and probably none of it will stay long-term, including that print! It was just the best candidate out of everything he had for the sake of some complete-ish looking after photos. Finding that perfectly aged and sized big mirror in a matter of days that ALSO fits in the budget is no small feat! :)

  52. 4.28.16
    Kate said:

    That is friggin amazing! I actually love the tile and I’m really glad that you kept it. Well done!

  53. 4.29.16
    Laura C said:

    You can vote more than once a day by voting in different browsers. *cough, cough*

    • 5.3.16
      Daniel said:


  54. 4.29.16
    Kelly said:

    It looks sooo much better. I actually like the tile (!) and the wall color really works with it. I voted for you and will vote early and often. :)

  55. 4.30.16
    C said:

    I don’t like the tile, but can see why you kept it. But I think the dark blue grey is entirely the wrong colour. for the tile. It needs a warm colour. I’d end up buying a dozen sample pots of various greens and tans and still end up raepainting twice, so my colour expertise is questionable, but I do know what doesn’t work, and that is a coulour which doesn’t work with that tile.

    • 5.3.16
      Barbara said:

      Finally, finally…someone else sees this! I love the tile, but when I saw it and your comment about how hard it was to choose a color, I thought…”what color would be absolutely awful? BLUE!” And it is. Awful. Green, tan, even a dark rust or orange if you must.

    • 5.3.16
      Daniel said:

      Eh, we’re allowed to like different things! That’s why all houses look different! This paint wasn’t my TOP pick (trust, we got tonnnnssss of samples ranging from dark greens to different greys to brownish/reddish greys…) but I do really like how it turned out…I think more blue than this would be BAD but this is definitely more of a charcoal grey than blue, at least in real life.

    • 5.4.16
      John said:

      You are both completely wrong. I wouldn’t call this color blue, but I can see how you are getting that from the photo. There is definitely a touch of navy in it, but what would have been “awful” would be painting it something similar to the colors already existing in the tile. This color makes the mantel stand out and be the focal point of the room. As the homeowner, I couldn’t be more proud of the job Daniel did and wouldn’t change a thing. Except for adding the built in bookshelves, which he is scheduled to do soon ;)

  56. 4.30.16
    Joann said:

    That fireplace is really something to come home to. So I got on the vote train, also. The color combination looks like something Ralph Lauren might come out with in the fall. A wonderful backdrop for a photo

  57. 4.30.16
    Sonia said:

    Yes vote for the tile for two reasons, 1) it’s original to the house, and 2) it does not look like every other trendy mantel on the entire internet. I love it and I voted for it.

  58. 5.2.16
    Luna said:

    I just looked through the photos again and thought ‘wow those logs are clean!’ Mine come with bark, splinters, and dead ivy still attached :)

    • 5.3.16
      Daniel said:

      Ha! When I was editing the photos, it occurred to me that the logs kind of look fake! They’re real logs, picked up the night before these photos were taken at the grocery store. Nothing fancy!

  59. 5.2.16
    Pam the Goatherd said:

    Voted for you! Yours is definitely the best.
    When I first saw the newly stripped tile I was agreeing with John about painting it again. But then when you put that gorgeous blue paint next to the tile I instantly changed my mind. It works! I have no idea why it works, but it does.

  60. 5.4.16
    Leah said:

    Hi! What kind of paint stripped did you use? Thank you so much xox