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Old Fireplace Surround

The Frustrated Woman and the Fireplace Front: A Tale

Last Updated on January 21, 2020

It’s been a couple of weeks since we heard a genuine anecdote about home remodeling installation failure and it just seems like the right time to serve up another.

Not long ago, a family friend of mine who lives in rural Southern New Jersey decided enough was enough. She had a teal, cracking wooden mantle surrounding her fireplace. Matters were made worse by the thick, wall-to-wall light pink carpet adorning the room in question. It was ugly – at best it was outdated. I visited her just after she had come to the decision to tear up the carpet and expose the wood below. I endorsed the decision because, and let’s be honest here, a decades old thick, stained, pink carpet that really never should have been laid down in the first place had run its course years ago. She then told me that instead of painting over the teal wooden molding she would do one better. She was going to have contractors come in and re-do the fireplace front with marble. Additionally, she requested that they widen the front and re-do the interior of the cauldron. She seemed to be happy with the choice, but knowing her finicky nature I had a pretty good idea of just what was going to happen.

Out with the old, in with the new.
Out with the old, in with the new.

The men arrived roughly two weeks after I inspected her 1970’s tinged living room. Right off the bat they began tearing down the wooden mantle. With this demolishment came the inevitable mess. I received a call that weekend asking if I’d drive down and see what they had done so far.

When I arrived my friend seemed hurried, anxious even – certainly not pleased. She walked me into her living room, which looked as though a small tornado had touched down and enjoyed a thorough twirl, and simply said “look.” Oh, I looked, and it was just as I had expected. There was debris and dust everywhere. Small sharp pieces of wood were strewn about the plastic sheets the contractors had laid down to “protect” against nicks and dents to the newly exposed wooden floor. Before I could get a word in she started complaining about how long it was taking, and her fear that they would damage her walls surrounding the designated fireplace front location. I tried to quell her misgivings, but it was no use. She was upset.

Back when she had told me her intention to install marble I didn’t argue – not my place to tell her how she should redesign. I knew the installation process would take a long time, but she seemed so dead set on her design. I was fearful to bring up the idea of granite overlays providing the rich, stone look she was going for, worried that she would shoot back with a shrill “why didn’t you tell me that before I paid these contractors.”

Might be time to get a new fireplace.
Might be time to get a new fireplace.

The job was completed in three and a half weeks. She was unable to use her living room at the time, and her two small kids were forced to go play outside in the September sunshine (not a terrible relegation, but you’d like to come in and sit down once in a while). When I returned to see the finished product she instantly pointed out areas on the hard wood floor that has been dented and scuffed. I didn’t want to ask her what it cost (how rude!), but I knew it had to be fairly pricy. She seemed happy the ordeal was over, but not so pleased with the process.

After some time I timidly suggested that during her next bout of sweeping home-remodeling inspiration she consider Granite Transformations for her kitchen , bathroom, and living room needs. I told her that rather than 3 and a half weeks of construction and more than comparable job can be completed in as little as one. It costs less and the fireplace front options are numerous. Scuffing, dust, and wood chips be gone, I promised that they do a clean and quick work. She took my words with a half-smirk. I couldn’t tell if she was happy for the advice or perturbed at my delayed remodeling suggestions. I think it was much more the latter. “Next time,” I told her, “next time.”

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