How To Update A 1970’s Stone Fireplace

How To Update A 70s Stone Fireplace

The ’70s were a decade of seriously fascinating style—pony cars, peasant tops, disco platform shoes…and bulky stone fireplaces. Back in the day, having a stone fireplace that took up a third of your wall was a way of adding rustic glamour. These days, having a ’70s stone fireplace is a great way to add a remarkably dated look that is more of an eyesore than anything else.

To update your 1970’s stone fireplace, you can add some concrete to the stone facade or even use wooden paneling for a more traditional look. If you wish, you could take it as far as painting the stone! With these options, you can turn your old stone fireplace into something more modern and appealing while allowing it to keep its character.

It’s no secret that a lot of homes still have these fireplaces and that most families still want to enjoy the warmth of a fresh fire. Most people, though, don’t enjoy seeing the large, bulky stones that make up a typical fireplace from this era. So, what’s a person to do? These options below can help you make a more modern look out of your old fireplace.

Before You Begin: A Quick Note

Fireplaces are not like other home furnishings. They can pose a fire risk if they are not installed, maintained, or updated correctly. We strongly suggest that you don’t attempt any updating project without looking up local fire codes and getting a qualified professional to help you out.

If you decide to go the DIY route, then please make sure to get your upgrading instructions from a reputable site—and don’t skip any steps. Keeping things safe should be your number one priority!

The Various Methods For Updating Your 1970s Stone Fireplace

Depending on your final goal and the look you want to achieve, there are many different things that you can do in order to update your stone fireplace from the ’70s. The methods include:

  • Adding concrete to your stone
  • Using paneling made from wood to create a more traditional look
  • use a stone veneer instead
  • Use tile to add some color
  • Paint the stone

Another thing you could do is couple one of these methods with another. For instance, you could add some tile for color while using some wood panel to create a distinctive look. Whatever you choose really depends on what you prefer. So, we’ll explain these a little bit more to help you decide what course of action you’re going to take.

Add Concrete To The Stone Facade

Stones add a lot of heft to your home, which can lead to a lot of “business” that most homes generally don’t need. Concrete (or stucco) can be applied directly to the stone masonry to fill in all the gaps and cover up the appearance of the stone. This will help to give it a nice smooth look.

There are several significant perks to going this route, including:

  • You can color the cement. Cement doesn’t have to be grey if you don’t want it to be. A little coloring can give you a reddish hue, a blue twist, or a nice creamy adobe look.
  • It’s a smooth, crisp look. This is a favorite updating method for people who want to turn a 70s stone fireplace into a modern household centerpiece.
  • It’s easy. This is one of the easiest ways to give your fireplace a new look.

Use Wooden Paneling For A Traditional Look

Love the idea of switching the retro look of a ’70s stone fireplace for a more traditional look? Grab some wood paneling! Wood paneling has the perk of having that stately appearance that never goes out of style. This way, you can keep your fireplace’s rustic look without keeping the elements you want to get rid of.

Here are some of the better perks of using wood paneling to get your fireplace updated:

  • There are a lot of ways to dress up wood paneling. Want an old Cape Cod look? Go for mahogany or a rich cherry finish on your paneling. Want to go for a farmhouse look? White painted wooden panels are a good option.
  • It’s a quick way to get rid of any evidence of the stone. Stucco and concrete can take a while to actually dry and model. Wood paneling can be a quicker fix depending on the method you use.
  • You can also hang up artwork on it easily. It’s a lot easier to nail a painting to a wooden panel that has drywall behind it than it is to nail something to concrete. Trust me on that. If you decide to get a wooden surround, you can turn your modernization project into a shelving unit too!

Opt For A Stone Veneer Instead

Update stone with stone…? It is more likely than you think. Stone veneers are incredibly useful when it comes to updating a fireplace. Stone veneers are stone panels that are thinner and lighter than traditional stone—not to mention cheaper.

Contrary to popular belief, stone veneers are made of stone. They also are almost entirely indistinguishable from traditional stone layouts. The only difference is that you have more options that you can use to give your fireplace an upgrade. Here’s why you might like this choice:

  • You can choose a more modern stone or tile layout. Love that iridescent tile look that comes with mica? You can get it as a veneer. Want that “mismatched brick” look that’s been gracing interior design magazines? Also doable. The sky’s the limit here.
  • It’s cheaper than standard stone. Stone can pack a powerful punch in your wallet. That’s why veneers are the more popular option among designers on a budget.
  • It’s also easier to install. Removing stone and doing a full reinstall isn’t going to be easy or cheap. Stone veneers let you cover up the old fireplace with something that works for you.

Use Tile To Get Some Color In Your Life

Tile is one of those materials that most people don’t think of when they are trying to upgrade a fireplace, but should. It’s a traditional resurfacing material that can pack a powerful punch. Tiling it up is a quick and basic way to make things work. Not to mention, you can choose from a variety of colors to incorporate into your fireplace. How cool is that!?

Want to know the perks here? Here they are…

  • You can get the tile in almost any color. Getting an elegant mural tile or just going for larger neutral stones is always doable. If you’re looking for flexibility in terms of your aesthetic, tile is most likely going to be your best bet.
  • Colored grouting is a thing, too. If you want to add even more customization, it’s worth pointing out that the grouting you’d use to keep the tile in place is also going to be available in colored versions.
  • Most people find this to be an easier fix than most others. Since there has been so much work with tiling in the past, it’s an easier job that you can expect to last for years to come.
  • Speaking of tile, it is easier to clean than stone. If you are worried about getting your hands dirty with a lot of cleaning problems, then this is going to be a breath of fresh air. Tile is a cinch to maintain.

Paint The Stone!

Don’t ask me why, but most fireplaces from the ’70s era seemed to favor those obnoxiously loud, orange-brown stones that are visually jarring to a fault. Sometimes, the easiest way to update your fireplace’s look is to just use some paint to give your fireplace a white, uniform look.

This is a simple way to give an old fireplace new love on a budget. That being said, there’s only so much that you can do with this trick. If you decide to paint the stone, you’re going to need to choose some heat resistant paint so that it doesn’t melt or chip off the stone. I mean, after all, it is your fireplace we’re talking about.

The Verdict

If you are looking to update your ’70s stone fireplace, you have a lot of options to consider. What you choose to do is all about your budget, your DIY ethic (if you go that route!), and the aesthetic you want to accomplish. Having that bulky fireplace look doesn’t have to wreck your home’s appearance anymore. As long as you make a point of researching your options, putting together a budget, and having a plan for your room’s appearance, you should be good to go.

Make sure that you always remember safety is vital. So before you begin, you need to look up your local fire codes. In addition, it wouldn’t hurt to hire a professional for a consultation appointment. Consultations usually come with a small fee, but they can let you know if there are any potential dangers with how you are trying to update your fireplace.

Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of homeowners and home improvement enthusiasts who enjoy sharing decorating, gardening, home improvement, and housekeeping tips with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for advice on furnishing your living room or the next outdoor DIY project, we've got you covered.

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