|I’m always surprised at how easy and yet dramatic it is to update a fireplace. Life, for this firebox, started out in the 1950’s as a country-look brick fireplace – see below. We removed the wood mantle, chipped away the brick shelf-brackets, and removed the brick hearth. A slightly narrower hearth was allowed by code since we were putting in a gas insert. A new mud base was laid to bring the hearth back up to floor level. Large format porcelain tile was laid directly on the brick. The same tile was used for the mantle as for the fireplace. The tile is 26″ x 13″ laid horizontally. Brushed metal edging was used in place of bullsnose tile. The fireplace was plumbed for natural gas. The country-look plank cabinet was replaced with a European-style full overlay cabinet in natural alder. Finally, the gas insert and new glass doors were installed.The monolithic look — without mantle or other embellishment — is a very sleek, modern look. The horizontal picture emphasizes the vertical monolithic form of the fireplace.