Boy, what a response to that Instagram poll 🙂 You lot have some really strong opinions and know exactly what you like, I love that! I guess this means that when some people visit they’ll love the fireplace but others, not so much.
We’ve made – in the interiors world – the controversial decision to lift some original fireplace tiles as they just don’t work with the newly designed Pavilion bedroom. In most ways the room is having a sympathetic redesign: we’re restoring the cornice, having original shaped skirtings remade plus re-installing a glorious picture rail, but all with a nod to the contemporary. I’ve chosen some fabulous tin tile effect ceramics from Mandarin Stone and a Designers Guild trellis wallpaper, both of which I literally LOVE.
Having lived in this grotty, stripped-back room for over a year, I now keep walking in, seeing the changes and just grinning from ear to ear. OK, I’ll admit, at 11pm on a Bank Holiday Monday after 4hrs fine sanding then top coating the floor, I wasn’t grinning that much.
However, amongst all the changes, I couldn’t find it in my heart to love the hearth with its existing yellow and red patterned tiles. May the restoration lighting strike me down, I actively didn’t like them in the room. They had to go. It’s quite traumatic to take out original features but please can I reassure you that they’re totally undamaged and will be reused elsewhere. The guilt isn’t weighing too heavily.
If you do decide to lift original tiles then do it carefully, raising from the outside in using a rigid wide paint scraper. Set the scraper low down under the layer of bonding under the tiles, rather than trying to get the tile off their bed. The original adhesive / bond is going to be pretty old so is often pretty easy to lift. If the tiles need a little ‘help’, then an old chisel and hammer usually works but take your time and be gentle. One tip if the tile and adhesive seem pretty stuck together is once you’ve lifted them both together, soak them in a bucket of washing soda to soften the old base away.
The hearth base was cleaned and then a self levelling compound poured in. It’s essential to tile on as flat a surface as you possibly can for a much better final finish, and to be frank, an easier job.
There were various options for laying and I gave ya’ll some options on Instagram. Most of the tiles are a consistent green, with handful in darker shades. Let’s call those the mutants. You loved the mutants, and agreed with me that they looked kinda cool when thrown in with the lighter vibrants.
Sus rather liked the mix with darker shaded mutants, renovation. X opted for angular but didn’t really think input was helping (no, it really was!), simplythenest liked the diamonds, 2lgstudio wanted brick bond, annainternational wanted mutants, so did happylittleplaces. Even pals on Facebook threw in their tuppences and were a surprisingly traditional bunch: 11-3 against diamonds.
Uh oh. As my Facebookers are the ones most likely to come for a sleepover, I might be in trouble because ta daaaaaaaaaaaa, my favourite pattern featured diamonds!! I’ve still got the skirtings & edging strip to finish but they’re laid, grouted and polished and gorgeous. This layout, though less traditional than brick bond (which I usually adore), perfectly picks up the vertical point pattern in the wallpaper. A reminder to always look around how design decisions impact and play with their surroundings.
I chose a pale grey grout to pick up the grey in the wallpaper and also because it looked more subtle than a bright white. I also used a Kerakoll adhesive called EcoFlex as it’s incredibly forgiving for non-professional tilers. It’s more expensive than ‘normal’ tiling adhesive but has super grab whilst allowing you to move the tiles around more easily. It’s solid yet pliable, and if you’ve ever done any DIY tiling you’ll know what I mean by that. Also it gives 30-45 mins fixing / play around time which helps loads when you’re a slow DIYer.
Weirdly it *feels* better too, it’s not sticky like many other adhesives, nor is it gritty. I don’t tile every day and frankly I don’t much like tiling, so when I do it I want it to be as nice an experience as possible. Plus, tiling in little white spotty socks helps, I generally find.
The reclaimed green tiles add a fabulously bright splash of colour to the bedroom, work wonderfully with the newly stripped floor and act as a colourful foil to the back cast iron fireplace and muted grey palette. Discovering them last week was some kind of special and they’ll always remind me of how light can be found on the darkest of days. They’ll forever be my small tribute, fitted with love and designed to elicit a smile.