October 24, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Like an e-book without pages or a tweet without wings, a modern fireplace doesn’t need flames to be among the hottest of home trends. That’s exactly what Angie Hall, a busy mother of four, created for the dining room of her spacious, yet cozy West Omaha home.

She says that after the initial phase of installing the fireplace mantel and surround, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do next. “Sometimes, I don’t always know how I’m going to get to what I want,” she explains, “so I just kind of leave it.”

Hall’s ability to let projects brew, and her taste for “otherness,” blend together in revealing a unique style of rustic-meets-slightly-Victorian.

The last thing she wants is for her house to look like she ordered it directly out of a catalog. “I like interesting things that are not in everybody else’s house,” she says.

No stranger to home projects, Hall is an outside sales rep for Lumbermen’s, a hearth and home store. She began her career at The Fireplace Center in Lincoln, a store owned by her mother, Maureen Sutton. But Hall attests that anyone can do this project, “as long as you are not afraid to get some tools out.”

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First, the mantel had to be trimmed because it was too tall for the room. She then hired a contractor for the difficult task of mounting the mantel.

To give the gypsum mantel and surround the look of limestone, Hall coated them with metallic paint and wiped over that with a black glaze, “to give it a dirty look,” says the woman who honed her painting skills at the Kelly S. King Academy of Faux Painting and Decorative Finishing in Omaha.

When she came upon a trendy glass tile at Menard’s, she knew it was perfect. “I loved the colors.” And the tile’s unconventional placement? “I thought it would be cool to run it vertical because I don’t like doing things they way they are supposed to be done,” she says with a mischievous laugh.

The most challenging part for Hall was figuring out how to cut the tiles for the arch. That’s when her mother’s flair for home design came in handy. “We both like projects, so we just jump right in and get it done,” says Sutton. The two crafted a template, and practiced using a tile saw on some cheap ceramic tile Hall had laying around.

Short two pieces of tile, Hall returned to Menard’s, where she also found a solution for the hearth—the white tile that resembles brick. “I originally was going to put an antique mirror there.”

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The cast iron relief in a fleur-de-lis design was a gift from Sutton found while antiquing. Hall highlighted it with some metallic paints. “I jazzed it up a little. I didn’t like it plain.”

Combining savvy in antiques, a frugal sensibility, and a little bit of elbow grease, Hall achieved the perfect look.

“I like finding things that need a little love that I can make my own,” she adds.

Total time spent was about eight hours. Costs will vary, depending on materials selected. Tile can range from as little as $30 to the-sky’s-the-limit for this fun project.

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