Fireplace Makeover: Tile Options & Plan

By Kate Riley August 12, 2015

*This post is in partnership with Floor & Decor.

I’m preparing for a mini remodel of the fireplace in our family room. The gas fireplace is offset and because of that has never looked right to me. There is also a niche above which I feel very “meh” about, I’m not a big fan of niches, so I finally decided to frame it in and hang either a bigger flat screen TV above or some really cool art. You can see how unbalanced the fireplace looks below from this older post about painting the built ins on both sides.

I also decided it was time to fix the fireplace tile that I’ve never liked, it was a last second desperate choice made to fill the space because the tile guy was on site and I had a newborn and a two year old in my arms and needed the tile that same day. It’s brown and boring and off the shelf and it has bugged me for years which is why I rarely photograph this space and every time I sit down in this room (ahem, everyday) I have that same feeling of “that really needs to change” so the time has come to make it so.

family room built ins

So the plan is to 1) center the gas fireplace so it’s balanced, 2) fill in the niche above and run electrical to mount a flat screen TV (or hang art, still debating), and 3) swap out the tile for something more contemporary. The chair and rug are long gone, I’ll share the replacements when I photograph the new look when the fireplace makeover is complete and the new sectional arrives.

My first thought was to reframe the wall to allow the tile go all the way to the ceiling like with this stunning example but then I realized by removing that upper portion of the wall where the niche is I’d have to also remove the crown molding which I like and it looks nice because it wraps all the way around the room. I could also reframe the wall down below and pull the fireplace out those 6 inches but then I’m losing 1/3 of my wood bench and I do like that the way it is, and I’d have to wrap the tile around the edge which may look strange, so instead I decided just to keep it simple and frame in the niche above, perhaps add horizontal planks to that area, center the fireplace, and tile the inset with something more modern.  

I’m on the hunt for new tile to surround the fireplace when it’s reframed. I’m shopping at Floor & Decor for the tile, I had such a positive experience with them on the recent master bathroom vanity remodel. I’m going neutral and timeless, I’m drawn to linear and geometric patterns, here are some of the top contenders, notice the similarities.

fireplace surround tile options

from top left:  1. marble stick linear   2. silver shadow polished linear  3.  white brick marble  4. hex marble 1 x 1”  5. silver fantasy linear marble   6. bianco round  7. sahara carrara brick marble  8. cloud stick glass   9. 2 x 2” hexagon  10. bianco random  11.  carrara milano linear  12.  snow white matte

Which one do you like best? My faves at the moment are #1 and #11 but I have to see all the samples in my house first.

Want more fireplace design inspiration? I’ve been pinning fireplace design ideas all day, check them out here!

fireplace tile inspiration


*this post is sponsored by Floor & Decor, all opinions are my own.


  1. I like #1 and #8. I am not a fan of the tv over a fireplace. Even if it’s angled as in one of the inspiration photos it seems like it would still hurt your neck to look up that high. I think a beautiful piece of art would look amazing.

  2. Just curious since I am not a designer. Could you tile up to the crown molding like your first inspiration picture? Whatever you decide I know it will be beautiful!

    • Yes I could Lori, but only if I pop out that fireplace so it’s no longer recessed and that means I lose part of the bench which is where a lot of people sit when they visit, so I don’t want to do that! But I did consider it!!!

  3. Kate, I a little confused. Are you referring to the up and down aspect of the fireplace being uneven and not the side to side? It looks pretty even to me side to side. I too like the choices of tile you are leaning to but then again I like most everything you select. Good luck on this project.

    • Ha yes the vertical position Nancy! It’s just odd looking to me with only 4 inches of tile up above and 12 below, it bothers me so we need to drop it down to make it centered.

  4. If this was my fireplace wall I’d go with tiling up to the ceiling and fill in the gap above the bookcases with the crown moulding for a sleek look.
    Isn’t the space above the bookcases a dust gatherer?
    I have a TV set up on the the wall, but I have my artwork mounted on a lightweight backing and it hooks over the television to cover it up when nobody’s watching it. So, artwork AND TV!

  5. There are new TV mounts that allow you to pull the TV down partially in front of the firebox to a “viewable” height. Although I would question the pictures online that show a fire at the same time as heat and electronics don’t usually work well together :)
    As far as the tile…It looks to me from your inspiration images that you want a textural or sense of movement in the stone/tile…this is more easily accomplished with larger tiles, but your choices are all a little on the small side and other than depth of grey or the staggered variation in tile width there is little that invokes the feeling I get from your inspiration images. I think that you should look for something a bit larger or at least when you select the tile make sure you get variation in color since you project is so small you should ask to open the boxes or this too might not happen.

  6. Kate, looking forward to seeing what you choose, I would like to do my fireplace also, love the subway tile. My fireplace also has a small area of the tile on the floor right in front of it, I notice none of the pictures has that has that gone out of style? I was thinking of removing that anyway when I have new flooring put down. What do you think?

  7. They’re all classy, timeless and gorgeous, but my eye was immediately drawn to #11 before I even saw your choices. Love it!

  8. Oooooh! I can’t wait for you to finish this!!! I’ve been looking at my plain boring fireplace for years wondering what to do with it to make it a focus piece. We have the giant opening above ours for the TV, but we also have a DVD player up there and the cable box, etc. Have to figure out what to do with those. Any ideas? Love tile #11 the best. Love your taste in home improvement – it inspires me to do my own.

  9. Great ideas. Can anyone help me figure out how to pretty up a wall mount fireplace that distributes heat on a top vent? I can’t really tile around it as you could with one that vents out the front. Any ideas would be so appreciated.

  10. i wouldn’t hang a TV above the fireplace. Design wise it’s become a thing, but even the heat from a gas fireplace can be bad for a TV. Also the viewing angle is way too high unless you are very far back from the TV. Just me two cents, go with lovely art there.

  11. I love the brick marble or the hex options:) Those seem really classic and neutral. I’m a sucker for hex tiles, but those are a lot more traditional for sure.

  12. looks like it had a hearth(?) at some point? or either they left that option open? the space from fireplace to floor looks about the same as my brick hearth…
    could that possibly be the reason why it is not centered vertically?.. haven’t read the whole thread and article but the comments about that caught my attention…

  13. Love any of the non circle/hexagon tiles. But for me, the amount of tile left showing is a big factor. Inspiration photo #2 seems to use tile #11, but there is so little of it showing, that I’m not loving it as much as I would if the surround was larger. I’m not sure what that proportions should be between the wood and the tile.

  14. Beautiful ideas here. My favorite is definitely the #10 – the bianco random. That’d be a really unique look I think!

  15. For the tile I like #5, I think it might be nice to have a darker contrast against the white walls and bookcases. I’m glad you’re filling in the niche, that will look much better. I vote for a great piece of art! The area above a fireplace is such a focal point, I hate for it to be wasted on a TV, although I know sometimes there’s just no way around that.

  16. Hi Kate,
    I honestly don’t think you’d need to move the fireplace once you selected a beautiful, timeless white tile that blended with the white paint surrounding the box. Right now, the fireplace box really “pops” against the brown tile and white paint. Also consider that if you move the box down, it might be just a little too close to anyone sitting on that fabulous hearth bench (I’ll bet that’s a great spot to warm up in the colder months!).
    If you’re looking for timeless and classic, I’d go with a tile whose pieces are consistently sized and less busy/varied in terms of color and pattern. Some of the samples remind me of brick treatments from the 70s. And though the hex and round tiles initially bring to mind a bath floor, they might just add the right dash of ‘unique’ to an otherwise classic pattern. You’ll know when you see the samples up … whatever you choose, it’s bound to be fabulous!

  17. I can’t wait to see what you end up with! My fireplace is offset as well (to the left) while there is a large niche with arched top to the right. Sooo annoying.

  18. I love the whole Frank Lloyd Wright vibe of #2. But if it’s down to #1 and #12… the color variations of #1 are so interesting, and to me I feel like #12 would be lost against the white fireplace. But like everyone else I think EVERYTHING you do is amazing!

  19. Whatever you are going to do will certainly look wonderful, but if you’re looking for commentary….don’t put a TV up there!! TV’s are attention hogs; they draw the eye and never let go. You’re going to make your fireplace all centered and beautiful…you don’t want some TV to come in and smother your hard work.

  20. I’m thinking that, with all the surrounding white, I like tile #5. It provides a bit of a contrast, and won’t be as likely to show dirt if it gets sooty. I know it’s a gas fireplace, but both of the ones I’ve had still create a black residue on the “logs” and a bit above the opening. (I also like # 1,2 and 11)

  21. So many great options. We recently re-did our fireplace and used a white quarzite, which we love. Of the ones you posted, I think my fav is #3 but I also like the look of the tile in the first photo. Good luck with your decision!

  22. I like #3 if you want to go classic. I think the others will look dated in time, and the hexagon ones look too bathroom-y.

  23. Lot’s of pretty choices! If you are going to keep the rest of the room in the same paint colors then I like the slight contrast of #5. #2 comes next but only because it’s just a little darker than #11.

  24. I agree with your decisions to center the fireplace. I think I would do a tile all the way to the ceiling and keep the crown intact. Since you have the bookcases I wouldn’t do the mantle and mount the TV…I’m not one for hiding the TV. To me that is just like pretending we don’t all have smart phones, i-pads, etc… I love the classic look of #3 because it is timeless.

  25. The space looks great! So bright but I can see why you need some changes. I love #1 and #11 but I also have a soft spot for #9 the hexagon tiles. Can’t wait to see more of what your thinking and the final reveal! Fireplaces are so exciting to design/redesign.

    Lauren Baxter | Lovely Decor

  26. #1 and #5 with just looking at the tiles and not seeing the complete room. You always make great choices.

  27. I like #3 and possibly #7 because they are more traditional looking in a style that has proven to stand the test of time. If this is your ‘forever’ house than anything goes. However, if you are considering a move in the not too distant future, I think that a traditional look will attract people more than an edgier choice. The hex tile looks like it belongs in a bathroom and the other options will become dated. All of your selections are gorgeous. I expect that whatever you choose will be great!

  28. I love number 11! Anything marble is pretty much my favorite, but I also think the pattern is so pretty and has a lot of eye interest.

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