What was once a necessity in a home, providing heat and a way to cook and bake, the fireplace has evolved into much more. While function is still a main characteristic, form has moved to the forefront, providing the perfect backdrop to use the fireplace as the focal point of your living room. Here’s a look at what I did with mine:

From Concept

I wanted to use natural tile (limestone) on this project. As you can see by my sketch, I planned out the size and placement and included a rough idea of a mantle.

To Construction

To Finished Product

This room is large, has high ceilings, and can be seen from the entryway. I needed to consider all those factors and create a design that packed a punch. Laying the tile horizontally under the mantel and switching to vertical above helped to break up the height of the ceilings while adding visual interest.

I bought the limestone tiles in 36″ lengths and had them cut in half to get 18″ x 6″ pieces. For the hearth I have (3) 12″ x 24″ stone tiles in the center and picture framed the longer length with diagonal cuts at the corner to give it a finished look. (not shown in the photo)

I sourced a flat mount 8.5″ x 6′ foot pine mantle which will be gel stained to match the railings (see below) or lighter like the oak floors. I’ll decide on the color as I move forward. I’ll start out lighter, see how I like it and add more if needed.

Layering the Drama


If you’ve been following along with the progress of my house you will remember that there used to be a wall here. I knocked that out with the intention of putting a railing up. I wanted to open the space and I wanted to draw the eyes of visitors to the focal point of the fireplace. This also provided me an opportunity to get creative with a railing and baluster and add some more drama to the space (my husband would argue that I’m plenty of drama and no more was needed).

If you look at the center of the photo above you will see the stairs in the distance.  I replaced that railing which brought with it a new rail height and newel post due to a change in the building code. The original oak stair treads remained and were stained to match the new oak rail and post. I went with a gel stain about 30% darker than the floors and I really like the way it came out.

All products were sourced from L.J. Smith. This remarkable company was started in 1885 in Pittsburgh, Pa. and has grown into the largest stair parts manufacturing company in the country. They are industry leaders in developing new and innovative products built upon a foundation of customer service and quality. An impressive narrative from this homegrown startup.


Huge difference, right? I love the way the colors pop off the Agreeable Gray wall color.

And that little cutie in the picture is Alaina Steliotes. She is our new Interior Designer intern straight from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. She is a dynamo with cutting edge ideas and mad design skills.

Here she is measuring out the room prepping to pick furniture and create some renderings. She really didn’t want me to take her picture…sorry Alaina. I wonder if she will know it’s on the blog. I guess I’ll find out if she’s reading this.

Big things are happening at The Cob Collection! Along with the addition of our new Interior Designer Alaina we have brought in merchandise from local vendors Lisa Turbeville of Marko Mosaics and the talented Hannah Waggoner’s coasters and wine charms. Stay tuned, we’ll be rolling out a post introducing them and their unique creations next week. We’ll also be bringing you decorating tips from Mary Ann (look for her finishing touches to the mantel), introducing you to some new vendors we discovered at market, diving into fabrics, exploring wall coverings, and a few other surprises.

So much time so little to do. Wait a minute, strike that, reverse it.
Who needs sleep anyway?

Need help? Just ask! We’d love to hear from you!