Thursday, February 24, 2011

Batchelder Fireplace

Up Close and Personal
Everytime I do a post in which I show my fireplace, I get lots of emails asking me about it. 
I did a post about creating it early in this blog but it was before I had a good camera, 
so I thought I'd do an update on it with new photos and show the details up close.
This fireplace began with the center antique Batchelder tile. 
When I first saw this house, I realized that it had once had a fireplace in it.
You could see where the hearth had once been. Thank goodness previous owners did not bother to patch it properly. 
They simply removed the hearth's tile and left in the wood border fitting new wood planks into it.
There was an obvious outline of where the hearth had been.
The previous owners also did a bad patch job on the plaster walls too.
I could clearly see where a fireplace had once been on the wall.
Which was actually very helpful because then I knew exactly what size to make my fireplace.
So, most of the fireplaces in my neighborhood are made of arts and crafts tiles from the 20's and 30's.
I first thought I'd use new tile that looked similar but was not finding any that looked like I wanted. 
Although there are many more options now. 
I built this five years ago.
As I was saying...after checking out new resources and reproduction sources...I started searching Ebay.
One day I found that center tile. It was an original unused arts & crafts Batchelder tile from the late 20's.
I soon learned Batchelder was a major tile designer and manufacturer during this time period. 
I could not have bid faster on it. 
It measures 6x6. The same seller offered me the smaller floral tiles too.
There is more information on my tile fireplace on this early post.
I found online old Batchelder tile catalogs with illustrations of fireplace designs.
I used this as reference to create the design of my fireplace.
After checking out new field tile sources to see what was available, 
I designed the fireplace on the computer in Adobe Illustrator.
I determined I needed 18 of the small Batchelder tiles.
The field tiles are hand made new tiles I bought through a tile store.
The serpentine tiles which create the columns on each side were a closeout. 
I felt lucky to be able to order the last of them to use in my fireplace.
I ordered the wood corbels from 
I faux painted them to blend with the serpentine columns.
I love Van Dyke's. It's so full of the materials you need for great restorations.
I had a local wood shop build the wooden mantel that tops the whole thing off.
I stained it myself using Minwax stain with the finish in it. 
I sanded and then used steel wool between coats. 
I highlighted the details of the wood trim with white paint dry brushed on and 
then more stain/finish over it...for a very subtle detail.

If you want to learn more about art tile fireplaces check out my other post -

I can tell you I had a blast designing and building this fireplace.
I did hire a carpenter to build the actual wooden box that was the framework for my fireplace. 
He then covered it with hardibacker cement board. 
If I'd had the correct tools I could have done this myself.

I'm working on my dining room. 
I'll be so excited to have another spot in the house to do revolving displays. 
I know you are probably tired of seeing my fireplace so much. I would have shown the whole 
living room this week but there are odds and ends everywhere from the dining room.
I'll be so happy when the dining room is done and I can show it.

I also came up with an idea for fixing the backsplash in my kitchen to be to more of my liking.
Remember, I hate the black tiles...I want all white.
Well, actually I'd like to have carrera marble subway tile but I can't afford a redo like that right now.
Even though you can buy that tile at Lowe's now for a very reasonable price.
I needed a solution that would get me by until I could afford the carrera marble.
And it's not so much the cost of the carrera marble as that if I did a new backsplash, 
I'd need a new stone countertop. And if I did that...I'd have to freshen up the cabinets. 
And if I do that...I might as well change the cabinet fronts to a style I like more. 
And if I do that...I might as well have the cabinets I really want. 
And if I do that...I might as well get the appliances I want.
So a new backsplash would lead to a complete kitchen overhaul.
I know I've been told by Jill that I could do this for $3,000 but I don't have the $3,000.
Instead my little fix is costing me $17.
I hope to do it next week.
Cross your fingers that it will work and make me fall in love with my kitchen backsplash.

Have you seen this kitchen?
It's Linda Merrill's of Surroundings.
She did this kitchen redo for $500.
You can read about it in her online magazine here -
Isn't it a knock out?


The Vintage Farmhouse said...

You're fireplace is gorgeous!!!! It makes me want to try to tile mine!

Anonymous said...

HOly doodles, that is the most beautiful fireplace mantle I have ever seen. The colour,the beautiful tiles, which I have never seen either. Magnificent!

. said...

Your fireplace is stunning!! I love that you pretty much did it all yourself and were able get those vintage pieces!!

And the corbels are gorgeous too! I'm going to check out their online shop. :)

Victoria said...

I don't think any of us will ever tire of seeing your fireplace! I can't wait to see your dining room!!! And the kitchen backsplash too:)

Ricki Treleaven said...

Your fireplace is so *gorgeous*....I am stunned that it is not original to the house. I love the fact that you went with antique tiles. I bet whenever people walk into your house they gasp in admiration *le sigh*

I have backsplash envy, too. Believe it or not, I want to replace my granite (except for the cooktop island) and replace it with distressed walnut or maybe even bamboo. Or I might even want old fashioned ceramic tile.....Decisions, decisions! I look forward to your dining room reveal :D

Have a great day!
Ricki Jill

By the way, I will never get tired of seeing your fireplace!

Marie said...

Well Nita, your fireplace is definitely a showpiece!!! So unique and just perfect in your home! I wish I could pick it up and take it to my home ;-) coz those are just my absolute favorite colors. But really the details you put into it is just beyond amazing! Thanks for telling us the story of how you put it together.

Anonymous said...

I just adore the look of your fireplace....beautiful! Xoxoxo

Kathy said...

Stunning, what an awesome job and so sentimental that you did it all yourself!

Amy Chalmers said...

Hi Nita,
I love your fireplace too, the colors and the tiles are heavenly. Linda Merrill is a design genius (and a nice person too) who made over her kitchen for a song. That is where I discovered the idea for beadboard wallpaper. She has so many cool ideas in this small kitchen makeover. She is also from Massachusetts! Anyway, I hope your tile backsplash comes out great.

Tammy @BeatriceBanks said...

I really like these new photos of your pretty fireplace. Can't wait to see what you do in the kitchen. And yes, Linda's kitchen is a knock out but so is your house.

The enchanted home said...

Love the tile and the beautiful! Very beautiful and I can certainly understand why so many ask you about it:)

Red Door Home said...

Your fireplace is amazing! You really did your homework and it shows in all the details. Love it!

Barb@curlywillowdiy said...

Wow, really gorgeous! I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. Thanks for sharing your fireplace again. Glad I got to see it this time around.


Debra @ Life in a 320 square foot home said...

I love your kitchen! But I know how it is when it does not fit 'the vision'. Can't wait to see what you do with it!


Meadowsweet Cottage said...

I never get tired of your completely lovely and unique fireplace, Nita! The tiles, the color(!), the columns--ahhhh.

It's always fun to see what new project you have going. said...

That last kitchen pic really speaks to me, Nita. I haven't been commenting anywhere lately because of time, but I read and I do love your posts!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for your nice comments about my kitchen makeover. And your fireplace is to die for!