Looking at that picture I see a dry stacked stone vaneer with a very dark(black) slate hearth and an old barn beam for a mantle. You could always mimic a barn beam with a distressed 8x8 beam. I used a 4x4 for a smaller project - a hammer, screw driver, drag down the road behind my truck and some dark stain made short work of it!
This is my favorite piece of advice so far just because it makes me laugh ... a hammer, screw driver, drag down the road behind my truck .... I like it.
I just finished our family room fireplace. I used thinset mortar over the brick to fill the gaps between them, then covered the hearth and brick front with 2" slate tile, sort of a brown/gray granite-like color, and dark brown grout. Then I built the mantle and surround with pre-primed MDF and painted it bright white
gloss. Next I have to figure out what to do in the living room, where the brick goes all the way up like yours.
Any other tips Joe on problems you ran into or things you learned tiling it.
I did thin set twice, the first to fill the mortar gaps, the second to stick on the tiles. Since they come in 12" squares, make sure that second batch of thinset is thick enough to hold because the moisture loosens them from the back netting. If they fall off you're back to one at a time.
Those little ones are hard to cut on a tile saw without losing a finger, I managed to do the straight cuts with the score and break type tile cutter and only lost 3-4 to bad breaks.
Other than that, the old rule applies here, measure twice cut once. Especially on the miter cuts for the wood enclosure and mantle. Rather than buy trim pieces around the brushed nickel insert, which were not available in this design, I painted wood molding with the same color as the grout. It's a gas fireplace and the metal doesn't get hot even when on all day.
I'm glad you posted that picture. I'm also looking at fireplace inserts. Purely for the look of things, I would prefer no insert but I need to heat more of my house more efficiently and I think an insert will be one step towards that.
I like your tile a lot, but now I am leaning more towards stone. I want the rustic look.
If you are trying to figure out what to do with your fireplace that has brick to the ceiling like mine, I think a good mantle is going to be the finishing touch to make it look beautiful. This thread has several excellent suggestions a couple pages back. I'm certainly using their advice.
I'm on it now everyone. Should be able to see some pictures of the beginning of this update over the next few weeks.
A tip on installing any small tiles that are mounted on a mesh backing...use a technique called "back buttering", which means applying thinset (or mastic) to the mesh side of the tiles with the smooth edge of your trowel, then applying thinset to the wall with the serrated edge as usual. This guarantees that you get adequate "wetting" of the tiles with thinset, and thus get good adhesion. The only downside is that you will likely get more thinset "pushing thru" the spacing between tiles, but if you wait until the tiles are fairly well set, you can go back and use a small brass brush and gently remove the excess thinset from the spaces between tiles before it is really hardened fully, thus allowing room for the grout which you will apply later.