Updating a brick fireplace
Nights by that old fireplace practically screamed for a glass of Chablis and the soothing sounds of Lionel Ritchie.
Now you're more about dinner parties and family holidays in front of the hearth.
The only limitation is that they must be able to stand the heat (and a dropped log every now and then).
For a few stylish alternatives, see Tiles for the Hearth.
Use them as an accent with plain subway tile, or mix a handful in with monochromatic squares to make your fireplace surrounds spring to life.
Inspired by early-20th-century styles, these low-relief polychrome tiles are made using the Spanish cuenca process, in which individual glazes are poured by hand into the depressions formed by raised lines in the clay.
For full step-by-step instructions, see How to Tile a Hearth.
Think using real stone is the only way to get this look? Today's cast-stone veneer looks a lot like the real thing, with styles ranging from stacked stone to river rock.
And if its nicer price tag makes it an option that's hard to pass up, the DIY-friendly installation will seal the deal.
After years of searing-hot blazes, fireplace mortar can crack, crumble, and fall out.
Gaping mortar joints are not only unattractive, they leave the bricks more vulnerable to damage.
For every surviving example, of course, there are dozens that were torn from walls during reckless remodels.