From Old to New: How to Update a 1970s Stone Fireplace

Josh Miller

Josh is a contributing writer to the site and former HVAC specialist.

Last Updated on January 21, 2022

There’s no denying that the 1970s was an era of defining and unique style. From platform shoes, flared jeans, carpeted bathrooms, and even protruding stone fireplaces, some people wish these trends remained in the ‘70s.

With bulky stone fireplaces once the main feature of any living room, many people have now entered the contemporary 21st century.

If you’re tired of being taken back to the ‘70s every time you look at your fireplace, it might be time for an upgrade. These interior design hacks show you how to update a 1970s stone fireplace and transport your living room from the days of the Bee Gees to the world of the Biebs.

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Table of Contents

Add Concrete to the Stonework

Stonework can add unnecessary bulk to your home, leading to busy interiors and an overcrowded feel. Applying concrete directly over the stone masonry instantly softens a fireplace’s appearance, providing your living room with a subtler, more modern feel.

Filling in the gaps with concrete can also provide a simple solution for many people, especially those who aren’t experienced in the decorating field. There are many benefits to opting for this update, including:

  • It’s extremely easy

Applying concrete to stone masonry is one of the easiest ways to cover up an outdated centerpiece and give your fireplace a new modern and refreshed look. Along with its ease and simplicity, adding concrete to your fireplace doesn’t break the bank. This can be a massive relief for people who delayed performing fireplace updates for fear of a hefty renovation bill.

  • You can paint the concrete any color you want

Whether you want to paint the concrete a bright, bold color to create a standout statement piece or you prefer a subtle color allowing other features in your living room to stand out, you can paint your concrete any color you desire. Run with your newfound freedom and give your fireplace the update it deserves.

  • It provides a smooth and crisp finish

This is one main reason people update their 1970s fireplace. If you prefer a smoother finish rather than the textured stonework, concreting your fireplace can transform an outdated feature into a modern household statement piece.

Tile Over the Stonework

Many people overlook the use of tiles in living rooms, only visualizing them in bathrooms. However, tiling is a traditional resurfacing material, and it can provide excellent aesthetic results.

If you’re unsure about the aesthetic of tiles covering your fireplace, here are few benefits to consider:


1. You can source them in almost any color

Whether you’re looking for statement centerpieces or you prefer a neutral, toned-down shade, tiling is so versatile that you’ll be able to find the color that you’re looking for quickly. If flexibility is also what you’re searching for in terms of your aesthetic, opting for tiles will provide you with an abundance of choices.

2. You can add colored grouting

If customization is your thing and you’re looking to enhance the visual style of your fireplace even further, consider purchasing colored grout. There’s no need to sweat about gray grouting looking out of place amid your vibrant mosaic-style fireplace tiling.

3. It’s easier to clean than stone

This often comes as a huge relief to homeowners. If you were worried that you’d have to keep up the regular cleaning like with stone, you’ll love this feature. A simple wipe every couple of weeks is all tiles require, providing you with a low maintenance fireplace that is also attractive and modern.

4. Simplicity

Another material that doesn’t require extreme skill and precision, many people opt for tiles because of the minimal work tiling takes to install. It also lasts for years, so you won’t need to worry about your next interior renovation anytime soon.

Use Wood Paneling

If you’re keen on switching out the 1970s for a more traditional style, then wood paneling is your solution. You can’t go wrong with wood paneling, as it never goes out of style. It offers you cottage core vibes and a stately appearance, with the material proving to be highly versatile.

Opting for wood paneling, you’ll be able to keep the rustic look of your fireplace without having to put up with the dated elements you no longer find attractive.

Some great benefits of this interior switch-up include:

  • You can dress it up in many ways

Whether you want to channel a farmhouse look with white painted wood, or you’re fancying more of a Cluedo type study with ebony finishings, wood paneling can provide you with all of these different styles and more.

  • It’s easy to hang artwork on

If you’re someone who loves to hang up paintings and show off your artwork, then what better place to do it than on your wall by your fireplace? People’s eyes are drawn to this area which is always a central viewpoint in living rooms.

Wooden panels make it easier to nail in hooks for paintings, especially compared to stone masonry. If you’ve put your beloved paintings on the backseat due to your stone fireplace taking all the attention, adopting wood paneling will change all that.

  • You can completely remove evidence of the stone

When you’re trying to update a living room, it’s essential to remove all traces of the former style to avoid a tacky final product. Doing this properly can be time-consuming, especially depending on what finish you choose for your fireplace update.

Other materials may take a while to dry and model, whereas wood paneling provides a quick fix to cover up your old stone visuals. If you’re an impatient interior designer, this might be the best option for you.

Bring Your Fireplace into the 21st Century

Hopefully, you’re brimming with interior ideas for how to update a 1970s stone fireplace.  This is a versatile project that might mean decking your fireplace out with wood panels, hanging up your favorite paintings, or taking on an artsy, contemporary tiling task. 

Whatever you decide, you’ll be able to say goodbye to the past and hello to the future by giving your 1970s fireplace the facelift it deserves.

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