The great room fireplace was always going to stay, except for the brief few weeks where it was going to go, but really, it wasn't bad, it just needed a bit of a cleaning. And this is what we started with:
First, the doors came off, the black slate came off, and a few small holes were patched. New tile was laid across the bottom and a really nice guy came to measure for a new screen and doors. Black soot surrounded the opening, so he suggested I clean it with a little Vim. Simple enough. I can do that. He did warn me not to scrub too hard, but what's "too hard" when removing 30 years of soot? I scrubbed, and it was so successful I kept going.... until I noticed that the rocks were looking a little paler than they had before. Scrubbing changed to gently washing...with just water. But the "no-turning-back" process had already begun and I cleaned the whole thing.
Here, it's clean, but pretty pale. And very beige, like the wall.
Enter "Stone Enhancer"... a miracle product to bring out the natural colour variations in stone. I got it from the Tile Guy. I read the label, and it clearly said there would be no going back... once applied, there is no way to wash it off, no way to return the stone to it's previous state.
So... this is part way:
And half way:
It certainly isn't beige any more and the only question remaining is... do I do the other one in the guest room/den as well?