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Fireplace Help Please!

Karen Gail
last month

We plan to tear out the hearth and put a few minimum tiles(12 inches) in front of the gas fireplace flush with carpet so it's no longer a hazard. But what to do with this giant fireplace?? We can't paint it because we want a mantle and removing those silly shelves will ruin the brick for painting. We thought about sheetrocking part of it but the sides are 30 inches deep and I'm afraid it'll look strange.

We aren't tile or marble people so that leaves stacked stone - most of which is too busy in such a small space. We want something neutral and serene. Any ideas??? We need help!