Before, with the book cases filled with trinkets and the white mantel and contrasting dark tiles on hearth and fireplace creating a busy look.
We began by ripping out the shelves and discovered a false wall (left) so ripped that out too, revealing the 1960s fireplace bricks that had been painted garish yellow.
Here's the same view with the walls painted a paler colour. I couldn't even think clearly when surrounded by such a strong yellow. Here you can see some of the tile samples we were considering.
After building some legs under the hearth to create a bench look and tiling with 12 by 24 tiles that look like limestone, the fireplace now has a contemporary look.
The walls are all painted the same colour and we've moved some furniture around to create a serene space. Now I have to get rid of two decades of decorative items. I love the simplicity of the new fireplace and don't want that stuff any more.