We have a gas fireplace in our house, and when we moved in it wasn't really working. So, a repairman came out and fixed it for us, but in doing so, he said the wooden mantle surrounding it was out of code as well as the floor directly underneath it. The (very flammable) wood mantle and floor were too close to the fireplace and were a major fire hazard. He ripped the wood mantle off, which was actually very pretty and ornate, and said we should have it fixed. And, so it sat like this for a couple years:
When we redid our kitchen, our contractor did a great job. There were a couple things that went wrong and were the fault of the installers, and so she offered to do the tile on the fireplace for us. Since we were doing it anyway, we decided to add a few things to make the whole room look better, especially since it is the first room you see when you walk in the front door. Should we ever sell this house, I think having this area look nice will be important. The finished when we were on vacation, so it was great to come home to the finished product! Anyway, this is after, with which we are extraordinarily pleased! The rest of the room is currently a play area for the kids, so at least we have a pleasant area to sit while the kids play!
We also now have a mantle on which to hang our Christmas stockings! We didn't have anything before and we hung them on the stair railings. Now, Santa doesn't have to be so confused when he enters the house through our chimney-less gas fireplace . . .