Any fireplace remodel needs a bit of planning in the beginning. Sometimes it appears that all you need is to change the facings or moldings around the firebox, but there are important steps to take before beginning the process of tearing everything out and buying your materials.
1.  Begin by checking the firebox for any cracks or other damage. You must repair these in order to keep the project safe.
2.  Look over the damper. Is it easy to open and close? Does it close with a tight fit and does it open completely? The damper will be the part that controls the airflow and chimney smoke. If it fails to open correctly, the fireplace will not draw air up correctly and the house will fill with smoke when you start the fire. If, on the other hand, it fails to close correctly, the warmth will be lost up the chimney during the winter.
3.  Take a look at the flue (the clay pipe lining) which is inside the smoke chamber. Look for cracks or other damage, as these can mean you have a potential fire hazard. If yours is a tall smoke chamber, have it inspected by someone, preferably a professional, who has all of the needed tools for the task.
4.  Check the chimney cap and the spark arrester.  This is a device on the outside at the top of the chimney. Its purpose is to catch and extinguish any sparks escaping through the chimney.
5.  Clean out your ash pit, if you have one, and look for any damage or cracks.
6.  Do the necessary fireplace repairs prior to remodeling of the area around the firebox. You may wish to have the fireplace cleaned by a professional at this time so that creosote, other inflammatory chemicals and dust are removed and discarded.
7.  Take a look at what you need to do with the existing firebox surround, especially if this is your primary focus. You need to find out whether or not the existing surround materials can be removed easily without wrecking the firebox itself. In many longstanding homes, the fireplace surround is indistinguishable and connected to the structure of the rest of the chimney.
8.  If yours is an old fireplace, professional inspection is even more vital. Many need repairing to some degree.
9.  Ask a professional about what options you have for maximizing the amount of heat the fireplace will put out without losing heat to the outside.
10.  Make the decision as to whether or not you will repair or replace any or all of the firebox as part of the remodeling process.
11.  Select the materials, design and size of your surround. Do you know if it will have a mantel? What about wooden moldings around the fireplace? What will be your choice of materials? Plan the ways in which the materials will meld with the rest of the room or if you want to alter the room’s appearance.
The fireplace remodel may be a part of a kitchen, family room, living room, or master suite. Regardless of where you are putting it, know that it will represent the focal point of any room you put it in. The room will be warmer, more comfortable and more beautiful.