I lived in Seville, Spain as an exchange student in high school. Seville and my Spanish family are dear to me. I've been back to Spain many times to visit. There's a neighborhood in Seville called Triana. It's famous for its ceramic tiles. Last summer when Niall, the baby and I were in Seville for a visit my Spanish family gave us some amazing Triana tiles that are around 100 years old. We packaged the tiles carefully and flew them home. We've been looking for the right way to use the tiles ever since.
When we bought the house, there was a non-working fireplace in the backroom. In order to lift the floorboards (to repair the rotting joists) we had to take out the hearth (which overlapped about nine of the boards), which meant we had to take out the whole fireplace. For a long while there was a just a hole where the fireplace used to be.
We planned to put in a cast iron period fireplace with a gas fire. But when the chimney sweep came we found out the chimney wasn't sealed. We were out of money, and the fix was costly, so we needed to find another solution.
Rather than seal up the fireplace entirely, we decided to keep the wooden surround and sold the rest of the fireplace. (I love ebay. And parentheses, apparently.)
I think Niall came up with the idea to use the tiles as a feature in the fireplace. We unwrapped them and laid them out in the pattern that we liked.
We cleaned up the wooden surround and put in a piece of thick plywood, then attached the surround to the wall. The idea is we can remove the plywood down the road to keep the tiles, in the event we move or decide to put in a proper fireplace.
The plasters bonded the gap above the surround and a handyman adhered the tiles to the board and added a wooden frame.
It makes me happy having the tiles as on display, and it makes for a baby safe fire feature. I find myself staring at the pattern and thinking about Triana.
So thank you, lovely Spanish family, for sharing these Triana tiles. And thank you house, for having a faulty chimney.