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Fireplace renovation


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We have inherited a slate-surrounded fireplace which is rather an odd shape [which makes matters somewhat difficult]. We do not like the dark slate and wish to replace this with something lighter but which will not be affected by soot. [NB in the UK a thousand years ago we had a very pleasant York stone fire-surround]. There are shelves each side of the fireplace, but the set on the left hand side have periodically to be removed as ...........wait for it............ the valves for the underfloor heating are situated behind a door at the back of these shelves - daft or what! It is not possible to open the door from the other side as this is half way up the staircase. So thinking caps on chaps. We have yet to come up with an answer 3.5 years after moving in! Any suggestions gladly taken on board and thanks very much in advance.

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