Fireplace Update

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Our second quarantine project involved our fireplace. Let me give you a little background info on our fireplace. Our house was built in 2018 by a big builder. We were drowning in the 30+ pages of “upgrades”, and the $5,000 fireplace upgrade was one we quickly decided to nix. We figured we could live with it and upgrade it later if we wanted to.

The problem was… it was ugly. Okay, that’s my (Brooke’s) opinion. I didn’t realize it until after we moved in. It was just blah and plain and because our tv was right over it, I had to stare at it every day. It was hard to validate upgrading it, though, because it was completely functional, and not totally awful, in the grand scheme of things.

I started looking on Pinterest to find ideas of what a) looked good and b) we could pull off ourselves. Our goal was for it to be simple and rustic with a farmhouse mantel. We came up with a combination of several tutorials, went to work, and, I have to say… I absolutely love it now!

Let me tell you how we did ours. Now, everyone’s fireplace is going to be a little different, but if you’re thinking about making a change, maybe you can borrow some ideas we did.

What we needed:

-one 8 foot 2×6 board (stained brown)
-one 8 foot 1×6 board (stained brown)
-one 2ft x 4ft piece of smooth panel board (thin) (painted white)
-wood stain (we used Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain in Mocha 280)
-polyurethane (we used Minwax Water Based Polycrylic in Clear Gloss)
-white trim paint
-gray paint
Art3d peel and stick wood grain tiles

  1. As always, I started off a couple of days before by staining the wood and putting polyurethane on it. It had to dry completely before building the mantel.
  2. We pried off the picture frame molding under the mantel. It was relatively easy to take off using a flathead screwdriver.
  3. We took off the existing mantel. It was a 1×8 piece of wood, and I went around it with a razorblade and then used the screwdriver to pry it off.
  4. Next, Stephen measured out the 2×6 and the 1×6 pieces of wood to be the same length. This would be to your discretion, however long you want your farmhouse mantel to be.
  5. We built the mantel outside. We made an “L” shape out of the 2×6 and the 1×6 and glued them together. Using the scrap 1×6 pieces, Stephen cut two squares to fill in the ends of the mantel. See below how the square fit in. We Gorilla Glued and/or screwed everything together and let it dry.

6. Meanwhile, we cut the piece of plywood to fit over and cover the vertical sides of the fireplace. The plywood was so thin that we could nail it into the existing wood of the fireplace and it was a nice fit.

7. We used the original mantel (a 1×8 piece of white wood) and cut it to fit the original horizontal part of the fireplace. It fit perfectly!

8. We set the heavier 2×6 part of the “L” shaped wood as the top of the new mantel and let the 1×6 part hang down. We screwed it into the existing wood. As you can see from the above picture, the mantel is hollow. If you squat down and look up, you’ll see the old parts of the fireplace. We added in two stained decorative pieces and nailed them into the white wood.

**We decided to leave the joints where the boards met as-is. From a distance, it’s hard to see the crease. However, it would be an easy fix to fill in with wood putty and stain over it!

This is what it looked like at this point!

9. I did a lot of research on easily-applied brick. I love the rustic brick look. I wasn’t finding anything that I thought would work, but I did come across some peel and stick wood grain tiles from Amazon. They were gray, which was what I was going for, so I decided to take a chance. And I am SO glad that I did. They were very easy to apply, and I love how they finish this fireplace off and add some texture! (I decided to paint the hearth gray, since the black now seemed a bit harsh).

So, there you have it. Our new fireplace. The wood total was probably around $20, the decorative pieces were about $4 each, and the tiles were $60. So, we were able to re-do our fireplace for under $100. I would do a couple of things differently next time (make the mantel a few inches shorter on either side, and use a more medium brown stain)… but I do love looking at it. Hopefully this can inspire you in case you, too, can’t stand your fireplace!

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