Happy Saturday everyone! In this article, I am going to show you how I transformed our fireplace in our old house from builder grade, to custom made! I absolutely HATED the look of the fireplace when we moved into this house, and especially when we added the TV…it made it look top heavy to the eye.
Here is where we started…See what I mean by it looking “top heavy” with the TV above? I hated it! And my husband wouldn’t let me move the TV anywhere else so I had to come up with a solution.
The first step was building the mantel cover. I used 1×6 pine to build this hollow box that would slide over top the exiting mantel. I had to use my jigsaw to notch out an area where the current mantel face frame was so that way it would sit flush and look like it was built in, even though it was just a cover. I used wood glue and my Ryobi 18g Nailer to attach it all together.
I then stained the cover in Dark Walnut by Minwax and sealed with Minwax Polycrylic Sealant. Once dry, I slid the cover onto the mantel and tacked it in place using a few brad nails with my Ryobi 18g Nailer. I just shot a few nails into the top down into the existing mantel to hold it in place so it wouldn’t slide off.
This alone was a huge improvement! I was content with this for a few months, but then my mind started wandering again about how I could make it better but for as little money as possible and how I’d work around the actual fireplace… My original thought was to add white tile to the granite. But after laying it out I hated it as the entire thing still looked top heavy to me.
So without further to do, I jumped right in! I cut to size a faux brick panel and used Liquid Nails to attach it to the granite face that surrounded the fireplace. This was a gas fireplace with a glass screen so *I checked with our local codes to make sure I wasn’t doing anything against code before starting.* Since it has the glass screen, adding wood etc was fine as long as nothing was directly in front of the glass covering up the glass (which is what heated up and got hot).
I then used some 1/4″ birch plywood and built a larger frame that went over top of that to cover the existing white mantel. To attach, I just tacked it in with a few brad nails using my 18g nailer (remember this is a cover that can be removed should the new owners not like it and want to go back to the old style).
I was left with gaps between the 1/4″ plywood face and the faux brick panels. So I cut 1×4 pine to size and inserted it into these gaps making the plywood face seem like one thick surround. I used wood glue and brad nails to hold these into place as well.
Next was building the hearth. I didn’t get photos building this but it is super easy. Just a big hollow box with a topper. I made the box out of 1×6 pine and then the topper I used 3/4″ plywood and placed more of the brick paneling on top and then added 1″ trim piece all the way around the brick paneling and plywood to hide the rough edge. I notched out the back so it would sit flush with the wall, the same way I did with notching out the mantel cover so it would fit flush. The hearth just slides into place, it is not connected to or attached to anything here.
I knew it needed a little something more…so I added 1″ trim pieces to the front of the plywood face frame using wood glue and brad nails. I then used Ready Patch to fill any nail holes and seams, and sanded flush.
I applied the first coat and WOW it was already looking a million times better! I applied three coats total. Remember, it is better to do thin coats and have to do multiple versus doing one thick coat of paint and have drips etc.!
Here is after the second coat! I can’t believe this is the same fireplace!
And finally the finished result after 3 coats of white paint! The fireplace is no longer top heavy from the TV above making me very happy! Plus, this project was completed in a weekend! Couldn’t ask for anything better than that! When we sold the house, we got SO many complements on the fireplace, everyone thought it was amazing that it was all just a cover too and not permanent. Which could also be a great solution if you are renting and cannot change the interior but want to build this to cover the ugly fireplace in your rental too. Let me know what you think in the comments!
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