One-Day, $300 Fireplace Makeover

October 30, 2018

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This project is sponsored by @Love_The_Room and Lowe’s. 

Yesterday, Chris and I tackled another quick, easy and inexpensive before and after project at our friends’ home!  The fireplace in their living room, the focal point!, needed some oomph.  Here’s the thing about this before, it’s fine. And I think a lot of times, we live with fine for years and we get used to fine and maybe even accept fine as good. But the reason we wanted to tackle this fireplace is because with minimal effort (we did this whole project in half a day!) and money, you can love your home even more. You can make it great!

Here’s the before. (The multi-painted recessed brick, and one-dimensional trim really made everything feel flat–but it was a great starting point)

After a few hours, the fireplace now looks like this!

It all started with finding this amazing unfinished maple fireplace mantel at Lowe’s (it comes in 4 different sizes) and knew that it, with a little bit of trim and paint was all this fireplace needed to sing. (And maybe a new insert in the future ;)

Here’s how we did it:

• First, I taped off a simple trim pattern on the brick to guide us where the trim was going to go before we hung the mantel. It might seem counter-intuitive to hang the mantel first, but we felt like it would ensure everything was nice and snug.

• Installing the mantle was incredible simple–much like any sort of floating shelf. It comes with 2×2 boards that get screwed into the wall, first. If you have studs to screw into, then locate the studs and secure the board directly into them. Where we were dealing with brick, we first drilled 1/4in pilot holes through the 2×2, then held it in place and used the holes to guide a hammer drill equipped with a 3/16 masonry bit. We then used 1/4in concrete screws in the holes we drilled to fasten it to the wall. Be careful when doing this not to over-tighten. Concrete screws easily strip their holes, then you’re left either getting a thicker screw or drilling another hole.

Once the 2×2 is in place, you simply set the mantle over it and attached it using 4 nails (provided) through the top of the mantle directly into the 2×2. Use a nail set to drive the nail flush with the wood without denting it with your hammer. Alternatively you can use a brad nailer with 1 1/2in brad nails if you have it handy, but the nails work fine.
Now that the mantle was in place, we wanted to dress up the area below it so it felt a little more substantial and the overall appearance wasn’t recessed. First I painted the row and a half of bricks that will be showing after all the trim is attached. Then we attached a 2×6 along the top, underneath the mantle, directly to the brick the same way we did the 2×2 support for the mantle itself (with concrete screws) and attached 2×3 boards, vertically, to use as nailers for our columns.

Then, we faced the nailers with 3/4in cabinet-grade plywood on the fronts, then on the edges as well, using a brad nailer.

This left a border around the sides where the edges of the plywood were facing out and clearly visible. But we added 1/2 x 1 1/2in trim to cover all the seams and visible edges.

To finish it off, we wood filled all the holes, caulked and painted the trim the same creamy white (Sherwin Williams Alabaster in a satin finish) to match the brick.

I picked up that can’t-go-wrong round mirror from Target and brought a few decor items from my stash to style the mantel.

But the mantel itself is absolutely stunning. We decided to keep it raw and love the grain and warmth (not to mention depth and surface and character!) it adds.

The homeowners couldn’t believe it was their same fireplace. It was there the whole time. Want to tackle something similar in your home? Here’s the budget breakdown:
72″ Mantel : $189
2×6 board: $4.14
(2) 2×3 boards$4.42
 Plywood: $55.98
(8) Trim: $28.64
Spackle: $5.98
Paint: $16.98

TOTAL: $318.62



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What do you think?

  1. Jenn says:

    Love the mirror were did you get it. I’m redoing my fire place it would beautiful!

  2. Kathy says:

    Great improvement overall but you should have taken off that weird floating stone shelf under the fireplace.

    • Engineermom says:

      It looks like that’s a wood-burning fireplace, which would make the floating shelf a hearth. You can’t remove that. At best, you could build a sort of support for it, but you’d have to be careful about cinders.

      I’m actually a little surprised they chose to add so much wood around the fireplace opening.

  3. Brooke Johnson says:

    Beautiful! Can you tell me what color the wall is?

  4. Jo says:

    Can you share the paint color on the wall here? Thanks!

  5. Carolyn says:

    LOVE this so much! Might I ask where the pedestal photo frame is from?

  6. Kim says:

    I love this! That mantle is devine! Thank you so much for the step by step instructions and list of materials.

  7. Kait says:

    Absolutely love this project! I’m also wondering what color paint your friend used on her paneling behind the fire place. I’m looking to paint mine and then try a fire place makeover!

  8. Kacey says:

    Amazing! Can you tell me where those black candlesticks are from? I love the chunky tops

  9. Kacey says:

    Amazing. Can you tell me where those black candle sticks are from? I love the chunky tops

  10. Patricia says:

    We’re in a condo and I’m limited as to how much I can alter the existing tile fireplace. It’s electric so heat not a problem. I was thinking we could build a box front cover similar to yours and bolt the mantle into studs in the drywall and Velcro the rest to the tile leaving it unmanaged and reversible

  11. Cassie says:

    Love the floating hearth, we had a very dated one that I’ve removed and haven’t replaced yet and this could work. The grain isn’t my favorite though; is it sandable/stainable? We don’t have a Lowe’s nearby for me to check this out in person.

  12. Tyler says:

    The comments crack me up! I actually LOVE the floating hearth! ????

  13. Lydia says:

    Seeing that temple picture has me wondering if you have LDS or religious art in your own home? I can’t seem to find anything that I love. I would be interested in any suggestions you have!

  14. Olivia says:

    I am in love with this project!

  15. Jen says:

    A nice quick makeover, but if your friends update the insert, they will most likely have to take down your work on the sides. There are very important code regulations for distances to combustible materials and that was not mentioned at all for any viewers looking to tackle a similar project!

  16. Debbie C says:

    Love the after. So beautiful! It looks so good with the existing wall. Can you share the source for the olive branches?

  17. Steph says:

    This is fantastic! Want to come over and update my fireplace? ???? But seriously, to echo another commenter, bravo on the simple & inexpensive makeovers!

  18. Steph says:

    This is fantastic! Want to come tell me how to update my fireplace? ???? But seriously, to echo another commenter, bravo on the simple & inexpensive makeovers!

  19. Katie Kerr says:

    I am wondering if you know what the paint colour is on their walls?

  20. Ann says:

    I clicked on the links for the mantel – and the wood in the link doesn’t look anything like the one you’re showing. Is the link correct..?

  21. Jamie says:

    Awesome makeover! It looks worlds better, and love that it was so cheap and easy! I do feel like you should educate others who may want to DIY fireplace stuff about putting combustible materials (AKA wood) too close to the opening of the fireplace. There are codes regulating how far away they need to be depending on your city/state… but just so people know to look into that before tackling a fireplace DIY! :)

  22. Elyse says:

    Is there anywhere where that Target mirror DOESN’T look amazing?

    Awesome quick easy update! I love it! Trying really hard not to dwell on that floating hearth… thats a first for me, but I am distracted by beautiful styling!!!

  23. Kay says:

    How excited are the homeowners to have a mantle to decorate for Christmas??! Looks great!

  24. Molly says:

    This looks amazing! You guys hit it out of the park!

    The hearth I find completely perplexing- it’s floating? I’ve never seen a floating hearth before- is that a normal thing in Idaho?

  25. Amy says:

    Yes! This might be a great solution to our mantle problem! We had a hideous mantle we removed but have been at a loss of how to cover the awkward bracket holes it left in the brick and it actually look good. Maybe I’ll tape it off to see if it’ll work! Thanks for the post!

  26. Kay says:

    You guys have been killing it with the fast and inexpensive makeovers! Bravo!

  27. Sarah says:

    Beautiful!! I love the one day makeovers!

  28. Kelsey G says:

    Just like everything you do…. wow. wow. wow.

  29. MARA SMITH says:

    The new mantle and board and batten style fireplace look great! However, please don’t hate me, I would have done the same thing to under the hearth to ground it. That hearth looks so awkward and makes it look like the whole fireplace is floating on the wall.

    • Karen F says:

      I agree – don’t get me wrong, this is stunning! But I had to stare at the before picture because I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me with the floating hearth. Maybe it looks better in person, but I’ve never seen a floating hearth like that, and it just seems a little odd to me.

      • Julia says:

        Sarah Sherman Samuel just did one in Mandy Moore’s house! (see here) They are a lot more common in older/mid-century homes, but I think it’s cool!

      • Carrie says:

        We have a mid century ranch and have a floating hearth. They’re common in architecture—Judy not in more recent homes or mass-produced homes. They’re cool architectural features and I love ours.

    • Katharine says:

      Yes, at first I thought there was some optical illusion making it look like the hearth is floating, but I guess it really is floating? I’ve never seen anything like that, and the physics of a cantilevered beam of stone(?) makes me nervous… as well as aesthetically looking ungrounded.
      But I love the update to the mantel and fireplace, we did something very similar recently (and could definitely have used that pre-made mantel to make things easier!) and it made such a difference in our living room. Really do love seeing these quick but big impact updates.

    • Linda says:

      Agree. The makeover is fantastic of course, but the proportion of the floating hearth isn’t quite right to look midcentury cute. That said, I live in a 100 year old house with lots of crazy proportions, and I have learned to (at least) like them. Love the house you’re with and all. This is not cookie-cutter for sure!

  30. Monica says:

    This looks great – I love these small, easy & affordable makeovers!

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We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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