A Fireplace Update – It’s so close to being done!

March 3, 2020

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Next week we have a big shoot happening, in our dining room, with 20+ people. We’re definitely nervous but so much progress is happening every day now, I really think we’re gonna make it! And perhaps the trickiest part of this entire renovation has been the fireplace.

As a reminder, the above wall used to look like this:

The room on the other side of that wall was leaking, had no proper foundation, wasn’t heated, and had a 7in step down into it. From the first time we walked through the home, we knew we wanted to make that room feel like part of the rest of the house, while still making it feel private and special. And the idea of a shared, open, double-sided fireplace between the new, grand dining room and our main living area immediately felt right.

I mean, right?! This fireplace was meant to be, and we love it so much. But we’ve had so many questions about how you build a fireplace like this, so it’s time for an update! But some of you may remember, it all started like this:

Our fireplace began with tape on the wall. We placed it, and replaced it, until the shape was what we wanted. There’s no template to creating a fireplace like this (though we share our dimensions below), so you have to look at a lot of inspiration and visualize the end. Once we had it taped off, we measured where the tape fell and drew up plans, which eventually turned into this:

CLJ Fireplace Dimensions

What we gave to our contractor was a hand-drawn version of the above, but gave them everything they needed to make it happen. Or so we thought. Every step of the way there have been questions to answer and issues to address. For example with all the weight being added here to build a stone fireplace, how would we ensure it was supported? Well since this wall was previously an exterior wall, there is a footing that runs directly through the fireplace, which they were able to T off of and create a support for the fireplace.

CLJ Fireplace Mockup

But what about venting? Since the fireplace is open on both sides, we need a 20in vent, with a 20 foot chimney, topped with a power vent to keep the air moving through the room properly. But you can’t shoot a chimney through a load-bearing wall, so we offset the fireplace, adding more depth to the dining room side to allow for the spacing we need.

But even though this fireplace has been, by far, the trickiest part of this renovation, we have been so excited for every part of it. It’s going to be the focal point of not one, but two major living areas of our home, making them feel connected by also helping define them.

Now that the plaster is on, and is the most beautiful shade of white, the only things left are the hearth and the burner, both of which should happen sometime this week! And you can expect to see this fireplace in action on Instagram Stories the minute we light it up.

CLJ Fireplace

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What do you think?

  1. Barbie Anderson says:

    Was the surround built out of wood and covered in plaster? I want to recreate this in my home but not sure how to add the slanted top portion.

  2. Jessica says:

    Hi there! We are working on a fireplace DIY, and had a question about the beautiful curved mantel. Was it achieved with a piece of cove molding, then covered with the concrete board? Was trying to dig up old photos when it was framed but couldn’t find them! Thank you so much, we love your stunning, simple, fireplace design!

    • Kimberly Brower says:

      Hey Jessica –

      My husband and I are tackling this very same project right now and are really stumped about cove moulding. Did you ever figure out how to curve the mantle to the wall? Thank you!

  3. Leah says:

    I absolutely love how this turned out! Just beautiful! Would you mind sharing the Roman clay color you chose? I’ve looked on your site and Instagram posts but I can’t seem to find it. Thank you!!

  4. Jessica Katherine says:

    Hi! First of all, STUNNING fireplace. Would love to know the details of the plaster and what color white it is? Were you able to choose the color prior? Or was it painted afterwards? Lastly, is it just drywall below the plaster? Thanks so much!

  5. Cynthia Lopez says:

    Could you please tell me what color of white you used on the fireplace? I want to plaster my fireplace as well. Looks beautiful!!!!

  6. Diane says:

    Hi! I love your fireplace!! Is that plaster? I am looking to do a very similar thing with mine! Also, what is the hearth made of? Thanks!!

  7. Jennifer says:

    Hi Julie! Would you be willing to share who did the plaster work on your fireplace? I am local to Idaho Falls and we are wanting to do a custom plaster vent good in our kitchen. I haven’t had luck trying to track down someone who has experience with this. I would love a good recommendation! Thank you!

  8. valerie allen says:

    hi! on your plaster fireplace. did you put the plaster straight onto cement board? what plaster product did you use? We have 3 fireplaces framed with Durock cement board. I want to use a limestone plaster to get a sleek, smooth finish. I have had one contractor tell me we have to put up mesh and do brown coat etc. – very expensive.

  9. Holly says:

    This is the fireplace of my dreams! Do you mind sharing what kind of plaster/finish/and color is on it?

  10. Dear Chris and Julia, I have always been in awe about all your DIY projects and I should say, I am in love with the whole Fireplace makeover. Highly appreciate your patience and time rendered towards bringing up this beautiful piece and making it part of the house. Thank you for sharing with us your journey so far and we are all waiting for the next update on it being lit and used. For some latest updates on wedding trends visit

  11. Becky says:

    I love this fireplace! We had a 2 sided fireplace in our last home (living room/bedroom) and our lab used to walk through the fireplace when he had the opportunity ????????????

  12. Angela says:

    Your Instagram updates are becoming appointment watching for me. Any advice on finding a good contractor? We live in an area of tremendous growth and there is no shortage of work to be had for home projects. We’ve had a few bad experiences that ended up either costing us double to have work re-done, or we’re just living with being unhappy.

  13. A true work of Art.????

  14. Erin says:

    Will you tile it or keep it white?

  15. Vanessa says:

    Can you tell us the plaster color and brand?

  16. Jennifer says:

    Could you please share where the firebox insert is from? I’ve been looking high and low for a two sided one that looks like this! Thank you.

  17. Melody says:

    Hi Julia, this is absolutely gorgeous. I’m in love. I can see that the hearth box is made of chip board top. Is the rest of the surround chip board with plaster over it. You mentioned a stone fireplace and the extra weight so I wondered if you are just talking about the herringbone and hearth stone. (Thanks)

  18. Lindsey says:

    What made you decide to put a beam so close to the dining room fireplace? It almost hinders the view of it. Just curious!

  19. Jennifer says:

    It’s amazing to me that something so classic and ‘simple-looking’ requires so much detailed planning and construction! What a great feeling it will give to both rooms. I’m so looking forward to seeing the next pictures of it!

  20. Kingsley says:

    This is going to be so grand and cozy at the same time. So exciting.

  21. jane says:

    I would love some more information on the plaster you chose, type, brand, colour, who put in on, other options you debated?! Thanks! About to start building in May and hoping to do plaster hood vent and fireplace.

  22. Laurielulu says:

    Let’s get lit ????

  23. Arli says:

    It looks like it always should have been this way, fireplace, openings and all. Spectacular.

  24. Katy says:

    Never have I EVER loved a fireplace more. Heart eyes, heart eyes, heart eyes! Question for you regarding those can lights. Do you mind linking to them? We are literally in the middle of choosing can lights and HOLY CANOLI I had no idea how many options there were and all the things to take in to consideration. I’m so overwhelmed. Would love to know what yours are to make it easy!

  25. Joy says:

    It’s fabulous can’t wait to see it lit up!!!

  26. Kate Sullivan says:

    It looks beautiful — really, really lovely. Since this is a site to follow along for DIY/home renovation inspiration, would you mind sharing how much it cost to put in the entire fireplace — chimney and all? I don’t know if this is a $15k or $30k+ project. Thank you!

  27. thelady says:

    OMG I got nervous stomach considering all those considerations!!! :) You have nerves of steel to pull this off!! Kudos!!!

  28. Rachel says:

    Love how this is shaping up. So classic.
    Two questions: will there be glass enclosing the fire, or will it stay open? Do you think it will serve as a source of actual heat, or is it more decorative?

    • Chris says:

      It’s going to be open on both sides. This fireplaces isn’t meant to be a primary source of heat for the space (we added HVAC and heated floors under the tile for that), but it will definitely have the capacity to put heat out if we need it to.

  29. Julie S says:

    So many parts to getting this built! It’s turned out incredibly. I wasn’t sure about the second archway at first – mainly because it added another walkway to the LR, restricting potential furniture layouts – but it looks absolutely right. And seems you have enough room to work with the walkway. I think I was just biased from my much smaller houses I’ve lived in where I’ve dealt with tricky traffic/too many doorways!

  30. Dayna says:

    Hello! Is it a wood burning or gas fireplace?

  31. George says:

    Do previous owners ever come back to see any of your homes?

  32. Molly S says:

    Gorgeous – simply gorgeous! I noticed on side view drawing/rendering the top of the fireplace above the mantel is slanted inwards, but the final looks like it goes straight up without angling in towards the wall. Is that a trick of the camera, or did you change plans in regards to the upper slope?

    Cannot wait to see when this is finished and paired with the gorgeous new living room window and those stunning dining room floors – it’s going to be magical!

  33. Anna says:

    Please tell us what sofa is peeking through the fireplace in the top photo! And here’s to making deadlines! It looks great!

  34. Tara says:

    The herringbone tile pattern in the firebox is *Italian finger kiss*.

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