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How To Make An Outdated Fireplace Insert Look Like A Million Bucks

February 16, 2016  —  Written by Julia Marcum 

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We haven’t had a playroom update in some time, but we’ve made some real progress down there recently. We tore up all the carpet, painted the walls two different colors (I’ll share that soon, but there’s a peek on Instagram!), bought all the material for our built-ins and over the holiday, we revamped the fireplace. I didn’t take a proper before photo with the old mantle on it, but you can kind of see it in this photo.

How To Make An Outdated Fireplace Insert Look Like A Million Bucks

The black trim around the gold part of the fireplace was just wood trim painted black to match the mantle. It was really uninspiring for a long time. I’m not a fan of corner fireplaces really, but this one was inverted and outdated on top of being in a corner. Three strikes? Almost. We thought about nixing it from the room altogether, or replacing the insert but both of those were more expensive and time-consuming than making it work. And, well, I do love a good challenge.

Here’s the before (you can see where the black trim and mantle were removed):

How To Make An Outdated Fireplace Insert Look Like A Million Bucks

And here’s how it looks now!:

How To Make An Outdated Fireplace Insert Look Like A Million Bucks

We added a series of stacked moldings that feels traditional and modern–right where we like to be. But what made the biggest difference right away was just spray painting the insert.

I taped off the glass, and gave the surround a good scrub before spraying several light coats of this Rust-Oleum High Heat Spray Paint in matte black we picked up at Lowe’s.

How To Make An Outdated Fireplace Insert Look Like A Million Bucks

While I focused on making sure the brass was covered especially well, I didn’t neglect the black parts as they were looking tired, too. Everything got a fresh coat of paint and it looked like new when I was done. I opened the window that’s right next to the fireplace all day, which helped with the fumes.

How To Make An Outdated Fireplace Insert Look Like A Million Bucks

Then we started trimming it out. We started with our largest board first. This is a 1″x11″ primed MDF we picked up from Lowe’s that we cut down to be around 9 3/4″ wide so it left just a little bit of wall around the trim.

How To Make An Outdated Fireplace Insert Look Like A Million Bucks

From there, we used a finish nailer to secure this .69″ cove molding in the inside lip. It gave it a nice, gradual inset look.

How To Make An Outdated Fireplace Insert Look Like A Million Bucks

Next came this chair rail. We left 5/8″ space between the edge of the large board and the chair rail for added dimension. Hint: the negative space is just as important as the trim added so map out your spacing before you commit.

Here’s where we added a lot of depth. We didn’t want this mantle to fall flat (har har) so we stacked two primed 1×4 MDF on top of the 1×9.75 base.

How To Make An Outdated Fireplace Insert Look Like A Million Bucks

How To Make An Outdated Fireplace Insert Look Like A Million Bucks

We have no plans of setting anything a top this mantle, it’s not that thick, but the gradual addition of depth does give it some grandeur.

How To Make An Outdated Fireplace Insert Look Like A Million Bucks

And just like in the first set of trim work, we added another cove molding leading up to it. This time we used this larger 1.75″ Cove Molding. 

How To Make An Outdated Fireplace Insert Look Like A Million Bucks

Lastly, we attached this wider, 2.75″ chair rail that lined up with the edge of the stacked boards.

How To Make An Outdated Fireplace Insert Look Like A Million Bucks

Once all the trim was attached, I spackled, caulked and sanded until it looked like one solid chunk of mantle and gave it a few coats of the same paint we used on the walls (Benjamin Moore’s Simply White) for a modern look.

How To Make An Outdated Fireplace Insert Look Like A Million Bucks

We’re so glad we decided to work with what we had. All in all, this project cost about $100 but looks like so much more.

How To Make An Outdated Fireplace Insert Look Like A Million Bucks

 

This particular fireplace doesn’t need a hearth, so we’ve opted to run the new carpet all the way up to it (which is why we left 1/2″ space under the new moldings). But besides the rough concrete slab floors, we’re thrilled with the improvement.

How To Make An Outdated Fireplace Insert Look Like A Million Bucks

 

Tomorrow let’s talk sectionals! We finally nailed down the perfect one for this room.

What do you think?

  1. Dee says:

    When you spray painted the front of frame did any of it get inside of fireplace where gas logs are?

  2. AP says:

    It doesn’t meet safety codes…combustibles too close to the firepalce.

    • Julia says:

      Thanks for your concern. Since this fireplace is sealed glass, we were advised we could put the carpet right up to it.

      • julie mcfadden says:

        Oh I am so glad to know this. We have the exact insert. We’re going to try this. So beautiful and wayyyy less work than what we thought we had to do.

  3. Theresa says:

    This is genius! So cool you were able to use what you had, and it turned ou beautiful. Nicely done!

  4. Kate S. says:

    Wow! Such a big improvement.

  5. Meggan S. says:

    I’m obsessed! This amazing!

  6. Evelina says:

    What a great improvement! I have a very similar black insert but it’s lined with less-than-attractive tiles. Do you have any tips on how to hide or change the tiles without removing them?

  7. holy crap this looks amazing!

  8. Susie says:

    Fireplace looks great!!

    I really love the Rejuvenation rug- does it read as pink in person, or more of a faded red? Crossing my fingers for the the latter. Thanks!

  9. What an amazing transformation with just some spray paint and decorative trim! You can do mines next!

  10. Kim says:

    We used this same spray on our fireplace a year and a half ago. You’ll be glad to know it holds up to use and kids well! Totally transforms the fireplace when you get rid of the brass/gold.

    Still on pins and needles to hear about the winner of the makeover contest! I know you want to get your hands on my “ooze” bathroom!

  11. Haley says:

    This looks awesome!

  12. Teru says:

    Looks amazing. How did you manage no over-spray on your walls when you used the spray paint?

  13. DRSMISSUS says:

    Such a huge improvement, it looks incredible! We did something similar with all of the outdated brass that surrounded our insert too and I couldn’t be happier with the expense and (little) time I put into it.

  14. This looks fabulous, guys! We’re going to be looking for a sectional in the near future so can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  15. So pretty! I’ve been updating doors with trim to look like paneled doors, so have become much more acquainted with the trim area at Lowes and am dreaming of so many more projects I could do! I wish we had a fireplace; we live in upstate NY and houses here seem to mostly either have wood stoves or nothing :( I’m from the Midwest, and I miss a good fireplace! Someday – it’s on the wishlist for our next house!

  16. Sarah says:

    Behold the power of paint!! (and molding and elbow grease ;) Fabulous transformation, and on a small budget to boot. Kudos!!

  17. Megan says:

    That looks so good! Makes me wish that I could make something better looking out of our brick fireplace. Enjoy watching the evolution of the room!

  18. Trish says:

    Wow – what a wonderful improvement!!! Can’t wait to see the sectional you chose! P.S. I think you’d love a birch log gas insert like this one….http://www.amazon.com/Peterson-Real-Fyre-18-inch-Mountain/dp/B00F6SGIHK/ref=sr_1_6?s=furniture&ie=UTF8&qid=1455634765&sr=1-6&refinements=p_n_feature_keywords_browse-bin%3A4255306011 – you’ve prettied up that fireplace so much – I think it’s time to give the old logs the heave-ho. Or, could you use high heat spray paint to make those logs look like birch? If anyone could do that, it’s you!!!

  19. Lori says:

    Wow! Looks incredible! You guys always do a great job! Love your style and taste!

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