Tuesday, April 23, 2013

DIY Fireplace Makeover


In this post we cover how to transform a store-bought electric fireplace into a striking piece unique to your home.

As you can see, the original fireplace was dark brown - and very crowded with stuff!  Not very cozy.

Step 1 - Change the color.

The first thing we did was repaint the fireplace white, after we changed the living room wall to a rich charcoal color.

Charcoal wall is Antique Tin by Behr.
We had to dismantle the fireplace into several pieces in order to move it out to the garage, and paint it with the spray-gun.

Putting it back together.

But we still felt it needed more prominence.  So we decided to build a simple hearth for it.

Step 2: Build a hearth.

It's basically a giant pizza box (with supports in the middle, to hold up the weight).  We planned to cover with tiles that matched the nearby entryway flooring.

Checking what it will look like before making it permanent...

And here it is with the tile added.

Here it is put back together on the new hearth.

With the fireplace insert back in.
All put back together, it was lovely, but still needed a little something.

So we decided to make a custom mantle for it that would match the DIY coffee table we made.

Step 3: Build a custom mantle.

The wood is red cedar in 4x4, available in any big-box home reno store. 

We cut them to size and chose the most interesting sides to face up - the ones with the nicest knots and other details in the wood.

Then we glued and clamped them together until they bonded permanently.  Next, we got to sanding and roughing up the edges for a timeworn look.

Last, we whitewashed the wood with SamaN water-based and environmentally-friendly furniture stain.

Trying it on for size...  Here you can see the coffee table we were tying in with.
A closer look...

Now we need to finish the hearth with molding and paint.

 Step 4:  finish the look by painting the hearth and adding molding at the base.

Here is the finished look:

What a transformation!  By not over-cluttering the mantle, we get to focus on the fireplace itself.

Everyone who sees the new and improved fireplace assumes it's a built-in, real fireplace original to the house.  And that's exactly what we were hoping for ;)

'Till next time!


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  5. Thanks so much for this post! Two questions: Does the electric fireplace require any kind of ventilation - or is it just placed inside the solid frame? Second, do you recall what insert you used or where it was purchased?

    1. Hi Samantha,
      This fireplace does not require any ventilation - it's electric so there's no smoke. It's basically a space heater fancied up to look like a fireplace ;-). We got it at Home Depot I believe, the insert came together as a whole with the rest -- bottom, sides, and mantel. You just plug it in and you've got yourself a fireplace. Hope this helps!



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