Ever since we moved into our ‘forever’ home, we’ve been chipping away at our project list. Oddly enough, it doesn’t seem to be getting shorter, but that’s what happens when you pick a home in need of updates or a little TLC. I live for this stuff, so home projects are actually quite invigorating.
Anyway, one of my favorite DIYs to date is phase one of our fireplace upgrade (see above). With a little paint and a newly mounted mantel, it feels like a major overhaul from it’s origin (see below)!
We started by first removing the outdated, bulky mantel. It was in good shape overall, but it didn’t fit our style or what we wanted to showcase longterm. My dad, who has become quite the woodworking man, was “hired” to make our replacement. It turned out AMAZING and even has sentimental value (aside from being crafted by my dad, of course). Keep reading for more on that.
After removing the mantel, we found some wood slats built into the wall to hang the existing mantel. They were way too high to reuse for what we were planning to hang, so we had to get creative with out he covered them up. We had plans to paint the brick in some way all along, so we had that working in our favor already. However, we definitely felt like we needed to do something else to help them blend in. We had a few fireplace companies come out to quote us on removing them and replacing with matching brick, but the pricetag was a bit high for something we would paint anyway. But, one guy had another idea: mortar them to look like brick.
He chiseled out a lot of the wood first, then went to work. You can see in the above photo what it looked like pre-paint. Not great, but not terrible. Once that was dry, we were ready to paint.
I opted to white wash first to see how we liked it. The variation in the existing brick color was actually pretty nice, but again, we really wanted a different look. White washing felt like an obvious first step knowing that if we didn’t like it, we’d go full on with a true paint job. Thankfully, we could stop after one coat of white wash!
The process was SO simple. We just mixed equal parts white paint and water before painting it on brick by brick and dabbing it lightly with an old rag afterward to catch any drips and adhere it to the brick a little better. It took about two hours total for the floor to ceiling fireplace. Not too bad given the final product.
Now for my favorite part: the mantel. Back in 2009, we renovated our family’s cabin/lakehouse and had some old logs from the original exterior leftover. My dad let us pick one for him to cut to size and sand/shape to pure perfection. Once that was ready, I took 30 minutes or so to stain it with a dark wood stain. After 24 hours of letting that soak in and dry, I added a layer of polyurethane to it to seal the deal.
All that was left then was to hang it, so that we did. Our TV is now mounted, and we’re constantly rotating decor to figure out how we want it to look. But I’m in love and can’t wait to tweak it more. All in all, it cost about $100 (most of which went to the fireplace guy for cleaning and creating our fake bricks!).
A few things we still want to do: convert to a gas fireplace, paint the interior of the fireplace with black fireproof paint, eventually consider replacing the fake brick with real brick, and STYLE it a million times over.
Only 1,359,275 home projects to go. 😉