Our Fireplace Story

“This is the story of our fireplace. Its a faux fireplace and was built by two people who really had no idea what they were doing… and if you want to get straight to the process, scroll down and pass the story… šŸ™‚ “

The Story:

When we were searching for houses back in 2014, we had a long list of things that we wanted. Of course being first time home buyers, we really thought we would find everything on that list we conjured up. Reality kicked in and every house we seen just didn’t feel right. Most of the homes we were shown we not anything like what we had pictured in our heads and even the homes we found online didn’t feel like the one. The biggest reason was price. Our list would have called for a much bigger budget that just wasn’t possible for a couple of young newlyweds with three little ones. We were dreamers and “do-ers”. So what happens when you have to people who want certain things that don’t have a problem getting creative and doing things themselves? Well, we found an empty canvas. We found an “ok” house in a great location and decided that we were going to make our list of things we wanted in a home, pop off the page. So here we are. Three years into our home and we have done a lot of changes, but we are no where near finished. We probably never will be with this girl right here ; )

One of the main things on our list was a fire place. Our home we bought probably once had one. Our home is just about a hundred years old and does have a chimney running through it, so I imagine there must have been a fireplace at one point. We couldn’t use the chimney and it is completely useless serving no purpose whatsoever. But the location of the chimney just didn’t make sense to me so we decided to put our “faux” fireplace in the living room. We already had a faux fireplace mantel that I built years ago in my early twenties when I lived in Philadelphia. I found pieces of a mantel in the basement of the home I was living in at the time and decided to add molding to it and a base along with a slate slab that I used as the “firebox” cover, which I also turned into a chalkboard. In our new home we use that mantel in our dining room and had the option to just use that but we wanted it to look and feel real. So, we built one from scratch instead.

It has been one whole year since we built and have been using the fireplace. Of course it is not a REAL fireplace but it sure looks like it is. We use it as a place to mount our tv and inside the mantel itself is hollow so we could run wires through it so we wouldn’t have loose wires anywhere and didn’t have to go through the wall. We installed shiplap above the mantel to give it some depth and character. I’m absolutely in love with the way it came out. I think its perfect for our small living room but our measurements won’t be as perfect for your home so I am leaving most of that out. Our home is old, settled, and built on a marshy plot of land that has made the home not exactly symmetrical. One side of our mantel is centimeters higher than the other so it would be leveled. our home is also on a hill and if we could rip it all down and make everything perfectly straight and completely leveled, we would. But we can’t so bare with me…

Instead of an exact measurement, name of the tools we used, the type of wood, the type of nails and products we used tutorial…I am showing you how we built our fireplace through pictures and what we experienced. This was a hard project, it took three weeks to completely finish due to four kids and work schedules, but we did it. And we have hardly any experience, learned as we went, made many mistakes and plenty of memories that you will to if you try to build your own faux fireplace.

The Project:

We started with a blank wall. We pulled up the trim where the fireplace would be and our floor was already ripped up to the original hardwood. If you want a hearth like ours, the best thing to do is get down to the original floor where the fireplace & hearth will be. Next is the framing.

You are basically making two boxes. Frame out your hearth to whatever size fits your space (That is the “box” my husband is standing on in the first picture. *sorry about the quality*) and cover your box with a sturdy plywood (remember tile & a heavy fireplace will be going on this “box” so make sure there is plenty of support underneath). Next attach the back framing to the fireplace box and the wall. It is very important to anchor your framing to the wall. Again, frame out a box to the size of the fireplace you desire. Don’t forget to leave an opening for the firebox. Wall off the sides and top. You can also begin to put a “shelf” or “mantel” on top of your box. So, every side but the front of your framed box has sides now.

Make sure that you also make a “floor” of the area where your firebox will be. Building a fireplace is basically building a bunch of framed boxes altogether. (Remember, we are not pros and this was the first time my husband and I ever built a fireplace. We had no instructions other than a few tutorials from youtube and google.) After you are finished putting the firebox floor down, you will want to enclose the rest of your firebox, “the opening of your fireplace”. You do not need to put a firebox ceiling in, and we did not because we were going to run wires through out the faux fireplace. We used the same plywood that we used for the hearth top, for the face of the fireplace. When you are finished with that you will have this…

We then started to add the “grey barn wood” tile to the hearth and some of the stacked stone that we salvaged from our visit to South Dakota. Always make sure everything is leveled. We used liquid nails to apply both the tile and the stacked stone. It saved us so much time and money and since it is a faux fireplace and won’t be getting hot, we can use it! We also added the tile to the inside of the firebox floor. The stack stone went in the firebox and out on the face of the fireplace. Both the tile and the stacked stone was cut to fit by a wet saw. *TIP* If you never used a wet saw before, practice with unneeded tile and stone before cutting the real deal.

After applying the tile and stone you will want to put another layer of (smooth) plywood on top of the whole surround so it will level up better with the stone and give it more of a finished look before the molding and trim goes on.

Now you are ready for the character details and paint.

*TIP* a temporary shelf to hold up the stone while it is drying to the top face of the fireplace will help tons! We left ours in place for several days while the tile and stone took its sweet time to dry.

Ā Pumpkins, optional!

Now its time to add the “fancy/traditional” molding and “trim out” the surround & face of your mantel!

Now here comes the fun part, PAINTING EVERYTHING! We painted the mantel white and with the same paint, white washed the stacked stone firebox.

Ā Painter’s Tape does wonders!

Simple Way To White Wash Stacked Stone:

Mix white paint of your choice in a spray bottle with 50 parts water, shake, spray. Take a rag and blot areas where you sprayed. Also take a simple paint brush and add white paint to areas you feel need it. Continue until you get the desired look. *REMEMBER* This is a very messy job and will take a while to dry. You should allow to air dry for best results. White washing involves “washing” paint onto the surface. You can’t just use a paint brush without water and a rag helping you out or it will just look like it was messily painted white.

After you allow to set and dry for a few days you can shiplap the back of the wall above the fireplace.

We framed out the back like this to stick the wires in between the framing so we can mount the tv to the wall. We then drilled a hole where the wires would go into the mantel. We then added the shiplap and painted it white.

The wires were fished through and plugged into an outlet inside the fireplace and some wires had to be fished out through the bottom left side of the fireplace where we had to put in another hole. My husband wished he would have simply put enough electrical outlets “in” the fireplace so we wouldn’t have to do this, but you live & learn. I usually hide this “boo-boo” with decor.

It has been one whole year since we have built this gem and it was

definitely not easy, but surely one of my favorite parts of the house now!

I still want to add trim to the top and around the ship lap and maybe another coat of white paint now that a year later, the wood’s characteristics are starting to show through, but I am still in love with the turn out of this DIY project! (I took off all of our decor and the Xbox so you can really see the details of this project. We used to have metal arrows on the front of the fireplace, but now a little fabric banner I made from pillow scraps from another project lay across the mantel. We left that area of the mantel face blank so I change out the decor through out the seasons.)

We later added in the Pleasant Hearth Fireplace Grate from Lowes ($ 43.99) and the cute little birch log stack from Hobby Lobby to give our fireplace a realistic feel. I have been keeping these items in here year round.

We added in the Luxury Vinyl Planks from AngleWorld.com that just happened to go perfectly with our Barnwood Tiles from Lowes Home Improvement Store. The blank canvas home we bought back in 2014 is slowly checking off our Home Wish List. Heres to many more projects and turning the home you have into the home you love!

-Ashley

 

 

 

 

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