In any house there are going to be things that you want to change. Whether it be DIY’s gone wrong from a previous owner or functionality in a new home. We knew when we bought our 1853/1882 home that there would be work. As we have lived here for 6 months now, we are discovering more and more about our home. At the moment we are discovering that it is cold in the winter when temps drop below zero. We have two fireplaces that are not functioning, a lack of drapery on the windows, and 3 heaters that are having a hard time keeping up. Some of these things will be moved to the top of the priority list. Our faux fireplace was a priority before Christmas for company to stay with us.
Only a Mantle
When we toured the house, we did not realize the problems associated with the random mantle in our family room area. I think walk-throughs are so fast, things get overlooked. That is where inspections come in but stuff is still missed or it isn’t relevant to the inspection. This mantle was one of those missed things. It is all cosmetic but so interesting about how poorly it was done to begin with.
They had placed the fireplace screen in front of the mantle which covered up a gaping hole in the back left bottom where the baseboard was not taken all the way through. The wall paper for the bottom half of the room was taken behind the mantle but the chair rail was not, and neither was the wall paper from the top half of the room. This meant if we were to take down the mantle, we would have to redo the chair rail, the baseboards, and all of the wall paper. That was a bigger undertaking than either of us wanted and I liked both wallpapers. They are raised, paintable wallpaper and mimic lincrusta, a form of wallpaper in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s.
We decided to work our DIY magic and make the mantle look like it was supposed to be there all along. The interesting part is that as we got into the project, there is a faint fade line on the wood where a hearth of some sort must have been at one point.
Of course I went to Pinterest for inspiration. I found so many beautiful fireplaces but loved this one from Woodshop Diaries that is a faux fireplace with instructions.
This is what we loosely followed to make ours. We had to adjust some as we were fitting the insert into an existing mantle (keep reading as I will explain that). I also wanted tile under ours to look like a hearth. We had just found some beautiful blue and white Pennsylvania Dutch tiles from an estate sale at another Victorian only a block away. This beautiful hearth from Making Joy & Pretty Things was my inspiration for the tiles. We had to figure out a way to make ours non-permanent though as I didn’t want to ruin our hardwood floors in case we ever wanted to change things or another owner wants to change what we have done.
This fireplace from Design Sponge was my color inspiration.
All three are so beautiful!
Faux Fireplace Build
We started by building our frame for the fireplace. Using 1×8 boards for the sides and a 1×10 for the top board we built the frame to fit the inside measurements of the mantle. I hand drew the curve for the top board and Cody cut it out with a jigsaw. We used 1×8 on the back as supports as well and assembled the whole thing with pocket hole screws which Alexandria helped with.
Next we laid the frame on a sheet of fake brick, traced, and cut it out with the jigsaw. We then attached the brick to the front with liquid nails and clamps.
Once the brick had sealed to the frame, I went to town making the entire thing look like real brick. I skipped the painting step from Woodshop Diaries as my brick had grey grout instead of black. We also did not attach the back as we just placed that piece directly in and then placed the front part in front of it. This made it easier for us to assemble with an existing mantle.
The drywall mud worked amazingly and was super easy hiding the cracks on the corners and the small bricks that were attached at the curve. I used 220 grit sandpaper with my palm sander outside and it went so fast! You can see the difference from sanded vs unsanded here.
And obviously this isn’t going to fit, lol! We knew it wouldn’t so this is where we deviated from Woodshop Diaries’ build.
To backtrack a little. I didn’t get pictures of the process of painting the mantle but it was super easy! I cleaned it really well using Thieves Cleaner. Having used Thieves on two projects now, I feel that it works just as well as TSP, which is what I formerly used, but is non-toxic! I then painted the entire mantle with two coats of Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint in Eclipse, one of the new fall seasonal colors. It is a rich deep blue with a hint of purple undertone and I am so in LOVE with it. I then took Antique Gold Rub n Buff with my finger to apply lightly over the decorative pieces. After curing for a couple of days I sealed with Polyvine Dead Flat.
Next we had to cut it in half to fit it in the mantle. Yup, cut it in half!
I did not get a great picture of this but you get it. Cody took the jigsaw to it. We then put it in place and attached a brace as well as attaching the faux fireplace to the mantle. This was probably the hardest step as Cody had to use an extender on his drill and was doing it blind. My amazing husband got it done!
At this point, I took some dry wall mud to fix a few spots and cover up the seam where we had cut it in half.
Let’s backtrack again as we had to put the hearth in place before we could put the faux fireplace in. We cut a piece of plywood and then attached our tiles using liquid nails and spacers. We then attached a trim around the outside, which I stained in antique oak gel stain by General Finishes. Grout was then applied. This was our first tile project and fairly simple. It has definitely given us the confidence to tile other parts of our house. We learned to work in small sections. Cody would grout and I would come behind him to wipe away the excess. I love how it came out! We then slid the hearth in place. If we ever move, we can take it with us.
Here it is all done! This entire room has been so fun to do! I will be blogging another post on the entire room and will be posting a video on Facebook soon so please follow us there!
I am so happy with how this turned out! It is so much better than the ugly slap-it-up version from the previous owners. I hope we have given you some inspiration as we head into 2018!
Happy New Year!