18 Nov

Custom Built Fireplace

DIY fireplace

Welcome back! Where were we? Oh yeah, I had just debugged a secondhand fireplace my girlfriend, Bridgette, wanted refreshed to accent her living room. She scored a sweet deal on what she thought was a faux fireplace. Turns out, it was a very real fireplace that someone had removed from their home. While it was without the gas component fittings, it came complete with frame, mantle, shelf and firebox.

And I ruined it on the way from her house to mine.


broken brick fireplace {read Part 1 of this Fireplace Renovation}

Once I felt safe to move the pieces into the garage, it got a bath of TSP and hot water and then a coat of primer. While most of the time I’m a huge fan of using mineral paint, I had to be sure that if this were ever used as a functional fireplace again, the paint and sealant could take the heat. I also wanted to make sure that any residue from the previous owner’s ‘pets’ didn’t make its way through the finish so back to traditional measures I went.

primed fireplace surround

It took forever to cover that dark wood with white latex paint but I knew it would be worth the work. While the paint dried I took to sanding the mantle shelf. I was hoping that the deep, dark grain rings would disappear so I could lay an even coat of honey oak stain down to match her existing wood floor. It didn’t take too long to realize I was working with some temperamental veneer and those rings weren’t going anywhere.

tiger grain wood

Bridgette and I agreed that orange, Tony the Tiger stripes weren’t the look we were going for and once again, she gave me the thumbs up to do as I pleased. I’m pretty sure at this point she was regretting putting any money into this project at all.

A long time ago, I picked up some miscellaneous pieces of beadboard on a ReStore trip.

measure beadboard

I figured I would have just enough to build the mantle and reface the surround if I didn’t screw anything up. The only dilemma I could see was hiding the lip that would protrude along the front of the fireplace surround.

Even if I flipped the boards around I’d still have to hide the indentation so that wasn’t an option. {Beadboard fits together in a tongue-and-groove fashion and when installed vertically as a wall treatment any edges are obscured with trim. Trim wouldn’t solve my problem in this application.}

I also didn’t want to rip any of the boards down and lose a consistent board width.

So, I had one option.

…bite the bullet and learn how to use my table saw. It’d been sitting in the garage since Christmas. When Sonne was here over the summer she put it to use on the floating corner shelves I designed but I was still freaking petrified of the damn thing. I should have taken her up on lessons then but chose to operate the video camera instead. Leave it to me to decide the first project I’d attempt on my own would be ripping off less than a 1/4″ from varying lengths of board. (sigh) When will I learn?

As it turned out it wasn’t as difficult as I feared. I didn’t get my hair or necklace or fingers caught in the blade as I’d imagined and the boards came out perfectly straight. With my new-found confidence, I even maneuvered some fancy cuts on the boards for the surround since they were about 2″ shy of perfection. With everything cut, I slapped on some stain and left the pieces to dry and built up additional support for the new mantle. Then I took a step back and wanted to cry.

fireplace collage

See what’s going on in that last photo? Remember how I said this was a real fireplace at one point? Well, the gap between the trim surround and the rest of the base is where the hearth would typically lay. Only, there was no hearth with this fireplace because while I was attempting to make it appear ‘built-in’, it wasn’t. I didn’t think Bridgette would want to install brick over her wood floor and that gap was hideous. It was time to get creative.

Actually, it was time to go to bed. At 3:00 am I was beyond exhausted. This quick painting project had turned into a nightmare and I was *this* close to waving the white flag. But I had one more trick up my sleeve.

With a flashlight in hand, I stuck my head under the front of the firebox to see what my options were. From that vantage point I saw that the only thing standing between me and project completion was a 1″ lip of metal. And that lip was only on three sides. So, I hopped up, moved the surround away from the box and flipped that baby over. SCORE!

rebuild a fireplace

Since Bridgette wasn’t planning to connect a gas line the location of the hose hole was unimportant. The box sat flush on the ground and the lip actually provided additional support for the fireplace surround. The best part was that I didn’t have to figure out a way to add another dimension to this project and could go to bed.

The following day, I marked off and cut down the sides of the frame then installed the mantle shelf, crown and trim. The firebox got a complete sanding and was sprayed with high heat primer and paint. And then it all got put back together. Rustoleum High Heat Spray

I took a victory lap around the garage before calling this project complete!

DIY fireplace painted fireplace

Here it is at Bridgette’s house. Aside from the awesome window above, you’d never know this had lived somewhere else. I’m hoping she takes my suggestion to add an electric log set with heater this winter. I think it would be gorgeous and she’d keep her family toasty warm!

Custom Rebuilt Fireplace



6 thoughts on “Custom Built Fireplace

  1. Wow, you really did a great job! Yours involved so much work– way to stick with it. I am in awe 🙂

  2. Oooooooooo! I love it! I want a fake fireplace so badly! I'd love to score something like that and stick a fake log in it to keep the family toasty warm! Cheryl pimped you out on Facebook today and I had to stop by-this caught my eye immediately. 😀

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